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Penn State Football: Barkley Misses Out On Maxwell, But He Shouldn't Have

by on December 07, 2017 9:10 PM

It is dumb, in a lot of ways, to try and parse the differences between great football players. To sit down and say that the winner of the Maxwell Award or Heisman Trophy should have been someone else implies that whoever makes the list of finalists wasn't deserving.

And that's not true.

So there is no point in saying that Baker Mayfield shouldn't have won the Maxwell Award. He's going to win the Heisman which is basically the same award given by different people, because if college football is good for anything, it's handing out awards. He's going to the playoffs, and he has been the best and most consistent player in the nation from Week 1. It is not unreasonable to assume he might even hoist the national title trophy not long from now.

But it is a shame, or in the very least unfortunate, that the honor didn't go to Saquon Barkley.

Not because his numbers were better, or that he had a season equal to Mayfield's, but simply because he is the best player in the nation with the ball in his hands. And everyone knows it, and this was the award to honor that fact.

Week in and out Big Ten beat writers covering opposing teams have made their way to the press box and have gasped at what Barkley does on a regular basis. They look at each other and their Penn State colleagues just nod. "Yes, he jumped over that guy. Yeah, he does that all the time. No, I don't know how four different guys couldn't tackle him."

It happens over and over. And each time they leave with an appreciation for what Barkley can do when the ball is in his hands. In truth I think most Penn State writers do too. You can't fault the kid, and he rarely makes mistakes. He's the best player on the field every week. He could stand in the backfield and not move and command the attention of every defender.

And isn't that what these awards are all about?

Barkley shouldn't win the Heisman, and there is a reason why he isn't a finalist, but he could have, and for a long time was the odds-on favorite to do just that. His downfall were his surroundings not his abilities.

And of course there's the difference between the players who do win these awards and the ones who don't. It's consistency, and on paper Barkley didn't have it. It's winning, and Penn State has come up just a bit short. It's titles, and the Nittany Lions didn't make it to Indy two years in a row.

So most of these awards you can explain away. Bryce Love is very, very good. So is he the best running back in the nation? Sure, okay.

Baker Mayfield for the Heisman? Okay, that makes sense.

But the Maxwell Award, given to the best player in the country. Everyone knows who that is.

It's Saquon Barkley. And some day sooner rather than later, college football will wonder how it didn't recognize that fact.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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