In recent years, the Heisman Trophy ceremony has been about as suspenseful as Florida vs. The Citadel. Even before it started, the outcome was never in doubt.
NEW YORK — In recent years, the Heisman Trophy ceremony has been about as suspenseful as Florida vs. The Citadel. Even before it started, the outcome was never in doubt.
Southern California's Reggie Bush in 2005 and Ohio State's Troy Smith in 2006 took home their Heismans after two of the biggest landslides in the award's 73-year history. And it was no shock last year when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the big bronze statue.
Tebow's back in Manhattan for another Heisman handout, looking to make it two in a row on Saturday night, but this time if his name — or Sam Bradford's or Colt McCoy's — is called, he won't have to pretend to be surprised.
"I think this year, no one really knows," said Bradford, Oklahoma's prolific passer. "It's going to be a close race."
Bradford, who leads the nation in passer rating (186.3) and TD passes (48), is the slight favorite going into the festivities at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square, according to StiffArmTrophy.com, a Web site that polls some of the 925 Heisman voters and has successfully predicted the last six winners.
Most of those have been pretty easy, though the site also boasts of getting within 2.9 percentage points of the winning vote, on average.
As of Friday afternoon, the site had Bradford projected to receive 1,687 points, McCoy 171 points back with 1,516 and Tebow 1,446.
The vote hasn't been that close between the top two since Oklahoma quarterback Jason White beat out Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in 2003 by 128 points.
The closest margin in points came in 1985, when Auburn's Bo Jackson beat out Iowa quarterback Chuck Long by 46 points.
If the three quarterbacks who are the finalists this season were jumpy about the outcome, they weren't letting on about 29 hours before the announcement was to be made.
Bradford, McCoy and Tebow — in that order — took turns fielding a few questions from the reporters packed into a hotel room in Midtown Manhattan on Friday.
The consensus: They're all honored to be here. None would be here without their teammates. And they've all enjoyed getting to spend some time with each other the last couple of days. The three were also at the college football awards show in Orlando before heading North.
Topics discussed included music — "We're all country music fans," Tebow said.
Not discussed, according to McCoy and Bradford, was the Big 12 tiebreaker that helped put Oklahoma in the national title game against Florida instead of Texas.
The Longhorns beat the Sooners in October 45-35 in Dallas, but when the two teams finished with exact 11-1 records, along with Texas Tech, the Big 12 South's slot in the conference championship game went to Oklahoma because it had the best BCS rating. The Sooners beat Texas Tech and Texas Tech beat Texas during the season, which made head-to-head moot.
The Sooners went on to win the Big 12 title and secure a spot in the national championship game, which still has Texas fans steaming.
Bradford said he sympathized with McCoy and the Longhorns.
"I feel for him. Obviously, they have a great argument for being in the championship game," Bradford said.
McCoy, who set a major college record by completing 77 percent of his passes this season, said the Longhorns have put the BCS mess behind them, thanks to coach Mack Brown. His message to the Longhorns: "Let's play the best game we've played all year," in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.
The impending meeting between Bradford's Sooners and Tebow's Gators on Jan. 8 in Miami was also not a topic of conversation.
"Definitely pleasure, no business at all," Bradford said.
Or business as usual for Tebow.
He can become the only the second two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy, joining Ohio State's Archie Griffin, who did it in 1974-75.
Tebow has spoken to Griffin a couple of times about handling the Heisman spotlight, but said he hasn't mulled over what it would mean to become a member of college football's most exclusive club.
"That's not even something I think about," he said.
The 240-pound junior, who has thrown 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions, also tried to pass along some advice to his fellow finalists about the Heisman experience.
"Just enjoy it, relax and have fun," was Tebow's suggestion, McCoy said. "What's going to happen is going to happen."
And for a change, we're not sure what's going to happen with the Heisman Trophy.