Posts Tagged ‘San Diego State’

Perhaps you remember the Exxon commercial that played over and over again for a month in the middle of the NBA playoffs.

The kinda-nerdy, kinda-cool woman introduces herself as … Kelsey McNeely, energy farmer.

So let’s borrow from that tone to help a Northern Illinois linebacker introduce himself to the sports world.

Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger.

Few people had heard of him before Saturday night but nothing like video proof that you are an eye gouger to get your name to go viral.

I was in the middle of my Saturday night work shift and had only looked at the television a couple times. But I happened to look up and a play had just ended in the Northern Illinois versus San Diego State game and all of a sudden I see a white-gloved hand go somewhere it doesn’t belong (yeah, save your Michael Jackson jokes).

I was stunned that Jones-Davis put his right hand inside the facemask of San Diego State star running back Rashaad Penny.

They showed the replay and that made it clear it was an intentional act.

Just like that — Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger was the proper label.

See this stellar story for more detail and information — http://www.sportsxchange.com/tsxfiles/?page_id=211&max_colums=20&story_id=177913.

Jones-Davis, eye gouger was suspended for one game by Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey. The coach said Jones-Davis plans to call Penny and Aztecs coach Rocky Long to apologize.

Carey asserted that the conduct of Jones-Davis was “completely unacceptable” and I think that is something we can all agree on.

Bad mistake and caught on tape. Not the way a college football player wants to become known.

But for now, there is only one way to address the young man … “Hey, aren’t you Antonio Jones-Davis, eye gouger?”

Advertisements

Steve Fisher has retired as San Diego State basketball coach and it certainly is the right time for his departure.

His final team wasn’t all that good — 19-14 to snap a streak of 11 straight 20-win campaigns — while playing in a Mountain West that was mediocre at best and now firmly entrenched as a one-bid league when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.

Several times this season, I tossed out social media comments that it would be Fab Five Fish’s final season. It just had that feeling about it.

Longtime assistant coach Brian Dutcher — one of the most genuinely nice people in college basketball — takes over the program.

Fisher, 72, went 386-209 in 18 seasons with the Aztecs and posted 12 20-win seasons and led the program to eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a string of six straight.

Making six straight NCAA Tournament appearances was surreal for a program which was among the worst in the nation when Fisher was hired.

Remember, I was covering that awful program when Fisher was hired and he was far from the preferred target.

I broke the story that then-Utah coach Rick Majerus interviewed for the job and Majerus was close to taking it a few days later before he said no. Fran Fraschilla also was offered the job (nope, I didn’t break that one) as was then-Gonzaga coach Dan Monson (yep, broke that one and was waiting at the airport for his Sunday night flight to arrive and when he didn’t come out of the jet way, I knew that was a problem for San Diego State).

At that point, then-athletic director Rick Bay turned to Fisher, who was desperate to get back into college coaching. He had been fired at Michigan a few years earlier and I still remember how stunned I was upon meeting him that he had gray hair in 1999, just a few years after having a full head of brown hair while coaching the Wolverines.

The Aztecs were putrid in his first season and went 5-23 and then Fisher booted five inherited players off the team to free up scholarships.

Two seasons later, led by junior-college transfer Randy Holcomb, the Aztecs made the NCAA Tournament. Credibility had arrived for a program that previously had none.

Eventually, the 20-win seasons became an annual thing but there was still the matter of the program having ZERO NCAA Tournament wins. And you really don’t have a program if you’ve never won an NCAA Tournament game.

Finally, the Kawhi Leonard-led Aztecs had the best season in program history in 2010-11 with a 34-3 mark — a season that will still be the best in school history in 2117 if the world exists.

San Diego State finally got that elusive NCAA tourney win by beating Northern Colorado and eventually lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Connecticut. The Aztecs also topped 30 wins when they went 31-5 in 2013-14 and again reached the Sweet 16 before falling to Arizona.

If you haven’t figured it out, 30-win seasons aren’t supposed to be accomplishments achieved by the San Diego States of the college basketball landscape.

Last season’s final hurrah was not a good one for Fisher but he certainly elevated the program to heights nobody foresaw. Dutcher has been his right-hand man for all of those 18 seasons so the program philosophy won’t change.

