We go through this every year. Hundreds of media blowhards nationwide get their Heisman ballots, put together some logically inconsistent rationale for who they rank where—when usually the real answer is either "this guy's record is the best" or "I am the most familiar with this player because he plays football closest to where I live"—and then fire off a semi-hearted, self-important column about their vote and call it a day.
Suffice it to say, we can do better. We should do better. We must do better.
There's the tricky aspect of how to do better, though, and there the path gets considerably muddier. For all you can criticize about the current Heisman voting process, at the very least it resembles a national consensus. So let's start out with maintaining that aspect of it, but...different.
Nationwide player vote
It's exactly what it sounds like. Each team nominates four players a year—probably the team captains—who submit their ballots for their best players of the year with the caveat that they can't vote for themselves or teammates. It can be up to the student-athlete-voters whether this selection process takes place between themselves or involves the entire team.
PROS: If anyone's conditioned to notice the nuances of what separates great players from the good, it's the guys who are tasked with preparing to face these guys week in and week out. Writers see results; players know what led to them.
CONS: Probably just as prone to regionalism and record-worship as the scribes, if not more so. Rivalries and perceived slights will probably factor in more than overall assessments of individual players' seasons and talents. And who ever thought giving these kids more homework was a good idea?
Reality competition show
Maybe we're going about things all wrong, though. Maybe if we want to find the best player in college football, the real way to go is hands-on, in-depth evaluation. And what better engine to do just that than the finest televised innovation since HD TV or the DVR: the reality competition show.
PROS: We get to line the best players in college football up and have them run 40-yard dashes against each other, give presentations on the inverted veer, run pass plays blindfolded and cook the meanest risotto. Wait, that's "Top Chef." Actually come to think of it, let's leave that one in, because now that's something I want to know about these guys.
CONS: Some may find this process both frivolous and tedious, and it certainly obligates the players to a larger degree than anything else we can think of. Also, the censors will need to be on hand for when an apron-wearing running back with a bad attitude asks "what the [bleep] is risotto?"
Cage fighting tournament
Now we're talking. Have everyone vote on their Heisman candidates, pick your four or five finalists, then it's time to get into the Octagon and fight your way to the most revered trophy in sports.
PROS: Look, maybe we're old-fashioned, but we believe any self-respecting Heisman Trophy winner knows how to take a punch. We want the Heisman Trophy winner to be the meanest, toughest player in college football.
CONS: Future trophy presentation ceremonies marred by copious amounts of blood flowing from face of champions. Coaches would prefer not to see their star players put into kimuras until after the bowl game, thank you. Voters keep trying to get Ray Lewis nominated for Heisman 17 years after collegiate career ended.
How would you like to see the Heisman voting process changed?
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