Bradford and McCoy splitting votes? No, it's the Bradford/McCoy alliance that's hurting Tebow.

There's been a lot of chatter out there about how Tim Tebow is surely going to win the Trophy this year because the voters in the Southwest - which includes both Texas and Oklahoma - are going to split their votes between Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.

For example, Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports:

Votes are in, and voters vote for what they see. It's as innocent, and as guilty, as that. And voters in the South have seen a full dosage of Tim Tebow of Florida. Voters in Middle America and westward have seen equal parts of Texas' Colt McCoy, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell. So you watch -- that trio of Big 12 quarterbacks will divvy up all those votes west of the Mississippi.

When the results are announced Saturday, Tebow will have carried the South -- and that will carry him to the Heisman. This isn't a prediction. This is a lock.

Well, my sportswriter friends, leave the political analysis to the professionals. (i.e. yours truly.)

If the H------ Trophy vote were a single-vote election - like the presidential election - then you'd be right. As our declared-voter analysis has consistently shown, Tim Tebow will wind up with the most #1 votes.

But it's not. Rather, the Trophy vote is a ranked-choice vote - where the #1 vote scores three points, the #2 vote scores two points, and the #3 vote scores one point. Put another way, a #2 vote is worth 66.6% of a #1 vote.

The purpose of this kind of voting system is precisely to prevent the kind of regional voting - homer-ism - that tends to plague these things.

Sure, there's always guys who vote a ballot that's all homers, but that's unusual. Instead, usually you get the plausible homer vote in first place, and then two top candidates in the next two. (Or, sometimes, two plausible candidates in the top two, and a homer underdog in the third spot.)

But this year, with two plausible candidates from the Southwest, we're seeing lots of ballots with BOTH of them in the top two spots - Bradford/McCoy or McCoy/Bradford - pushing Tim Tebow down to the #3 spot on those ballots... which is hurting Tebow outside his home region.

Ignoring ballots with only a single vote or with a non-finalist in the top two spots, a quick analysis of the 202 ballots we've seen that have finalists in the top two spots reveals:

  • Of the 63 ballots with Bradford #1, 36 (57%) have McCoy #2.
  • Of the 62 ballots with McCoy #1, 44 (71%) have Bradford #2.
  • Of the 77 ballots with Tebow #1, 45 (58%) have Bradford #2 and 32 (42%) have McCoy #2.
  • That's 80 ballots that were either Bradford/McCoy or McCoy/Bradford - and just 45 ballots that were either Bradford/Tebow or McCoy/Tebow.
  • Put another way: 152 ballots have Bradford in one of the top two spots, 130 ballots have McCoy at #1 or #2, and just 122 ballots have Tebow in the top two.

Ultimately, when the story of this Trophy campaign is written, it'll be the #2 votes for Sam Bradford that made the difference. And far from splitting the vote, it's a Bradford/McCoy alliance pushing Tebow to #3 - that's defining the outcome.

Kari Chisholm | December 13, 2008 | Comment on This Post (23 so far)
Permalink: Bradford and McCoy splitting votes? No, it's the Bradford/McCoy alliance that's hurting Tebow.



Voters who picked Tebow needed to leave Big 12 QBs off their ballots like Big 12 fans left Tebow off their ballots. and this is how things should have gone.

Big 12 Qbs have no business being on there considering the defenses they face.

Posted by: Teboned | Dec 13, 2008 12:51:35 PM

...and Tebow has no business being on there based on the stats he put up this year. He shouldn't have won last year because he lost 4 games. See, anyone can come up with reasons someone shouldn't be a candidate, when in actuality, all three are very deserving candidates for the H.

Posted by: JC | Dec 13, 2008 1:04:40 PM

BTW, I tried to find some evidence to substantiate a regional bias claim here -- and it wasn't there. There were Bradford/McCoy and McCoy/Bradford votes in every region... Just more evidence that claims of a big regional split are basically bunk.

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 13, 2008 1:11:37 PM

The Tulsa World has 6 separate ballots? You find this credible? Each list Bradford-McCoy-Tebow. I find this highly unlikely that a podunk news paper in Tulsa has six seperate ballots. Now, perhaps you are listing what they have learned from others, kind of like hearsay. Still suspect.

I notice boys and girls, the projected margin is shrinking. Hmm, will be interesting.

Posted by: David | Dec 13, 2008 1:30:58 PM

BTW - just wanted to say THANK YOU Kari for running this site and doing all the hard work it takes to gather the data and make intelligent projections from it. I respect you for waiting to project until you felt you had enough data to make a solid projection as well as working so hard when ill.

Great job. I hope you can make some money off this site somehow, you deserve it!

Posted by: George | Dec 13, 2008 1:35:57 PM

Your breakdown of the Bradford/McCoy "splitting the vote" issue is spot on. However, it's one side of the coin. The other side is that if Tebow wins (and presumably making Bradford second place), it will be because Tebow had enough first place votes to outweigh the fact that many Bradford/McCoy and McCoy/Bradford voters put him third. In that case, Bradford will have been hurt by voters (particularly in the SW) splitting their 1st place votes between him and McCoy.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 13, 2008 1:36:28 PM

david... go back under your rock. your facts are wrong... check before your spout off

Posted by: p | Dec 13, 2008 1:46:26 PM

if i do my math right, this may not be relevant. if we imagine a world without any other candidates, such that there are only TT and SB on the ballot, it turns out that SB wins head to head. analyzing your 249 ballots (thanks excel!),

110 published ballots favor TT over SB
128 published ballots favor SB over TT
11 published ballots did not indicate a vote for SB or TT

so for once, OU wins the head to head! if i did this analysis right, it makes me feel better as a TT fan that there was not a "ross perot" or "texas tech" effect. (of course, this data is only as accurate as the 249 ballots).

