Dear Heisman Trust:
First off, congratulations on another well-organized voting process, and thank you for letting me participate. I cast my vote Monday. More importantly, kudos for what you do with Heisman charities. It's an important and worthy endeavor.
Now it's time to take you to task.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony is Saturday night, and there has been very little anticipation for it. Yes, a big reason is the lack of drama, the vast consensus being that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will win.
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But it's partly your fault too.
For the past three years you've asked the more than 900 voters to keep their votes secret until the winner has been announced. This was a reaction to years in which the winner was correctly predicted by various web sites - Stiffarmtrophy.com, Heismanpundit.com, as well as regular media outlets - based on culling the publicized ballots of voters.
Many voters had written columns telling who they voted for, and explaining why. It was always a good chance to generate discussion and, yes, clicks. But in your mind it took the drama out of the process, what with the web sites keeping track of those columns and votes.
So we were asked to keep our votes quiet until after the ceremony, and told that failure to do so could result in our voting privileges being revoked. You also wrote letters to a few media members who wrote about it anyway, attaching the columns in question, as if it were a cease-and-desist letter. Which it basically was.
A few media members gave up their votes in protest, notably Tony Barnhart and Dennis Dodd. The rest of us have gone along, but many reluctantly. And as we approach this year's ceremony, you have seen no media members publicizing their decisions, and explaining their rationale. Stiffarmtrophy.com, with no votes to count up in advance, went out of business this year. The man who ran Heismanpundit.com went on hiatus to go work for ... the Heisman Trust.
Well, guess what: There's still no drama this year, and there's even less hype.
In all due respect, members of the Heisman Trust, your secrecy rule has backfired. The voters keeping silent didn't help last year's Heisman show: The TV ratings were the ceremony's lowest in three years. We'll see about Saturday night.
You could argue that it's because everyone expects Mariota to win. That's part of it, yes.
But there also haven't been a litany of columns or tweets, at least not that I've seen, pushing back against the Mariota candidacy. There haven't been many well-reasoned and passionate arguments in favor of Melvin Gordon and Amari Cooper, the other two finalists.
And a big reason for that, in the opinion of this media member, is because many of those who will vote for Gordon, Cooper or someone else, feel that writing such columns would reveal their choice.
What if there were debate over Mariota being the easy choice? The problem is that so many media members have a vote, that potential debate is effectively shut down by not allowing them to talk about their votes.
We'd also be kidding ourselves if we ignored the spite factor. We media members are stubborn, especially when it comes to issues related to disclosure. We don't take kindly to being told what to write. So when you order us to not disclose our Heisman votes, and when you track down those who did and treat them like high schoolers who cheated on an exam, there's going to be a reaction that mounts: Oh yeah? Well, I'll obey your rule, but I won't give you any publicity.
If you're fine with this, then by all means continue with your restrictions. If you do, I'm going to re-consider whether I want to vote anymore. I'm sure that's no skin off your back, and frankly it's not a huge deal to me either. I find myself rather apathetic about a process that is quickly losing its luster.
But if the Heisman Trust is worried about the absolute lack of hype this year, then understand that much of it is your own fault. It's time to free the voters up again to discuss their votes in advance, rather than after the fact. We live in a world now that cares more about "what's next" than "why did that happen," so it would do you, and the media, a lot of good to end this restriction.
We understand what you were trying to do, but the result hasn't been good. Now let's move on.
A Heisman voter. (For now.)