The Heisman Watch and the Heisman Poll

After reading some recent comments, I want to use this post to clarify the differences between the HP Heisman Watch and the Heisman Poll.

The HP Heisman Watch (the big eyeball on the left sidebar) is my own personal analysis of the Heisman race.  Its goal is to figure out who is actually going to win the trophy, not to predict the order of the final vote.  In my methodology, I use the Heismandments and provide my own read on which candidate is best carrying the day in the realm of publicity and name recognition.  It is a projection of how the race will end up based on current information, not a gauge of the present state of the race.

That task falls to the Heisman Poll (also on the left sidebar) which provides us a weekly snapshot of Heisman voter sentiment thanks to the input of 13 Heisman voters who are kind enough to take part in the project.  The poll is valuable because it surveys voters who have local, regional and national focuses, as well as a few who have editorial responsibilities that takes them away from the daily grind of the beat, which I think make the poll more representative of the larger Heisman electorate.  The weekly survey gives us an insight into the pulse of the Heisman race.

The two methods will not always mesh (though they usually do in the end), but I think both are helpful in understanding the ins and outs of the race for the most prestigious award in sports.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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9 Responses to The Heisman Watch and the Heisman Poll

  1. Ed Newman October 7, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    My question still stands: why do you have a “If The Vote Was Held Today” section of the Watch AND a Heisman poll?

    Essentially you are predicting the results of the Heisman Poll a day before you release it. Why? As you said the Poll is more representative of current voter sentiment than your single opinion (and consequently it should be more accurate).

  2. HP October 7, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    The reason I made that prediction is that while I think the Poll is a good indicator, it obviously only canvasses 13 voters, most of whom are very in tune to the CFB scene. so my prediction tries to take into account those who might not be following it as closely right now (past heisman winners, retired journlists, etc.). There is a good chunk of voters–maybe 20%–who aren’t really paying attention to what’s going on right now and will vote based on word of mouth or public perception and that’s what my prediction entails.

  3. sandymex October 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    Ed –
    The reason the Heisman Pundit feels the need to put his own spin on the race before he provides the vote is because he’s really not a pundit but an advocate.

    HP –
    The reason you’ve gotten so many questions about your tactics and reasoning is because your “read” on the race was that Jacory Harris vaulted from 5th to 2nd based on the Virginia Tech game. I’m pretty sure that was the single worst performance by a candidate this year.

  4. Heismanpundit October 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm #


    1. for whom am I advocating?

    2. Harris’ performance was NOT the single worst by a candidate this year. You clearly didn’t watch the game.

    3. Harris did not vault to second based on what happened in the Va. Tech game, but based on how the day’s events and the information at the time affected the overall trajectory of the season.

    4. I actually don’t get a whole lot of questions, except from the occasional newbie. The only people who truly don’t get it are the myopic types such as yourself who can never see past their own team.

  5. sandymex October 8, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Jacory Harris went from 5th to 2nd the weekend of the VT game and you know that made no sense. Harris had 122 net yards and completed 36% of his passes. He had no TDs, unless you count his fumble returned by Virginia Tech. He also had an INT that setup another VT score.

    Like I said, I’m pretty sure that’s the worst performance by a candidate… but you say I’m just a myopic homer who can’t see past my own team, so maybe you can’t point some performances that were worse.

  6. Heismanpundit October 8, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    1. Again, for whom am I advocating?

    2. You didn’t watch the game. While Harris’ numbers were bad, he didn’t play as bad as the stats indicated. It was a wet field and he had a lot of key balls dropped on him, which led me to believe he was not a flash in the pan. Of course this was borne out by his performance against OU the following week.

    3. Jahvid Best’s last two weeks were worse. Jevan Snead has had a couple disastrous performances. Spiller has had some tough games, as has all the OKstate guys. But then you would know this if you actually watched games other than Florida games.

    Miami will be a solid favorite in the rest of their games, which means Harris has a chance to put up good numbers for an 11-1 traditional power. In the Heisman realm, that means you have a shot to win the Heisman if everything else falls into place.

  7. sandymex October 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    You were still on the Jahvid Best bandwagon after the Oregon game… you kept him 3rd on your list! Now you say it was a worse performance than Harris? I disagree with you, but it can be tough to compare rbs to qbs. Are there any qb contenders that you think have had worse games than Harris did against VT?

    I did watch the Miami-Virginia Tech game. Harris played very poorly: 122 yards, he was responsible for both Miami turnovers, he got sacked several times and had another fumble that Miami recovered. He scored 0 TDs and his team only scored 1 TD all night.

    Your final comment is the kind of inconsistency that makes me think you are acting as an advocate. You have said that Harris has a relatively weak remaining schedule and so he should finish strongly. However you suggest that the weaker teams Tebow plays should be held against him. You might explain and elaborate, but it just seems that the standards you apply shift depending on who you’re applying them to. As another example you point out that Harris had some dropped passes in the Virginia Tech game. Tebow has had 5 well thrown TD passes dropped by receivers this year. His passer rating would be well over 200 if these balls had been caught.

    All this being said, I appreciate your continued willingness to discuss these things.

  8. Heismanpundit October 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    There is no bandwagon regarding a player. I stated very clearly from the beginning that Best’s Heisman hopes would rest on the USC game, so a flub before that game could conceivably be made up for easily by a fantastic game against the Trojans. Once he didnt have that game, he was out, as I always wrote he would be.

    Harris did not play well against va tech, but as I wrote earlier, his performance was not enough to eliminate him due to his performances in the other high-profile games he played plus the way his season projects and the way I think his candidacy will appear to Heisman voters as a result. Furthermore, when it came to my micro analysis of his chances, I was able to discern that his performance against Va tech was not a complete meltdown of the type that makes you think ‘he’s overrated’. Rather, it was pretty clear that the circumstances of the game–heavy rain, dropped passes, sloppy overall play, blocked punt, etc.–were major contributors to his stat line. He did not do well in these circumstances, but neither would many quarterbacks. This helped lead me to believe that he would probably rebound nicely the rest of the year and indeed he did do so against a very good Oklahoma defense. Maybe he won’t finish out the year strong and maybe Miami doesn’t go 11-1, but if he does, you have to admit his chances will be very good.

    I’ve never written that Tebow’s weak schedule should be held against him. I don’t think I ever write ‘should’ when I analyze the race. I do not look at it how it ‘should’ be but how it ‘is’.

    You did hit on something: Different and shifting standards do indeed apply to different players in the Heisman race. That is the reality. All the players are at different stages in their development and in the consciousness of the Heisman electorate. Some need to do different things than others. Tebow is on a different plane–not only is he a former winner, but he is trying to be only the second two-time winner, so his is a very unique situation. He is in a different situation than McCoy and both of them are in different situations than Harris and Clausen. I’ve written extensively on all the issues surrounding all these guys for the entire year and it’s hard to recap for you in a comment block.

  9. Ed Newman October 8, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    OK, now I have to jump back in. You say Harris has a chance to put up “good” numbers (He is on pace to have 3,024 passing yards with 24 TDs and 15 picks by the time of the Heisman vote)for a traditional Heisman power. I agree he has a chance to put up good numbers, but only a very very slight chance to put up exceptional numbers. But doesn’t Heismandment #2 require exceptional numbers for a sophomore to win? Don’t you have him too high (#3)?