How an Ejection Became the Best Thing for Benny Snell's Career

Nick Roush01/02/18


Article written by:On3 imageNick Roush


Benny Snell's early exit probably cost Kentucky a Music City Bowl victory.  One call from an egotistical official took the Kentucky running back out of the game and thrust Snell into the bright college football bowl season spotlight.  It hurt the Cats in the short-term, but it paved the way for Snell to have unprecedented long-term success. Prior to his ejection, Snell rushed six times for 15 yards and a touchdown.  He could have run for 215 yards and 4 touchdowns, yet still received less national attention. Entering the Music City Bowl, Snell was a regional star.  He led the SEC in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns at the conclusion of the regular season, but only Kentucky fans and diehard SEC football followers really knew much about Benny.  After the egregious ejection, he became a household name. Snell quickly sky-rocketed to the top of Twitter's trending charts.  If you were online, you were complaining about the call.  College football fans and writers weren't the only ones Tweeting about Snell.  Seth Meyers of Late Night fame weighed in, while Keith Olbermann made more than one bombastic critique of the officials.  Tim Tebow and Booger McFarland's defense of Snell became the centerpiece of the halftime show. Snell was the big story on a big stage.  The Music City Bowl drew a 3.0 overnight rating, equivalent to about 5 million people.  It was one of the highest-rated non-New Year's Six Bowls, only beaten by Notre Dame and LSU's ABC-televised Citrus Bowl. After the game, Benny found a way to become even more endearing to his new fans.  He took a page from Marshawn Lynch and created another viral moment.  When asked about the incident, he responded by saying, "I have a great passion for the game," and, "I love to play football."  During Sportscenter, game highlights received the same amount of time as Snell's postgame remarks. Just as Snell was about to exit the college football conversation, Mark Richt thrust him right back into it.  Before halftime of the Orange Bowl, more than 11.5 million people watched the Miami head coach lose his mind and grab an official. Naturally, the internet world began comparing the actions of Snell and Richt.  Outrage was heard throughout the world and Snell was once again trending.  The clip below alone was viewed more than 63,000 times Saturday night. Even though the poor call took Snell off the big stage, he still was able to use the stage to his advantage. If Snell can harness the newfound fame and improve his product on the field, it's not crazy to think he could be a preseason dark horse Heisman candidate. Heisman? Really?!?  You're drunk, Roush.  It's not that crazy.  He had 1,091 yards without playing in two games as a true freshman.  This year he had 1,333 yards with a midseason slump and without a vertical passing threat.  At that rate of improvement, he'll rush for 1,572 yards and become the No. 10 career rushing leader in SEC history. Numbers alone aren't enough to be considered for the Heisman Trophy.  Lamar Jackson proved that this year.  However, numbers and hype can insert you into the conversation.  He now has the name recognition, the most elusive asset to acquire at Kentucky. A Heisman candidacy is, and will always be a longshot for a Kentucky football player.  What's different now it that Benny Snell's name now carries a little bit of weight, something he's earned on the playing field over the last two years but has been too often overlooked because he plays at Kentucky. Benny Snell had a bright future when he stepped onto the field at Nissan Stadium.  He left it earlier than anticipated, but the buzz created a higher ceiling for Snell than we could have ever imagined. [mobile_ad]

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