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Heisman voters threatened to keep ballot quiet, or lose the vote

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The Heisman Trophy straw poll has become part of the award's popularity.

The poll of voters, the best and most well-known of which are HeismanPundit.com and StiffArmTrophy.com, keeps the race in the news for weeks, as do columns by writers explaining their vote. People don't tune in on that Saturday night of the announcement and think about who might win the Heisman for the first time, it has been in the news all fall. The ebbs and flows of the Heisman race are fun to track.

The Heisman Trophy Trust doesn't like this, and wants to stop the flow of information before the official announcement. So it is threatening to take away a voter's ballot if he or she makes it public, according to CBSSports.com.

The policy of not discussing the vote has been on the ballot before, but the explicit threat of revocation seems to be new.

“In the event you are unable to assure non-disclosure of your vote in the future, we will be required to reassign your vote to another member of the college football media,” Heisman president William Dockery wrote in a letter to a voter who had disclosed his vote, according to CBSSports.com.

CBS reported the Heisman Trust requested that a written promise to not disclose the ballot be submitted by April 8.

This seems like a huge overreaction. It's hard to believe any straw poll or any writers discussing their ballot before the announcement hurts ratings. Even if there weren't straw polls, smart people can project if there's a clear frontrunner. Writers who project NCAA basketball tournament brackets don't get inside information from the selection committee, but they can use statistics and historical precedent to figure it out with a good degree of accuracy. And even though there are dozens of bracket projections, people still watch the NCAA tournament selection show.

The years when there is a close race, the straw polls add to the intrigue and probably boost ratings. No logical person is going to not watch the announcement because a straw poll had one player getting 5 percent more of the vote than another.

College football fans should not worry, however. The anonymous straw polls will still exist. They might even gain a few more cooperative voters who don't particularly like being bullied.

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