Posted by: z | Dec 13, 2008 1:54:38 PM

Thanks Kari!! Excellent analysis. I project you have another winner!

Posted by: Chuck | Dec 13, 2008 2:07:46 PM

The Big 12 alliance was what I feared and completely agree with your thought process. The last two weeks when I knew it was down to these 3 I figured the voters would most likely be caught between 2 great QBs with very similar stas and 1 Great QB with intangibles. Since they couldn't decide which one would be better they'd have the 2 Big 12 guys in the 2 main spots forcing Tebow to 3rd or to be left off for a homer vote for their local guy.

Oh well... I just hope the final vote is the closests ever in the history of the StiffArm, becuse really it should be with 3 amazing choices!

Posted by: Tom Merritt | Dec 13, 2008 2:10:22 PM

"The Tulsa World has 6 separate ballots? "

Yes, they do. Next time, try clicking on the link.

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 13, 2008 2:20:28 PM

Z--- I agree. I'm working on exactly that sort of analysis right now.

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 13, 2008 2:21:36 PM

Interestingly enough, though we are technically past the margin of error for tracking an individuals final percentage ...

The projected difference between #1 and #1 last year was 19%. The actual difference was 9%. A full 10% closer than the projection.

If you have something similar happen this year, especially with all the late voters and the increased turnout with online ballots ... things could get interesting.

For instance, our beat writer for a Gator site is up there, and quite a few of the Southwest voters he has talked to that are there are telling him they put whichever Big 12 QB they didn't vote for at #3, because they wanted to ensure a win and the voting was trending very close before the vote deadline. Which is something we didn't see in the counted votes from that region Stiffarm has now.

Tim may get more #2 votes in that region than people are thinking.

Posted by: doug | Dec 13, 2008 2:57:07 PM

But the Tulsa voters DID NOT all vote for bradford.. If your link says they did, then your LINK is wrong.

Posted by: p | Dec 13, 2008 3:02:46 PM

They do not all list "bradford" firt as that poster said... get YOUR facts correct

Posted by: p | Dec 13, 2008 3:04:08 PM

Kari, Did you apply the percentage of known Heisman winner voter ballots to the unknown Heisman winner voters? It seems Tebow is not getting much love from the previous winners.

Posted by: Chuck | Dec 13, 2008 3:28:11 PM

Z (and Kari),

The "splitting the vote" concept is still relevant, even after your analysis showing that more voters favor Bradford over Tebow head to head. The reason is because without McCoy (or some other comparable competitor in the SW region taking first place votes from Bradford), the people preferring Bradford over Tebow would do so with MORE impact. In other words, Bradford would gain from voters ranking him first over Tebow 3rd instead of ranking Bradford 2nd over Tebow 3rd. If Tebow wins, one factor in his victory will be the fact that McCoy drained 1st place votes that would otherwise go to Bradford.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 13, 2008 3:48:07 PM

"But the Tulsa voters DID NOT all vote for bradford.. If your link says they did, then your LINK is wrong."

Again, it's going to be useful to actually click on the link.

The Tulsa World is reporting that the Tulsa World has six voters, and that five of the Tulsa World voters voted for Bradford and one Tulsa World voter voted for McCoy. Four of them gave #3 votes to Tebow, and two gave #3 votes to Harrell.

Now, if you can't trust the Tulsa World to tell you how the Tulsa World voters voted, well, then there's no point in any of this.

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 13, 2008 3:54:08 PM

Jack, you're right. It's also correct to say that if Colt McCoy wasn't in this thing, and all the Bradford/McCoy/Tebow votes became Bradford/Tebow/other votes, then it would be much more likely that Tebow would be winning right now.

In any three-way split, the disappearance of one of the options is going to benefit one of the other options...

Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Dec 13, 2008 3:57:48 PM


Definitely. However, because Bradford has fewer first place votes than Tebow, he is feeling the "McCoy drain" on first place votes more than Tebow is. This is also borne out in the fact that Bradford is 2nd on far more of McCoy's first place ballots than Tebow is.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 13, 2008 4:11:29 PM

I beleive the trophy should be given to an overall player's performance and not a player with good stats because as we all no that no team in the Big 12 played no team ranked in the top 30 defenses except for Oklahoma(twice). If Tebow was in the Big 12 with those types of defenses, he would of thrown for probaly 5000 or maybe 6000 yards... So look at those stats......

Posted by: jimmy | Dec 13, 2008 4:19:12 PM

Yep, Tebow is unlucky that Colt McCoy is still in the running. Too many voters are going 1-2 Big 12 when otherwise those second-place votes would have handed him the trophy.

Posted by: __ | Dec 13, 2008 5:21:57 PM

Too many people regard statistics as their main point in who wins the Heisman. The only reason OU has put up 60 or so points over the stretch is that they leave their first team offense and defense in the whole game. How many games was the UF up by 35 by half or early in the third quarter at which point they pulled Tebow and most of the 1st team O & D? Just to finish the math implied here, if Tebow had Bradford's number of attempts he would have had 4141 yds, 45 TDs and only 3 INTs. Not to mention Tebow's 540 yds and 12 TDs rushing compared to Bradfords 64 yds and 5 TDs. Just goes to show that no matter what people say about 'class,' running up the score really gets you into the Big 12 and BCS title games and gets your QB the Heisman.

Posted by: Joe C | Dec 14, 2008 12:02:41 PM

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