Predicting the Heisman Trophy winner in August may be a fool’s errand, administered with all the accuracy of a 60-yard field goal attempt.
The most prestigious individual award in sports is part popularity contest, part statistical salute and at times a regional battle. And, sometimes, the best player on the best team gets the award.
There might not be an exact formula to win. But for Arizona Wildcats junior running back Ka’Deem Carey, there’s certainly a path for consideration. Leading the nation in rushing last season was a start.
To determine other factors needed to win, the Star examined every winner since 1978, the year the UA joined the then-Pac-10.
We looked for trends — be it team records, national television appearances or statistical milestones, among others — to see exactly what he and his team must do for consideration.
(One caveat: The Heisman Trophy does not recognize USC running back Reggie Bush as the 2005 winner because of an illegal benefits scandal. We do, as the study was meant to examine how one gets elected.)
Here’s our best guess at what Carey must do:
Tout his age
Since 1978, 31 of the 35 winners have been juniors or seniors.
Just win, baby
The Wildcats must have a better record this year if Carey hopes to win the Heisman.
The UA went 8-5 last year. Since 1978, no Heisman winner has played on a team with five losses.
Here’s a breakdown of each winner’s records:
|Season type||Heisman winners|
|Undefeated and lost bowl||1|
Average a ton
Last year, Carey averaged 6.4 yards per tote.
Here’s how that compares with the 14 running backs in their trophy-winning seasons since 1978:
|Player||Year||Yards per carry|
Score one for the RBs
Since 1978, 14 running backs have won the Heisman Trophy.
Recent history, though, suggests that the best quarterback wins the award. Since 2000, 11 of the 13 awards have gone to signal-callers.
Here’s a look at the breakdown, by position, since 1978:
Represent his conference
A look at the winners since 1978, by their school’s conference at the time of their victory:
Don’t worry about the West
There is no region of voters considered a Heisman bellwether, but some are more accurate than others.
Since 1978, the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic voting blocks have correctly voted the overall winner No. 1 all but four times.
The two regions closest to Carey — the Southwest and his home region, the Far West — have been the least accurate.
The Southwest has failed to name the overall winner No. 1 10 times, while the Far West has missed the overall winner nine times.
Here’s a look at how many times each region’s voters didn’t have the overall winner No. 1 on their regional ballots since 1978:
Don’t worry about the four big networks
The cable stations are the new broadcast giants. Consider: The last two years, the Heisman Trophy winner has appeared on the big four stations — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — only 15 percent of the time.
Rather, the players have found exposure on ESPN’s family of networks — owned by ABC — and on both FX and Fox Sports Net, owned by Fox.
Here’s a look at the last five winners, and where their games were aired.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M, 2012
|Fox Sports Network||2|
Robert Griffin III, Baylor, 2011
|Fox Sports Network||5|
|Fox College Sports||1|
Cam Newton, Auburn, 2010
|Fox Sports Network South||1|
Mark Ingram, Alabama, 2009
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma, 2008
|Fox Sports Network||3|