Don't fret, we've got some answers:
If They Had a Nomination, It Was a Shaky One
The nomination submission process for the Nobel closed in February, and the Higgs discovery happened in July. So, because the Higgs breakthrough did not happen before the nomination process, scientists were banking on a nomination that was the equivalent of: in the even that this happens, give it to them. "Nominations must be in at the start of the year. Yes I am sure they will have already received nominations for all likely candidates but due process should require that they wait for nominations after the discovery I think," wrote physicist Peter Gibbs when he assessed the Higgs's Nobel chances last week, echoing the sentiment that the discovery-deadline conundrum might have done Higgs in. "Since the original theoretical work was done in the early sixties, and the December 2011 hints were pretty suggestive, this can't have been a complete surprise. I would hope the committee was not taken unawares," wrote Jon Butterworth, a scientist who works on the ATLAS team which helped discover the boson this year, in The Guardian this morning. Butterworth's column actually defended the Higgs's Nobel chances, but even he acknowledged that the nomination would have had to be on spec.
It's Way Too Early
"It's too early. Even if the Higgs evidence from CERN was hammer-hitting-you-on-the-head conclusive (which it isn't), it would be a few years before the Nobel committee would likely award a prize," wrote science journalist Charles Seife in Slate last week. The idea of newness and novelty has been a narrative throughout the Higgs Nobel sweepstakes, but that unspoken Nobel rule (that you have to wait a while to get your award) hasn't really been applied to Higgs as much as other findings, because as Butterworth and others have mentioned, scientists have been waiting for the discovery since the 1960s.
The Committee Wanted to Wait
One of the reasons the committee might wait to give you an award is that that they want to make sure they're awarding the right people and the right people, and we've gone over that there's still one spot up for grabs—barring death, Peter Higgs and Francois Englert are locks for the Prize when the Higgs is finally recognized. That third share of the prize would make it difficult.
Another reason that the jury may want to wait is because of what was actually found, which brings us to our next reason.
"We're still not entirely sure what we've found ..."
"Without that additional data, it would be unusually daring of the Nobel committee to make an award for anything Higgsish," Geoff Brumfiel, a physics reporter for Nature and Slate Contributor. In more specific science-speak, here's what Gibbs predicted last week:
CERN are saying that by the end of this year they will have a good indication of the spin on their “new particle consistent with the Higgs boson” and then (if it is zero) they will claim it is the Higgs rather than a spin two graviton. It is of course an arbitrary line in the sand.
What that means for laypeople is that more conclusive data is going to be released in the next two months, and that the committee might have wanted to wait until that data was released. So ... data in December ... solid nomination in February ... and boom: Higgs would be lined up pretty nicely for next year's Prize.