Friday, December 08, 2006

Collge Football Awards Time

Last night the Home Depot College Football Awards were announced, and no the winners did not receive a gift card to the home improvement super center. It just sounds that way with all the idiotic sponsoring rampant in sports today.

But I digress. The awards were actually the traditional ones that have been handed out in college football for decades. And there was one surprise that left everybody wondering what might happen at the Heisman ceremony tomorrow night.

Here's a rundown of the major awards & the winners:

-Davey O'Brien (Best QB): Troy Smith, Ohio St.
-Doak Walker (RB): Darren McFadden, Arkansas
-Bilitnikoff (WR): Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
-Bednarik (defensive player): Paul Posluszny, Penn St.
-Thorpe (DB) Aaron Ross, Texas
-Butkus (LB) Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
-Maxwell Award (player of the year): Brady Quinn, QB, ND

Did you spot the controversy? That's right, "sure-fire" Heisman winner Smith, who led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record while amassing 2,740 total yards & 30 touchdown passes, was beat out by Brady Big Game Ghost Quinn.

Sure Quinn had spectacular numbers- 3,278 yards passing & 35 TDs- but who wouldn't against Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Girl Scouts? He gagged in NDs two biggest games-Michigan & USC- yet he's the best offensive player in the country? What a crock. This controversy sets up some actual suspense for tomorrow night at the Heisman ceremony, where Quinn & Smith will be joined by Doak winner Darren McFadden on the dais.

Interesting that McFadden got the invite over other deserving RB candidates (Slaton, Johnson, Rice) after he & his Razorbacks gagged in the SEC title game against the Gators. McFadden managed only 73 yards rushing & 27 yards receiving against the stingy Florida defense, and his only touchdown was on a pass to fellow running back Felix Jones. So much for what have you done for me lately. I assume the nom is due to his multi-threat talent (running, passing, receiving) because I would have taken either of the other 3 runners over him.

Speaking of the trophy, great time to segue into My Heisman Awards. The actual awards contain only 3 candidates again this year (remember when there used to be five ? downsizing I guess), Troy Smith, Brady Quinn & Darren McFadden, but I am going to select my Top 5, 'cause I'm old school like that.

1.) Troy Smith, QB, Ohio State 2,740 total yards, 32 tot TDs, 5 INTs
What more can be said for the kid who has nearly done it all. Let's see what the scintillating senior has accomplished this season: Win all his games? Check. Knock off two #2 teams in one year? Check. Compile amazing stats? Check? Defeat opponents with his arm & legs? Check. Perform weekly feats of incredible athletic prowess that get splashed all over the highlight shows? Check-mate. The only thing Troy has not done yet is win a Heisman and a national championship. But don't worry, he'll be checking those two goals off his list in the next month, starting tomorrow night.

2.) Colt Brennan, QB, Hawai'i 5,341 tot yds, 58 tot TDs, 11 INTs
As long as we're going on stats, Quinn backers, I'm going with Brennan the stat king here. Look at the numbers this junior put up over in paradise while we weren't paying attention; he came withing 1 TD pass of tying the NCAA single-season record and led the nation in passing yards, completion percentage, QB rating and touchdowns. Those numbers are far better than Brady's and tough to ignore, so I'm not gonna.

3.) Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State 1,613 yards, 24 TDs
The slippery sophomore from San Dimas is a big part of the reason the Broncos are only the second team to make a BCS bowl from a non-BCS conference (Urban Meyer's 2004 Utah team is the other.) Not only did Johnson finish 1st in the NCAA in rushing touchdowns and 4th in yards, he played through an excruciating rib injury by wearing a flak jacket in Boise's final game against rival Nevada. How'd he do? 31 carries, 147 yards & 3 TDs as the Broncs rolled, 38-7. Now there's a man's candidate.

4.) Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame 3,278 yards, 35 TDs, 5INTs
Okay so the guy had a decent year, but when you look at his stats compared to some of the others, then factor in the service academy-padded stats and his no-shows in ND's two biggest games, well that just doesn't spell H-E-I-S-M-A-N to me. If he wins it will be another "luck o' the Irish" break.

