If you caught my article last week on Mike Bianchi, I went over his past and his most recent statement that he has already decided to not vote for Manziel this year based on his feelings about Johnny's off-season. The article got me thinking about whether or not Heisman voters should be allowed to make statements like this at any time before the Trophy is presented.
Last season, news came out that the Heisman Trophy Trust asked all sports journalists to keep their ballots a secret in an effort to make the presentation more dramatic, and threatened those who violated their wishes with the loss of voting privileges. That effort failed as people like me scoured for votes from different journalists, many of whom were happy to discuss them, and gave them to StiffArmTrophy.com to make updated projections. It was clear with about 24 hours left that Johnny had won.
This year the Heisman Trophy Trust took it a bit farther. They sent out letters to writers that they felt violated their wishes in the previous year, and asked them to give them a written agreement that it wouldn't happen again in the future. They are obviously taking this very seriously, and it has caused some journalists, such as Dennis Dodd of CBS, to refuse their voting privileges.
With how seriously they are taking these non-disclosure efforts now, I couldn't help but think that Mike Bianchi's article violated the spirit of what they are trying to accomplish. I decided to send them an e-mail to try and understand their position on an issue like this:
To whom it may concern,
I read an article today by Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. In that article he stated that he would not, for any reason, vote for Johnny Manziel after what was reported to have happened in his off-season.
I also read an article from April that stated the Heisman Trust had asked all voters to guarantee with them by April 8th that they would not discuss their ballots before the Heisman Award presentation. If they did violate this rule, their ballots would be stripped from them.
My question is, do Mike Bianchi's actions warrant the removal of his ballot? We have only had one week of college football, and yet he has already started limiting his ballot, and effectively poisoned the minds of other voters in the process.
Your own website states the following:
The ballots state that "In order that there will be no misunderstanding regarding the eligibility of a candidate, the recipient of the award MUST be a bona fide student of an accredited college or university including the United States Academies. The recipients must be in compliance with the bylaws defining an NCAA student athlete."
Mike Bianchi has already disregarded an eligible NCAA student athlete before the season has really even started. That seems to violate the spirit of the Heisman trophy, and I would like to know where the trust stands on this issue.
I waited for a few days, and finally got a response from them:
Thank you for contacting the Heisman Trophy Trust and for bringing this to our attention. This is a matter that will be reviewed and decided on internally, as the list of who votes for the Heisman is confidential.
The Heisman Trophy Trust
Meh. After reading this response I now assume Ron Swanson is working the e-mail desk for the Trust. The list isn't exactly confidential as most Heisman voters are known from their previous public ballot reports. They also didn't answer a single question about whether or not they actually give a damn that someone is already discussing the players they will not include on their ballot after two weeks of football. My guess is that they probably don't.
I don't see why any journalist won't openly discuss their ballot at this point. Apparently all you have to do is talk about everyone who isn't on your ballot, and you should be in the clear.