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Heisman Trophy Trust is focused on fixing the wrong things

COMMENTARY — It's lunacy that the Heisman has decided to come after a few of us who believe transparency is preferable to secrecy instead of addressing the real issues it has with its voting process.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 16, 2013
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photo - Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first freshman to win the award, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams) ORG XMIT: NYHA113
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel poses with the Heisman Trophy after becoming the first freshman to win the award, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams) ORG XMIT: NYHA113

The Heisman Trophy wants to improve its voting procedures.

Bully for the little bronze statue.

If only it was trying to fix the right things.

Earlier this month, the Heisman Trophy Trust sent letters to about four dozen voters saying that it had become aware that they had revealed their ballots before last year's announcement, something that the Heisman asks voters not to do. They even included printouts of said violations.

I know. I got one of the letters.

“The Heisman Trophy Trust is inquiring as to why your vote was disclosed in violation of our clearly disseminated policy for electors, and whether you are able to commit in writing by April 8, 2013 to adhere to the Trust's nondisclosure policy,” the letter states. “The Heisman Trophy Trust ... will take your explanation into consideration when determining the 2013 electorate.”

Sounds like a threat, doesn't it?

I'm assuming that it is. I'm assuming that if I don't pinkie swear to keep my vote secret from now on that I will have it taken away.

It's lunacy that the Heisman has decided to come after a few of us who believe transparency is preferable to secrecy instead of addressing the real issues it has with its voting process.

Let's start with the number of voters.

The Heisman has 870 media members as the major part of its electorate. There's no problem with giving every past winner a vote, but 870 media members? That is way, way too many.

How do we know?

Gonzalo Le Batard has a vote. If that name doesn't ring a bell, that's because he is the father of Miami Herald columnist and ESPN personality Dan Le Batard. Even though the elder Le Batard co-hosts a show with his son on ESPN, you don't have to watch the off-the-cuff, Internet-video-fixated show for long to know that he isn't exactly a full-time member of the sports media.

Unfortunately, chances are good that his name probably wouldn't be the only one at which we'd scoff if we could get our hands on the secret list of Heisman voters.

Reduce the number of voters, and you increase the quality.

That's not the only way the Heisman could better its voting.

Right now, voters have several weeks during which they can submit their ballot. The thing is, voting opens before the regular season is over. And yes, there are voters who cast their ballots before all of the games have been played.

How is that a good thing?

For decades, allowing early votes was a product of having ballots mailed in. The Heisman wanted to build in time to allow the U.S. Postal Service to work, but now, that is a non-factor. Balloting is done via the Internet, so votes are submitted instantaneously.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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