On Monday night, the finalists were announced for the Heisman Trophy presentation in NYC and one glaring name was omitted: former front-runner Saquon Barkley. In the aftermath, Penn Staters circled the wagons for their beloved Saquon. The hashtag #notmyheisman became an immediate rallying cry and social media went into overload with ‘We Love You, Saquon' posts. Questions of the trophy’s integrity came to the forefront as it became painfully obvious that the declared winner would be none other than Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who has had run-ins with the law, was recently suspended for getting caught on camera shouting a barrage of slurs at the opponent, among other vile actions. Earlier in the season, he also planted the OU flag in the middle of the Buckeye O. Whether that was wrong is up for debate considering it WAS Ohio State, but it reeked of poor sportsmanship, to say the least.
Shades of recent winner Johnny Manziel, aka “Johnny Football,” came to mind, perhaps the poorest example of a Heisman winner ever, with the Saquon Snub throughout the week. On Thursday, images of Saquon with Mayfield and another Heisman finalist, Stanford’s Bryce Love began to surface as it was learned that Barkley was in Atlanta and up for both the Maxwell Award, as the nation’s best player, and the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back at that night’s College Football Awards show. Things started out well as Saquon was the first plucked from the crowd by ESPN's Chris Fowler to be interviewed, as images of his replays were mixed in throughout the night. But it was not meant to be, as once again he was snubbed on both fronts and we wasted an entire two hours to see it all unfold.
For his part, Barkley handled it as he always does. He released a heartfelt statement on Monday night that let the world know a trophy, or lack thereof, would not define him as a player or a man. He's right. What the Heisman Trophy used to symbolize, it no longer does. The days of John Cappelletti are far gone and it’s become nothing more than a stat machine full of glitz and glamour. Saquon will get the last laugh in the end, but that does little to quell our broken hearts today. On Saturday night, smack in the middle of the Heisman presentation, Saquon Barkley was honored with a standing ovation at home, in Happy Valley, on the ice at Pegula during the Nittany Lion’s win over Robert Morris. It wasn’t the bright lights and hustle of the Big Apple, but it was home amongst his family of Blue and White. There was no tuxedo to wear, just a letterman’s jacket and sweats. Bigger things await as the NFL and a sure-fire first-round draft pick beckon if he decides to leave early, but this was our opportunity to show the love and perhaps a final chance to say, ‘Thank You’ to everybody’s All-American. As usual, we did not disappoint.