The challenge for Dutcher is to have last season’s subpar campaign be an aberration. Once programs like San Diego State fall back into being just another mid-major program in a poor basketball league, it becomes harder to rise back up. Isn’t that right, UNLV?

But know this: Dutcher steps into a far better situation than the one Fisher inherited. The days where nobody cared that San Diego State even had a basketball program seems like centuries ago.

It was a good run for Steve Fisher but good for him to recognize that it was time for him to depart.

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey plays in the final game of his standout career on Saturday and he should be recognized as the all-time leading rusher in college football history when it ends.

But alas, that won’t be entirely true.

The NCAA is a weirdo organization and it doesn’t recognize bowl statistics if they are from before 2002. But eventually, the NCAA is going to come to its senses and count those games.

Even that group of people won’t be dumb forever, right?

So come Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl, Pumphrey (6,290) needs 108 rushing yards against a tough Houston Cougars’ defense to surpass Ron Dayne (6,397) as the all-time record holder. But he really needs to gain 836 yards if he wants to keep the record.

Count Dayne’s bowl games and the Wisconsin star — who played from 1996-99 — rushed for 7,125 yards.

Pumphrey may get the record Saturday to cap off a fantastic career but he will only be renting it.

Here is the stellar Las Vegas Bowl preview — http://www.albanyherald.com/sports/las-vegas-bowl-capsule/article_3e2232c7-43c3-5573-a907-b154c71c1d26.html

 

The San Diego Chargers are playing their next-to-last game in San Diego on Sunday as there won’t be a January reprieve this time around.

The team is off to Los Angeles, which means Dean Spanos gets to play second fiddle to Kroenke the Donkey (Rams owner Stan Kroenke) until the end of time. Or a shorter time span if Donald Trump learns where the bomb buttons are hidden.

Regardless, rubbing salt in the wounds of San Diego sports fans is this nugget: The Oakland Raiders can clinch a playoff spot by beating the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium.

Now that really hurts.

Oakland is on the verge of ending a 14-year playoff drought and has one of the top quarterbacks in the game in Derek Carr and one of the elite pass rushers in defensive end Khalil Mack. The Raiders can make some noise in the postseason too.

But Chargers’ fans don’t want to see this clinching, that’s for sure. There are already enough bad memories with the Raiders — Stabler to Banaszak to Casper rates as the worst and the 1980 AFC title game is right behind — and Oakland celebrating a playoff berth on the field once home to Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson would be one final act of rubbing it in the faces of San Diegans.

The Chargers may be goners but San Diego’s intense hate of the Raiders will live on.

Here is the stellar Raiders-Chargers preview (back to the New York Times link!) — http://nytimes.stats.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161218024

A lot of people in the sports world predict which team will win a game.

Not too many try to predict the final score.

It’s not an easy thing to do, especially in a sport like basketball.

This is on my mind because one of those situations came up this week that truly impresses me.

Wait, are you allowed to say you were impressed over something that you yourself did? Is that what the modern folks mean by #humblebrag?

As if that word itself isn’t confusing.

So let me be humble and let me go brag — yeah, that makes sense — about my prediction of Tuesday’s NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves.

I saw this score “Spurs 105, Timberwolves 91” and I thought ‘That sounds kind of familiar.’

I went online and found my preview … scrolled to the bottom and there was my pick:

PREDICTION: Spurs 105, Timberwolves 92 (here’s proof at the bottom of the stellar previewhttp://www.reuters.com/article/bkn-spurs-timberwolves-preview-idUSMTZECC6RIRQ1U

Soooooo close — if Andrew Wiggins could have gone 2-of-3 from the line instead of a porous 1-of-3, I nail that score right on the head.

Just know that close call is way closer than most of the predictions. Could make a good laugh to keep track of all of them and check the scores because most of the time you will be far away from the actual score.

So when you are close, toot your horn … like I’m about to do over last season’s NCAA championship game.

Remember how that powerful North Carolina team was supposed to roll through the Final Four?

Well, I picked Villanova to win the national championship game … and I just missed nailing the final score.

