Heisman committee: No disrespect for Harrell, just numbers

Updated: December 11, 2008, 9:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Graham Harrell won't be at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York on Saturday. He's taken it relatively well. His coach, Mike Leach, hasn't.

The Heisman committee, for its part, says it's no different from how invitees were determined in the past.

Harrell said perennially strong programs hold the edge.

"Those things are going to get the benefit of the doubt when all things are equal," Harrell said from Orlando, Fla., where he was attending The Home Depot/ESPNU College Football Awards on Thursday night. "Sometimes you're going to get recognition, sometimes you're not."

So it goes for Harrell, who has thrown for 4,700-plus yards this season, but didn't get a ticket to the Heisman ceremony. Harrell had more passing yards than Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy of Texas and defending Heisman winner Tim Tebow of Florida. He also led his team to the same 11-1 record those three quarterbacks engineered.

Bradford, McCoy and Tebow are the only three players slated to be at the ceremony.

Leach said Wednesday that "if Graham is not invited to the Heisman, they ought to quit giving out the award. It is a shameless example of politics ruling over performance."

The Heisman committee has chosen as many as six finalists in the past. But there's no definitive method to determine how many are invited to New York.

"It's not a mathematical formula that determines the number of invitees. It's just wherever there is a natural breaking point in the voting," coordinator of Heisman Trophy Trust Tim Henning told ESPN's Joe Schad.

"We invite three to six candidates and the highest vote earners before the natural breaking point are invited. It's not an economic decision on our part at all," Henning said. "The nine members of the Heisman Trust approve the recommended number of invitees made by our accounting firm. We've not overridden that recommendation this year or in the past."

Harrell said perennially strong programs hold the edge.

"Programs' reputations have a lot to do with that," he said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "Texas Tech has never been a big-name program. Hopefully this year, winning as many big games as we have, Texas Tech can build on that."

Harrell this week picked up the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and is one of three finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award. He passed for 4,747 yards and needs two more touchdown passes to break the national career record of 131 set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan last year.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report

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