Few figures in the history of Arizona State football have been as polarizing as Rudy Carpenter.
Throughout his four year career, Carpenter was one of the most successful quarterbacks for the Sun Devils, starting 43 games from 2005 through 2008. Over that span, #12 threw for 10,491 yards while setting the school record for completions at 799.
Carpenter was also the quarterback of the 2007 team that won 10 games, split the Pac-10 title with USC and got as high as fourth overall in the BCS rankings. So why doesn't everyone look back at Carpenter with rose-colored glasses?
Dubbed "the most fascinating enigma in all of college football" by Sports Illustrated in 2008, Carpenter's legacy was defined for him before his sophomore season. Head coach Dirk Koetter famously flip-flopped on his decision to start senior Sam Keller, changing his decision and instead going with Carpenter 48 hours later.
Keller transferred to Nebraska, and fans were quite displeased with the loss of their senior signal caller. The internet was particularly cruel to Carpenter, who held a contentious relationship with the rumor mill his entire time in Tempe.
Maybe it has something to do with the hot pink shirt he wore to an ASU basketball game. While we don't believe that Carpenter ran after a fan yelling gay slurs, the fact that these rumors even exist is a testament to the lack of regard for Carpenter in the first place.
Fans didn't like his attitude. He played hard, took a beating and let the world know how he felt. When things were going well, he'd give his opponents a hard time. When things were going poorly, he would ostracize his teammates on the field.
As Carpenter told the East Valley Tribune: "I'm an easy target since I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I get mad and fiery and do things quarterbacks don't do. But I just want to win. I think it gets misconstrued that I'm a crybaby when I'm just competitive."
A few years later, Carpenter did not show up for homecoming even when he was in town on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster.
I always enjoyed watching Carpenter play. He worked extremely hard and did everything he could to help the team win. It is truly a shame that he was held to unsustainable standards of conduct, both on and off the field. For a guy who didn't party and didn't humiliate himself like so many other people do, the hatred of Carpenter is out of line and undeserved.
You'll always be a great Sun Devil in my mind, Rudy.
See all the previous entries on House of Sparky's 100 day football countdown here.