Yes, I almost predicted the correct score for the most important college basketball game of the season.

PREDICTION: Villanova 77, North Carolina 73

Final score of the game: Villanova 77, North Carolina 74

Again, here is the proof at the bottom of the stellar NCAA title game preview — http://www.reuters.com/article/bkc-villanova-northcarolina-preview-idUSMTZEC443VZQAB

OK, done humblebragging (is that a word?). The point has been made. It doesn’t happen often but it feels good to almost hit the score of a basketball game.

I know, I know — now you will be expecting me to tell you the correct score of the 2017 NCAA title game.

Now that you are paying attention, I’ll probably miss by 30.

 

Let’s consider the Spurs-Timberwolves preview as part of the ever-popular Weekly Links.

Here is another one — San Diego State vs. Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl.

I see a lot of whining that Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey wasn’t a Heisman Trophy finalist. And then the failure to win the Doak Walker Award is somehow a sign of DISRESPECT.

Really? Pumphrey plays at San Diego State. Just the fact he was getting some Heisman talk was impressive. That he was one of THREE finalists for the Doak Walker Award (top running back) is a true sign of RESPECT.

Texas standout D’Onta Freeman won the Doak Walker Award and I see nothing wrong with that. He played fewer games than Pumphrey and had more yards. And did it against a tougher schedule.

End of conversation.

While we’re talking about Pumphrey, he has 6,290 career rushing yards and is 108 yards away from passing Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the all-time leading rusher in college football history. But the real truth is that Pumphrey needs to rush for 836 yards against the Cougars if he wants to keep the record.

The NCAA is a silly entity to begin with but one of the more ridiculous things is that bowl game stats count for the current players but not for the all-time greats from last century.

At some point, this nonsense will be fixed — most Big Ten schools already have added the past bowl game stats to their own record books. When it happens, Dayne’s total will grow from 6,397 to 7,125 and the record will once again be his.

Not Pumphrey’s fault but how awkward will it feel for him two or three years from now when the NCAA catches up to modern times and learns that updating statistics from the past isn’t all that hard.

They will be like, “Mr. Pumphrey, your record just disappeared like all those vinyl ones from the past.”

Here is the stellar bowl preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/64201/preview/top25/

 

Here is an NFL preview to finish off this edition of Weekly Links.

The Washington Redskins are 6-5-1 and might need to win each of their last four games to reach the playoffs.

So you think a four-game winning streak to end the season sounds preposterous?

That’s exactly what the Redskins did last season to qualify for the playoffs.

It also let us know for sure that Kirk Cousins was a bona fide NFL starting quarterback as he was on fire down the stretch of the season. Cousins is having a solid campaign this season but now gets the chance to step it up again.

Funny how football works.

The Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and how odd is it that Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson fancies a return to Philadelphia?

He was sent packing by former Eagles coach Chip Kelly three seasons ago. You may have noticed Kelly was booted from Philadelphia and now coaches in San Francisco.

It will be quite a statement if the Eagles take Jackson back … squarely putting the blame on the former control freak coach.

Here is the stellar Redskins-Eagles preview (not using New York Times this week for the link because I’m giving love to one of the entities that leaves my byline on — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/NFL/2016/12/08/Washington-Redskins-look-for-finishing-kick-similar-to-last-year-vs-Philadelphia-Eagles/1091481221332/

This week marked the second time this season that I handled the national preview for a ranked San Diego State football team.

Repeat — the Aztecs are ranked. Again.

The only thing that would be more surreal would be seeing a guy with no political experience become president.

Oh yeah … that Trump guy was considered to have more integrity than the slimy Hillary woman, huh?

Anyway, I was looking forward to writing the preview of the San Diego State-Wyoming game so I could write about Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey.

He now ranks fourth in NCAA history in career rushing yardage and he will soon become the all-time record-holder unless he suffers a major injury.

But I had to go in another direction because San Diego State still ranks poorly in understanding the media and how sportswriters do their jobs.

You would think it would be a no-brainer to have the running back who just went over 6,000 career rushing yards attend your weekly press conference. Especially since the school still carries this notion that he is a bona fide Heisman Trophy winner and there are only a few weeks left before that prestigious ceremony.

