Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Monday, December 14, 2009
Did Gerhart get hosed?

By Ted Miller

Guess here is that this note sums of many of your feelings on the Heisman Trophy voting.

Jeff from San Francisco writes: Are you going to take this Heisman decision laying down? It was the most blatant display of East Coast bias in years. Kudos to ESPN for actually showing the regional breakdown of votes. Obviously this is water under the bridge at this point, but a real travesty for [Stanford running back Toby] Gerhart to leave that ceremony empty handed.

I (mostly) disagree.

Of the five finalists, Gerhart piled up the best numbers playing against the best competition. He was the most consistent performer. And he's a senior (he could come back next year due to an injury hardship from 2007 but that's unlikely).

Toby Gerhart
Stanford running back Toby Gerhart finished second in the closest Heisman race in history.
But, when the votes were counted, he lost to an outstanding player in Alabama's sophomore Mark Ingram in the closest race in Heisman Trophy history.

Still, it's not like he was the victim of an anti-Gerhart, anti-Stanford conspiracy. He lost a vote. So it goes.

Six weeks ago, how many thought Gerhart really had a chance? Most folks around Stanford seemed to pin their predominant hopes on him just earning an invitation to the ceremony in New York.

Ingram was in the Heisman discussion for much of the year. He played on a team that was in the national title hunt all season and will play Texas for the BCS championship. His margin likely rested on voters who lean toward the "best player on the best team" voting philosophy.

Sure, Ingram dominated his region in the Southeast. But so did Gerhart in the West.

Where Ingram beat Gerhart was in the neutral areas.

Is that East Coast bias? Not really.

Is it fair to believe that some folks back east didn't get to see that much of Gerhart? Sure. Is it fair to believe that many of the inaccurate and ignorant statements we've heard and read about the defenses Gerhart and Ingram faced skewed some perceptions away from the truth? Probably.

Did I, like you, raise an eyebrow when I learned of voters who didn't include Gerhart in their top three? Absolutely.

But when I watched Ingram accept the award with grace and humility, I had a hard time mustering much frustration over the process. Great player. Great young man. Kudos.

And Gerhart didn't walk away without any hardware, either. He beat out Ingram for the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the nation's best running back.

Gerhart had a dream of a final season at Stanford. He's a consensus All-American, he was named the best player in the nation at his position and his team is going to its first bowl game since 2001.

Lots of us feel Gerhart should have won the Heisman Trophy. But was his not winning a travesty?

Not to me.