Pac-12 Ignored in Heisman Trophy Voting -- Again

Winner DeVonta Smith heads three Alabama players in top five of the Heisman voting, but there is hope for a Pac-12 candidate in 2021
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To no one's surprise, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy on Tuesday.

Also to no one's surprise, no player from the Pac-12 was among the top 10 vote-getters for that award. That is starting to become a habit, one the folks in the West Coast's power five conference would like to break.

It’s the second year in a row that no Pac-12 players finished among the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting. Before last season at least one Pac-12 or Pac-10 player was among the top 10 in voting every year since 1999, which was the last time the conference was shut out.

And this the first time since 1985 and 1986 that the conference went consecutive years without a top-10 finisher.

Here is the 2020 Heisman Trophy voting:

heismn voting

It wasn’t that long ago when the Pac-12/Pac-10 was a major player in the Heisman voting. In both 2004 and 2005, four Pac-10 players were among the top-10 vote-getters, with a Pac-10 player winning the Heisman each year (Matt Leinart in 2004, Reggie Bush in 2005, though Bush's status as a Heisman winner was later revoked).

As recently as 2010 and 2011, three Pac-10 players were in the top 10 each year.

But the trend goes beyond the Heisman.

Not a single Pac-12 player was named to the first-team or the second-team AP All-America team this year. It’s the first time since 1961 that the conference did not have at least one AP first-team All-American, and that was back when it was a five-team conference known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities. Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State joined the conference soon thereafter to form the Pac-8. But even in 1961, with just five schools, the conference still produced two second-team All-Americans, something the Pac-12 failed to earn this season.

Why so little individual Pac-12 acclaim this year?

Well, the short answer is that Pac-12 was not very good, or at least was not deemed to be very good. Heisman and All-America votes go to players on high-ranking teams. USC was the highest ranked Pac-12 team this season at No. 17, with Oregon squeezing in at No. 25 in the final AP regular-season poll.

But the conference did produce running backs who finished third and fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game -- Colorado’s Jarek Broussard and Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson. Neither of them was among the six running backs named to the first-, second- or third-team AP All-America squads, and neither was among the top 10 Heisman vote-getters.

Broussard was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year and his team finished the regular season with a rather impressive 4-1 mark, although the Buffs were 4-2 by the time the Heisman voting ended.

That leads to the other reason Pac-12 players may have been virtually ignored for postseason honors. The conference started late and simply did not play enough games for its players to show their value. Five or six games were not enough proof to convince Heisman or All-America voters that Pac-12 players deserved a vote. 

Or at least that's the theory if we choose to ignore the annual West Coast complaint that there is an East Coast bias.  (The top five Heisman vote-getters this year all were from schools east of the Mississippi River, if that proves anything.)

But, fear not. It could be different next season, as Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels and USC quarterback Kedon Slovis are both among the early favorites for next season.

In odds posted Tuesday, SportsBettingDime lists Daniels and Slovis tied for fifth on its list of odds for the Heisman winner of 2021. Both are listed at odds of 14-to-1

You may notice that former USC quarterback JT Daniels, who transferred to Georgia after being injured and subsequently losing the starting job to Slovis, is listed ahead of both Pac-12 quarterbacks at odds of 11-to-1

Here are the odds for the 2021 Heisman Trophy

1. Spencer Rattler (QB, Oklahoma): 7/1

2. D.J. Uiagalelei (QB, Clemson): 9/1

3. JT Daniels (QB, Georgia): 11/1

4. Bryce Young (QB, Alabama): 13/1

5. Jayden Daniels (QB, Arizona State): 14/1

5. Kedon Slovis (QB, USC): 14/1

5. Sam Howell (QB, UNC): 14/1

8. D’Eric King (QB, Miami) 15/1

8. A Non-QB: 15/1

BetOnline,ag also has Slovis among the leading Heisman contenders in 2021, placing him among four players tied for fourth at 12-to-1 odds. Arizona State's Daniels and Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough are not far behind at 14-to-1. 

1. Spencer Rattler - Oklahoma 5/1

2. D.J. Uiagalelei - Clemson 7/1 

2. Sam Howell - UNC 7/1

4. Bryce Young - Alabama 12/1

4. D'Eriq King - Miami 12/1

4. JT Daniels - Georgia 12/1

4. Kedon Slovis - USC 12/1 

8. Breece Hall - Iowa State 14/1

8. Brian Robinson Jr. - Alabama 14/1

8. Emory Jones - Florida 14/1

8. Jayden Daniels - Arizona State 14/1

8. Michael Penix Jr. - Indiana 14/1

8. Tyler Shough - Oregon 14/1

It's interesting to note that the favorite by both betting services is Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler.. However, recent trends indicate that preseason favorites don't end up winning the prize. Alabama's Smith was not among the favorites when the 2020 season began, and LSU's Joe Burrow, the 2019 Heisman winner, was nowhere to be found on preseason Heisman lists last season.

Cover photo of DeVonta Smith by USA TODAY


Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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