There are also quotes from last Saturday’s victory at Nevada on the school website. None from Pumphrey on the night that he became just the fifth player to go over the 6,000-yard mark. Beyond dumb if you want some national pub for your guy’s remarkable achievement.

With the Aztecs back in the national rankings, a savvy intelligent media relations department would make sure their main guy was in circulation. Just imagine the national preview angle pumping up Pumphrey on all the major sports websites in this country.

Repeat, Pumphrey featured on ALL the major sports websites.

Instead, San Diego State dropped the ball … so the replacement angle of the preview tells another fact:

The Aztecs got walloped the first time they were ranked this season.

Here is the stellar San Diego-Wyoming preview — http://www.foxsports.com/san-diego/story/wyoming-faces-tough-matchup-with-no-24-san-diego-state-111616

 

Alabama is on its way to winning another national championship. I personally don’t even think we need a playoff to determine this year’s winner.

Even with star safety Eddie Jackson gone for the season, this team is loaded. Heck, Nick Saban could direct his kicker to play quarterback instead of true freshman star Jalen Hurts and probably would still win the title.

But here we are in Game No. 11 and Alabama is once again playing a lower-level opponent that it could crush 150-0 if it so wanted.

No offense to Chattanooga, but perhaps the Mocs can see if Alabama will just send them the check and not insist on them showing up.

Now that we are in the College Football Playoff era, perhaps the SEC can add another conference game and stop this type of silliness.

There is no reason for this game to be played … well, except to add dollars to my paycheck.

Here is the stellar Chattanooga-Alabama preview — https://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52858/preview/top25/

 

Carson Wentz has been an immediate hit as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and his strong play has prompted comparisons to a guy who care out of nowhere as a rookie in 2012.

A guy named Russell Wilson.

Wilson has guided the Seattle Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances since bursting on the scene and he will be on the same field as Wentz this Sunday.

Wilson is impressed with Wentz … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is impressed with Wentz … heck, nearly everybody is impressed with the guy who went No. 2 overall despite playing at FCS power North Dakota State (you know, the program that beats major-college programs every season).

It is one of the few times I will be glad to turn on the television and see the Seahawks play.

And here is something I learned while searching for this preview: My work runs on the NBC Sports website.

And something else I learned: NBC Sports has a website.

Here is the stellar Eagles-Seahawks preview — http://scores.nbcsports.com/fb/preview.asp?g=20161120026&home=26&vis=21

 

Here is something truly remarkable — the Los Angeles Lakers have won seven games entering their Nov. 18 contest against the San Antonio Spurs.

Last season, the Lakers didn’t notch win No. 7 until their 34th game. That win came on Jan. 1.

But Los Angeles is a solid 7-5 under first-year coach Luke Walton and the players are thriving in Walton’s fast-paced system.

Young point guard D’Angelo Russell and young power forward Julius Randle are emerging stars after stagnating under former coach Byron Scott, who never connected with the younger players on the squad.

The Lakers have a couple pillars for their foundation and Walton looks to be a natural as coach. It is still hard to see Los Angeles contending for a playoff spot this season but the future is brighter and the franchise is no longer going to be a laughingstock.

Compiling the worst record in franchise history at 17-65 last season was embarrassing. Walton might double that win total in his first season.

Here is the stellar Spurs-Lakers preview — http://www.kion546.com/sports/preview-spurs-at-lakers/166837913

The links tradition is on a roll now … unlike the San Diego Chargers.

Three fourth-quarter collapses have saddled the Chargers with a 1-3 record and coach Mike McCoy is two losses away from being fired.

McCoy won’t be dismissed if the Chargers lose to the Oakland Raiders this Sunday unless he punches Dean Spanos after the game.

But when the Chargers get smacked around by the Denver Broncos four days later on Thursday Night Football, you can expect McCoy to be informed the following morning that his services are no longer needed.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt would certainly be named interim coach and the extra 72 hours would come in handy to help the staff in preparations for the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 24.

Sure hope there aren’t some Chargers’ fans bemoaning that the team isn’t 4-0. Good teams don’t blow three games in the final five minutes in three of the first four weeks.

