1495134_me_lat_bio_portraits_JLCCongratulations to Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, Jabrill Peppers and Dede Westbrook.

Those are five fine choices from four fine universities.

The big Heisman news at TMG on Monday, however, is Rankman got his vote back this year!

“How did he lose it?” you might ask and, well, that story is even better.

I was a Heisman-voter-in-good standing in  2004 before Texas v. Cal became,  arguably, the biggest controversy in the 16-year history of the Bowl Championship Series. Call it a snit-storm.

In the final standings that year, Texas nipped Cal for the No. 4 spot by the .8476 to .8347. Don’t ask me to explain how it got to that.

No. 4 was critical because, that year, that team was slotted to be the Rose Bowl’s replacement team for USC, which won the Pac 10 but was lost to the BCS championship.

It wasn’t just that Texas got the Rose Bowl spot over Cal, which had not been to Pasadena since 1959. What set off the Fraud Police was the lobbying that took place for the spot on the final weekend. And nobody lobbies like Texas.

The final tally took a suspicious turn when a few AP voters flipped-flopped Texas and Cal in their final ranking even after the Bears’ closed the season with a comfortable win at Southern Mississippi.

Cal folks hit the roof–and a lot of them are lawyers.  Calls poured into my email inbox and to the highest levels of management at the Los Angeles Times, where I humbly worked at the time.

I got a phone call from my boss: “Do you vote in the AP poll?”

The AP poll, at the time, was part of the BCS formula that decided the title-game participants and other key bowl spots.

I had been waiting for years to answer this question: “Hell No!” I screamed, “And this is exactly why.”

I had refused many invitations to be part of the AP poll because I thought it was in conflict-of-interest with my job as the paper’s national college football columnist.

I did not want to be a part of something I might have to report on. The AP immediately issued a cease-and-desist and demanded to know how its poll got to be involved in the BCS in the first place! (Note: the AP had been part of the BCS from its 1998 inception.

Side bar: The news that the AP was pulling out of the BCS standings formula was not broken by the AP. It was broken by the Boston Globe’s Mark Blaudschun, a founding member of TMG.

I did the right thing at the time and thought I might get a raise–or at least employee of the month.  Nope.  John Carroll, my paper’s Editor in Chief at the time, put out an edict that prohibited any Times’ reporters from EVER participating in polls or awards.

Our baseball writers had to withdraw from voting for the Hall of Fame.

I generally agreed with the principles here, but didn’t think the Heisman constituted a conflict of interest. I was only one vote in 900 and thought being a Heisman voter helped the paper.

I vehemently argued to keep my vote, to no avail.

The funny part was it wasn’t a Tribune company-wide policy. My colleagues at sister-papers in Chicago and Orlando got to keep their Heisman votes.

How about that?

Anyway, flash forward: I retired from the L.A. Times last December to start new ventures that included TMGcollegesports.com.

High on my wish list was getting my Heisman vote back. I made the request last spring and was informed a few weeks ago that there was an opening in the West…I was back in business.

I cast my first vote in 12 years on Saturday night, after the last conference title games were completed. Anyone who voted before the final games, in my opinion, should have their privileges revoked.

I can’t tell you who I voted for until Saturday because that’s against the rules.

Hey, you want me to lose my vote again?