Heisman Trophy Criteria, Qualifications & Voters

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The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding player in college football in a given season.

A group of sports journalists throughout the country — deemed knowledgeable and impartial by the Heisman Trust — votes on the honor.

From the Heisman website:

While the task of designating the most outstanding college football player was daunting, a crucial decision was designating the group of individuals to select him. It was determined that a logical choice was sports journalists from all across the country who, as informed competent and impartial, would comprise the group of electors.

The website also states that there are 145 voters in each of the six sections, totaling 870 voters.

In addition to the sports journalists, each former Heisman winner gets to vote. A fan poll also counts as one vote.

Additionally every former Heisman winner, 58 presently, has a vote as well. In 1999, The Heisman Trophy agreed to develop a special program to allow the public at large to become part of the balloting process by permitting one (1) fan vote eligible in the overall tabulation.

Voters must select three players, with their first place pick getting three points, the second two, and the third one. These points are then totaled up to determine the winner.

The actual ballots include a space for electors to designate three individuals for the Heisman Trophy. The first choice on an elector’s ballot receives three points in the overall voting tabulation, the second choice receives two points and the third choice receives one point.

Ballots are void unless signed by the elector. A first, second and third choice must be indicated on each ballot. The Heisman Committee created the point system in an effort to eliminate any sectional favoritism.

The website says that independent accounting firm Deloitte counts the votes after they have been submitted to a secured website.

Since the Heisman was awarded for the first time in 1935, it has been returned twice — by O.J. Simpson and Reggie Bush.

In 1999, Simpson was court ordered to auction his Heisman to pay his legal debt after being accused — and found not guilty — of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. It eventually sold for $255,500 to a man named Tom Kriessman.

Kriessman admits now that he made the winning bid to try to impress his then-girlfriend. “It sort of snowballed,” he said. Fourteen years later, Kriessman said he has matured past such impulse and showmanship; he now keeps the Heisman in a safety deposit box at a bank in Philadelphia.

Bush returned his trophy in 2012 — seven years after he won it and two years after the NCAA announced sanctions against him and his family for receiving gifts from sports agent Lloyd Lake. Bush and USC both sent the trophies that represented him back to the Heisman Trust, which they confirmed.

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