The Chargers aren’t a good team so the meltdowns aren’t a total surprise — and gosh, how excited was Drew Brees to get to rally the New Orleans Saints from 13 points down for a 35-34 victory over the franchise that discarded him?

The Raiders are 3-1 and quarterback Derek Carr is on the verge of stardom.

OK, on to the link, the stellar preview of the Chargers-Raiders game is here — http://www.foxsports.com/san-diego/story/chargers-hope-to-solve-fourth-quarter-woes-vs-raiders-100616

 

“Mike lives in Boise, might want to handle” came the directive as if it rates as a special occasion to write about two Mountain West programs.

But audiblizing into the plan is an easy thing when you have a great boss. Plus, I knew there was an easy angle to this Boise State at New Mexico preview.

New Mexico was 30.5-point underdogs last season and beat Boise State on the famed blue turf in Boise. Let that sink in, 30.5-point underdogs. A team that heavily favored really has to suffer an extreme drop in its quality of play and its entire coaching staff has to be totally outworked and outsmarted by the opposing staff.

And that is what happened as New Mexico posted a 31-24 victory. Then the Lobos rubbed it in by posing for team pictures on the field with a New Mexico state flag.

Seriously, the Lobos pack a New Mexico state flag when they go on the road?

That is really kind of weird, isn’t it?

So don’t believe Boise State coach Bryan Harsin when he acts like his team isn’t out for revenge. What coaches say for public consumption is seldom the same as they say behind closed doors.

Here is the stellar preview — http://charlotteobserver.stats.com/cfb/preview.asp?g=201610070092

 

Jim Harbaugh sure comes off as a prima donna and/or an egomaniac these days, doesn’t he?

The funny thing is he was outstanding to deal with when he was an NFL player.

I dealt with him when he was on the San Diego Chargers and he was terrific to deal with at all times. One time, the team was doing offseason public caravans and he asked the staffers to bring him by my newspaper. Harbaugh was quite a hit with the circulation ladies, let’s just say that.

The bigger barometer on how good he was to deal with is this: The Chargers cut him (yep, Ryan Leaf era) and he fielded my call on his home phone in Coronado. Spent 15-plus minutes filling up my notebook.

Most NFL players go into hiding in such a situation.

I also can’t help but laugh about the time Harbaugh told me he was interested in the San Diego State football coaching job, a story that I broke. But you see, the Aztecs weren’t all that interested in him.

A couple members of the athletic department were still upset that Harbaugh had publicly intimated his University of San Diego team could beat San Diego State.

One of the assistant athletic directors even chided me for my article and insisted they wouldn’t hire him.

But San Diego State did interview Harbaugh as part of a poorly executed coaching search. The same assistant AD gave me a hard time after I broke the story that Dennis Erickson was interested, giving me the same “we’re not hiring him” lecture.

Oh yeah, the school did interview Erickson too.

Think of this — current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was one of the two finalists. So a downtrodden San Diego State program could have hired either Fisher or Harbaugh and they still messed things up.

The Aztecs hired Chuck Long, who lasted three seasons and twice suffered home losses to lower-level Cal Poly.

A big miss for San Diego State. Of course, we also know what would have happened. Harbaugh would have won 18 games over his first two seasons and landed a better job.

That’s what guys who know how to win do.

And here’s the stellar Michigan-Rutgers preview — http://www.espn.com/ncf/preview/_/id/400869636

 

Here’s a little baseball for you to round out his edition of the links.

The Chicago Cubs had the best record in the majors this season but we all know their history — 108 years since they last won a World Series.

The San Francisco Giants have a different type of formula — they have won the World Series (2010, 2012, 2014) in every even-numbered season this decade.

Should be an interesting series and the Cubs already caught their biggest break. The Giants had to play in the National League wild-card contest and ace Madison Bumgarner was needed to pitch a four-hit shutout.

The means he will only pitch once in the series against the Cubs. Chicago went up against Bumgarner twice this season and lost both times.

All the pressure is on the Cubs and players like probable NL MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo need to play much, much better than they did in the 2015 postseason.

