Heisman: Sooner or Gator?

Published: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 3:55 a.m.

The Sun's poll of polls accurately projected Florida quarterback Tim Tebow's Heisman Trophy win in 2007. This year, the race is too close to call at this late stage.

But one thing is certain, Tebow is making a strong final surge following his performance in the Gators' come-from-behind victory over Alabama in the SEC title game, a win that earnedUF a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

Well behind Big 12 quarterbacks Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Colt McCoy (Texas) in all the early and mid-season Heisman polls, Tebow appears to have re-emerged as a top contender again with his strong overall performance during Florida's nine-game winning streak.

Based on the results of The Sun's poll, Tebow and Bradford are in a virtual dead heat heading into Saturday night's Heisman ceremony in New York.

In a confidential poll, The Sun contacted 98 Heisman voters from across the six different voting regions (South, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest and West) who agreed to tell us who they voted for. In the official Heisman balloting, first-place votes count for three points, second-place for two and third for one.

Using the same point system, Tebow and Bradford are tied with 194 points in The Sun's poll. Tebow received 44 first-place votes to Bradford's 26, with Bradford collecting more second and third-place votes. McCoy received 27 first-place votes and finished with 153 points.

Given that there are more than 900 Heisman voters nationwide, there is an obvious margin of error.

But the poll seems to indicate this could be one of the closest Heisman races in recent years. And that it's clearly a three-player race, withTebow and Bradford holding a slight edge on McCoy.

In The Sun's poll, Tebow received overwhelming support from his region (South), while Bradford basically split the vote with McCoy in his (Southwest). In the South,Tebow collected 18 of 20 first-place votes and 57 points, while Bradford received no first-place votes and 28 points.

Tebow's performance in the SEC title game seemed to make an impression on the voters in the South.

"It's incredible the way he picks his whole team up and carries them on his back," said one voter from Alabama who gave Tebow his first-place vote. "I was not leaning that way (toward Tebow) before that game. He's so impressive, and he's such a great leader."

John Adams, a columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, said Tebow is the best player in college football this season, and one of the best he's ever seen in the SEC.

"I've followed the league for 50 years and he's in the top three, right up there with Herschel Walker and Archie Manning," Adams said. "Tebow can run the option, he's a power back, and he's a dropback passer. He just does so many things."

One thing that might help Tebow's chances of repeating as the Heisman winner is the possible split vote in the Southwest. In The Sun's poll, the vote was split right down the middle, with McCoy receiving nine first-place votes and 43 points to Bradford's eight first-place votes and 43 points.Tebow collected two first-place votes and 26 points.

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