When Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ FBS record for all-purpose yardage but failed to take home the Heisman Trophy last season, a popular refrain was that the talented tailback would have held up the award had he not played so many late-night games.
The theory made some sense; given that eventual winner Derrick Henry from Alabama won five of six regions in the voting and was often seen in primetime during the Crimson Tide’s march to a national title. McCaffrey, on the other hand, was stuck with numerous 10:30 p.m. ET kickoffs despite his record-setting campaign.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, however, isn’t buying the idea that the lack of East Coast eyeballs was the reason why the Stanford star finished in second place.
“No one can say for sure, but I don’t think that would have made one iota of difference,” Scott said on Thursday from the league’s annual media days being held in Hollywood, Calif. “There were several games in primetime or during the afternoon. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman the year before with exactly the same TV schedule.
“The reason I say it so boldly, look at the zip codes of the Heisman voters and where they come and then look at how many of them didn’t even have McCaffrey on their ballot. I don’t care if you didn’t see McCaffrey play on TV a lot or not, can you imagine a credible Heisman voter not having McCaffrey on their ballot? What does that tell you about the Heisman voting process?”
Scott didn’t stop there however, even advancing the notion that players from his league face an uphill battle when it comes to garnering the right amount of respect nationally when it comes to voting for college football’s most prestigious individual trophy.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a competitive disadvantage to a player from the Pac-12 to winning the Heisman based just on the zip codes of the voters and the fact that many of them are just not watching the game,” Scott said. “I would say there’s a Pac-12 disadvantage but there’s also a Stanford disadvantage I believe. There’s a certain image that Stanford has, not just nationally, but in our own conference.
“Toby Gerhart. Andrew Luck. Christian McCaffrey isn’t the first time in my short tenure of seven years that a Stanford football player did not get the respect they deserve. There’s a Pac-12 issue and there’s a Stanford issue.”
With Scott just steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there were likely plenty of Cardinal fans who will nod their heads in agreement with his Rodney Dangerfield routine on this subject.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.