Do not hate the Heisman Trophy because Florida's Tim Tebow is probably going to lose it. All things considered, the Heisman has been pretty good to Tebow. He has no complaints coming.
Do not hate the Heisman Trophy because Oklahoma's Sam Bradford is probably going to win it. True, the current exit polls suggest that Texas Tech's Graham Harrell is the front-runner, but things should change Saturday when Bradford and Harrell play against each other.
Do not hate the Heisman because it is overhyped or because it is statistic-driven or because it is strangely more popular than the Nobel Peace Prize. Do not hate it because it is reserved mainly for quarterbacks or running backs from the major conferences. Do not hate it because it rarely achieves its goal of deciding the best player in America. Do not hate it because, somehow, Andre Ware won it.
If you want to hate the Heisman — and goodness knows, there are reasons aplenty — hate it because of this:
Every year, the voters are forced to decide the winner too darned early.
For years, this has been the most annoying thing of all about the Heisman. The committee just can't wait to give it out. The movie is still going on, and already, these guys want to toss Academy Awards at the screen.
This year, for instance, voters are supposed to have their ballots returned by Dec. 10. At least the voters can wait until after Tebow and his Florida teammates play top-ranked Alabama for the SEC title and until either Bradford or Harrell or Texas' Colt McCoy play for the Big 12 title.
On the other hand, the national championship game won't be played until Jan. 8, almost a month after the deadline. Who knows? Perhaps it will be Tebow vs. Bradford. Maybe Tebow vs. Harrell.
Just asking here, but shouldn't that game be factored into the voting?
This is insane. The Heisman committee exists for the singular purpose of determining the best player in America, and yet, it cannot wait for the most important plays of the year to be made before it does so.
What? Is the banquet hall not available in January? Isn't the Heisman worth the wait?
Look, there are a lot of silly things in college football — the BCS system, the offense run by Charlie Weis, the social commentary of Rich Rodriguez, the lyrics to Rocky Top — but this may be up there with any of them. If the Heisman Trophy is the beauty pageant that some people suggest, then at least wait until the talent portion is done before you ask someone to walk down the runway.
The argument has been made before. In 2000, I refused to send in my Heisman ballot until watching FSU and Oklahoma play for the national title. Sure enough, when Oklahoma won, I voted for Josh Heupel and sent in my ballot. By then, however, Chris Weinke had owned the trophy for a month. I assume the committee was not amused; I haven't been asked to vote since.
This year, however, the competition makes the early deadline of the Heisman — and all those other awards that only the winners care about — seem more absurd than ever.
Let's be honest. There are four candidates out there worth a loud argument. Bradford has more pro potential. Harrell has the best numbers. Tebow has incredible intangibles. And McCoy is the only one of the four who has beaten one of the others (Bradford and Oklahoma).
If nothing else, this season has been a loud argument for first one guy, then another. Tebow, the defending champion, had the early momentum, and then it was Bradford, and then McCoy, and now Harrell. And if the lead can change week to week, well, why not wait as many weeks as possible before making a decision.
Then there is this. We are talking about the quarterbacks of four of the top five teams in the country. Given the closeness of the race, wouldn't a national championship trophy separate any of the four from the rest?
If, for instance, Tebow were to lead Florida to the national title, how could you argue that another quarterback was the best player in America? And, yes, the same argument goes for Harrell or for McCoy or for Bradford.
Think about this: What if the voters had waited until after the title game to vote in 2006. Do you think Ohio State's Troy Smith still would have won it after looking so bad in a loss to Florida? What about 2005? Would Vince Young's sensational Rose Bowl game have allowed him to overtake Reggie Bush? How about 2003? Would Oklahoma's Jason White have won after a poor title game against LSU, or would Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald have overtaken him?
Who knows? Perhaps the title games didn't do the Heisman winners any favors. Smith didn't look like the same guy. Neither did Vinny Testaverde in 1987.
All things considered, shouldn't voters at least consider all things before deciding a winner?
By Dec. 10, the race is just heating up.
It's too soon to start posing.