I am most of the way through the process of compiling my C.F.B.A. ballot, which brings me to the latest round of categories: the Job Award, Best Traditional Media Blog (yes, Unknown Stuntman, a promise is a promise), Best Analysis, and Best Writing.
The last of these will be decided by a selection committee rather than a blogosphere-wide vote, and, since Dawg Sports is among the nominees, I obviously will not be participating in the process where this award is concerned. Consequently, I will not offer an opinion upon the Best Writing C.F.B.A., but will instead focus my attention upon the other three categories, beginning with . . .
Card Chronicle made a real run at this honor, but, in the end, Mike was narrowly beaten out by Corn Nation. Corn Blight managed to maintain something resembling a sense of humor during a truly, historically awful season for the Cornhuskers.
Almost three months removed from the disastrous denouement of Nebraska's 2007 campaign, it is easy to forget just how horrendous an autumn it was in Lincoln. The Big Red surrendered 376 yards in a lackluster win over Wake Forest, dropped an 18-point decision to U.S.C. at home, gave up 610 total yards and 40 points in a narrow escape against Ball State, absorbed drubbings from Missouri (41-6) and Kansas (76-39) on the road and from Oklahoma State (45-14) and Texas A&M (36-14) at home, and finished up the year by coughing up 518 yards and 65 points to Colorado. (Recall that last year's winner of the Job Award earned the honor by losing his cool after his team gave up 313 yards and 13 points to the Buffaloes.)
Losing seasons in the 42 years of the Bob Devaney/Tom Osborne/Frank Solich era: 0. Losing seasons in the four years of the Bill Callahan era: 2. Dude!
It was a disaster of epic proportions. It was "The Towering Inferno." It was "The Poseidon Adventure." Nevertheless, Corn Nation made it through with his dignity and his sanity intact. If that doesn't deserve an award, I don't know what does.
As much as I enjoy the irony of voting for the undisputed kingpin of the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere as a bulwark of the increasingly ill-defined "mainstream," I have to second what MaconDawg said here: David Ching, however humble he may be about it, operates what is arguably the only truly indispensable source of information in "The Dawgosphere."
This is not to say that Paul Westerdawg, Doug Gillett, LD, Senator Blutarsky, the Dawg Bone, and the rest of the gang would not be exceedingly difficult to replace, but the loss of any one of us would leave a void that most likely would prove to be temporary. At worst, it would be like losing a letter of the alphabet . . . you might not be able to form as many words, but you'd still be able to speak the language.
What David does, though, is unique in Bulldog Nation. The rest of us simply couldn't replicate what David does if he didn't do it. Paul couldn't get David's access, and neither could Doug, and neither could MaconDawg and I, and neither could anyone else. David demonstrates the continued vitality and necessity of hardworking beat reporters in an era in which bloggers are rendering superfluous idiotic, shopworn columnists who must resort to "shock jock" tactics and who offer indefensibly asinine observations just to generate readership.
I'm not naming names here or anything.
I have nothing against Bruce Feldman---the two paragraphs per column he publishes for free seem really good---and Greg Auman has done some fine work since divorcing Cher. David Ching, though, is the most deserving nominee in this category. He may not be a household name outside of our little corner of the world, but he serves as the eyes and ears of the Bulldog blogosphere, and, for that, he is entitled to be recognized.
If you cast a ballot for that dipwad Stewart Mandel, though, you need to be stripped of your voting privileges. Also, your driver's license should be taken away. Neutering you to keep you from reproducing wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
No contest: Sunday Morning Quarterback.
SMQ is smart, he's insightful, he delves deeply inside the numbers, and he's never satisfied with the easy answer. He's the anti-Mandel. In fact, I lay awake nights fretting over the possibility that SMQ may be forced to spend eternity battling Stewart Mandel in the negative magnetic corridor connecting our universe to its parallel counterpart so as to keep both realities from destroying one another.
"But what of Sunday Morning Quarterback?"
I'll be tackling the conference-specific categories over the course of the next day or two, but, in the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts on my picks in the comments below. I think of myself as your voting representative and, unlike some representatives I could name, I'll try my best not to make Bulldog Nation look bad.