Structural regional bias in the Trophy balloting, an example.

For years now, I've been talking about the regional bias in the H------ Trophy balloting. If you haven't read it yet, dig into the item I wrote in 2003 about the structural regional bias that exists.

It's not as simple as East Coast voters not staying up late to watch evening games in the Pacific timezone. It's not as simple as Southern voters thinking the Pac-10 is soft. There's always been - and always will be - a certain amount of regional favoritism in the voting; whether deliberate or accidental.

Rather, the H----- Trust has simply shortchanged the West in terms of the number of votes. Here's an easy and crystal clear example. This year, we learned that the state of Alabama has 24 media voters. Last year, I learned that Oregon (where I live) has 10 media voters.

Here's the rub: According to the 2007 Census estimate, Alabama has 4.58 million residents. Oregon has 3.69 million residents.

So, Alabama has one H------ voter for every 191,000 people. Oregon has one voter for every 369,000 people. Alabama is 1.25 times the size of Oregon, but has 2.4 times as many votes.

That, in a nutshell, is structural regional bias. And it should be fixed.

Kari Chisholm | December 7, 2009 | Comment on This Post (39 so far)
Permalink: Structural regional bias in the Trophy balloting, an example.



Yeah, it's definitely helped Alabama win all of the Heisman's that they've won in their history... the fact is that even southern voters refuse to acknowledge great achievements by Crimson Tide players (the three biggest awards in CFB have never been won by an Alabama player)which is ludicrous.

Posted by: Mac | Dec 7, 2009 11:56:18 AM

This finally explains why Alabama has dominated the Heisman voting over the years and how, inexplicably, the Pac-10 (especially USC) has been completely shutout from the Heisman. I'm glad someone finally got to the bottom of this.

Posted by: Brian | Dec 7, 2009 11:56:37 AM

I found out that the Oklahoman has twice the voters as the Austin American Statesman. They are in the same region but stuff like that could have made a difference when it was McCoy vs. Bradford last year.

Posted by: Crawforce | Dec 7, 2009 11:57:37 AM

wah wah wah.

Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2009 12:10:43 PM

Why don't you type out heisman?

Posted by: Paul | Dec 7, 2009 12:12:57 PM

I love the shortsighted reactive responses. "Alabama has never won a Heisman, so you're full of it!" Mac and Brian are missing the point. Bias does not predict the winner, but, in a close race, tilts the scale. Alabama has never had a player this close to winning. The closest ever was David Palmer, who finished #3 in 1993 behind winner Charlie Ward (of the NY Knicks) and Heath Shuler of Tennessee. Ward had almost 3.5 times the number of Shuler votes and 8 times the number of Palmer votes.

The bigger question is not why Alabama has not won a Heisman. The question is why is there such a difference in the number of votes given to these two states? Imagine in presidential politics, if red states and blue states had an imbalance in the number of electoral votes for reasons not based on population or some other logical differentiator.

The fact is, whether it has helped Alabama win a Heisman or not, an imbalance exists, and there is no explanation for it.

Posted by: lamoneyman | Dec 7, 2009 12:29:08 PM



Posted by: Joe | Dec 7, 2009 12:39:08 PM

Dang it... Suh is a better overall player than Ingram or Gerhart... This is destroying my will to live...

Posted by: Danjer047 | Dec 7, 2009 1:04:31 PM

Why are you complaining about the West votes? In recent history the winners have included Palmer, Leinart, Bush, and now possibly Gerhart. It sure does not seem like the West's lack of voters is hurting them.

Posted by: Keith | Dec 7, 2009 1:10:33 PM

But you also have to consider, how many college football fans there are in Alabama compared to Oregon.

Football is king in the southeast, which means more fans and more writers.

