Paul Finebaum Example of Problems Plaguing Heisman, Football


A simple rule that pertains to all avenues of life is don’t feed the trolls. I have to break that rule today and go directly into the troll’s lair with a trough, because this latest bit of media trolling comes with a serious consequence and is indicative of a widespread problem in college football. Paul Finebaum, a boisterous radio show host, is a Heisman Trophy voter. To call his criteria questionable would be kind. A more accurate descriptor would be defenseless, because it’s not rooted in which player accomplished what. No, Finebaum voted the way he hosts his show: to troll.

Finebaum left Robert Griffin III off his Heisman ballot. OK. His reasoning however, his beyond asinine, and was only stated to incite a reaction. OK, so I’m a sucker for feeding into it. Typically, Finebaum’s ramblings can be dismissed for what they are: purposefully provocative fodder to generate phone calls and listenership.

Why, even in his defense of the vote, Finebaum goes to the lamest and most empty of troll tactics by calling his critics “haters.” That in and of itself is indicative of pure trolling. However, when said mindset is applied to giving the sport’s highest honor, something has to be said.

And while he’s the example, he’s not alone. The honor that is voting on college football’s richest and most storied individual award is apparently lost on a disconcerting pool of voters. A ballot isn’t the symbolic chisel into the annals of college football history that it should be, but rather a megaphone through which to draw attention to onself.

Finebaum is a shameless SEC homer. Anyone who has listened to his radio show or read his column is aware of that. Typically, his aggressive if not downright mean spirited pom pom shaking is of little actual consequence. Yet, when it helps to tarnish something that should be so meaningful it’s of vast consequeunce.

Perhaps Griffin wouldn’t have had such a profound impact on his team were it an SEC member. Maybe his statistics would have been lessened playing LSU and Alabama rather than Oklahoma and Kansas State. But no one knows for sure beyond inferences and conjecture. That’s how we choose to bestow the greatest honor in the game?

Finebaum and his ilk aren’t wrong for voting Trent Richardson or Tyrann Mathieu. Both are worthy recipients, hence their inclusion at Saturday’s ceremony. The ends aren’t a problem, but the means certainly are.

If hypothetical scenarios dictate how one votes for the Heisman, no one should win it. Perhaps Finebaum would advocate retroactively stripping Army’s winners, Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard of their Heismans. After all, they were at West Point because of World War II.

The same logic can be applied to Finebaum’s precious SEC and (erroneously) invalidate the candidacy of its Heisman representatives. Richardson’s a great running back, but what if he wasn’t behind a talented Tide offensive line? Guess that means I have to vote for Alabama’s offensive line for Heisman.

But wait — what if Nick Saban hadn’t inked those linemen to letters of intent? Saban should win the Heisman! Oh, but if Saban’s mama hadn’t given birth to him…

It’s a ridiculous rabbit hole to go down, and only the kind of man who would tell an Atlantan he wasn’t a true Southerner would make such a ridiculous assertion. Wait, Finebaum did that?

Friend of the Blog Brandon Cavanaugh ( made the point that if voters aren’t held to any standard, there’s no consequence for their ballots — even if their ballots have consequences. If Finebaum, or any other would-be provocateur, chooses to use his ballot to make attention-seeking statements, he should lose his vote.

Perhaps I’m to blame for holding onto this childish notion of wonderment as to what the Heisman should represent. That bronze statue, to me, signifies the game’s rich history. Voters should treat it thusly and not like AM radio airwaves.