The Hype-Man Trophy Voting Begins!

The marketing campaigns are now underway.   No, I’m not talking about the 2024 elections (though some states are hearing plenty of those ads already).

Right now, a relatively secret group of voters has just received a ballot for the annual award given to the college football player who (according to this group of voters) had the best season.

On Saturday, December 9 in New York City, the four finalists for the Heisman will be assembled and a nifty trophy will be handed to the winner.

Why is it called the Heisman Trophy?

This award ceremony began back in 1935.  The man whose name adorns the trophy is another story.

Born in 1869, John W. Heisman played club football in college and graduated with a law degree.  However, his heart was still in football, so he became a pioneering football coach.

John Heisman coached football programs at Oberlin College (Ohio), Auburn, Clemson, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson (western PA), and Rice University.  After retiring from coaching at age 62, Heisman was named the Athletic Director for the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City.   While there, he and the club members wanted to find a way to honor the nation’s top football player.  Heisman worked to develop an early model of the voting system which is still in use today.

The first winner in 1935 took home the “Downtown Athletic Club” award.  John Heisman died of pneumonia the following year in 1936.  The annual award’s name was changed to honor Coach Heisman beginning in late 1936 through today.

The Downtown Athletic Club of New York City still gives its annual award to “the best collegiate football player in the country.”

But according to whom?

The Heisman Trophy is determined by (you guessed it) 870 members of the media and the 57 living former winners of the award.   (No, I didn’t receive a ballot again this year).

These 870 media members are equally divided geographically with 145 voters in the Far West, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South, and Southwest regions.

Though the Downtown Athletic Club hasn’t asked me, I wonder why each of the nation’s 133 FBS head coaches is not permitted to vote, too.  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask the people who are responsible to develop a game plan to stop the best football players in the country?

If you think that your eyes glaze over when someone tries to explain the Electoral College system used in presidential elections, the rules governing the Heisman Trophy are rather complicated, too.

“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.”

Did you know that Lee Corso (the 88-year old headgear wearing star of ESPN’s College Football Game Day) is the current Sectional Representative for the South region?

Don Criqui (now 83 years old and formerly of CBS Sports) handles the same duties for the Northeast region.

Each Heisman voter must provide their first, second, and third choice for the winner.  The first choice receives three points, the second choice gets two points and the third choice receives one.

This year’s Heisman Trophy voters must submit their choices by this coming Monday, December 4.  The winner will be announced during a one-hour special on Saturday, December 9 at 7PM on ESPN.

Who are the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in 2023? 

Some Heisman Trophy contenders will be playing in conference championship match-ups this weekend.  Others played for teams which did not make it to the conference championships.

Let’s take a look at my list of Heisman Trophy favorites:

1-A    Bo Nix – Oregon QB

It feels odd to say “Oregon” when I remember most of this young man’s career as the oft-times “running-for-his-life” quarterback for three seasons at Auburn.  Nix has definitely made the most of his final two seasons after transferring west to Oregon.

His 11-1 Ducks team will be playing in the final Pac-12 Championship game against 12-0 Washington on Friday night (7PM on ABC).  If Oregon is able to avenge their only loss of the season against the Huskies and claim the Pac-12 Championship, Bo Nix will have one hand on the Heisman Trophy by the end of this weekend.

Bo Nix is one of the nation’s top passers and completes an incredible 79% of his attempts.  If Nix isn’t leading a national quarterbacking category, his closest challenger probably is.

1-B    Jayden Daniels – LSU QB

“That Jayden Kid” has a lot in common with Bo Nix.  Both started their careers at another university and are now working on a master’s degree at their new school.  Ironically, Jayden Daniels left the Pac-12 for the SEC, while Bo Nix escaped Auburn and ran to the Pac-12 to play for Oregon.  Both changes have worked out for the best.

Having seen Jayden Daniels in person against Georgia State a few weeks ago, I can say that his elusiveness afoot is truly amazing.  Let’s not forget that he has been the beneficiary of having a couple of future early-round NFL wide receivers in Malik Nabors and Brian Thomas, Jr.

Jayden Daniels has 2023 stats which rival LSU’s 2019 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Joe Burrow.

Working against Daniels is that Joe Burrow’s 2019 LSU team went undefeated, while Daniels has been quarterbacking a 9-3 LSU team in 2023.  LSU’s defense was one of the nation’s worst units for most of this past season.

The hype train at LSU pushing for QB5 Jayden Daniels to win the Heisman Trophy has been phenomenal.  The team’s website devotes an entire page full of stats, highlights, and the quarterback’s photogenic smile.  LSU really wants their quarterback to win this award.

LSU Tiger faithful must hope that the Washington Huskies will take down Oregon on Friday night with Bo Nix having a mediocre-to-miserable outing.

3.    Michael Penix, Jr. – Washington Huskies QB

Penix became the front-runner for the Heisman a few weeks ago after his Huskies beat Oregon during the regular season.  Since then, this transfer quarterback from Indiana (yes, another transfer!) posted less impressive stats in recent games.  Last week’s game against 5-7 Washington State required a field goal on the game’s final play to pull out a victory for the Huskies.  During that moment of truth, Penix was shown on national television hiding behind a sideline tent and unable to watch the kick.  That picture may have negatively resonated with many Heisman voters.

For Michael Penix, Jr. to capture the Heisman, his Huskies must completely thrash Oregon in a big rout Friday night.  I wouldn’t count on it.

4.   Marvin Harrison, Jr. – Ohio State Buckeyes WR

The incredibly talented son of one of the NFL’s all-time best wide receivers, Harrison has made a number of highlight reel plays over his career at Ohio State.  However, Ohio State’s loss last weekend at Michigan just derailed any chance (albeit small) that Harrison had to win this year’s Heisman Trophy.

The good news for Harrison is that NFL scouts absolutely love him!  He is projected to be a top three pick next spring in the NFL draft.  He will become a very wealthy young man very soon.

5.   Ollie Gordon, Jr.  –  Oklahoma State Cowboys RB

Gordon has been the workhorse for the 9-3 Cowboys this season.  Oklahoma State has an opportunity to ruin 11-1 Texas’ chances of making the four-team College Football Playoffs by defeating the Longhorns in the Big 12 title game this Saturday at 11AM on ABC.

The Cowboys’ sophomore running back leads the nation with 1,580 rushing yards and is second in the country with 20 touchdowns via the run.  With the other four players on my list leaving college after this year, Ollie Gordon becomes a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy next year in 2024.

Prediction Time!

This is Bo Nix’ Heisman Trophy – IF his Oregon Ducks beat Washington this Friday night in the final Pac-12 Championship game.

If Nix plays poorly in a loss to Washington, LSU’s QB5 (Jayden Daniels) will soon celebrate becoming the school’s second Heisman Trophy winner in the past four years.