It’s no secret that the Pac-12 has an exposure problem. Whether that’s getting eyeballs on its network, getting eyeballs to stay up past bedtime or getting eyeballs to see its marquee players, the league trails the other Power 5s when it comes to publicity.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg dove into the issue with Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey as his launching point. He asks the question of whether McCaffrey stands a chance in the 2016 Heisman balloting with the lack of people watching.
The Heisman isn't just about stats and highlights. If so, McCaffrey would have won easily. It's also about television windows, exposure and storytelling. Those factors are uniquely challenging for Pac-12 candidates like McCaffrey, who will make another run at the Heisman this fall.
In 2015, he was a star player on a nationally ranked team with record-setting numbers. But how much of the country actually heard his story?
Last season McCaffrey set the NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a single season with 3,864. He was the only FBS player to lead his team in rushing and receiving yards and he won the AP player of the year. By the way – he’s the first since 2009 to win that honor, but not the Heisman.
But Heisman snubs like McCaffrey's serve as a concrete example of the long-held belief in Pac-12 circles that East Coast bias stiff-arms the league from the stiff-arm trophy. (Stanford coach David) Shaw, perhaps more than anyone, could build a case for such a bias after serving as Stanford's coach or offensive coordinator for all four Cardinal Heisman bridesmaids (McCaffrey, Andrew Luck in 2010 and 2011, and Toby Gerhart in 2009).
He also points out the other side of the coin – that Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman the year before in 2014. So it’s not impossible.
It’s an interesting read for more than just fans of McCaffrey.