Friday, December 07, 2012

I'm Nate Silver (except not political)

So one of two things is gonna happen Saturday: Either a defense-only player is gonna win the Heisman for the first time ever or a freshman (albeit of the redshirt variety) is gonna win the Heisman for the first time ever. Either way, it will be one of those I-didn't-see-that-happening happenings. The only question at this point is which bias (the anti-freshman one or the anti-defensive-player one) is more unovercomable, because one of them has to lose.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, it's probably the anti-defensive-player one (if Ndamukong Suh didn't win it in '09 and Manti Te'o can't win it this year despite the only legitimate competition being a freshman, a front-seven player never will). The straw-poll numbers from Heisman Pundit:
1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M — 27 (8)
2. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame — 18 (1)
3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State — 10
And the straw-poll numbers from Stiff Arm Trophy, which draws from a much larger pool of voters:
Johnny Manziel    95    32    20    147    369    2223    79.8%
Manti Te'o            48    59    14    121    276    1619    58.2%
Collin Klein         10    33    65    108    161    962      34.6%
The problem isn't that nobody's putting Teo on the ballot; the problem is that hardly anybody (relatively speaking) is putting him at the top of the ballot. He's getting a crapload of second-place votes that are lovely things on a chart but will mean little Saturday since he's getting barely half the number of first-place votes Manziel is getting.

Granted, this is still a relatively small sample size -- Stiff Arm Trophy has gleaned only about 170 of the 928 ballots -- but unless there's a massive disconnect between the ballots that have been made public and the ones that haven't yet (and there's no reason to think that since neither Manziel nor Te'o had a game in Week 14 that might have skewed the late voting), Manziel's gonna win.

Oddly enough, the Te'o vote is coming largely from the old newspapery guys who are contractually mandated to wear fedoras, dress terribly and refer to Te'o as "the heart and soul of something something" at all times. This is from USA Today:
On the day the Heisman Trust announced Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein as the three finalists for the award, the final survey of 37 USA TODAY Sports Media Group voters Monday revealed a dead heat between Manziel and Te'o.

Manziel received 85 points in the final survey compared to 84 for Te'o. Klein was third with 36, the only other player with a two-digit point total.
That'd be really interesting if not for the Stiff Arm Trophy numbers above, which include that poll and a bunch of other ones (such as the Heisman Pundit poll) that are obviously far more Manziel-friendly. BTW, those numbers might have something to do with less than a third of the USA Today/Gannett properties being in what could even generously be considered SEC territory; hard to say without the voters being identified.

I mean, yeah, it's possible for Te'o to win given the limited sample sizes referenced above and pure volume of unaccounted-for ballots; based on the wonderful world of math, it's just pretty unlikely. Chicks Voters dig quarterbacks, man, especially the ones with super-sexy nicknames and super-sexy stories.


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