Vote early and vote often!
Here, for whatever they might be worth, are my nominations for the awards honoring weblogs as a whole rather than individual postings:
The Dr. Z Award (for cogent, interesting analysis):
Fortunately, over at Burnt Orange Nation, Peter has already made it socially acceptable to put forward multiple nominees in a single category. This is good, because, for several of the weblog awards, I found that nominating candidates was like eating potato chips . . . I couldn't stop at one.
The Dr. Z Award is just such a category. It will come as no surprise that the equally worthy luminaries were MGoBlog and Sunday Morning Quarterback, each of which offers a staggering array of statistical compilations and insightful analyses.
While S.M.Q. tends to look more at the sport as a whole than at his favorite team, both bloggers regularly take a step back to view the panorama of college football in its entirety, which makes them the best in the business at teasing trends out of the raw data and providing the context for an overwhelming outpouring of minutiae, all while maintaining the delicate balance between wry distance and impassioned engagement.
You and I see only trees, but, to Brian and S.M.Q., this is a forest. (Photograph from University of Kentucky.)
The Trev Alberts Quits To Do Construction Award (For comic relief and overall hilarity):
Once again, we have a myriad of deserving entrants into a crowded field and, once again, the nominees are predictable because their mastery of jocularity is undeniable.
I am referring, of course, to Every Day Should Be Saturday, Hey Jenny Slater, and The M Zone. I thought about listing some of the funniest bits from each of these fine humorists, but I couldn't figure out a way to do that without coming across like Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney on "Saturday Night Live" or like the guy who throws out a dozen lines from "Caddyshack" in a row and thinks he's being funny. I don't want to be that guy.
Each of these authors has a serious side---Doug has strong political convictions; Yost is active in the net neutrality movement; Orson . . . um . . . let me get back to you on that one---but these three weblogs confirm the truth of the jacket blurb from Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People: you have to be smart to be a smart-aleck.
The Sports Fans Don't Cry Award (for the blog that has suffered through its chosen team's dismal season with the most dignity):
I wanted to give this nomination to one of my fellow denizens of the Dawgosphere, as the Georgia Sports Blog bore it better than most when the Bulldogs' season went from bad to worse, but two other contenders came forward to claim joint ownership of the top spot.
The first of these was Block U, which came into the season with lofty expectations and endured much wailing and gnashing of teeth before becoming reconciled to the Utes' pre-Christmas Eve bowl berth. The second noteworthy nominee was Roll Bama Roll, which suffered through a .500 campaign, suffered through the firing of the head coach, and still suffers through repeated rejections from would-be successors to Mike Shula.
Both Block U and Roll Bama Roll have handled Utah's and Alabama's respective misfortunes as well as could be expected, earning each of them a nod for the dubious distinction of deserving this consolation prize.
"There's no crying in football!" (Photograph from The Austin Chronicle.)
The Keith Jackson Circa 1995 Award (for the blog with the most consistently expressive and excellent writing):
My reaction to the question, "Who's the best writer in the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere?" is somewhat akin to my reaction to the question, "Who's the best player ever to suit up for the Bulldogs?" Neither, in my view, is within 100 yards of being a close call and, if you were to ask me either question face-to-face, I might look at you as though I thought you were slow-witted until the realization dawned upon you that the right answer was obvious.
You don't get very far in my profession without a decent-sized dollop of self-confidence bordering on (and, sometimes, tipping over into) arrogance, so I hope you will pardon me if I sound self-aggrandizing when I state that, while there are many writers whom I admire, there are few whom I envy.
Frequently, I read the work of other webloggers and think, "I wish I'd written that." Rarely, though, do I find myself thinking, "I wish I could've written that." I have no problem admitting that many other writers have skills superior to my own, but, oftentimes, my reaction to another author's work is a thought along these lines: "He's better than me, but I have my moments and, on a good day, I might realistically aspire to write that well, even if only in intermittent bursts."
I don't just have that thought when reading weblogs; I have looked upon the quality of work produced by many writers as an attainable goal, no matter how distant it might be or how unlikely my ascent to that mountaintop. Tom Wolfe is one such author, Thomas Wolfe another. I don't honestly expect ever to write anything of the caliber of, say, Harry Crews's A Feast of Snakes, Shelby Foote's Love in a Dry Season, Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos, William Styron's Lie Down in Darkness, or Donna Tartt's The Secret History . . . but, if I apply myself, I don't rule it out, either.
There are, however, occasions on which I read something and come away with the awestruck conviction that, on the best day of my life as a writer, no matter how hard I try, I'll never be in that particular author's league.
That's the reaction I have every time I read William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! It's the reaction I have when I read James Goldman's The Lion in Winter or Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.
That's the same reaction I have when I read Ronald Bellamy's Underachieving All-Stars.
Last summer, Johnny wrote the essay that I nominated for the Tyrone Prothro And His Amazing Catch Award. Witness his work, if you have not been fortunate enough to do so already, leading up to and following this year's titanic struggle between Ohio State and Michigan.