Anyway, here is the stellar Game 1 preview — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/410446/preview/

Remember all those years when I covered San Diego State football and the program couldn’t even make one of those lousy bowl games few people care about?

Remember how awful some of those teams were? Remember how they lost in the ridiculous Kibbie Dome to Idaho? Remember when they lost at home to Cal Poly? (and lost to the Mustangs again after I was no longer on the beat).

Hard to forget what a pitiful program the Aztecs were but guess what happened this week — something truly, truly remarkable.

I was writing the national preview about San Diego State playing a game as a ranked program for the first time since 1995.

You know, back when Bobby Ross was coach of the Chargers and Ken Caminiti of the Padres was in the process of juicing his way to stardom. Back when the basketball Aztecs were losing games under a former junior-college coach named Fred Trenkle (true, you can look it up).

The football Aztecs didn’t last long as a ranked program way back then as they lost to Wyoming and disappeared from the rankings for 21 long years.

They play South Alabama this Saturday and one word of caution: The Jaguars defeated the Aztecs 34-27 in overtime in San Diego last season.

One other notable thing is that senior running back Donnel Pumphrey is just 129 yards away from becoming the 21st player in college football history to reach 5,000 career yards.

That is kind of impressive, don’t you think?

Anyway, here is the link to the stellar preview — http://www.foxsports.com/college-football/story/no-19-aztecs-seek-revenge-against-south-alabama-092816

 

OK, on to some other links.

I knew Sports Illustrated had a website but I had no idea my previews land there. The big showdown between Wisconsin and Michigan ended up there. We’ll see if the Wolverines continue putting up points in bushels when they face the Badgers for the first time since 2010. Here is that preview — http://www.si.com/college-football/game/1621711

The college football landscape of today means Oklahoma is finished after starting off the season with a 1-2 record. The funny thing is that the Sooners finally open Big 12 play on Saturday against TCU. Tells you how little conference races matter these days if Oklahoma truly has nothing to play for. Upi.com kept my byline on the preview so we will link to them — http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/College-Football/2016/09/29/TCU-vs-Oklahoma-Prediction-preview-pick-to-win-Big-12-football/9331475169451/

Interesting that at the bottom there is a prediction for that game. I didn’t make that prediction. I did make a prediction for another company with a different preview I wrote of that same game — and I picked Oklahoma to win. You can see that here — https://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/event/2016/52455/preview/top25/

Here is one for the NFL fans. Russell Wilson vows to play when the Seattle Seahawks visit the New York Jets on Sunday. While the Seahawks worry about the health of their quarterback, the Jets must be wondering about the psyche of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The guy committed eight turnovers (six interceptions, two fumbles) last Sunday. That is really hard to do. Here is the stellar preview — http://www.krdo.com/sports/seahawks-should-have-wilson-for-game-against-jets/99756764

And one final link for the baseball people. The St. Louis Cardinals posted a controversial victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday and here is my preview for their Friday contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The wild-card race between the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants will be decided this weekend. Shelf life is short on baseball previews but here is a stellar one — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/mlb/event/2016/399088/preview/

Donnel Pumphrey may now be San Diego State’s all-time leading rusher but let’s make one thing clear.

The greatest running back in Aztecs’ history will always be Marshall Faulk.

Oh sure, it’s possible that there could be another once-in-a-generation talent who someday chooses to be a San Diego State running back and makes the college football world take notice. I’m just thinking I won’t be alive in 2066 or 2116 or whenever that unlikely feat happens.

If you weren’t around to witness the Faulk era from 1991-93, you missed the most amazing feats ever seen by a person wearing a San Diego State football uniform. Starting with setting the then-NCAA single-game rushing record (386 yards) in his second college game to making USC defenders look like pylons on national television and stunning finishes of second and fourth place in the Heisman Trophy balloting of 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Faulk should have won the Heisman as a sophomore in 1992. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury on his second carry of the next-to-last game (he had 33 yards on those two rushes) and missed out on adding another 300 or so yards to his national-leading rushing total.

There was also ESPN’s Lee Corso lobbying hard against him all year in favor of Miami quarterback Gino Torretta, the eventual winner. The 1992 balloting is now looked back on as one of the worst Heisman snubs in the history of the award.

