In the week where San Diego State football running back Rashaad Penny was named the Mountain West player of the week for the seventh time this season and ninth in his career — a school record, he was snubbed by two major awards.
“Anybody that follows our program think it’s not right, but not many people nationally follow our program,” Aztec coach Rocky Long said.
Penny is arguably one the best running backs in the nation this season, but he was not named as a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the best running back in the country. Instead, the finalists are Bryce Love of Stanford, Saquon Barkley of Penn State and Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin.
Penny was also snubbed by the Maxwell Award for best college football player, which named Love, Barkley and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield as finalists.
“I think it’s ridiculous. I talk about this all the time and nobody wants to hear it, but I’m going to say it again. The financial resource gap between the Power 5 group and us (Group of 5) is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous and it gets bigger every year,” Long said. “They are trying to exclude us, they are trying to eliminate us and trying to make us a different division than them is exactly what’s going on. So the people who are with them are going to make sure that the non-Power 5 guys don’t get any recognition if they can help it.”
Penny had a record 429 all-purpose yards in the win against Nevada last weekend, breaking a 26-year school record held by Marshall Faulk. He had 222 yards on 24 carries for two touchdowns and added 201 more yards on two kickoff returns and one punt return for a touchdown.
“Take all of those other guys that are up for those awards,” Long said. “Any of those return punts for touchdowns? Any of those guys return kicks for touchdowns? Any of those guys catch it any better than he does? I don’t think so.”
Penny’s teammates are equally incensed about the national snub.
“I think it’s a joke; it’s awful. Obviously, he’s one of the best running backs in the nation,” senior tight end David Wells said. “I don’t see any other running backs doing what he does. You can compare his stats to other peoples’ and you can see how he’s done. And then people will say we’re not a Power 5 school, but look what he did against Power 5 schools. The man’s a monster.”
Penny is still a semi-finalist for the Walter Camp Award, which goes to the nation’s best player. The finalists for that award will be named next week. And there’s still the Heisman Trophy award, but Long isn’t hopeful about that.
“Well, they ignored (Donnel Pumphrey) last year, too,” Long said after Nevada’s game Saturday. “And they have been — I saw the list of the six or seven on ESPN today. I saw the list of the six or seven guys that are the best players in the country; I didn’t see Rashaad’s name on there.”
Which explains why SDSU hasn’t launched a Heisman campaign for Penny as it did for Pumphrey.
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