Work in Sports
Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside
In the history of the Heisman Trophy, no two players are as inextricably linked as 1945 winner Felix "Doc" Blanchard and '46 honoree Glenn Davis. Together they led Army to a three-year record of 27-0-1 and two national titles.
Memorably nicknamed Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside by the New York Sun, South Carolina-born Blanchard was the powerful fullback trampling defenders, Californian Davis the lithe halfback outrunning everyone-though it was well known that Mr. Outside could just as easily go between the tackles and Mr. Inside could deftly sweep around end. They formed an overwhelming backfield duo, scoring 97 touchdowns.
They also became a national phenomenon, landing on the cover of Time magazine in 1945 with the caption "Junior Davis & Doc Blanchard: They Make Army's T Boil." Sportswriters debated who was the better athlete: Davis, who rushed for 2,957 yards, earned varsity letters in baseball, basketball and track (and later dated starlet Elizabeth Taylor); or Blanchard, who, at 6 feet, 208 pounds, had amazing speed (10 seconds in the 100-yard dash) and could punt, catch and block as well as he could run. He also threw the shot more than 50 feet. They captured the imagination of friend and foe alike. "I've just seen Superman in the flesh," Notre Dame coach Ed McKeever said in 1944. "He wears number 35 and goes by the name of Blanchard." The New York Times praised Davis as "the best halfback football has produced in modern times."
Army went 9-0 their first season together. The following year, Blanchard exploded for 718 yards and 19 touchdowns. The 1945 Army-Navy game was a classic exhibition of Blanchard's talents: Before 102,000 fans, including President Truman, Blanchard scored three times, once on a 46-yard interception return, to lead a 32-13 victory. Describing one defender who tried to stop him, author Tim Cohane later wrote, "Doc ran through him as if he were a paper bag."
The performance helped make Blanchard the first junior to win the Heisman. He recalls making the trip from West Point by himself, dutifully following orders to "stay on the river until you get to New York." The runner-up was Davis, who had also finished second to Ohio State's Les Horvath in '44. But that didn't diminish Davis's pleasure for his teammate. "I was happy for him," he says, "and we're still great friends."
While a knee injury forced Blanchard to miss two games in 1946, Davis was at his best. Time wrote he had "a special kind of speed that is all his own. After a brief show of hippiness, enough to get around the end, he simply leans forward and sprouts wings." That's how it must have seemed to Michigan that season. During Army's victory over the Wolverines, Davis scored one touchdown on a 58- yard run and threw for a second. His game stats: 105 yards rushing and 168 yards on 7-for-8 passing.
A 0-0 tie against Notre Dame a few weeks later was the only blemish on the otherwise perfect Blanchard-Davis era. But Davis's career rushing average of 8.26 yards per carry remains an NCAA record. And he still holds Army's mark for most touchdowns, 59. He was also the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in '46, beating out Joe Louis and Ben Hogan. More important, Davis finally won a Heisman of his own.
After graduation, both men served in the military-Davis in Korea before returning to play pro football with the Rams, Blanchard with the Air Force until 1971, when he retired a colonel. Both men also gave their Heisman trophies to their high schools: Blanchard's went to St. Stanislaus Prep in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and Davis's to Bonita High in La Verne, Calif. But Davis jokes he still has one in the family: After his wife of 43 years died in 1995, he met and married Yvonne Ameche, the widow of Wisconsin's 1954 winner Alan Ameche.
"We had a great football team," Davis says of his Army days. "It's too bad they didn't have a Heisman for each player."
Too bad, indeed, except for the one player who already had one.