Huntington, W.V.-- (Dec. 2) Marshall University quarterback Chad Pennington, who earlier this week was honored as the Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year, was named the 1999 Vern Smith Award winner at the MAC football championship banquet on Thursday evening. The award is emblematic of the best football player in the MAC and is voted on by all 13 MAC head coaches and 26 selected media members representing the league's 13 schools.
Pennington led Marshall to a regular-season record of 11-0 and a national ranking of #11, the highest in school history. Going into Friday's MAC championship game against Western Michigan, Pennington leads the league in passing efficiency (171.8), total offense (326.1 yards per game) and passing yards per game (319.5). He has completed 255-of-374 passes for 3,515 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Pennington leads the nation in passing touchdowns with 34 and he holds the MAC career record for touchdown passes with 97.
Prentice was selected from a pool of 13 players as nominated by each school. The award, named after former University of Toledo Athletics Director Vern Smith in 1987, was originally started in 1982 by the Downtown Athletic Club of Toledo as the Jefferson Award. Others receiving votes for the award include Tim Lester of Western Michigan and tailback Travis Prentice of Miami.
1999 Vern Smith Nominees
Akron John Eaton (Sr., Free Safety, Wheelersburg, Ohio)
Ball State Adrian Reese (Sr., Wide Receiver, Fort Wayne, Ind.)
Bowling Green Brent Martin (Sr., Fullback, Upper Arlington, Ohio)
Buffalo Drew Haddad (Sr., Wide Receiver, Westlake, Ohio)
Central Michigan Joe Adam (Sr., Defensive Tackle, Howell, Mich.)
Eastern Michigan Donald McCall (Sr., Defensive Tackle, Henderson, Nev.)
Kent Jose Davis (Sr., Quarterback, Bellaire, Ohio)
Marshall Chad Pennington (Sr., Quarterback, Knoxville, Tenn.)
Miami Travis Prentice (Sr., Tailback, Louisville, Ky.)
Northern Illinois Justin McCareins (Jr., Flankerback, Naperville, Ill.)
Ohio Raynald Ray (Jr., Z-Back, San Antonio, Texas)
Toledo Jason Lamar (Sr., Linebacker, Ypsilanti, Mich.)
Western Michigan Tim Lester (Sr., Quarterback, Wheaton, Ill.)