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The path to becoming a Heisman Trophy voter

Now that the University of Oregon Ducks are playing for the national championship, I have become a big college football fan. But I do have a few questions about my new favorite sport. Who are the people who vote for the Heisman Trophy winner and what do you have to do to become one of these people? Also, why do the powers that be consistently turn their backs on players in the West when selecting the Heisman Trophy winner?

— Anne, Medford

There are two ways you can get involved in the Heisman Trophy voting, Anne.

One is to take journalism classes, score a good internship at a reputable newspaper and get hired on as a sports writer anywhere in the country. And if you work really hard and stumble into some luck, you might someday be given a Heisman vote.

According to the official Heisman Trophy website, the voters are sports journalists from news groups from each region of the country. The Heisman powers that be give this privilege to sports journalists because they are "informed, competent and impartial." That's certainly debatable, but that's just how it is. These journalists are selected by regional representatives appointed by the Heisman committee.

There are about 870 media votes tallied for the Heisman Trophy each year. In addition, former Heisman Trophy winners have a vote. As of 2009, there were 55 living Heisman winners.

The second path to becoming a Heisman voter is a little easier, Anne. Just go to ESPN's website and cast a vote yourself. ESPN then tallies these votes to determine the overall fan favorite. This player then receives one "fans" vote in the official Heisman Trophy race.

In all, close to 930 votes are cast in the Heisman Trophy race each year.

There is a very vocal group that proclaims that the process is biased against West Coast players. In fact, the Heisman Trophy website shows that not a single Pac-10 player won the award between the years 1982 and 2001. USC quarterback Carson Palmer took home the trophy in 2002.

USC players won back-to-back trophies in 2004 and 2005, but one was vacated after it was found that running back Reggie Bush violated NCAA rules during his career.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.