The 2008 Heisman Trophy race should be the best one in the history of college football, but it will be ruined -- hell, it already has been ruined -- by the regional biases of homer voters.
Votes are in, and voters vote for what they see. It's as innocent, and as guilty, as that. And voters in the South have seen a full dosage of Tim Tebow of Florida. Voters in Middle America and westward have seen equal parts of Texas' Colt McCoy, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. So you watch -- that trio of Big 12 quarterbacks will divvy up all those votes west of the Mississippi.
When the results are announced Saturday, Tebow will have carried the South -- and that will carry him to the Heisman. This isn't a prediction. This is a lock.
Because I know human nature.
And human nature is weak.
Look at the latest AP Top 25. There are websites -- here's one -- that track each voter, and the typical vote goes along geographical lines, especially at the top. Get this:
- In Texas, all four Top 25 voters from that state had Texas in the top two. Three Texas voters had Texas No. 1.
- In Oklahoma, both Top 25 voters had the Sooners in the title game. Neither of them had Texas in the top two. One Oklahoma voter had Texas fourth, behind Alabama.
- In Florida, meanwhile, the three Top 25 voters disagreed on Texas or Oklahoma in the title game ... but all three had Florida as the opponent.
To a man, those nine Top 25 voters would insist, and sincerely believe, that they're not biased. But look at the evidence. Texas voters wanted Texas in the BCS title game. Oklahoma voters wanted Oklahoma. Florida voters wanted Florida.
Come on, people. Sometimes, it is what it is.
|Sorry, Sam Bradford. Polling data does not look good. (Getty Images)|
The results are ugly, unless you're Tim Tebow. Because if you're Tebow, they're beautiful. They suggest a second consecutive Heisman Trophy.
Not that another Heisman for Tebow wouldn't be deserved. Do not for a second get me wrong. Tebow has thrown 28 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, one of the most astounding ratios in football history, at any level. He also has run for 12 TDs, and he has done it against the toughest defensive gauntlet in the country. Maybe the Big 12 has better teams than the SEC, but nobody has better defenses -- and Tebow shredded them. If that's the criteria for giving him the Heisman, fine.
But that won't be the criteria. The criteria will be something much simpler. Heisman voters don't vote for the best player in the country -- but the best player in their region.
This is historical fact.
Last season, Tebow put up 32 passing TDs and 23 rushing TDs, historically crazy numbers, yet he didn't top the voting in each of the Heisman's six regions -- he finished second in the Southwest. To whom? Funny you should ask. Tebow finished second last year in the Southwest to Darren McFadden. He played for Arkansas.
That's in the Southwest.
One of the closest votes in recent years was in 2003, when Oklahoma's Jason White beat Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald in balloting that was straight out of the Rand McNally atlas. White won the South, Southwest and West. Fitzgerald won the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. If I'm a Heisman voter and I'm reading this, I'm almost embarrassed.
Who should win the Heisman?
Total Votes: 7,287
And just wait until you read about the 2001 race, when Nebraska's Eric Crouch won the trophy despite carrying just one region. Which region? The Southwest, of course. That year was a lot like what Tebow will do this year, because Crouch dominated the closest region to his home and finished second or third everywhere else, and then watched as the other candidates split the rest of the voting along regional lines. Florida's Rex Grossman won the South. Miami's Ken Dorsey, playing in the Big East at the time, won the Northeast. Oregon's Joey Harrington won the West.
You can't make this stuff up.
Pick a year. Any year. In 1992, the worst Heisman Trophy winner of all time, Gino Torretta, won while the best player in the country, San Diego State's Marshall Faulk, won just one region -- Faulk won the West, of course -- while the South voting was split between Torretta and Georgia's Garrison Hearst, leaving Faulk out of luck.
Hell, this crap goes back to 1956, and probably more than that. I stopped looking after 1956, because what I found was so thoroughly depressing. Notre Dame's Paul Hornung won that Heisman in the most biased vote of all time. Hornung won the Midwest. Syracuse's Jim Brown won the East. Tennessee's Johnny Majors won the South. Oklahoma's Jerry Tubbs won the Southwest. And Stanford's John Brodie -- who didn't place in the top five in any other region, and was seventh overall -- won the West.
Voters don't change. They're human, which means they're weak.
Come claim your Heisman, Tim Tebow. And the next time you say your prayers, thank God that McCoy, Bradford and Harrell are all in the Southwest.