This should be the greatest Heisman race ever

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I haven't thought much about the Heisman Trophy race until last week, when I received a spiffy calendar from the Tennessee sports information department extolling Eric Berry as a potential candidate.

It made me think that all of the neat campaigns developed for most candidates are rather pointless -- at least this season. Because the concentration at the top make it seem that we likely know who will be the candidates who will be appearing in New York City in early December for the trophy presentation.

I would be shocked if Florida's Tim Tebow, Texas' Colt McCoy and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford all aren't at the Heisman Trophy presentation. Tebow won the trophy in 2007 and Bradford is the defending Heisman Trophy winner.

The trio accounted for 875 first-place votes and 4,905 points in the Heisman balloting last season. The rest of the top-10 finishers last season produced 27 first-place votes and 440 points.

We've never been treated to such a landmark season when three Heisman Trophy candidates have returned for another season in college football. Usually, the NFL draft is too much of a pull and these players leave college quickly in search of their first professional paycheck.

Fortunately for the college game, all are back and bringing their magical talents for one more season.

And Big 12 fans are even more fortunate, considering that the top two finishers are returning. That's never happened in one conference in history before.

The Heisman battle between McCoy and Bradford adds just another element in the simmering Texas-Oklahoma rivalry. They likely will be squaring off this season at the Cotton Bowl Oct. 17 in the rubber match in their titanic rivalry. Both have won a game in the series. I don't think we've ever seen a Texas-Oklahoma quarterback battle quite like this one.

Bradford will be attempting to become the first Heisman winner to repeat since Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975.

McCoy, who finished second last season, will be gunning to become the first second-place finisher to win the award the following season since Herschel Walker of Georgia in 1982.

And most preseason polls have Tebow as the slight preseason favorite, mainly because of his team's national championship last season and the Gators' role as heavy preseason favorites coming into the season.

How it plays out will be ascertained over the next several months. The Big 12's upcoming schedule will play a huge part in determining the eventual winner.

It ought to be fun.