5.) Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers 311 carries, 1,624 yards, 19 TDs,
The Scarlet Knights would not have had the magical season (10-2) it did without the contributions of this diminutive sophomore. Not only did the 5'9" dynamo lead the nation in carries, he finished 3rd in yards and tied for second in touchdowns by a runner. He was the glue that held a shaky offensive attack together, and the unheralded New Rochelle native had 3 games where he ran for over 200 yards. The fact that he laid an egg in RU's first loss of the year (54 yards @ Cincy on Nov. 18) probably cost the kid a trip to Manhattan.

There you have it. I know I could have included guys like Steve Slaton, Pat White, Garrett Wolfe and Calvin Johnson. But in my estimation Slaton & White cancelled each other out and missed time due to injury, Wolfe played for Northern Illinois (although 1900 yards is 1900 yards)and Johnson came up empty in 2 big games (Clemson & Wake Foresst.)

We'll find out tomortrow night at 8:00 on ESPN. Actaully it's an hour show, so it'll be closer to 8:55 when we hear Smith's name announced.

Coaching Carousel

There have been a number of coaching moves in the past few days, all of them affecting teams heading into bowl games.

-Rich Rodriguez was thought to be leaving West Virginia to take the head job at Alabama. But at the 11th hour Rodriguez, who is a WV native and former Mountaineer player, announced that he would be remaining in Morgantown. Needless to say the brass in Tuscaloosa are quite miffed.
When 'Bama AD Mal Moore offered Rodriguez a deal worth approximate $2 million/year for 6 years it was widely reported that the coach would accept. But whether it was pressure from media reports that his players thought he lied to them after promising he would never leave the Mountaineers or just a negotiating ploy to get a sweeter deal from WVU, by this afternoon Rodriguez backtracked and told everyone he was staying.

It's believed that WVU offered nearly the same base salary as the Tide, which would bump his compensation from just over $1 mil per to just under $2mil annually, and also agreed to pay raises for Rodriguez' assistants and upgrades to the football facilities. Talk about clout. But like his center Dan Mozes said "If you graduated from there and were a coach there, why would you leave? Maybe it's the money." Ah these kids grow up so fast.

Rodriguez will coach the Mountaineers in the Gator Bowl, the 6th straight bowl appearance for Rodriguez. Meanwhile 'Bama goes back to the begging board to look for someone to take the once prestigious position.

-Tom O'Brien rocks the Hill by moving to tobacco country
Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien sent tidal waves of surprise throughout the picturesque Chestnut Hill campus yesterday when it was announced he would be leaving the Eagles to take the head job at NC State. The Wolfpack had been searching for a successor to Chuck Amato, who was canned immediately following the last game, but no one saw this coming.

The man who guided BC to a 75-45 record and 8 straight bowl games leaves after 10 years and becomes only the second coach to move directly from one ACC school to another; the first was Jim Tatum in 1956.

Speculation has already begun surrounding who O'Brien's replacement will be, and much like the Bernie Kosar/Miami rumors, BC icon Doug Flutie's name has been mentioned to guide his Alma mater. I don't know if Dougie can coach, but one thing's for sure, he sure would pack them in at Alumni Stadium.

O'Brien will not coach the Eagles in the Meineke Bowl on December 30th.

-Miami keeps it in the family by hiring defensive coordinator Shannon
The Hurricanes courted & flirted with some high profile names to succeed the dethroned Larry Coker. Rutgers coach Greg Schiano wasn't leaving Piscataway. Texas tech coach Mike Leak was another high-profile candidate mentioned. But when word came out earlier this week that former QB Bernie Kosar was campaigning for the gig the university acted quickly to make sure the position was filled by hiring longtime 'Cane Shannon.

The 40-year-old former linebacker has been an assistant with 'Da U' twice since 1991 after playing on its 1989 championship team and brings a youthful energy, knowledge of the system and ability to relate to the players and recruits, one of Coker's downfalls.

Shannon becomes the 1st African-American coach in Miami's history and the 6th active black coach in D-1. But as he puts it, no one is going to say "hey, there's Randy, the minority." "They'll just say 'hey Randy.'" Good luck to a good guy; he's got a lot of work to do to turn his Alma mater around.

That's all I got. Enjoy the Heisman ceremony tomorrow night and don't forget to watch Rudolph tonight at 8:00 on ABC.

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