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Does Heisman Have More Or Less Intrigue?

Heisman Trophy Award
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Heisman Trophy Award

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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