Grading the 2015 Heisman Calculator


The Heisman Calculator is a one-of-a-kind regression model that processes simulated 2015 Heisman votes. By using player and voter data from years past, we’ve been able identify statistical influencers that have demonstrated to drive Heisman votes.

Here at, we celebrate the fact we foretold the 2015 Heisman Trophy outcome with greater accuracy than ESPN’s panel of experts and USATODAY’s Gannett Heisman [voter] survey.

#Heisman CandidateTeamSimulated Heisman PointsActual Heisman Votes
Derrick HenryAlabama15101832
Deshaun WatsonClemson11451165
Baker MayfieldOklahoma610334
Christian McCaffreyStanford12761539
#PlayersPlacementHeisman Calculator MarginActual Vote MarginBlended MarginGrade
Deshaun Watson - Baker Mayfield3rd - 4th53583524.6%C
Derrick Henry - Christian McCaffrey1st - 2nd23429300.5%A+
Christian McCaffrey - Deshaun Watson2nd - 3rd13137414.0%B+

1st – 2nd:  Regression models can struggle when determining a coefficient ceiling — due to the long-tail of viable Heisman candidates — so we weren’t all too disappointed that the Heisman Calculator didn’t calculate a +1800 vote/point outcome for Henry. However, the calculated marginal difference between Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffry were virtually identical, and to us, that’s whats most important. We specifically designed the calculator to tell us how many vote/points separate candidate-to-candidate. That is exactly what it did and we are very excited about that.

2nd – 3rd: We anticipated Deshaun Watson was going to fair well.  (Had he played in either 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 he would have likely been the presumed winner.) The Heisman Calculator estimated he was going to secure a good number of 1st place votes. He ended up with 148. His 1165 point total was the third highest for a 3rd place finisher. The Heisman Calculator simulated he would end up with 1145.

3rd – 4th:  Here lies a learning experience. The moment we recognized Baker Mayfield was absent from this year’s short-list of finalist, we should have concentrated the top candidate’s vote total.  This was a blunt oversight. Looking through the past few years, every candidate that received +300 vote/points was invited to the ceremony. The fact that Mayfield wasn’t invited should have signaled to us that we drastically overestimated his vote ceiling.  It’s easy to understand why the calculator infused so many votes toward Mayfield.  The late ‘quarterback’s award’ wanted to reward his remarkably high stats, team rank, SOS, and media popularity.  But you live and you learn. When you have 3, not 4, finalists must transfer votes for finalists 1,2,3.

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