At this point, the largest Heisman Trophy margin of victory ever is 2006, when Troy Smith won and Darren McFadden came in second — neither of their careers did a ton after that, honestly — with Smith getting 2,540 points and McFadden getting 878. (More on that in a second.) Tomorrow night, Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, and Melvin Gordon are the three finalists. Mariota is coming off a performance against Arizona in the Pac-12 title game where he had a hand in five touchdowns. Gordon is coming off a 59-0 loss in the Big Ten title game, and his coach for that game can’t even come with him to New York City, because it would be awkward … since he now coaches Oregon State. Amari Cooper had a great year, but the Heisman Trophy hates wide receivers.
This has to be the biggest margin of all-time, right?
This article has some good insight on the process — and also contradicts the Troy Smith thing, claiming O.J. Simpson basically had the widest-margin ever (maybe we eliminate that from our memories because of what happened decades later). Essentially, though, there are 929 voters. 870 of them are media members, 58 are former Heisman winners, and there’s one combined fan vote. It’s all done by region, as you probably know: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Southwest, Midwest, and Far West.
Mariota is obviously going to dominate voting in the Far West and likely the Southwest; there are no other candidates from there, and all those media members have probably seen him play a few times. Midwest and South are the question marks — votes there could go to Gordon and Cooper, respectively.
Here’s the chart for “percentage of first-place votes possible” that candidates got:
By all this math, if you assume that 900 of the 929 Heisman voters actually cast their ballot, Mariota would need 856 first-place votes and he’d probably surpass every conceivable metric for Heisman landslide: most first-place votes (which is O.J. right now), largest margin (which seems to be Troy Smith), and percentage of first-place votes cast (Charlie Ward). 856 is the magic number. If you think there’s an SEC bias among Southeastern journalists, he might not be able to get it.
This guy believes:
The difference between Mariota and the other QBs here is probably pro potential. Ward did that dual-sport thing, but ultimately became an NBA player. Smith was a fifth-round pick of the Ravens in 2007. He ended up in the CFL. Mariota is supposed to be No. 1 overall if he comes out. That will change — guys always emerge late, i.e. Blake Bortles — but Mariota is almost assuredly a first-rounder.
Of course, some people don’t want him to leave: