Sunday, November 5, 2017

Any Sportswriter Who Doesn't Vote For Rashaad Penny As A Heisman Trophy Finalist Should Have Your Voting Privileges Yanked

San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny leads the nation in rushing

On Saturday afternoon, ESPN posted the six players the network believes have the best shot at the Heisman Trophy, the vaunted award given to the young man who 870 sportswriters and 52 former Heisman winners believe is America’s finest college football player. And preposterously but not surprisingly, San Diego State's Rashaad Penny was not on the list.

Penny, a dominant athlete who can run around you, or through you, leads the nation in rushing, and all-purpose yards. On Saturday night, he ran for 234 yards and three touchdowns to lead San Diego State (8-2, 4-2 in the Mountain West) over San Jose State.

In the process, Penny, who's also a tremendous receiver and kickoff returner and leader on and off the field, passed Stanford's Bryce Love as the nation's top running back. Penny has racked up 1,592 rushing yards this season, 136 more than Love.

While Penny was wreaking havoc, Love and Penn State's Saquon Barkely, who are both virtual locks as Heisman finalists, were looking very average, very human against a couple of good defensive opponents. Love ran for just 69 yards in Stanford’s loss to Washington State, while Barkley had just 68 yards in Penn State’s loss to Michigan State.

But lest you think Penny only racks up big numbers against weak opponents, think again. Penny demonstrably outplayed Bryce when San Diego State defeated #19 Stanford in mid-September. Penny finished that game with 206 total yards on offense vs. Love’s 187 yards.

Penny has shown his greatness against Power Five teams. There is simply no disputing it: He has earned an invite to the Heisman Trophy announcement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 9 in New York. But Rashaad won't likely be invited. Why? Because when it comes to the Heisman vote, there are absurd biases in favor of the usual suspects: players on the high-profile power conference teams that get all the publicity. 

There is a profound and lamentable lack of awareness among too many Heisman voters of who really is the best athlete in the land. This is supposed to be individual athlete award, not a team or conference award. But far too many sportswriters don't really know how to make that distinction.

Of course, this is all old news for San Diego State football fans. Marshall Faulk, the legendary NFL and College Football Hall-of-Famer, was easily the best football player in the nation when he was a running back at San Diego State in the early 1990s. 

Marshall was the greatest college football player I have ever seen in person. To this day. But he lost two Heisman votes that he should have won. One of them was to Gino Torreta, who quarterbacked a great Miami team that was ranked #1 before the Heisman voting but who in no way, shape or form was a better football player than Faulk.

When it comes to the Heisman, ESPN analysts, specifically, have been doing really dumb things for a really long time. ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso led a laughable, iindefensible campaign in support of Torretta for the trophy and left Faulk off his ballot. Lee, are you Faulking kidding me?

There wasn't a single sportswriter in the country who'd actually watched both Faulk and Toretta play who could say, with a straight face, that Toretta was a better football player. The Heisman went to the wrong man that year. Period. And even Toretta knew it.

A few years ago, Faulk told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Without a doubt, I won the Heisman. If you call Gino Torretta and ask him right now, he'd be willing to give it (to me)."

But, Faulk continued, "The way I look at it now, not winning the Heisman was probably the best thing that happened to me. It gave me that extra drive, the drive that got me through college when people didn't think I could play running back. It got me through the NFL when people questioned whether I was going to be a good player because I didn't win the Heisman. It fueled the fire throughout my whole career.”

More recently, another exceptional San Diego State player got the royal Heisman snub from the royal Heisman hacks. Donnel Pumphrey was an unstoppable running back for SDSU who last season broke not only Faulk’s seemingly unreachable rushing record at SDSU but, even more impressively, Wisconsin great Ron Dayne's college football career rushing record.

Pumphrey had a phenomenal senior season, during which he became the top college running back of all time. But he wasn't even voted in as a finalist in the Heisman race. That's pathetic.

Again, a reminder: the Heisman Trophy is supposed to be given to the best individual player in the country. It is not a vote for the best team. It is not a vote for the best player on the best team in the best conference with the best TV deal. 

Cynical? Yes, very. The Heisman seems to be reserved for a guy who has the best chance to to well in the NFL, for a guy who meets the cliche' criteria of a college football player (the right size, weight, looks, back story, etc).

Bottom line to the sportswriters who vote for the Heisman: Stop making yourself look foolish. Stop making the Heisman a joke. 

Anyone who doesn't vote for Penny this year as Heisman finalist, please, for the love of all that is good and decent, stop covering college football. I hear the obituary section has an opening.


  1. Rashad Penny has played a good respectable schedule . All the Division 1 teams they played may be bowling . Penny deserves the Heisman

  2. Well 2 wins against bowling PAC 12 teams, NIU bowling Unlv likely bowling Air Force maybe bowling Hawaii has chance 2 losses against Bowling teams Boise State and Fresno State. Compare it to Barkley and Penny is right there . Penny with bowl likely 2000 yard rusher and Washington takes alot of his yards

  3. ESPN uses one sportsbook as they're source. That sportsbook doesn't consider anyone from a G-5 team in their rankings. Have a look at their deeper rankings. No Penny, no any G-5 player. It's rigged.

    1. yeah, it seems to be rigged. how do you know this about the sportsbook?