It happens every season in college football. Player A is primed to have a breakout season, and before long an earnest push for his Heisman candidacy has begun. Websites are started. Facebook pages pop up. Highlight reels get uploaded to YouTube. Members of the Football Writers Association of America start getting all kinds of shit in the mail. It's not clear what purpose any of this serves, but at least it's a fun outlet for fans to rally behind their guy.
Some of this is just fanboy stuff. But a lot of it comes straight from the media relations department of Player A's school, which is at least in keeping with the media relations department's job description. The actual media—those reporters whose job requires a certain amount of dispassion—aren't supposed to partake in marketing campaigns like this. Just don't tell that to the folks at the South Bend Tribune, which is behind the website for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's Heisman push.
The Te'o Heisman site is a prominent feature link on the Tribune's Notre Dame sports webpage. And it doesn't appear to be a gimmick funded by an advertiser: Not a single ad can be found on the main page of the Te'o Heisman site—just photos from all of Notre Dame's games this season, a link to the Tribune's Facebook page, the promotion of the Te'o Heisman Twitter hashtag, and a gallery of Te'o photos, including an image from his youth football days. It's as if the Tribune outsourced the page's design to Te'o's kid brother.
I've reached out to Notre Dame to ask if the school has any plans to launch its own Te'o campaign; the university has yet to respond. The Fighting Irish still have seven regular-season games remaining, so there's still plenty of time for Te'o's candidacy to take shape. Which means there's still plenty of time for the homers at the Tribune to provide additional content for the Te'o Heisman site while wearing their foam fingers.