Opinion: Should SDSU revive NCAA ice hockey?

San Diego State University has a variety of division 1 sports for men’s athletics; basketball, baseball, and football. However, one sport in particular is missing in this category: Ice hockey.

Ice hockey is a sport that seems to keep moving westward across the United States faster than we can imagine. With the addition of the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2015, the NCAA now has 60 D-1 level teams in the country. Arizona is the furthest team in the west that fields a team. Therefore, the question arises; Could California possibly have one soon?

There are a multitude of teams in California that are affiliated at the club level. In hockey terms, the club level is represented by the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). San Diego State University is included in this list as they play ACHA D-2 apart of the PAC-8 intercollegiate hockey conference. Excluding the Northeast, California has one of the largest hockey populations in the entire country. The roots of this history flies back to the San Diego Gulls who played in the Western Hockey League starting in 1966. The Gulls returned to San Diego in 2015 and are currently playing in the American Hockey League (AHL), which serves as the NHL’s farm system.

Collegiate ice hockey within California is not a new idea.

USC used to have a men’s team that won a national title at the collegiate level. Additionally, UCLA and CAL also had teams back in the early 20th century. It wasn’t until the early 1940s that hockey at the NCAA level officially left California.

A new market could open up for ice hockey in California very soon. Some universities, including SDSU, seem like very good candidates to holding the rights to the first team. The only problem is the funding; San Diego State athletics belong to the Mountain West Conference and a majority of funding goes to basketball and football, which tend to draw the most revenue from fans.

The school board would be taking a risk by gambling on ice hockey as being a high revenue source compared to the two other sports. The talent is here in California, but the economic restrictions put a damper on the plan. As for now, the only hockey at SDSU remains at the club level where players and their families have to provide the funds to play.

Bringing a National Hockey League team to San Diego would put more pressure on the school board to create a team. If San Diego State wants to bring a men’s ice hockey team to the school, it should happen within the next 10 years. The NCAA could probably use Viejas Arena, the home of SDSU basketball, as the rink for the sport to be played in. Talks have estimated that converting Viejas into a sheet of ice would cost a little over $1 million dollars. We know that Southern California colleges make a lot of money, but are they willing to take a risk of that kind?

As interest in college ice hockey keeps grows in California, the hope that SDSU can bring the sport back to the Golden State.

Written by: Jacob McCulloh

How Will Rashaad Penny Do In His 2nd NFL Season?

Speculations on the Seattle Seahawks decision to draft Rashaad Penny as their 27th overall pick, and what’s next for the SDSU alumni.

With the 2019 NFL Scouting combine, the top talent from this year’s NCAA class will be showcasing their skills in order to land themselves on a professional football team come time April. A couple of those prospects include junior defensive end Nick Bosa from Ohio State (L.A. Charger Joey Bosa’s brother), Christian Wilkins from the national championship winning Clemson Tigers, and the University of Alabama’s running back Josh Jacobs. However, I was left wondering how some of the prospects that went onto to be drafted from last season were holding up in the National Football League? One person stood out to me right away… Rashaad Penny.

Rashaad Penny, a San Diego State University graduate and former Heisman Trophy candidate, weighed 220 pounds and ran a 4.46 second 40 yard dash at the 2018 combine in Indianapolis. Though some scouts believed him to be a slow and heavy running back, I knew from my time watching him at San Diego State that he was going to be a threat at the professional level.

Expectations for Rashaad Penny were initially low, but then…

The Seattle Seahawks decided to trade one of their draft picks to acquire Rashaad Penny as the 27th overall pick. I guess San Diego State alumni make 1st round picks too! Immediately, there was buzz surrounding the Seahawks’ latest 1st round draft choice. Pete Prisco, a sports writer, did not take too kindly to the choice and gave the Seahawks a D grade.

“He’s a nice runner, but they have so many other needs and there are better backs. Weird.” Prisco said.

The pick started to make more sense to me as I thought about it. With the loss of Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls to free agency because of a plagued offensive line and lack of production in the run game, nobody was there to receive a handoff from Russel Wilson for Pete Carroll’s offense except for Chris Carson & Mike Davis (who combined for a lackluster 448 rushing yards all of 2017). I guess this is where head coach Pete Carroll thought Penny could fill in.

“He’s a fantastic competitor in that he’s applied himself so much to get his pass protection stuff right, which he knew he needed to do in terms of the scheme and physical side of it.”

Rashaad Penny has done a decent amount of work out of the gate for his new home team…

Over the course of the first four games, Penny managed to carry the ball 29 times. However, his carries were limited to Carson and Davis for the next 4 weeks and only received 54 rushing yards over that time span. I was afraid that Penny was starting to turn more into his SDSU teammate, Donnel Pumphrey, who got cut by the Philadelphia Eagles after just one season. However, that all changed when Penny went off against the Los Angeles Rams at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum where he ran 108 yards and scored first career rushing touchdown. Penny then went on to score one more touchdown later in the season against the San Francisco 49ers.

Let’s get some things straight. The Seahawks like to use the West Coast offense behind offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. They also utilize the run-pass option in which Russel Wilson can hand off in case of a blitz, or tuck and run to pick up a few yards if need be. I believe Rashaad Penny is perfect for this style of play. He can pass block while receivers such as Baldwin and Locket get open in the slot, or he can take the ball up the center of the field pick up some yardage on a draw play.

Will Rashaad Penny produce more in his second year?

I believe so. He is a big, versatile back that can run the ball and catch passes when he needs to. It appears that he has found a home in Seattle for the time being and I can’t see any reason why Coach Pete Carroll would want to get rid of him anytime soon. Unless the Seahawks trade up again to acquire another back in the draft or they pick up one in free agency this summer, I can’t see him getting less touches than he had the previous year.

I predict that Penny will at least match and/or increase his total of touchdowns in the 2019 season. I also believe he will double his all-purpose yards to bring him in somewhere between 800-900 yards. This is all being said if he stays healthy.

I guess only time will tell.

Written by: Jacob McCulloh