Posted by: Wakeriderof87 | Dec 7, 2009 1:19:18 PM

I don't know if this has anything to do with it but Alabama (Alabama, Auburn, Troy, UAB) has twice as many FBS teams than Oregon (Oregon and Oregon St)

Posted by: GoSuh | Dec 7, 2009 1:55:43 PM

GoSuh, exactly. I would guess that Alabama has quite a few more media outlets and media members dedicated to covering college football than Oregon simply b/c of how rabid the fans there are. Let's all settle down with the conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Brian | Dec 7, 2009 2:04:58 PM

Having lived in many parts of the country and having been here in Alabama now for the better part of 2 decades, I can honestly say that here in the south the vast majority of folks (especially those folks in the "Sports" industry) not only pay more attention to college football, but closely follow it. There are simply no other sports that come close to the level of attention or scrutiny.

So instead of saying that the south (in your case Alabama) has an unfair numbers advantage in H------ voting, it might be more realistic to say that a greater percentage of people are more actively involved in college football than any other region.

With that being said, I do tend to believe there are regional biases. Consider the fact that out of the previous 20 H------ trophies, 13 went to the Big 10, Big 12, or Pac 10 combined with 5 more going to the state of Florida. As a matter of fact in the past 25 years only 3 players from the SEC have received that trophy. I guess all those "Southern" voters really showed them!

P.S. - Under no circumstances should the state of Florida be considered part of the "South" regardless of it's geographic location ;)

Posted by: AnXmarine | Dec 7, 2009 2:20:55 PM

I'm not sure how anyone can say Suh is just the bomb on defense. Rolando McClain for Alabama has 101 tackles which is 19 more than Suh. He has 51 solo and 50 assist. He has 2 ints to Suh's 1 and a FF on top of that. Granted he only has 4 sacks to Suh's 12, but Ro is a MLB. Obviously Suh is not the best defensive player in the nation. He might be the best DT, but that isn't what the award is about. Having Suh mentioned without Rolando is a joke and a travesty. I won't even begin to tell you how big a joke it is to compare Gerhart to Ingram. Ingram has 62 carries less than Gerhart but only trails Gerhart by 194 yards. If you don't think Ingram could get 194 yards on 62 carries against those pansy defenses Gerhart has played against... you people are retarded. Ingram is head and shoulders above the competition that has been listed. This shouldn't even be a contest. This is a bunch of people voting who haven't even sat down to review what these guys have actually accomplished. What a joke of a trophy.

Posted by: Billy | Dec 7, 2009 2:54:26 PM


Suh having stats that are comparable to LBs and DBs is precisely why he's getting so much hype. Rolando McClain had good stats but there are several MLBs with similar stats each year. ESPN's draft lab analyzes film and breaks down potential draft picks and they said...

"Suh is hands down the best player I have graded in the Draft Lab series. It is said that this is one of the deepest defensive line drafts in NFL history and the metrics say Suh is head and shoulders above his positional competition. He should be the No. 1 pick in the draft and, if I had a vote, I would nominate him for the Heisman Trophy without hesitation."

Watch him play. Athletic like a DB and strong like an ox. There's nobody like him.

Posted by: Mike in KC | Dec 7, 2009 3:21:33 PM

You are going to compare a DT's stats to a MLB's stats? Now that truly is the most retarded thing anyone could do. DTs are not supposed to have good stats, ever. Their job is to take up as much of the middle as possible and free up the fast DEs to get sacks and take out the lineman to get MLBs tackles. The fact that Suh has only 19 tackles less than a MLB(who you are saying is basically the 2nd coming of Christ) is hilarious considering the MLB is supposed to lead the defense in tackles every year for any defensive squad. Your little argument about Ingram being better than Gerhart statistically is funny because you failed to mention that Gerhart has 11 more TDs than Ingram. Gerhart gets more carries because they pound it with him in the redzone. I'm not going to argue that Gerhart is better overall than Ingram, but I do believe that Gerhart has performed better this year than Ingram. Quit having such a biased opinion and maybe people will take you seriously.

