The questions and pressure surrounding a Heisman Trophy vote in a contest that included linebacker Manti Te'o led the Chicago Tribune's Notre Dame beat writer to let a panel decide his ballot, the Tribune reported Sunday.
Five members of the sports department who cover or follow college sports assiduously, including Notre Dame beat writer Brian Hamilton, ranked their Heisman candidates for one composite vote.
We're in the business of creating as little question as possible — preferably none — about how we conduct our business as journalists. And the Notre Dame beat writer at the Chicago Tribune casting a vote in a Heisman race involving the Irish's most prominent player in years creates enough questions to make us uneasy.
Did you vote for Manti Te'o because you're biased toward Notre Dame? Did you not vote for Manti Te'o because you're biased against Notre Dame? Did you vote a certain way solely because you didn't want it to look like you were biased a certain way? Withdrawing from the process entirely wouldn't necessarily solve the issue either. What if the points Te'o would receive on that ballot — if he were ranked first or second or third – would have made a difference in the outcome of the race? No, it was best to participate in the process in the least problematic way possible.
The Tribune's straw poll was scored like the Heisman process — three points for a first-place vote, two for a second, one for a third — to select the top-three finishers on Hamilton's ballot. Te'o was the newspaper's choice, but not Hamilton's. He selected Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, with Te'o second and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel third.