In my years of analyizing Heisman trophy voting and player performances, I have crunched a LOT of numbers. The Heisman Pundit developed his 10 Heismandments “that govern the Heisman race.” While my analysis supports Huston’s rules, I’ve developed some amendments (Heismendments, if you will), which I call the Heisman HYPE Rule of 3. These guidelines are more quantitative than the Heismandments, since I am a statistician after all. Also, while the Heismandments are prescriptive of the winner, the Rule of 3 are stochastic in nature and pertain to the entire collection of players likely to receive Heisman votes. Without further ado, the Heisman HYPE Rule of 3:
- A top-10 Heisman finisher returning to school has a high probability of returning to the top 10. Since 1936, the season after Jay Berwanger won the first Heisman trophy, 166 top 10 Heisman finishers (or top 4 or top 8 or top 11 depending on the year) have returned to school. Of those players returning, 123 (.714) finished the top 10 in Heisman voting again.
- There will (likely) be one defensive player finishing in the top 10 in Heisman voting. Although defensive players are underrepresented among Heisman winners, they are well-represented among top Heisman finishers. Looking at annual voting, there’s a 50-50 change of a defensive player finishing in the top 10 in Heisman voting (40 out of 80 Heisman voting years have seen a defensive player finish in the top 10). Consider, however, that the first defensive player to garner Heisman votes was Don Moomaw of UCLA in 1952. Considering only 1952-2014 raises the annual probability to .645 (40 out of 63 years). Over that span, there have been 61 defensive players finish in the top 10, giving a player-to-year ratio of .968.
- To finish in the top 10 in Heisman voting, a player needs to be going to a bowl game. Since the BCS was introduced in the 1998 season, no player not going to a bowl game has finished any higher than 5th in Heisman voting. Out of 170 players to receive Heisman votes over that same span, only 7 (4.1%) were on teams not going to a bowl (two of were on teams ineligible to play in bowls due to sanctions and two others were from non-AQ conferences). In fact, the last Heisman winner who did not end his season in a bowl game was 1989 winner, Houston QB Andre Ware, due to NCAA sanctions.