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story.lead_photo.caption Heisman Trophy finalists, from left, Dwayne Haskins, from Ohio State; Tua Tagovailoa, from Alabama; and Kyler Murray, from Oklahoma, share a light moment during a media event Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

All eyes were glued to the TV in the corner. Running into each other at Capers was an accident, but a pleasant one.

Wayne Woods, a retired advertising man, was a couple of feet away, and Richard Seago and his wife were watching with us as the seconds ticked down to the announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner.

All three finalists were quarterbacks. Going into conference championship weekend, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the favorite. In fact, it would later be revealed by the Heisman folks that he had 630 points from early voting and Oklahoma's Kyler Murray was second with 467. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins was a distant third.

It has been revealed here many times that my Heisman vote goes in before the conference championship games because the belief is the most prestigious trophy in college football should go to the guy who had the best season, not the best game.

The suspicion was the SEC Championship Game may have hurt Tagovailoa.

This is not a column about why Tagovailoa should have won (yes, he was No. 1 on my ballot and Murray was second) but this is about some numbers voters should have looked at but chose to ignore, and why the Heisman folks should reconsider some voters.

Admittedly, Tagovailoa was having his worst game of the season against Georgia before getting knocked out of the SEC Championship Game. His injury set up the miracle finish by Jalen Hurts, who had been benched for the second half of the national championship game in January to set up Tagovailoa's heroics in the win over Georgia in overtime.

Again, this is one game. Tagovailoa was 10-of-25 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown before leaving the Dec. 1 game. He had thrown two interceptions, half of his season total. Hurts came off the bench, passed for a touchdown and ran 15 yards for the game-winner in the 35-28 Alabama victory.

Meanwhile, Murray was phenomenal while completing 25 of 34 passes for 379 yards and 3 touchdowns in OU's win over Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Here's the first issue: Georgia's pass defense ranked No. 15 in the nation; Texas was No. 114. For the season, Alabama's opponents averaged 58th in defense, while Oklahoma's opponents averaged 87th. The toughest pass defense the Sooners faced was No. 20 Army. Alabama beat No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 12 Arkansas State and No. 15 Georgia.

So while their statistics for the season were close, the strength of schedule was not.

Another thing that might have swayed voters was Murray had 4,945 yards of offense while Tagovailoa had 3,543 yards, yet the Alabama quarterback played in only four fourth quarters and took 121 less snaps.

Judging by the geographical breakdown of the voting, there is no doubt there was some anti-Alabama sentiment, and it is easy to understand because you can barely say national championship without saying Alabama.

Of the six regions, Murray won all but the South.

One issue for Heisman officials is that after championship Saturday, Murray got 1,700 points to 1,241 for Tagovailoa. So the one weekend played heavily in some voters' minds.

Most importantly, 65 voters didn't have Tagovailoa on their ballot, and while that wouldn't have won it for him, it shows either a huge bias or a lack of caring. Those 65 need to have their vote taken away.

The most impressive thing of the Heisman presentation was the class and dignity shown by all three finalists.

Sports on 12/11/2018

Print Headline: WALLY HALL: Some Heisman voters miss big picture

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