In 1994 PSU's Ki-Jana Carter was the most prolific running back in the country in arguably the best offense in the history. He averaged an eye-popping 7.8 yards per carry. However, Carter came in second in the Heisman vote to Rashad Salam of Colorado.
The reason many in the media pointed to for selecting Salam was that he managed to rush for 2,055 yards, which was such a rare feat in college football. In fact, no previous 2,000-yard rusher (Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier or Barry Sanders) had lost the Heisman Trophy.
Forget that Salaam had 100 more carries than Carter and averaged almost a full yard less per carry than Carter. Also, despite those 100 more carries, Salaam had exactly one more touchdown than Carter (24) in the '94 season.
Fast forward to 2002 when Penn State boasted it's own 2,000-yard rusher in Larry Johnson. The argument that won Salaam the Heisman all but evaporated eight years later. Apparently hitting the 2,000-yard mark was not as big of a deal anymore.
In '94, it was enough to pull it away from Carter. But in '02, it wasn't enough to give it to Johnson. Quite a textbook double standard there.
Box Score Bump
Rewind back to 1994 again. Undefeated Penn State, up big on Indiana on the road, allows the Hoosiers to score two late fourth-quarter touchdowns on the backups.
The Coaches Poll voters apparently go straight for the Sunday paper box score, see a 35-29 PSU victory and summarily drop them to No. 2.
Fast-forward to 2008 where Alabama holds the No. 2 poll position after eeking out a 24-20 win over Mississippi at home with nary a comment from the college football peanut gallery.
So a six-point win over a three-loss Indiana looks horrible. But 14 years later, the standards shift and a four-point win over a three-loss Mississippi is a "hard fought" win? Another classic double standard.
Close, Top-10 Wins are More Impressive in Texas
Back to 2008. Texas beats a top-10 ranked Oklahoma State team at home by four points, 28-24, receiving tremendous praise from the national media and holding its No. 1 spot.
The same day Penn State goes on the road to Columbus and beats a top-10 ranked Ohio State by seven points, a game much of the nation expected PSU to choke on, incessantly banging the "they haven't won in Columbus in 30 years" drum.
Yet, despite the impressive road win to knock off the 30-year monkey, some in the media started singing a different song, asking if PSU is worthy to be in the BCS title picture, even wondering aloud if a one-loss team like Florida should jump the Nittany Lions. Starting to see double from all these double standards yet?
The Irony of it All
What's ironic and interesting from the whole thing is that Penn State has been at the heart of several sport-defining changes in recent history, transforming the landscape of college football, including:
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