The lack of drama surrounding the announcement of this year’s Heisman Trophy winner really hurt ESPN in the ratings department. Marcus Mariota’s victory, the second largest blowout in the history of the award, drew its lowest television rating since 2006 – a 2.0 overnight.  Coincidentally enough, the Heisman ceremony also drew a 2.0 overnight rating that year for Troy Smith’s victory, which happens to be the largest margin of victory in the history of the award.

Naturally, there’s a direct correspondence between the closeness of the voting and the television audience.  By far the most watched Heisman ceremony of the last decade was Mark Ingram’s 2009 victory, which drew a 3.5 rating and 6 million viewers.  That was the closest vote in the award’s history.

The weak Heisman audience also hurt the post-Heisman 30 for 30 as The U Part 2 was down versus the corresponding docs from the last two years.

In truth, there’s very little ESPN could have done to gin up interest in an award ceremony that everyone knew was a mere formality.  However, the Heisman Trust could take some of the blame as well.

By only inviting three finalists to New York – Mariota, Cooper, and Gordon – they shrunk the potential fanbase that would watch.  You don’t think Ohio State fans around the country would tune in to see J.T. Barrett in New York?  Or TCU fans and Trevone Boykin?  Even if there was no chance of them winning, more fans would tune in to celebrate the excellent seasons from those players.

Then again, if the award was really given to the best player in college football and not just the best quarterback on the best team (13 of the last 14 winners have been signal callers) there would probably be more intrigue as well.

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