No one captures the exhilaration and dejection of being a college football fan like Johnny, who moves effortlessly from the dizzying grandeur of John Gillespie Magee's "High Flight" to the wrenching ache of a country music song sung by the struggling unknown artist who lived through the experience that begat it.
When I read MGoBlog, I know that Brian loves Michigan the way I love Georgia. When I read R.B.U.A.S., I feel Johnny's love for the Maize and Blue as strongly as I feel my love for the Red and Black.
Bob Ryan, expressing his disdain for weblogs, stated that the way he intended to combat the proliferation of bloggers was to "write it better than any blogger could ever dream of in the hopes that some people care about good writing." Well, Bob, some people do care about good writing . . . and those of us who do would stack Johnny up against the best writers in any medium, period.
With the Keith Jackson Award, as with the question of the greatest Georgia football player, there's a heck of a debate to be had to settle second place. As far as the top spot goes, though, every denizen of Bulldog Nation knows Herschel Walker is the correct answer to one question and any weblogger who doesn't know that Ronald Bellamy's Underachieving All-Stars is the answer to the other needs to quit reading Dawg Sports right now, go over to Johnny's site, and only come back once he's figured out that I'm right.
I figure it ought to take about two minutes. Don't worry, I'll wait.
Johnny's picture will be on a stamp just as soon as the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere's plans for world domination by a cabal of Georgia and Michigan webloggers come to fruition . . . put perhaps I've said too much. (Image from Virtual Stamp Club.)
The Brady Quinn Award (for the prettiest blog, the best layout and design):
Joel's a Tennessee fan and Tennessee fans don't strike me as the sorts of fellows who like having their work described as being "the prettiest," but, even so, Peter is right that Rocky Top Talk has staked a clear-cut claim to this award with Joel's on-line gizmos and gadgets, including but not limited to his Animated Race to the National Championship.
I am told that, next year, the Animated Race to the National Championship will feature the cast of "Drawn Together."
The New Blog on the Block Award (for the best new college football blog):
A cursory glance at the links on the right-hand sidebar listed under the heading "The Dawgosphere" reveals that multiple deserving candidates for this honor may be found right here in Bulldog Nation, of whom none are more worthy than Dodgy at Best and MaconDawg's Blawg.
Kanu, a longtime commenter at E.D.S.B.S. before he struck out on his own, produces quality content, as is attested to by the fact that I even find interesting his disquisitions on golf, horse racing, and soccer. Ordinarily, these are three subjects I find to be of little interest outside the Masters, of no interest whatsoever, and of less than no interest whatsoever, respectively . . . yet Kanu manages to hold my attention while holding forth on topics I otherwise would not care about one whit. If that isn't evidence that he is doing good work, I don't know what is.
7 > 4.
In case it wasn't clear enough, he went on to add: "I'll be back when I can say something productive. That will probably be sometime around next Labor Day." Fortunately, it didn't take him quite that long to recover.
In sum, MaconDawg is a Georgia fan in the legal field who expresses himself with clarity and concision. He works in the law and he's concise? Surely that warrants an award, doesn't it?
Honorable mention in this category goes to Conquest Chronicles and its prior incarnation, Cardinal and Gold, which went on-line in May. Paragon SC's commitment to quality has been recognized here before and my opinion has not wavered in the months since.
I'm sure Kanu, MaconDawg, and Paragon SC will have all the staying power of Jordan, Joey, Donnie, and . . . uh . . . Marky Mark, maybe? . . . I'm thinking, perhaps, Justin Timberlake? . . . how 'bout Nick Lachey? . . . no? . . . well, whoever these guys were, I hope Kanu, MaconDawg, and Paragon SC enjoy even more success than they did. (Image from Continental Records Company Ltd.)
The LOL, MSM Award (for the blog best keeping tabs on the man and calling out all of the injustices in the college football world):
There is no more tireless media watchdog in the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere than The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers, period. From contradicting columnists to dissecting "College GameDay" to exposing The Narrative, LD is the Paul Revere of the blogosphere, sounding the alarm and warning sports fans not to go gentle into that good night, but to rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I think LD's the one in the baseball cap. (Image from AllPosters.)
The Best Community Interaction Award (for the blog with the best community interaction):
It is a point of pride here at SportsBlogs Nation that the weblogs that comprise this growing network are fan-friendly and oriented towards building a sense of community. Regular commenters and diarists are essential to the success of this enterprise and no two weblogs do a better job of engaging their readers in a dialogue than Bruins Nation and Burnt Orange Nation.
While the U.C.L.A. and Texas weblogs take different approaches, the level of interaction between the principal authors and their devoted readers is evident from the lengthy comment threads regularly appearing at each of their sites. As grateful as I am for the small but loyal following Dawg Sports has been fortunate enough to attract, I hope the day will come when I am able to generate the level of exchange that Nestor and Peter have earned.
My nominees for the Blogger Championship Series and the I Wanna Talk About Me Free for All will be forthcoming shortly. In the meantime, your nominations are welcome, both in the comments below and over at Rocky Top Talk.