A year ago, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith beat out McFadden for college football's most prestigious individual award. This time it was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow who got the better of the Arkansas running back.
"I love all my fans backs home, and I know they love me," McFadden said. "I don't think they're going to disown me because I didn't win the Heisman."
For the second consecutive year, McFadden had to settle for a free trip to Manhattan and the distinction of being the Heisman runner-up.
Tebow became the first sophomore to win the award, receiving 462 first-place votes to accomplish a feat that even the multi-talented McFadden couldn't do a year ago.
McFadden, meanwhile, had to settle for his own bit of history — though not the type he had hoped for when he arrived in New York City on Friday afternoon.
Rather than becoming the first Heisman winner in Arkansas history, the Little Rock native earned another title: He's only the third player in the award's 73-year history to finish second in the voting in consecutive years.
"Tebow, he's a great guy. The numbers speak for themselves. He did a great job," McFadden said, putting on his best face after leaving the Nokia Theatre. "He deserved the Heisman Trophy. I'm very proud of him."
Apparently, when it comes to McFadden, he's always the runner-up, never the winner. Or perhaps better yet, he's the Susan Lucci of the Heisman.
But this year's race proved to be much closer than a year ago when McFadden was the standout sophomore looking to make history.
Heading into Saturday, the general assumption was that the Heisman was a tight two-man race between McFadden and Tebow.
In the end, Tebow edged out his Southeastern Conference counterpart, earning 1,957 points to McFadden's 1,703. Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan finished third with 632 points, and Missouri signal-caller Chase Daniel took fourth with 425 points.
"Everyone knew it was going to (Tebow), so it was no surprise there," Daniel said.
Maybe Tebow's win wasn't a total surprise, but it was close.
A year ago, McFadden earned only 878 points, 1,662 points behind Smith. The Ohio State quarterback's margin of victory was the second largest in the award's history.
In contrast, Tebow won the award over McFadden by only 254 points.
The point total is based on a system of three points for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
"McFadden is a great player, and I was honored to get the chance to have a relationship with him the past few days," Tebow said.
McFadden received 291 first-place votes, 355 second-place votes and 120 third-place votes. His 291 first-place votes are the second most ever by a Heisman runner-up, but they weren't enough to win him the award.
As soon as Tebow was named the winner, McFadden stood and applauded with the rest of the crowd in attendance. He then gave Tebow a hug before the Florida quarterback took the stage to accept the famous bronze statue.
"Like I said, I'm very thankful just to be here again," McFadden said. "It could have been someone else here in my place."
It appears unlikely that McFadden will return next season to make another run at the Heisman.
While he has said repeatedly that he'll make a decision about his future after the Jan. 1 Cotton Bowl, McFadden is expected to leave Arkansas after this season to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
He perhaps dropped a hint about his future plans after Saturday's ceremony when he was asked whether any of the other Heisman finalists — all quarterbacks — had given him any tips on how to throw a football.
"I think my quarterbacking days are about to come to a halt," McFadden said.
The good news: At least he won't come up short in the Heisman voting — again.
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