Posted by: DecK- | Dec 7, 2009 3:31:54 PM

You are going to compare a DT's stats to a MLB's stats? Now that truly is the most retarded thing anyone could do. DTs are not supposed to have good stats, ever. Their job is to take up as much of the middle as possible and free up the fast DEs to get sacks and take out the lineman to get MLBs tackles. The fact that Suh has only 19 tackles less than a MLB(who you are saying is basically the 2nd coming of Christ) is hilarious considering the MLB is supposed to lead the defense in tackles every year for any defensive squad. Your little argument about Ingram being better than Gerhart statistically is funny because you failed to mention that Gerhart has 11 more TDs than Ingram. Gerhart gets more carries because they pound it with him in the redzone. I'm not going to argue that Gerhart is better overall than Ingram, but I do believe that Gerhart has performed better this year than Ingram. Quit having such a biased opinion and maybe people will take you seriously.

Posted by: DecK- | Dec 7, 2009 3:31:54 PM

Yeah! but guess what??? Alabama would beat the S__t!! out of Oregen any given year, so quit crying because Oregen football is inferior to SEC. hahahahahahha

Posted by: Blevin | Dec 7, 2009 3:33:20 PM

Umm. I'm not sure who are you talking to but OREGON has an O at the end of it and Suh plays for the University of Nebraska so please never post anything on this website ever again.

Posted by: DecK- | Dec 7, 2009 3:37:44 PM

How many RBs have we seen over the years as good as Ingram, Gerhart, Spiller, etc...? In most cases, you only have to go back to the previous season to see someone that good. How many Vince Young's, Tommie Frazier's, and Michael Vick's have there been, yet none won this award. The award is for the most outstanding player, usually measured against other players at his position and his impact on a game. Usually, a defensive linemen that good is simply double teamed or they run away from him and that takes him out of the game. If it is a defensive back or linebacker, they run away from them, etc... Well, they did all of that to Suh and he still made them look foolis. They ran away from him, didn't work. They went shotgun, didn't work. They held him, didn't work. He held a 300 lb lineman with one hand and closeline the 6'2" 200 lb QB with the other. I know who is the most outstanding player, and I suspect that the 900+ Heisman voters do too. The question is do they have the integrity to admit it publically via their vote?

Posted by: Eric in KC | Dec 7, 2009 3:46:42 PM


You have probably not watched Suh play in a game other than the Big XII Championship. The reason he has that many tackels is because he can run down quarterbacks, not like that fat ass Terrance Cody (who after breaking through the line against Florida just stood there because he couldn't catch the quarterback), he doesn't let the running backs through the line, even if double teamed, and he can make tackles 15-20 yards. Rolando McClain has 101 tackels because all Cody can do is stand there and fill space, Suh goes above and beyond and leads the defense to the greatness that it has shown. Oh, and Eric in KC, I completly agree with your last comment.

Posted by: Eric Shuman | Dec 7, 2009 5:44:29 PM


So Ingram has 62 carries less than Gerhart and only about 200 yards less? Well that's a pretty good case for Ingram except for the fact that he has played 1 more game than Gerhart! I don't care if that extra game was against Florida's D, they were having a bad game and Toby could have ran all over just as easily and pilled up huge stats just like he does virtually every single game (unlike someone I know named Mark Ingram who choked against Auburn). Plus, look at how many more touchdowns Toby has. Without the extra game against Florida, Ingram's TD are nearly half of Gerhart's! In a race where almost all the candidates are pretty even, Toby has stood out as the best and most consistently dominant football player in the country.

Posted by: Adam | Dec 7, 2009 8:17:32 PM


Ingram has 62 less carries than Gerhart. Gerhart plays in the pac-10 which does not have near as good of defenses as the SEC does, i promise. Also Ingram is not even in the game the WHOLE game like Gerhart is! He splits the carries with Richardson! Also I believe Ingram has led his team to THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! and another thought for you: Ingram came out of the game after just the 1st quarter against Tn-chattanooga, and only played the first halves of the FIU AND NORTH TEXAS games. Bottom line is Ingram is a CHAMPION and the best player in college football. this should not even be close.

