Beban, known as "The Great One", excelled in both academics and athletics, majoring in European history while quarterbacking the Bruins across three straight victorious seasons. As UCLA quarterback, he was named to the all-conference team three times, and led the Bruins to a 24-5-2 record. His school record for total offense lasted 15 years. As a sophomore, he threw two touchdown passes in the last four minutes to rally the Bruins over crosstown arch-rival, USC, 20-16. In the 1966 Rose Bowl, Beban scored both UCLA's touchdowns in the Bruin's 14-12 victory over #1 ranked Michigan State.
In his senior year, Beban played in the 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game, widely regarded as one of the best college football games of all time. The game pitted #4 AP/#2 UPI ranked USC and their Heisman Trophy-candidate running back O.J. Simpson, against the #1 ranked Bruins and Beban-also a Heisman Trophy candidate-with both the AAWU and National championships, to say nothing of hometown bragging rights, on the line. Badly injured with torn rib cartilage and in great pain, Beban still threw for over 300 yards and two touchdown passes to lead the Bruins in scoring. Though USC eventually won the game, 21-20, by the margin of a blocked PAT, and went on to the Rose Bowl, Gary Beban would go on to win the Heisman Trophy. Both Beban and Simpson were featured on the cover of the November 20 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Commenting on Beban's heroic effort playing through injury, famed L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray wrote that if "Gary Beban wins the Heisman Trophy, they ought to fill it with aspirin"
In addition to the '67 Heisman, Beban was unanimously named to the All-America Team, won the Maxwell Trophy (given annually to the college football player judged best in the United States by a committee of college head coaches, sportscasters, sportswriters, and members of the Maxwell Football Club), and was awarded the Washington Touchdown Club Trophy and the 1967 W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. Beban was also named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, and received the Dolly Cohen award, given to the player best combining academic and football achievement.
UCLA became the first school to have a top winner in both basketball and football in the same year with Gary Beban winning the Heisman Trophy and Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) winning the U.S. Basketball Writers Association player of the year award in 1968. For one shining week in November, 1967, UCLA had the #1 ranked Football team and Men's Basketball team, with the astounding chance of landing national championships in both sports. Such remained unprecedented until Florida actually collected both crowns in 2006. UCLA basketball did ultimately garner the basketball championship that season.
In 1991, Beban was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame and is a charter member of the UCLA Hall of Fame with retired #16..
Though the UCLA football program has turned out dozens of highly successful NFL players through the years, Beban was and still remains the only Bruin to win the Heisman.
O.J. Simpson's 1,722 points were the second highest for a second place finish but Purdue's versatile LeRoy Keyes, with 1,366 points, hit an all-time high for a third-place finish. Beban won every section but the Midwest, where he was second to Keyes.
Joe Bellino | Ernie Davis | Terry Baker | Roger Staubach | John Huarte | Mike Garrett | Steve Spurrier | Gary Beban | O.J. Simpson | Steve Owens
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