|Manziel in less happy times.|
The real issue is that times have changed. The voters selected an undergraduate for the first time in 2007 and repeated it in 2008 and 2009. I my mind, it was inevitable that a freshman would win the trophy eventually, as the unwritten rule about it being more a career award than individual season had been seemingly stripped away. Interestingly, none of those winners repeated.
On top of having a higher number of voters than there were in 1980, I have a feeling, though completely based on nothing more than hunch, voters are likely younger. Age of the voters alone can explain how the voters can see Herschel's 1980 season and think a senior with more yards and 1 more touchdown is a more worthy candidate. Now, we can say with little doubt that finishing behind Hugh Green in 3rd was absolutely a slap in Herschel's face.
There will be another freshman win the Heisman. However, the real question is will we see another repeat winner? Obviously, Manziel is the only one that can do so right now, but history isn't on his side.