Let me start with full disclosure: I do not vote for the Heisman, but I immensely respect the opinions of many of the voters. That said, if anyone is looking to get rid of their vote, I'd happily take the responsibility on for next year and beyond.
That sentence, by the way, may be enough for me to warrant a vote. The process of procuring a Heisman vote is, shall we say, ridiculous. From Heisman.com:
While the task of designating the most outstanding college football player was daunting, a crucial decision was designating the group of individuals to select him. It was determined that a logical choice was sports journalists from all across the country who, as informed, competent and impartial, would comprise the group of electors.
Seriously, that paragraph is on their site without any semblance of sarcasm. Informed, competent and, especially, impartial are three words I've never seen used together to describe the media before. But I digress.
The Heisman Trophy Trust governs the policies and procedures by which the balloting process is conducted. Specifically, six persons are chosen as Sectional Representatives.
The Sectional Representatives are responsible for the appointment of the State Representatives. State Representatives are given the responsibility of selecting the voters within their particular state.
The amount of votes that a particular state is allotted depends on the size of the state and the amount of media outlets within that state. Larger states such as California and Texas will naturally have more votes than smaller states such as Vermont and Delaware.
The states are divided into the six sections accordingly:
Far West: AZ, CA, HI, ID, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
Mid Atlantic: DC, DE, MD, NC, NJ, PA, SC, VA, WV
Mid West: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
North East: CT, MA, ME, NH, NYC, NY, RI, VT
South: AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, TN
Southwest: AR, CO, KS, MO, NE, NM, OK, TX
Each Section within the United States has 145 media votes, totaling 870 media votes across the country.
If you want to talk about East Coast bias, it's laid out clearly on the Heisman website. The Mid-Atlantic section is a joke. Trust me, I live in it. It makes no sense why that section isn't split between the South, North East or even Midwest, especially given that next season, many of the major teams in that region will be in the Big 12 or Big Ten.
I have nothing against writers in Delaware, New Jersey or Washington, D.C.—I am one, again—but shouldn't the voting count be based more on the proximity to major programs and not just the size of the state and the number of media outlets?
There is one major college football program in the state of New Jersey, for example (and some might make the joke of questioning how major), and there are really no major programs other than Rutgers within an hour or two of New York City, but because there are a lot of media outlets stationed there, they'd get more votes than, say, writers in South Carolina?
Conversely, those who cover big-time college football are often in the press boxes of their local games while the other candidates are playing. Voters who cover a specific beat have no choice but to watch games on tape or rely on highlights of other games to determine the most important college football honor in the country.
How informed or impartial can that be? And who else, by the way, gets to vote?
Additionally every former Heisman winner, 57 presently, has a vote as well. In 1999, The Heisman Trophy agreed to develop a special program to allow the public at large to become part of the balloting process by permitting one (1) fan vote eligible in the overall tabulation. This program once again continues this year through a partnership with Nissan North America, bringing the total number of voters for the 2013 Heisman race to 928.
Each voter then picks a player for first, second and third with three, two and one points given to each place. Those points are totaled up, and there's your Heisman winner.
Informed, competent and impartial.
Except it's not. Six people picked 50 others who were then responsible for picking the 870 voters who, very rarely unless they change jobs, ever relinquish their votes. Being a Heisman voter is not about who you know in college football, but who you know in college football. You know?
Is there a way to fix this? It's pretty simple, really.
Let every accredited organization or member of the media who covers the sport apply directly to the Heisman Trust to receive a vote. The trust can lean on schools and conferences to help determine which organizations are actively covering their teams. Organizations that have multiple writers who cover the sport can apply for multiple votes, and the votes are given out on an annual basis.
If the trophy already has nearly 1,000 voters, what's a few thousand more if it means getting a better assessment of who the best player in the country really is?