Buried deep in the rules and explanation of the complicated balloting system behind the Heisman trophy are the following words “the Heisman committee created the points system in an effort to eliminate any sectional favoritism.”
I guess that’s one way to look at what happened on Saturday night. Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was attempting to ride “sectional favoritism” into a back-to-back Heisman victory. But maybe here’s a better way to look at it: Tebow lost the award due to “sectional favoritism.”
How else can you explain this dubious distinction: Tebow became the first player since 1956 to take more first place votes and still wind up third behind winner Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. And Bradford became just the third player to win the Heisman without winning the most first place votes.
Tebow received 309 1st-place votes, which means he did get some support outside the South since each section of the country gets 145 media votes. (Sportswriters and former Heisman trophy winners vote for the award.)
But interestingly enough, the Heisman process is actually rigged AGAINST the South because it places the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia in the Mid-Atlantic region with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Delaware. Arkansas, which also has a team in the SEC, is in the Southwest region with Texas and Oklahoma.
And even in these regional lineups it’s not an even division of votes. A state may get more votes if it has a larger population and more media outlets – which I’m sure dilutes the votes from a state like South Carolina or Arkansas.
ESPN reported on Saturday that what cost Tebow may have been the fact that he was LEFT OFF a lot of ballots from the Southwest region where both McCoy and Bradford play. They also pointed out that Tebow received far less second place votes than either McCoy or Bradford.
I never expected Tebow to win. As I noted earlier this week, there’s just too many sportswriters from across the country who would base the award on statistics. The list of Heisman Trophy winners, rightly or wrongly, is a long list of truly mediocre college football players who won the award through dazzling stats, or media hype and never played a down of football come Sunday. (That is not a knock against Bradford, however, who looks like he might be a top-flight quarterback.)
But what’s surprising of course is that Tebow came so close and lost the award due to the antiquated system at place in the Heisman process. I mean even the Electoral College is at least based on population.
Since the Heisman committee refuses to release the entire list of voters it’s still a bit of a mystery as to how this played out. But at the very least, maybe the distribution of votes should be based on the number of Division 1 schools in that state that play football.
I find it hard to believe that sportswriters from the Northeast region – which includes New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island – even bothered to watch Tebow or Bradford until maybe the very end of the season.
Of course, for Gators fans, they can at least hope that the Heisman curse will strike the newest Heisman winner when he squares off against the Gators at the BCS Championship Game. But it still doesn’t make it right.