Of course, it didn’t help that the Aztecs went to just one bowl game — the defunct Freedom Bowl — in three years with such a special player who went on to NFL stardom and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, Faulk (4,589 career yards) was passed as the school’s all-time leading by Pumphrey (4,651) and that rates as a superb accomplishment for Pumphrey.

You can tell by Pumphrey’s postgame comments that he is humbled to have his name mentioned along with Faulk — see this stellar story by someone you know … Pumphrey pushes Faulk from SDSU record books.

That is good to see. I can remember numerous times when I was on the San Diego State beat that I broke the news of a high school running back committing to the school and the name of Faulk would eventually arise.

Several times, I heard a youngster express that they were going to break Faulk’s records. Most of the time, I shook my head (they couldn’t see that over the phone) and laughed about it later.

There was one player named Frederick Collins who was definitely sure he would be the one. He was a high school All-American who chose the Aztecs over Arizona State and Washington.

Shortly after his arrival on campus, another media member and I were discussing him during fall camp and I said I wasn’t all that impressed. The other writer was stunned because he was, well, a little too giddy about the kid.

Then the games started … and I was even less impressed.

Collins lasted all of one season. He had 333 yards – some 4,256 yards shy of Faulk’s record. He was no Faulk. He was definitely no Deacon Turner – the best running back BF (Before Faulk) in Aztecs’ history.

Collins certainly was no Pumphrey for that matter.

Pumphrey holds two of San Diego State’s top four single-season rushing-yardage seasons and certainly has a solid chance of making it three of the top five. He has enjoyed a great career and will someday join Faulk in San Diego State’s athletic Hall of Fame.

He deserves all the accolades. He deserves all the attention. He seems like has a good head on his shoulders. He may even make it to the NFL.

But don’t ever let anyone tell you he’s the best running back in San Diego State history.

He’s not and he never will be.

That title still belongs to a guy named Marshall Faulk.

I warned San Diego State on these pages back on Feb. 28 that it wouldn’t make the NCAA tournament if it didn’t claim the Mountain West’s automatic bid.

Apparently, the Aztecs didn’t get the message.

San Diego State lost to Fresno State in the conference tournament on Saturday and you can guess what happened on Selection Sunday.

Yep, that solid streak of six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances reached an end.

So the Aztecs will be playing in the NIT — stands for the Not Interesting Tournament — on Tuesday night against IPFW instead of being in Dayton for the First Four.

I really can’t find any fault with the selection committee for not choosing San Diego State. I’m stunned that some other teams got into the field – looking at you Syracuse, Michigan, Tulsa and especially you Vanderbilt – but not surprised that the Aztecs were passed over.

We all know the problems with the resume – start with only one Top 50 win and that oh-so-dreadful loss to San Diego – but the severe drop-off of the Mountain West finally caught up with the league. This is the first time since the conference’s inception that an outright winner of the regular-season crown didn’t make the NCAA field.

Those powerhouse days where Utah, New Mexico, BYU, UNLV assured the league was a Top 6 conference are long gone. San Diego State’s rise and those short stints of Wyoming and Air Force competing for the league crown only enhanced the Mountain West’s strength.

With so few of those 18 wins over Mountain West competition this season carrying any weight, there was no way to counter the sluggish early season issues San Diego State experienced.

And when the Aztecs blew that nine-point lead with 1:04 to play against Boise State two weeks ago, there was only one conclusion: The conference tournament was now must-win for San Diego State.

But they didn’t win it and so the reality is the Aztecs get included on the list of snubs.

South Carolina … Monmouth … St. Bonaventure … Saint Mary’s … Valparaiso … San Diego State.

I analyze those snubs and I don’t get how Vanderbilt (19-13) is part of the field. A win over Kentucky never did so much for a school.

Or Michigan with its 4-11 record against Top 50 teams. If you really get to play 15 teams of that caliber, you should be able to win more than 26.7 percent of those games if you are truly an NCAA tournament team. I would expect Utah State to go 4-11 – or maybe 5-10 – if it were presented with that many of those games.

