What Penn State’s Saquon Barkley could teach Baker Mayfield about Heisman integrity

Penn State football-nittany lions-Saquon Barkley-Heisman-Baker Mayfield

ATLANTA — He rallied to beat Ohio State in Columbus, then pranced around The Shoe as if he’d just sacked Sparta. Saquon Barkley did neither.

Baker Mayfield’s squad is preparing for the Rose Bowl. Barkley’s is preparing for the Rose Bowl Lite.

Mayfield is in New York this weekend, brushing up his Heisman Trophy speech. Barkley isn’t, because that’s how these things work.

And yet when a scribe asked the gifted Penn State tailback at the College Football Hall of Fame a few days back how he planned to spend his Saturday, this was his reply:

“I wasn’t fortunate enough to be a finalist. I’m not going to be bummed about it. I’m not going to lose sleep about it. I’m going to watch it. And whomever wins, I’m going to congratulate them. Because that’s an awesome award. And all three guys that are in that situation are deserving of that award.

“So I’m going to watch it. Probably watch it with my friends, probably grab a bit of food or something.”

No flag waving.

No cursing.

No crotch grabbing.

No showboating.

Pizza, pals and congratulations.

To this guy.

Barkley put together a wonderful, if occasionally inconsistent, regular season: 1,134 rushing yards; 594 receiving yards; 16 rushing scores; 3 receiving scores; 2 return scores; and a touchdown pass. The Nittany Lions crushed Michigan and Northwestern but then turned around and fell at Ohio State and at Michigan State by a combined 4 points.

Mayfield’s numbers, meanwhile, were off the charts (41 passing touchdowns, 4,340 passing yards). His Oklahoma Sooners won the Big 12, and when they got a lead at Ohio State, they kept it. The scoreboard gets the last word. This is a results business, and the results said their piece a long time ago.

But while Barkley sits in State College and Mayfield likely strikes the pose Saturday evening, we’d like to kindly refer you to the first three sentences of the Heisman Trust’s mission statement:

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performances best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust’s mission is to ensure the continuation and integrity of this award.

Great ability? No question.

Integrity? Hold my beer.

There’s a joke in there about the tackling ability of the walls in Fayetteville, Ark., compared to your typical Big 12 defense. Not the point.

This is. When asked this week how Barkley would feel if the final ballots— only the top 3 vote-getters, Mayfield, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson were invited to the ceremony — wound up with him finishing fourth or fifth, the Lions junior countered:

“Doesn’t matter. I’m not going to be like, ‘Dang, I was fourth.’

“I mean, the thing that matters to me the most, the opinion that actually matters, and I’m not disrespecting the Heisman committee, or stuff like that, because they’ve been doing it for a long time. But to me, the people whose opinions that matter — it’s my family, and my teammates and my coaches.

“I think you can go to Penn State and you can ask everybody who they think is the best player in college football, and they’re going to give you an answer and they’re going to say, myself. If you ask my family, they’re all going to say, me. If you ask my coaches, they’re going to say, me.

“Are they biased? Probably. But I feel like I’ve earned their respect and I feel like I’ve done it the right way. They know that I worked my butt off. I didn’t just wake up and it happened. I pushed myself.”

Diligence.

Perseverance.

Hard work.

Integrity.

“I’m up for a lot of awards,” Barkley continued. “That’s an honor. That’s a blessing. But if I don’t win one, or if I win them all, it’s going to be the same feeling to me.

“Obviously, you’ve got to give appreciation and give the [credit] to your teammates if you do win. Because, as I said before, it’s an individual award, but individual awards come with team success. And, especially as a running back — I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my offensive line. The awards are awesome, but at the end of the day, that’s not why you play. And that’s not the end-all, be-all.”

No. 26 did not win at the national college football awards show Thursday, although that hasn’t stopped the provincial accolades from rolling in: Earlier this week, Barkley was announced as the winner of the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in college football. He was voted the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year, Running Back of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year. The Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football Award — in which the Big Ten’s best player is tapped by league coaches — has been doled out since 1924, but only 5 players have won it more than once: Barkley (2016, 2017); Braxton Miller (2012, 2013); Anthony Thompson (1988, 1989); Archie Griffin (1973, 1974); and Paul Giel (1952, 1953).

“I try to hold the team to standards, hold myself to standards,” Barkley said. “So that’s what I mean when I say I don’t need a trophy to define me. And I don’t need a committee to define me.”

Actions speak louder than words. Louder than bronze, too.

The post What Penn State’s Saquon Barkley could teach Baker Mayfield about Heisman integrity appeared first on Land of 10.

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