Despite having more than 2,000 yards rushing this season, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny wasn’t one of the Heisman Trophy finalists announced Monday night in New York City.
Instead, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Stanford running back Bryce Love and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield were the three finalists for the 83rd annual Heisman Memorial Trophy.
Penny is the current leader in the FBS in rushing yards (2,027), rushing yards per game (168.9), all-purpose yards (2,698) and all-purpose yards per game (224.8). He became the 29th person to break 2,000-yard rushing mark on Nov. 24, the Aztecs’ last game of the regular season against New Mexico.
“He’s as good as any running back in the country. I don’t care what they say,” Aztec coach Rocky Long said after the game. “He’s as good as any of them.”
Long predicted that Penny won’t be a finalist because he plays for a Group of 5 team, and therefore are overlooked by voters. Penny was also snubbed by the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award last month, which goes to the best running back in the country.
“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 after the finalists for those awards were announced. “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.”
SDSU offensive coordinator Jeff Horton was more politically correct at a press conference Tuesday, saying he was more angry about it than Penny is — “at least outwardly.”
“Whether it was the Doak Walker Award or the Heisman Trophy, it’s supposed to reward the best player in college football,” Horton said. “Whether some people think he is or isn’t, obviously we think he is, but to not even be in the final selections for either award — I just want to know what the criteria is and what it’s based on. Maybe some people here got a chance to vote on the thing, maybe I didn’t see the fine print about if you’re from a non-Power 5 conference school it really doesn’t matter.
After the New Mexico game, Penny said he wasn’t bothered by the snubs.
“I got these guys. I got this coaching staff. They believe in me.,” he said. “They all know that I’m probably the No. 1 back in the country. And they know I’m a Heisman winner.”
The Heisman Trophy winners and finalists are selected by 929 voters in six regions, Northeast, Southwest, South, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Far West, which included 870 media members and 58 former Heisman winners. The public is given one overall fan vote through the Nissan Heisman House.
The Heisman Trophy winner will be announced at a ceremony on Dec. 11 in New York City.
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