Posted by: Bob | Dec 7, 2009 11:41:42 PM

Put Gerhart and Ingram on the podium, let ncaa coaches pick which one they want... i bet 90% of them say Gerhart. "ingram is soo good" ingram plays with a better team against lesser defenses. "he splits the carries with richardson" yet richardson's stats are occasionally better than his and at least equal to. "National championship game" take out ingram and put in richardson or any other mediocre back and ull get the same result. Ya he plays for a better team...nobody knew this...? You ever watch Stanford Football so much on TV before this season? NO. Why? Because ONE player put it on the map. ONE SINGLE PLAYER. The player with the single most impact on this season. Gerhart.

Posted by: Trevor | Dec 8, 2009 12:14:46 AM

lol i like the "i promise" lol compare PAC 10 defenses vs SEC defensive stats. Go for it. Instead of making "promises" about something you don't know what your even talking about lol. Put in Richardson instead of Ingram and all of you ignorant Bama fans would be screaming "Richardson is sooooooo amazing! best ever!" lol. compare their stats, no major difference between em... maybe Richardson should be in this too ?

Posted by: Trevor | Dec 8, 2009 12:16:51 AM

What does state population have to do with number of Heisman voters? I don't remember anything about the Heisman in the Constitution. I don't know of a good argument why anyone in Oregon needs to get any vote at all. The argument that Heisman is a type of voting, and therefore should be confused with Congress or something, is hard to follow.

Posted by: joe | Dec 8, 2009 4:56:37 AM

Ridiculous to use Alabama's Heisman voters as an example of East Coast bias. Bama has never had a Heisman winner (think of Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome, Johnny Musso, Shawn Alexander, etc.) A total joke to say any Bama player has an edge. Think of all the West Coast (USC, especially) players who have won the Heisman. If anything, there has been a bias AGAINST Bama players all these years, many of whom were far more deserving of the Heisman than the athletes who won.

Posted by: Mark | Dec 8, 2009 8:01:51 AM

Well, Trent was the #2 RB in the nation coming out of high school, so I don't exactly consider him a "mediocre" back. Yes, SEC defenses ARE much better than those of the Pac-10 and it's not close. Finally, Richardson could actually end up being better than Ingram before his collegiate playing days are over. Currently, Richardson's stats are NOT on the same level as Ingram's, as someone else stated. With Ingram being the current "H------" frontrunner and Richardson a true freshman, that sure says a lot.

Posted by: Steven | Dec 8, 2009 10:08:02 AM

Richardson just might be better than Ingram. So what? Ingram is still better than Gerhart...the only players that need to be discussed are the 5 on the ballot. So to win the Heisman you need to be a good player on a team with a bunch of really crappy ones? LOL Nice logic.

Ingram has a higher ypc against stiffer defenses in the SEC. That's all anyone needs to know. Ingram's stats are from the biggest games (minus au, his one mulligan)...Gerhart, meanwhile, had a ton of carries against the weakest run defenses on Stanford's schedule...thereby padding his overall stats...which when you look at total yardage, Ingram, playing LESS than Gerhart, has about the same amount...against stiffer defenses. It's not even an argument people. Gerhart might win the thing...but he shouldn't.

Posted by: Chad | Dec 8, 2009 10:46:03 AM

On the actual subject of this post, regional bias. The notion is that the number of Heisman voters in Oregon compared to Alabama (using the example provided) should be roughly equivalent to the respective populations. That idea assumes that the same percentage of populations in the two states actually give a rip about football. I don't know about Oregon, but approximately 99% of people in Alabama live Saturday-to-Saturday in the fall. I wonder whether college football garners as much attention in the Northwest. I'm not saying it doesn't, I just don't know.

