Over the last 12 years, I've correctly projected the winner of the Heisman Trophy here at Stiff Arm Trophy every single time. Through the landslides and the close calls, with the help of thousands of fans and several hundred brave Heisman voters, we got it right again and again.
But after a dozen years, it's time to hang it up. Here's why:
Last year, the Heisman Trust started putting the screws to the voters. They threatened them with the loss of their ballots if they disclosed who they voted for prior to the ceremony. As a result, many voters declined to share their ballots with our readers.
The Trust's decision was short-sighted and dumb. After all, Stiff Arm Trophy has been part of the Heisman hype machine. All season long, we pumped out social media chatter for the Heisman -- and for several years, we even ran the biggest-ever weekly Heisman poll, with dozens of voters.
Remember 2009? The Heisman bragged to the press that "the closest vote in Heisman Trophy history drew a record television audience". But the only reason that anyone in America knew it was the closest vote ever was that I was jumping up and down telling anyone that would listen that it was too-close-to-call. 3.8 million households watched the show that year, after 1.3 million unique visitors checked out StiffArmTrophy.com. We were a big reason that show was as big as it was.
Not only that, but sports -- and college football in particular -- suffers from too much secrecy and too many backroom deals. What the Heisman needs is more transparency not less.
Last year, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports resigned his ballot, citing the work that we do here at Stiff Arm Trophy:
I am resigning my vote because I cannot in good conscience participate in a process where there is more secrecy, not less. You may have noticed, there's a huge need to keep things on the up and up in college athletics these days. ... Not worth it for me. Either everything is out in the open or nothing is. Lack of transparency is what has NCAA critics howling. But forget about me. Any Heisman process that doesn't have CBSSports.com's Tony Barnhart as a part of it, isn't worth participating in. Mr. CFB has given up his vote too.
In 2013, we had the fewest participating voters in our history -- just 119 ballots. And of those, a record 32 voters asked me to keep their ballot anonymous.
I used to be OK with a handful of voters keeping it under wraps. Usually they were sportswriters voting against a home-state favorite, keeping quiet to avoid personal repercussions from local fans. But with dozens of voters keeping it confidential because they feared the Heisman Trust? I'm just not OK with that. That's the opposite of transparency.
So, I'm shutting it down. We're done. Here's hoping that the Heisman Trust will take this opportunity to open up their process -- letting fans in, and letting the sunshine disinfect their reputation.
A huge thanks to all the voters that participated over the years. And much appreciation to all the Heisman fans that made this so much fun.
Congratulations to Heisman finalists Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, and Melvin Gordon.
The Heisman Trophy is the single greatest award in all of sport, and any one of the three finalists will make an excellent representative. As an Oregonian, I'm cheering for Marcus Mariota. But I'll be doing so as a fan, just like all of you.
Good luck and good night.