I don’t think any of us needed outside national affirmation to tell us that 2016 was a special football season for San Diego State.
We just got that affirmation anyway.
The Aztecs slipped into the end-of-season Associated Press rankings at No. 25. Even in the wake of the domination of Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl, this appeared to be an unlikely outcome. SDSU entered bowl season receiving only eight votes, which would rank it No. 35. We needed lots of help, and we got it. We should all send thank you cards to Florida, Northwestern, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Baylor, Minnesota and Kansas State for their assistance in this matter.
On second thought, please do not thank Baylor and Minnesota for anything. Go away Baylor and Minnesota, you are gross.
While we didn’t need this affirmation, it’s certainly nice to have. The Aztecs are the only Mountain West team and one of only three Group of Five teams that made the cut (Western Michigan at 15 and South Florida at 19 are the others). This is an outstanding talking point for coaches on the recruiting trail, and something that will be mentioned in passing by media when discussing the team over the next several months.
ESPN TALKING HEAD: Of course the 25th-ranked Aztecs of San Diego should be a factor again. They lose an all-time leading rusher in Darnell Humphrey but whenever you return a Tashard Penny don’t expect a big drop off. Watch out for San Diego again in the WAC!
(Of course a local columnist may dismiss this news as irrelevant and still push the narrative that SDSU is a “mediocre” program, but whatever.)
For a little historical context, this is only the second time SDSU has appeared in the final AP poll (the poll expanded from 20 to 25 in 1989). To illustrate this point further, this is what Aztecs football players looked like the only other time SDSU finished the season ranked:
That legendary ’77 Aztecs team beat Florida State and allowed fans to carry milk jugs of HAMMS into San Diego Stadium. Back then the reward for coaches of ranked teams was an invitation to a Top 20 key party at the Playboy Mansion. Claude Gilbert was no doubt excited for this perk.
Try not to think about that too much.