All the pumping-up chatter heaped upon Syracuse was sickening last week. The argument was that the Orange shouldn’t be penalized for not having coach Jim Boeheim – suspended for cheating, by the way – at the beginning of the season. Well, Boeheim was there on the sidelines for each of Syracuse’s final six games and the squad went 1-5. Repeat: 1-5. And into the field they go.

And Tulsa. Probably shouldn’t pick on Tulsa because it is exactly the type of school that would normally be on the side of the shaft. Fans of the Golden Hurricane themselves were probably surprised they weren’t passed over. But sorry, never expected Tulsa to make it into the field.

Give me Monmouth over any of those four schools. Then we can debate and argue and pick hairs about the rest of the snubs.

Something tells me always-angry South Carolina coach Frank Martin must have gone ballistic to see Vanderbilt in the field and not his team. The Gamecocks beat the Commodores in their lone meeting.

Wait, lots of team beat the Commodores – 13 losses and somehow Vanderbilt goes dancin’.

I just don’t get it.

Anyway, San Diego State is a 2 seed in the NIT so that lets everyone know they weren’t close to making the field. The NIT traditionally takes the NCAA committee’s First Four Out and makes them the No. 1 seeds.

So that would make the Aztecs team No. 73 or 74 when it came to deciding on the 68-team field.

All San Diego State can do now is show up and play in the NIT. The last time the Aztecs failed to reach the NCAA tournament – in 2009 – they advanced to the NIT Final Four.

And getting to New York is the only way the Not Interesting Tournament becomes interesting.

Taco.Bell.Arena

It definitely felt different not to be sitting in the front row.

 

I did something out of the ordinary on Wednesday night and attended a sporting event as a spectator.

That meant the laptop stayed at home, I wasn’t staring at stats and sifting through play-by-play and I sure wasn’t sitting in the front row.

I did have a pretty good vantage point as you can see from the image above. Boise State’s Taco Bell Arena isn’t like one of those cavernous facilities you find throughout the NBA.

At halftime, a co-worker of one of my brothers asked me an interesting question:

“Does it feel weird for you to be sitting up here and not covering the game from down there?”

He pointed down to where he has seen me sit dozens of times since I moved to Boise. “Down there” being courtside where a player could come diving into my head and the cheerleaders dance and shake just feet from my seat.

Yeah, it did feel weird. I’ve covered somewhere around 350 to 400 college basketball games in my career so I’m accustomed to writing during a game.

That’s all types of games: Blowouts. Overtime affairs. Games decided on last-second shots. NCAA tournament games. Comebacks. Even one NIT game.

Lots of different places: The United Center in Chicago. The Pit in Albuquerque. The Pepsi Center in Denver. The McKale Center in Tucson. The Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Don Haskins Center in El Paso, etc. And smaller venues like the one-of-a-kind Thunderdome in Santa Barbara and The Pyramid in Long Beach to name a few.

Games at San Diego State where the person next to me couldn’t hear a word I said. Or my first year in Boise where you could hear everything yelled on the other side of the court.

So yeah, it did feel weird.

Kind of makes me appreciate the frequent “cleanest copy I’ve seen in a while” compliments that come from the copy editors.

But I’m guessing my poor carpal tunnels were happy not to be pounding on the keyboard.

Anyway, the follow-up question was how come I wasn’t covering the games this season and that answer only required one word: Money.

On a Saturday, I can make more than three times the money – and sometimes four – by working from home than I would make by covering a game.

Heck, this past Tuesday I made more than four times what a game assignment would pay. Let that sink in – a Tuesday.

Ask an NFL owner if they would rather make $5 million on a Sunday or $20 million. I bet you know what they would say.

Works the same way with me – of course, on a much lower financial scale.

As for the game, Boise State rolled to a 76-57 victory over Nevada. Senior Anthony Drmic had 22 points and 11 rebounds in perhaps his final home game and moved into third place on the school’s all-time scoring list.

In other words, an easy angle and terrific storyline for a deadline sportswriter to spin.

Instead, I was learning that parking structure etiquette in Boise is pretty poor. But eventually I got dropped off at home well before I’d typically leave the arena.

Somehow that didn’t feel weird at all. Not a bit.