No freshman has ever won the Heisman.
But this is 2012.
We have Twitter now. We have Facebook groups. We have grassroots campaigns and 24-hour news cycles and YouTube.
We have a Heisman campaign site for Johnny Football, even though team rules preclude the freshman from talking to the media.
And therefore, we have constant unending pressure on voters.
It used to be that award voters prided themselves on honoring tradition. Sometimes they "honored" it to the point of absurdity, like those voters who have thus far ensured that no one is ever unanimously elected to Cooperstown.
But it's a lot harder now. The Internet knows who the Heisman voters are.
Much of the focus of whether or not Manziel will win the Heisman is not about whether or not he qualifies as "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity," but whether or not the voters will support a freshman for the first time in the award's history.
The voters are human, and they are susceptible both to pressure and to the idea that they are stodgy and boring and predictable. No one, with the possible exception of my father, enjoys being thought of as stodgy and boring and predictable.
Planting in the voters' heads the idea that a vote that does not go for a (very viable, totally qualified) candidate who is a freshman is tantamount to an admission of being an unsophisticated, tiresome, boring troglodyte is a very, very powerful thing to do—even unintentionally.
If you can sway 10 percent of the voters into bumping Manziel up from second to first, or maybe even from third to second, well....
...as we know from the past couple months, swing voters are the most important kind.