The list of Heisman Trophy finalists came out on Christmas Eve, so if you missed it during an odd college football season where the timing of everything is off by at least a couple of weeks, we won’t blame you one bit.
The Heisman finalists were Alabama QB Mac Jones, Florida QB Kyle Trask, Alabama WR DeVonta Smith and Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence.
Just missing the final four were Alabama running back Najee Harris at No. 5 and then at No. 6 came Iowa State RB Breece Hall.
Hall has been named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back, plus he was also the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
There’s been a general belief amonst a portion of Iowa State fans that had Breece Hall had this season in an Alabama, or even Ohio State, Texas, or Oklahoma jersey, he would have been named a finalist for the award.
While Hall undoubtedly had a great season, there’s little evidence to suggest that would be the case.
Breece Hall led the nation with 1,436 rushing yards on 245 carries, along with 19 touchdowns, which only trail Najee Harris. Hall and Harris each had 5.9 yards per carry on the season.
Certainly Hall should have been fifth on this list ahead of Najee Harris. But a lock for Heisman finalist? No.
Just look through recent seasons at the running back position. Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard had 500+ more rushing yards than Hall did last season, while averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 21 touchdowns. He was not a Heisman finalist.
In 2018, Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for nearly 2,200 yards for over 7.0 yards per carry and he was not a Heisman finalist either. The last running back to be a Heisman finalist was Stanford’s Bryce Love in 2017, who rushed for 2,100 yards for over 8.0 yards per carry.
The criticism on the handling of the award should be more geared towards the lack of appreciation and the devaluation of the running back position, than viewing this as a slight of Iowa State.
I know, and appreciate, Iowa State fans who want to view themselves through a prism of Rodney Dangerfield’s “I get no respect”, but in this case, the fate suffered by Breece Hall in the Heisman voting, is no different than most running backs around the country in recent seasons.
And in fact, those running backs I listed above have a much bigger gripe than Hall does in 2020.
None of this takes away from the continued blue-blood bias in college football. It absolutely exists. And we will find out a better example of that based on whether or not Breece Hall wins the Doak Walker Award, which he should.
But when it comes to the Heisman Trophy, it has become a quarterback award. And that has nothing to do with Iowa State or Breece Hall.
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