Will Penny Pull the Votes?
by Noah Gaines
Rashaad Penny is thriving at San Diego State, racking up yardage left and right, resulting in 7.9 yards per carry and 8 total touchdowns. He draws up favorably to fellow San Diego State running back, Marshall Faulk. Faulk is the all-time leading rusher at San Diego State, widely considered to be one of the best running backs in pro football history and elected into the pro football hall of fame in 2011. Penny’s numbers are on track to match Faulk’s senior season marks, which placed him very close to winning the grand daddy of them all—the Heisman trophy.
In college football, there are five main conferences in which colleges are grouped together to compete: the SEC (Southeastern Conference), ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), Pac 12 (Pacific 12), Big 10 (which is in the northern and partially midwest U.S.), and the Big 12 (which is midwest and southern U.S). The Aztec football team is not in any one of these conferences. Generally, these five power conferences provide the best competition to test the team’s skill against various difficult teams. Because the Aztecs are not within one of the five power conferences, they have been known as an outlier of sorts. This outlier has costed many players national recognition, which is significant because the players win national awards based off national attention and voting. If a team can’t even partake in one of five power conferences, how are they going to pull in votes for their players and their team?
You’re probably wondering: what does this have to do with Rashaad Penny and Marshall Faulk? Well, this exact scenario occurred multiple times, most notably about 25 years ago. Marshall Faulk was an outstanding running back in college, he was as good as—or maybe better than—Penny is at the moment. He was a Heisman finalist; the Heisman is given to the best player in the country for three straight years. To be a Heisman finalist, you need to be one of the top three performing players in the country during the football season. Faulk was a finalist in 1990, 1991 and 1992. His biggest Heisman snub came in 1992, when he was runner-up to Florida quarterback, Gino Torretta. Faulk was the better player according to everyone who studied him as a player and watches the game. The Heisman is widely disputed and for good reason: the Heisman winner is selected based off popular vote. Florida is one of the schools in the power five conferences. They’re in the SEC, so Gino got the leg up on Faulk do to this. This is known as the worst Heisman result in the history of the award because better talent did not ultimately win.
If Rashaad Penny keeps performing at this rate and is selected to be one of the finalists for the Heisman trophy, it would be interesting to see if he pulls in the votes.