The last weekend of regular season games did little to clear up the Heisman race.
So much so that when the 925 ballots that were due from voters yesterday are finally revealed this Saturday, it might be the closest vote in years.
So the question is: What is the marketing value of a close race?
Do people care more or less when there’s not a big favorite?
Does the mystery of who is going to win actually draw people to Saturday’s ESPN broadcast.
While there isn’t a clear-cut favorite, there are many story lines this year to promote. Most prominently, Mark Ingram is trying to become the first Alabama player to win the award and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh is trying to become the first defense-only player to win the trophy. Then you throw in college football’s most marketable names, 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, last year’s Heisman runner-up University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and a surprise in Stanford running back Toby Gerhart.
But, as the Nielsen TV data shows below, ESPN’s ratings over the last nine years aren’t related to how close the final voting is. Note that the margin is the difference in total votes between the winner and the runner-up.
Year Winner Viewers Margin
2008 Sam Bradford 4.15M 122
2007 Tim Tebow 4.28M 254
2006 Troy Smith 2.95M 1,662
2005 Reggie Bush 3.49M 933
2004 Matt Leinart 3.37M 328
2003 Jason White 2.89M 128
2002 Carson Palmer 3.99M 233
2001 Eric Crouch 2.17M 62
2000 Chris Weinke 2.18M 76
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