LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Well, post-season football play is upon us, so it is time to hand out some awards. As usual, the upside-down world of college football gives us a lot to talk about.
Coach of the Year – This is a toss up. David Shaw at Stanford beat Oregon in Eugene when the Ducks looked unbeatable, while Jim Mora turned UCLA around much faster than people thought. So, in the spirit of the Pac-12, we are going to split it into divisions: Shaw wins he North and Mora gets the nod in the South.
Game of the Year – Simply put, Stanford at Oregon. Two great teams fighting it out. Overtime. What else could you ask for. The end result is both teams ended up ranked in the top-eight and BCS bowl bound.
Player of the Year – I was going to give this to Washington State’s Marquess Wilson, since – after he left the program and walked out on his teammates – the Cougars finally won a game. But, in all fairness, the two best players in the conference this season were runningbacks. So, the North POY goes to Kenjon Barner of Oregon and the South POY goes to Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona, who had a break-out season in only his sophomore year. More on Barner later in this story.
Freshman of the Year – Most everyone gave this award to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had a sensational season. But, the freshman who meant most to his team is Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. The rookie came out of the woodwork to re-energize Shaw’s boring offense. He beat teams with both his arm and his legs. The end result was a Rose Bowl berth, something Andrew Luck never accomplished in four years as a starter.
Play of the Year – There were several great plays in the conference this year. Barner’s 80-yard run against Washington State; De’Anthony Thomas’ insane punt return against Colorado; any Reggie Dunn punt return at Utah; USC’s Marquis Lee bolting away from defenders at Arizona. But, the biggest play of the year was when Stanford’s Zach Ertz, with a Duck defender draped all over him, caught the touchdown pass that tied the game late at Oregon. That play not only changed the complexion of the Pac-12 football race, it changed the entire BCS national championship picture.
Best Quote of the Year – This goes to UCLA coach Jim Mora, hands down. During the Pac-12 spring conference call, Mora was asked what the difference was between coaching in college and coaching in the pros. Mora, sitting in his office on campus at UCLA, said, “This is great. I am sitting in my office, looking out the window, everyone is all happy, beautiful. It’s awesome.”
Bonehead Move of the Year – Washington State’s Wilson. The All-Amercian wide receiver did himself no favors when he walked out of his team his school, and his career. To make matters worse, Wilson decided to go public with allegations coach Mike Leach and his staff are abusive. Truth be told, I guarantee you Wilson would be flying high if he wasn’t benched two-games earlier for insubordination. Terrell Owens anyone.
Head Scratcher of the Year – Can anyone tell me how Montee Ball of Wisconsin won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back? Ball carried the football 80-plus times more than Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, yet rushed for only 80 yards more than Barner. Both players scored 21 touchdowns, but Barner averaged more yards per carry than did Ball. Head-to-head, Ball rushed for 61 yards against Oregon State in Corvallis in a 10-3 loss, while Barner lit the Beavers up for 198 yards and two touchdowns while playing in the same stadium. Oh ya, Wisconsin lost five times while Oregon lost once. This is a travesty.
Head Scratcher of the Year No. 2 – If you don’t think there is an East Coast bias when voting takes place for any team or any award, look no further than the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s top defensive back. The winner was Jonathan Banks of Mississippi State, a player who had four interceptions, but none for touchdowns. Banks four picks doesn’t rank him in the top 25 in Division I football. Enter Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer. The all-Pac-12 defensive back had seven interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, for one of the country’s nastiest D’s. Poyer and Banks were separated by four tackles total, Banks with 59 while Poyer had 55. Oh ya No. 2 – Poyer wasn’t even nominated for the award. This is a travesty No.2.
Performance of the Year – There were plenty of great performances throughout this past season, but none more impressive than the Human Highlight Reel himself, Dunn of Utah. My man Reggie hit the afterburners for five kickoff returns for touchdowns, including torching Cal for not one, but two beauties. His five touchdowns in a season of over 100-yards is an NCAA record. Don’t expect that record to be broken anytime soon.
Finally, the Nut Job of the Year Award – The unanimous winner of this award is Washington State’s Leach. If you know anything about this guy, Donald Trump is his best friend, so that makes him a nut job right off the bat. But, there is more to this award. Leach routinely called his players out in public, calling them zombies and challenging their manhood. In the end, they had a lousy season and their best player quit, citing emotional abuse. What ever happened to keeping your team problems in the locker room?
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