Dec 11, 2021; New York, NY, USA; 2021 Heisman winner Alabama quarterback Bryce Young poses for pictures with the trophy during a press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman Trophy is one of the most celebrated sports awards. Win it, and you’re the Big Man On Campus for life. The Heisman Trophy ceremony is also one of the most boring sports shows on television. This hour-long slow reveal is about as fresh as your grandparents’ furniture. How did this once must-see event become stale?

The ratings have been plummeting in recent years. For the 2022 show ceremony, a record-low 1.65 million viewers tuned in to ESPN to see USC quarterback Caleb Williams snag the hardware. That’s a substantial drop from a decade ago. In 2013, 4.18 million saw Florida State QB Jameis Winston win. If you want to take a macro perspective, this is hardly surprising. TV ratings for awards shows have been trending down for events like the Grammys, Tonys, and the Academy Awards

Times have changed, and the Heisman Trophy has been reluctant to embrace dramatic changes. With so many entertainment options available, why would anyone sit down on Saturday night and commit to watching this? It’s easier and more efficient to follow the presentation on the social media app of your choice. At least with the Grammys, Tonys, and Oscars, there are other awards that people care about and even some shocking moments.

The Heisman broadcast has all the excitement of a televised banquet. Everyone is dressed nicely, and the food may be great, but you don’t want to stay there a minute longer than required.

Part of the issue might be the lack of suspense. Usually, we know who the winner will be long before the trophy is handed out. The last close Heisman vote was in 2009 when Alabama running back Mark Ingram edged out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart by 28 points. This Saturday, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is the betting favorite over Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

So, how do you make the ceremony a program that more people want to watch? Here at Awful Announcing, we have the following suggestions. Let’s seriously consider doing something different, such as:

Open with a Broadway-style number: The ceremony is in New York City. Manhattan is overflowing with creative performers. Take advantage of their talents to start the show like the Tonys. Do it big, brash, beautiful, and fun with lots of singing and dancing. A football-themed opener on live TV would not only draw in hardcore football fans, but casual viewers might also check it out.

Invest in a better host: ESPN has several talking heads capable of being the master of ceremonies. They are seasoned broadcasters, and journalists. They are not necessarily entertainers who can craft anecdotes and deliver impromptu jokes. An up-and-coming comedian who can draw in a younger audience might be worth a shot. And allow the comic to be themselves. We’re not suggesting that they go full Norm Macdonald, but don’t police their material.

Add a talent competition: You’ve got to give a reason for people to watch. Other than the Heisman presentation and speech, a lot is lacking in that department. A talent competition would spark interest for two reasons. First, viewers would be intrigued to see what special skills a player might have. Perhaps Daniels is a gifted magician? Second, have live voting to add audience participation.

Move the venue to another city: College football loves its traditions, and New York City has hosted the Heisman ceremony since 1935. But NYC is not a hotbed of college football interest. It is a pro sports town. Perhaps moving the presentation to an area of the country where people appreciate college sports more might improve the TV product. Any Southeastern Conference town would love to host the city. Try to make it a College GameDay atmosphere. And it doesn’t have to stay in one location. Change it annually.

Consider downsizing: Maybe the hour-long show has outlived its usefulness. Smaller might be better. The College Football Playoff is expanding to a 12-team format next year. Since the top four teams will have a bye, the presentation could be at halftime of one of those earlier games. That would boost ratings.

These are merely suggestions. Some may work. Some may not. But at least the Heisman show will be more unpredictable. Right now, it’s about as thrilling as the University of Iowa. There’s not much going on, and everyone wonders if the people in charge have stayed too long.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.