*Courtesy Auburn Media Relations*
By Charles Goldberg
NEW YORK — It was a weekend of family and fun, and even though he didn't win the Heisman Trophy, Auburn's Tre Mason had a good time in New York.
Besides, Tre Mason can get even with Heisman winner Jameis Winston in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena on Jan. 6.
This year's six Heisman finalists have big stats. Winston has passed for 38 touchdowns and is leading the nation in passing efficiency. Mason counters with an SEC-best 1,621 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Winston, just 19 years old, is the second freshman to win the award, following Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, who won it last year and was a finalist this season and finished fifth.
Winston was the runaway winner, collecting 2,205 points. By comparison, Alabama's AJ McCarron finished second with 704 points. Mason finished sixth with 404 points. Mason received 31 first-place votes, more than fourth-place finisher Andre Williams and fifth-place finisher Manziel.
Mason's strongest showing was in the Heisman's South Region, where he finished third in the voting. His lowest vote total came in the Far West, where he was eighth.
Mason made a late-season push for the Heisman, rushing for more than 100 yards in the final five games, including that eye-popping 304 yards and four touchdowns in Auburn's win over Missouri in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.
Mason tried to become Auburn's fourth Heisman winner, joining Newton, Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan. Sullivan and Newton sent Mason texts with encouraging words. Jackson has been supportive throughout.
Heisman or not, it has been a successful season for Mason, who stamped his name on the college football season with a dazzlingly effort in the SEC Championship Game; and who spent the weekend in New York with his family, some from nearby Long Island.
"It's just a great opportunity to have my family here, just to be a part of this moment of my life because without them, I wouldn't be here," Mason said. "They shaped me into the man I am today. I'm happy they're here to celebrate with me."
It was a weekend to build friendships, too. Mason and Winston joked about playing each other in the BCS Championship Game.
McCarron, said he found a friend.
"I definitely said 'War Eagle' for the first time in a while today… Shows what kind of guy Tre is," McCarron said.
Even the BCS title game couldn't shake Mason and Winston.
"We look forward to competing," Winston said. "That's what we've been doing, cracking jokes with each other."
"We're really close," Mason said. "He's a funny guy. We started a great friendship."
Winston had more of an Auburn flavor in his acceptance speech, twice thanking Dameyune Craig, the Tigers' receeivers coach, for recruiting him, and helping mature, when they were both at Florida State.
Mason's 1,621 rushing yards are the second most in school history for a single season, trailing only Jackson in 1985. But Mason topped Jackson in the SEC title game, pushing his total for all-purpose yards to 2,137. Mason's 22 rushing touchdowns are a school record, too, and that, too, helped push him to the Heisman ceremony.
Mason's father, Vincent, knows all about the big stage, and New York. He was born in Brooklyn, lived on Long Island, moved to Florida after helping create the popular musical group De La Soul, which has sold more than 20 million records. It was Florida where Tre Mason found sports.
Mason rushed for 1,000 yards in 2012, but Auburn struggled. He has 1,621 yards this year heading to the BCS Championship Game against Florida State.
"For them to come from complete darkness to being a part of the championship is so surreal," Vincent Mason said Saturday. "It's amazing. It's beyond belief in most people's eyes."
All the while, Tre Mason said he would never be as famous as his dad.
"Tre is way more famous than me right now," a beaming dad said with a laugh.
Vincent Mason said his son never really followed in his footsteps. He played the drums for a time, but sports was his game. Vincent Mason let him have his way.
"I was always myself. Coming in and doing what was in my heart, just having tremendous love and passion for what I do, and I see him have tremendous love and passion in what he does," Vincent Mason said. "He's just Tre. He's not trying to be Bo, or Cam. He's just Tre, and trying to accomplish his dreams."
Joining Winston, Mason, Manziel and McCarron were Boston College's Williams and Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch