Heisman Trophy: Why the Uproar over Four Oklahoman Writers Voting Te'o No. 1?

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Linebacker Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Four writers from The Oklahoman revealed who they voted for on their 2012 Heisman ballots and that has created an interesting debate: How was Johnny Manziel not voted No. 1? 

Heisman voters Jenni Carlson, Michael Baldwin, John Helsley and Jason Kersey all voted for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o as their No. 1 selection on their Heisman ballots. Interestingly, only Baldwin voted Manziel No. 2 on his ballot; the other three had Manziel in the third spot on their ballots. 

Manziel is the prohibitive favorite to win the 2012 Heisman so naturally, conspiracy theorists came up with what they thought was the reason for his lack of first-place votes: Backlash over Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 last year.

Really? A voter would be so upset over a team's departure leaving a conference short of required members to hold a conference championship that he or she would intentionally downgrade a player's achievements for a prestigious award? 

If that was their intention, why would they publicize their votes and call more attention to how they voted? If they truly did collude on how they voted, wouldn't they try and keep that as quiet as possible? After all, voters aren't required to publicize their selections. 

From the Heisman Trust's annual instructions to all voters:

Lastly, the Heisman Trust would like to remind all electors that it is against our policy to publicly release their ballot selections. Heisman electors should keep their votes confidential until after the Heisman announcement. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.  

Many Heisman voters dismiss that little blurb because in this high-tech, social media era, nothing is secret anymore. 

But what's really disturbing is that people are questioning why Te'o was No. 1 on their ballots. Does that not imply he doesn't deserve the award? How dare they vote Te'o over Manziel!

Let's be honest here, all three of the Heisman finalists deserve this award, and the final balloting results will probably indicate a very close finish for all three of the finalists. But to criticize a personal selection because it doesn't fit in with what many believe to be the winner of the Heisman is ludicrous.

Perhaps those four writers were surprised by Te'o's incredible performance against Oklahoma in the Sooners' 30-13 loss to Notre Dame? We can assume that these writers knew about Te'o but probably didn't have any real opportunities to see him in action for an entire game since they spend most fall weekends covering Oklahoma football teams.

Notre Dame's visit to Norman, Oklahoma could have been the turning point for them in evaluating Te'o, and if that's the case, then give them props for not having regional bias reflected in their voting.

Every year Heisman electors in the six geographic regions seem to overwhelmingly vote for a finalist closest to their region. We can almost predict that the entire Midwest region will have Te'o No. 1. Likewise, the Southeast will have Manziel No. 1 because Texas A&M plays in the SEC. But Texas is also part of the Southwest so Manziel, a Tyler, Texas native, may get a lot of votes from his home state despite the state's allegiance to the Big 12.

Isn't it refreshing to see four No. 1 votes from the Southwest go to a player who plays in the Midwest? 

Furthermore, Kansas State—like Oklahoma—is part of the Big 12 so if these voters did have biases why didn't they have Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein at the top of their ballots? Again, they look to be completely transparent in their voting. 

Finally, when talking about perceived biases it's sometimes difficult to forget that a lot of voters have limited exposure to football games outside their immediate areas. They vote for who they think is an outstanding football player based on what they see. 

It's also important to remember that nowhere does the Heisman Trust ask its electors to vote for the "best" college football player.

The Heisman Trust's mission statement does include its criteria for the award which is "the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." 

Pursuit of excellence with integrity. 

If someone can argue how Manti Te'o doesn't fit that criteria, step right up. 

We're waiting.