No one knows exactly how long it will take for the Penn State football program to fully recover from the crippling sanctions brought down by the NCAA, but most agree it’s going to be a while before the Nittany Lions are a factor at the national level.
That may not preclude a Penn State player from making a run at the Heisman Trophy at some point in the next few years, though.
How would Heisman voters feel about the prospects of a future Nittany Lion candidate for the most prestigious award in sports? Would the lingering stench of the Jerry Sandusky scandal affect that player’s ability to attract votes?
We contacted a few anonymous Heisman voters for their take and they were all of the same mind on the matter.
“(The scandal) wasn’t that kid’s fault,” said a voter. “If that kid is the RG3 of PSU football in 2017, I think he’d have a shot to win.”
“I don’t think it’ll affect my thinking,” said another voter. “It wouldn’t factor in as much as their on-the-field performance.”
Others are skeptical that a Penn State player would be in the Heisman mix at any time in the near future anyway.
“It would be hard for a PSU player to be in contention because these sanctions are going to be so bad,” said one voter in this camp. “It wouldn’t influence me, though. I usually try to not take into consideration all the external factors and just look at the player’s performance.”
One voter, while certain of his opinion, wasn’t so sure about the overall Heisman electorate.
“I’m certainly not going to hold it against them from here on out,” said the voter. “Penn State has been punished severely. Other people may (hold it against them), however. I know some people have long memories and like to hold grudges.”
Penn State has never been much of a Heisman power. It’s one and only winner was John Cappalletti in 1973. A Nittany Lion hasn’t sniffed the top 10 of the final vote since 2005. While severe sanctions haven’t hurt USC much in the Heisman realm–witness Matt Barkley’s front runner status in 2012–it looks like Penn State has a much steeper hill to climb.
But the good news for Penn State is that Heisman voters, at least, are ready to move on, or at least go to the GamblingNerd.com NFL Betting page.