About a month ago, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was the runaway favorite to win this season’s Heisman Trophy. And although Barkley has since been clearly supplanted by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield as the frontrunner for the award, it was still fairly shocking when the Heisman finalists were announced Monday and Barkley was not on the list.
Before we get to Barkley, here are the players who did get the invite to New York:
- Mayfield, the overwhelming favorite, who threw for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns and rushed for 410 yards and five touchdowns for No. 2 Oklahoma.
- Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning Heisman winner, who didn’t quite match his 2016 stats but did come damn close, with 4,932 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns.
- Bryce Love, the oft-overlooked Stanford running back who rushed for 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns during a breakout junior season.
And that’s it. Whereas the Heisman Trust sometimes invites four or five players to the annual ceremony, this year it tabbed only those three.
The fact Barkley didn’t get the invite means he finished, at best, a distant fourth in the voting. That suggests voters were not overly impressed by the back’s 1,134 rushing yards (33rd in FBS), even though he added 594 receiving yards, a flurry of thrilling kick and punt returns and 21 all-purpose touchdowns.
Though Barkley’s overall stats are fairly gaudy, that’s not why his exclusion is surprising. His exclusion is surprising because of the narrative around him and the degree to which he was coronated back in October. It feels wrong (even if it’s not wrong) to leave out the guy who spent so much time as the favorite.
The Heisman will be officially handed out Saturday night in New York, with Mayfield likely taking home the hardware. But regardless of who gets the award, let’s just say this tweet did not age so well.
Saquon Barkley becomes the 1st player in college football history to win the Heisman in October. It's done. Hand it to him. Win or lose here
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) October 28, 2017