Thoughts on the college football awards

If you missed it last night, ESPN hosted the Home Depot College Football Awards, handing out all the major college football hardware to plenty of recipients.

Oklahoma State was the only school in the Big 12 who took home an award at the show, but Texas A&M's Von Miller won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker earlier in the week.

Justin Blackmon won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, and Dan Bailey won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker.

  • First things first, a well-deserved award for Blackmon. He should have won. I thought he would win. He did. He's consistently been the most unstoppable offensive talent in the country outside of Cam Newton, and it would have been a shame for him not to win.

  • In the same breath, Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles put up a season that in most years, would have been worthy of a Biletnikoff Award. The same goes for Nebraska's Prince Amukamara and the Thorpe Award. They just weren't the best this year. Blackmon deserved the Biletnikoff and LSU's Patrick Peterson deserved the Thorpe for a pair of transcendent years.

  • My hat is off (this is the point when I wink) to Amukamara's flat top. It's a fantastic look topped only by James Sims out at Kansas. Good luck besting Sims' flat top these days, everyone ever.

  • Plenty of Missouri fans will have a gripe with Arkansas' D.J. Williams winning the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end over the Tigers' Michael Egnew, but it's barely legitimate, if at all. Yes, Egnew had a ton of receptions. But let's not kid ourselves here, a good portion of those were short bubble screens to the sideline that are essentially run plays. That's not to discount what Egnew did; he's a great player with great hands and he's tough to bring down, but Williams isn't used in a similar capacity ever, if at all. If he had been, he'd have put up the same numbers, if not better. His hands are just as solid. Even though Williams had 32 fewer catches than Egnew, he only had about 100 fewer yards and caught the same number of touchdowns (4). I'm a voter for a few of the major awards, but not the Mackey. For me, it would have been close between Williams and Egnew.

  • Others will argue that Egnew's snub is based upon prejudice against the spread offense, and the fact that Egnew doesn't stay in to block as often as his competition for the award. Hardly. News flash: Tight ends block in most systems. Receptions are a big part of it, but so are the players' respective teams' rushing attacks and their respective blocking talent. Both are excellent. That has to be factored into the award. Would giving it to Egnew based on his inflated receptions numbers not be the exact same prejudice -- but reversed, against players who block more often, like Williams and Lance Kendricks at Wisconsin? I say yes. My main point: The competition was close, and I would have been fine with either Williams or Egnew winning it, but Egnew's gaudy reception numbers alone shouldn't be enough for him to be considered a runaway winner. The goal of these awards is to find the best players at each position in the game. Egnew's ability to catch those short passes doesn't separate him from his competition.

  • However, there's one school that does have a gripe. There's a hefty amount of irony in a Lou Groza Award winner not being considered the best kicker in his conference. Bailey is a great kicker who had a rough finish to great season. More than anything, those misses down the stretch are what have fans in Nebraska frustrated. If Bailey had finished 26-of-28 (possible, considering he missed two kicks inside 40 yards) you would hear significantly fewer complaints. Bailey is a great kicker. Nebraska's Alex Henery is better. If you sent out Henery and Bailey to kick 100 field goals from various spots on the field, Henery would win. (By the way, anybody want to make that happen? I'd watch.) But, unless the rules have changed since I wrote this, that's not how awards are passed out or football is played. Other than giving coaches confidence in them, kickers have very little control over when they play. Henery only got to attempt 19 field goals in 13 games this season, and at the core, that's why he didn't win and wasn't even a finalist. His only miss was a blocked kick from beyond 50 yards. Bailey, meanwhile, made 24 of 28 kicks and didn't have a miss until his ninth game. After Henery's ninth game, he was just 11-of-12. That's not very many kicks. That's not Henery's fault, and anyone who saw his 53-yard kick in the Big 12 Championship that would have been good from well beyond 60 yards had to be thinking, "How in the world is this guy not a finalist for the country's best kicker?" Well, that's why. In my opinion, Henery is the best kicker in the country. Henery will likely go down as the most accurate kicker in the history of college football, but that has no bearing on the 2010 Lou Groza Award. This isn't a career award. Nobody from Nebraska would have traded Henery field goals for Taylor Martinez touchdowns early in the year, but if Henery had gotten more attempts and caught more people's eye with his point total, he probably would have won.