Tim Riordan over at SBNation's Buffalo Bulls blog Bull Run recently challenged those of us on the network's college football beat to vote for a series of awards analagous to college football's cavalcade of postseason awards, including the Heisman, Bednarik, Doak Walker, etc. I thought it was a fabulous idea. I quickly and enthusiastically volunteered.
Having now completed my ballot, I am reminded of the sage wisdom imparted to me as a teenager by the father of a good friend. This gentleman had fought against the Viet Cong alongside U.S. servicemen only to see his country overrun just the same. He then fled to America with his family but brought along a saying which he learned under far, far more harrowing conditions than the casting of a blogger award ballot. It is this: "The brave ones always die first."
This ballot was, indeed, a killer. Seriously, have you ever tried to figure out who the best linebacker in the country is? The best punter? What about tight ends?There are hundreds of the S.O.B.'s running around out there on the college football landscape. Depending on the system, they have wildly varied responsibilities. And then, once I figure out who I'm voting for I just know that I'm going to get hit with the statistics I didn't consider, the clutch performances I didn't see, and the human interest stories that should have tugged at my heart strings.
It's a gargantuan task. So, rather than cast a half-assed ballot for every category, I've cast a ballot in those categories about which I feel pretty strongly. In no particular order, here are my 2010 College Football Blogger Award choices:
Blogger Biletnikoff (best wide receiver): A.J. Green, Georgia. I’m a self-avowed homer, but it feels particularly good to make a homer pick that I find incredibly easy to defend. Unlike A.J. Green. Green did not make the 1st Team SEC list according to either the coaches or the conference media, I would assume because many of the voters looked only at the receiving numbers and said (and I’m quoting here) "Derp, not as many yards as Jones and Jeffery, derp de derp!" By my count, I watched Julio Jones play 7 games this season. Ditto for Alshon Jeffery. Neither demonstrated the ability to be absolutely uncoverable quite like Green. In the 8 games he's played this season he's averaged north of 95 yards and 1 TD per game, all the while catching passes from a first year starting quarterback. Honorable mention: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State.
Blogger Butkus (best linebacker): Justin Houston, Georgia. Again, homer pick. But Justin Houston finds himself playing the linebacker position for the first time in his football career and has responded with 10 sacks and just single-handedly won a rivalry game to get his team to bowl eligibility. The primary job of the outside linebacker in Grantham’s 3-4 is to create havoc. Nobody does that better than Justin Houston, who will soon be doing just that on Sundays. Honorable mention: Kelvin Sheppard, LSU.
Blogger Coach Award (best coach): Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech. How could I select a coach who began the season by losing a close one to Boise State and then going 0-for-James Madison? Because he’s 10-0 since then, including getting over the hump against Florida State. Chip Kelly and Gene Chizik have obviously done great things to get their teams to the BCS title game. But to make an academic analogy, those guys have helped already bright kids become the valedictorian. Beamer tutored Charlie Sheen’s nephew from Two and a Half Men and got him admitted to Northwestern. He has no Cam Newton, no Lamichael James. He has an above average quarterback, a decent running game, some bailing wire and an ACC title. After the first two weeks of the season I never would have forecast that. The ACC is not the best conference in college football. But Beamer managed to take a team that could have packed it in after only two games to the Orange Bowl. Honorable mention: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State.
Blogger Bednarik (best defensive player): Patrick Peterson, LSU. I enjoy watching Peterson play football as much as any other player in college football. He's fluid in coverage, willing to come up and play vicious run support, and is even a danger on special teams. Peterson is a really special player who hasn't gotten the credit he deserves.
Blogger Maxwell (best offensive player): Kellen Moore, Boise State. Moore's numbers this season throwing the ball were video game quality: 3405 yards passing, a 71.5% completion percentage, and 33 touchdowns versus only 5 interceptions. Perhaps most impressive was Moore's consistency. He never complted less than 60% of his passes in a game this season, and his low number (60.5%) came in the first game of the season against Virginia Tech, a game in which he threw 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. There's simply better passer in college football right now, and I have trouble envisioning any secondary containing him next season as a senior. Here's hoping I'm proven wrong about Moore's abilities next year in the Georgia Dome, but I somehow doubt that will happen.
Blogger Heisman (self-explanatory): Not Cam Newton. I don't know how to say this other than to say it: I find the notion that Cecil Newton would require $180,000 for his son to attend Mississippi State but allow him to attend Auburn for free laughable, to the point that anyone who believes this to have been the case is either deluding himself (as I would if these kind of allegations were levelled against Aaron Murray, for example) or simply not very bright. Cameron Newton's services were bought and paid for. Not by anyone employed by Auburn, but by someone willing to spend a lot of money to get a very good football player to attend Auburn.
Spare me the "Cam didn't know" spiel. As an attorney I'm a big believer in the principle of "agency." That is, when you choose to allow someone to represent you in an enterprise with the hope that you'll benefit from it, you must also accept the responsibility when your agent acts to your detriment. Cam Newton was an adult during his second round of recruiting. He chose to allow his father input in that process. His father pimped out his services. I have no doubt that Cameron Newton will win the Heisman Trophy. I also have no doubt that he will eventually have to give that award back. Other than that, I abstain.
Your thoughts on these and Bull Run's other postseason awards are, as always, appreciated in the comments.