Brave New Heisman

Here’s a good read from blogger Brendan Loy about how voters in college football–in respect to both the team rankings and the Heisman–are getting smarter.

All of which leads to the question: are Heisman voters smarter than we’ve been giving them credit for? Or, more precisely, have they become smarter, or perhaps I should say, fairer? And if so, is this indicative of a broader trend among college football’s opinion-poll decision-makers generally?

I submit that it is. The same increase in smarts/fairness, and concomitant decrease in mindless collective-consciousness-type voting, has also been evident this season in the AP poll and, to a lesser but still significant extent, the coaches poll.

I agree and I think this year’s Heisman race could be seminal in that regard.  This is the first season that all the Heisman ballots were cast electronically.  It’s the first Heisman race where hordes of writers, coaches, players and other media were Twittering, blogging and updating Facebook pages.  Information is flowing faster than ever before and, as a result, voters are more informed than ever before.

As this new generation of tech-savvy voters start to take over–and as the old guard fades away a bit–I expect the rules that govern the Heisman process are going to change, too.  Ndamukong Suh’s spontaneous Heisman campaign–created, basically, on the strengths of one big game–points to the direction things could be headed.   We really might one day see a defensive player win, or a true freshman, or even an offensive lineman, because of a couple performances that spread like wildfire throughout the various networks we all rely on.

It could mean fewer blowout wins in the future and more races like this year’s, where four or five worthy players make a serious run.

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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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7 Responses to Brave New Heisman

  1. Brendan Loy December 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Hey, thanks for the link! I’m glad to hear I’m not just out in left field on this, and that a respected Heisman authority things I may be onto something!

    Go Suh/Gerhart! Beat Ingram!

  2. Bucknut December 9, 2009 at 2:53 am #

    Um…Does Charles Woodson ring a bell? I know he was a punt returner on special teams and played WR a little, but he was a DB first and foremost.

  3. JMB December 9, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    HP, do you also think this is the cause of the increased viability of sophomore challengers in recent years? A lot of these guys are coming in with huge media/internet/recruiting hype (like Tebow) and so they have good name value before even playing a down. Others (like Sam Bradford) build up their hype with massive freshman seasons, and this year we have even seen that an under-the-radar sophomore can become a contender by having big games and playing for a big team (Ingram).

  4. HP December 9, 2009 at 10:58 am #

    1. Charles Woodson was a defensive player who only won because he played offense and returned kicks. So I was referring to true defensive players, like Suh.

    2. I do think the internet has changed the whole PR aspect of the Heisman and I will have to look at it all and figure out some new adjustments to the Heismandments.

  5. V. Money December 9, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Toby Gerhart, a legit Heisman contender, wears #7 at Stanford. Where have I seen this before?

  6. CB December 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    More information doesn’t necessarily equate to more informed. Information overload has been the downfall of many a leader as the noise level becomes too great.

    The last sentence of the second to last paragraph is exactly my worry on the new guard. People are prone to act on emotion rather than allowing time to reflect on what has truly transpired over the year. One big game, one bad game should not make or break a Heisman as we all have said but continue to argue for our favorite’s cause.

  7. Anonymous December 9, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    I think the Heisman voters are much dumber than we think.