Earlier this evening, live on ESPN’s Sportscenter, former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George announced the five finalist that have been invited to New York for this year’s festivities and award ceremony. The finalists, listed in alphabetical order, are running back Montee Ball of Wisconsin, quarterback Robert Griffin, III of Baylor, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback and return specialist Tyrann Mathieu, and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
While most of the candidates were expected invitees, the inclusion of Mathieu came as a surprise too many, with USC quarterback Matt Barkley and record-setting signal caller Case Keenum being the most obvious snubs. Keenum went from the likely favorite to out of the top five after a lackluster final performance against Southern Mississippi, the only ranked opponent that he and the Cougars faced all year. Barkley’s omission was a little more surprising, especially given some of the big performances he’s put up over the last several weeks as USC surged into the top ten. Mathieu is universally acknowledged as a supreme talent, but his body of work was incomplete following an early season suspension that cost him the part of the first game of the college football season and missing an entire second game against Auburn later in the year.
Not that I have a vote, but I have a hard time choosing between Ball, who had an amazingly consistent season for Wisconsin and led the nation in rushing (1,759 yards) and scoring (38 total touchdowns; 32 rushing and 6 receiving), and RGIII who led the nation in passing efficiency and led the perennial doormat Bears to a 9-3 season, highlighted by a 45-38 victory over Oklahoma. Whoever ends up victorious, both could be back next season to battle for the award again since both players are only juniors.