Unlike any other award in college football, The O'Brien has instituted a fan vote that counts as 5 percent of the final tally. This is the first time in the award's history that fans' opinions will influence the selection process.
"We're thrilled to be adding the fan vote to our selection process," said Danielle Moorman, executive director of the Davey O'Brien Foundation. "For many fans, college football season is year round, so they are passionate, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their teams. This gives them the opportunity to validate their opinions."
Fans are able to vote for the starting quarterback from any of the 119 Division I-A football programs, leaving room for the possibility of a quarterback who is not on the Watch List (published last month) to win the award.
The top three fan vote recipients are added to the semifinalist list, which then is refined to three finalists and the winner. During these rounds of voting, the fan vote counts as 5 percent. The O'Brien winner will be announced Dec. 6 on The Home Depot College Football Awards Show on ESPN.
"We understand that college football's electric atmosphere is not only because of exciting plays on the field, but also feeds off of the tradition, tailgating and fan participation at the games," Moorman said. "We want the fans to be excited about The O'Brien and take some ownership in the award."
The addition of the fan vote component is the first of many new programs in the works for The O'Brien in order to encourage more fan involvement.
"We intend to add features to the Web site throughout the season so The O'Brien can be an integral part of the fan experience," said Moorman.
The O'Brien is one of only two college football awards to include a fan vote in their selection process. It shares that honor with the Heisman Memorial Trophy, whose winner is chosen by one fan vote and votes from 924 other electors.