Former Heisman Trophy-Winner Charles White Dead At 64

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

Andrew Powell Sports and Entertainment Blogger
Font Size:

An (unofficial) Michigan legend has died.

Charles White, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1979 as a running back with the University of Southern California (USC), died Jan. 11, according to an announcement from the school. He was 64.

Still the Trojans’ career rushing leader with 6,245 yards, White — who also spent nine years in the NFL — passed away after a battle with cancer. He died in Newport Beach, California.

“He was the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” said White’s former USC and Los Angeles Rams head coach, John Robinson. “He was really unusual in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. Those are the things I remember the most. He was a really tough guy, and he was an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness … wow!”

As a lot of you know in the world of college football, I lean towards the Miami Hurricanes and Michigan Wolverines, so with my latter fandom in particular, it was sad to see that Charles White passed away.

See, even though he played for USC, White is a legend in Michigan history, and this is because of his “Phantom Touchdown” that he scored to take out the Wolverines in a tight 17-10 Rose Bowl in 1979. (RELATED: Paige Spiranac Declares Notre Dame Football As The Worst Fan Base In Sports, And She’s Absolutely Correct)

If you’re not familiar with the play, Michigan’s Ron Simpkins knocked the ball out of White’s hands, which sent it flying in the air towards the two-yard line. Wolverines’ Jerry Meter then jumped on the ball, but instead of giving the touchback to Michigan, referees handed the touchdown to White.

One of the worst calls in sports history, but one that will always keep Charles White an (unofficial) Wolverines legend.