How about another ratio? The number of FBS schools in Oregon vs Alabama would be a good comparison. Oregon (Oregon, Oregon St. - 2) Alabama (Bama, Auburn, UAB, Troy - 4). Maybe that fact better explains the imbalance.

Posted by: Wayne | Dec 8, 2009 5:01:27 PM


Give him a year...Richardson has an amazing career ahead of him and he has proved to be able to help gain yards effectively and when you add him to Ingram (not replace such as against Auburn due to an injury) AL gets it done!!

Posted by: Natalee | Dec 8, 2009 5:16:58 PM

come on, how about using some meaningful numbers when comparing Oregon to Alabama... do a little radius work.... choose your distance, let's say a couple of hundred miles...... Alabama in the middle of dozens (+) of big time programs and DI schools that play football at the highest level...... Oregon.... well I guess you can count washington, idaho, and the Pacific Ocean, ok maybe a half dozen schools and that is STRETCHING it.....SEC, SEC,

Posted by: bama56 | Dec 8, 2009 6:14:28 PM

lamoneyman, how are we missing the point? Which is more important: the structure or the outcome? If someone is good enough, he should be able to impress everyone anyway; this sounds like a lot of sore-losing to me, and no one has even lost yet.

If you don't get enough votes, maybe you should have played better. If you are vain and selfish enough to care about winning the Heisman, and you feel like the West is underrepresented in the voting, why the hell would you go play in the Pac-10?

Relax; most of the voters in the South are leaving Ingram off their ballots completely anyway. Alabama will be shut out again, and the balance of the universe will remain intact.

Posted by: Jon | Dec 9, 2009 10:35:32 AM

Bama has 24 times the fan intensity that Oregon has!!!

Posted by: Bama WV | Dec 10, 2009 9:06:27 AM

Compare the defenses Gerhart has run against versus Ingram. It is laughable to compare Ingrams amazing performances against LSU, VT, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Florida, and others against PAC 10 defenses. Gerhart would spend the season on injured reserve in the SEC.

Posted by: Bama WV | Dec 10, 2009 9:14:01 AM

I would tend to agree with the argument that West coast should get more voters except it ends up balancing out in the end. The Mississippi and Tennessee Heisman voters do not even have Mark Ingram on their ballot for the sole reason that those two states do not want Alabama to get a Heisman.

This whole argument helps prove the point I've been making for a long time, and that is that the Heisman trophy is a joke. Let's face it guys, it really doesn't make any sense why you should be able to vote for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place with your vote. Everyone that has a vote should vote for the player that he thinks is the best player in college football, not the top 2 or 3.

Lastly, local media should not even get a vote. The only people that should be allowed to vote are former winners. But I would be fine with national guys like Herbstreit, Fowler, Mel Kiper, and Todd Blackledge, but the guys that write for the Birmingham News or San Jose Mercury News should not get a vote. They can even keep the fan vote as a part of the mix.

Posted by: Michael | Dec 11, 2009 4:03:19 PM

Alabama never had a Heisman winner idiot. Ingram had like 20 carries in the SEC championship idiots! Post facts! The Pac 10 wasn't shut out the race by Bama. This Heisman Trophy crap equals the Miss Congeniality award in a beauty pageant.

Posted by: Bored | Dec 11, 2009 6:34:37 PM

Gerharts a good back. But Gerhart couldn't run with the land sharks in the SEC. They would eat him alive. See what happens when he gets to the NFL. They're gonna ring that guy bell. You say that the defense in the Pac 10 and Big 12 are better. Call McCoy 1-08-10 and ask him do he feel that way.

Posted by: 4real | Dec 11, 2009 6:42:19 PM

Richardson had 11 carries for 80 yards against Florida! Ingram is, at least partly, a product of a dominating offensive line. Gerhart carried Stanford's entire team, all year long. Gerhart is the Most Outstanding Player.

Posted by: Bob | Dec 13, 2009 6:48:33 AM

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