Earlier today, I presented you with my picks for the All-Big East team, which you can find here. Not long after, the official league awards and first and second teams came out, which you can find here.
The Big East official teams are voted on by the league's eight head coaches, who know a heck of a lot more about football than me. But that doesn't mean they always make the right choices. Let's take a look at each position and go over some of the reasoning behind the picks, starting with what seems to me like the most egregious error.
The league coaches chose Cincinnati's Zach Collaros as the unanimous pick, which is just shocking to me. Don't get me wrong, Collaros is a fantastic player who can put up crazy numbers. But I don't see how Collaros was chosen over West Virginia's Geno Smith. Smith led the Big East in passing efficiency and had a 23-6 touchdown to interception ratio. He had one bad game against Syracuse and was terrific just about every other game. Collaros threw 26 touchdowns but with a whopping 14 interceptions. His completion percentage was 58.7 compared to Smith's to 65.8.
In conference play, Collaros had 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Smith had 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in league play, not to mention that the Mountaineers were co-champions while Cincinnati finished 4-8.
The coaches, frankly, blew this one.
Wide receiver and tight end
Here's where the coaches' expertise should come into play. It's really hard just watching from TV or even from a press box to tell who's playing well on the interior of an offensive line, especially if you don't know what the blocking assignments are supposed to be. I made sure to get some input from coaches on this one and was pleased to see my choices of Sampson Genus at center and Zach Hurd and Mark Wetterer at guard were echoed by the coaches. We also agreed on Jason Pinkston at tackle, though the coaches had UConn's Mike Ryan at the other tackle, while I had Louisville's Byron Stingily. Both are fine choices, since Louisville and UConn had the best offensive lines in the league.
Very little question here with Jabaal Sheard, Terrell McClain and Chris Neild up front. The second defensive end spot was a tricky one for me. The coaches chose Kendall Reyes, who had an excellent year. I picked West Virginia's Julian Miller, who was a beast in conference play and part of the Mountaineers' unbelievable defense. When in doubt at one of these defensive positions, I went with a West Virgina player. I also strongly considered Chandler Jones, Brandon Lindsey and Jesse Joseph for that spot.
Linebacker is one of the deepest positions in the Big East this year. Lawrence Wilson was a definite, and the coaches and I agreed on J.T. Thomas. They chose Doug Hogue while I went with his Syracuse teammate, Derrell Smith. Can't argue too much either way and I would have put all four of them on there if there were enough spots.
Here's another place where I sharply disagree with the coaches' pick. They had West Virginia's Keith Tandy and not Brandon Hogan. I'm not sure even Tandy would agree with that. Tandy had the better interception and tackle numbers, but as he told me in a late-season interview, most of that was because teams wouldn't throw Hogan's way. The coaches I talked to all said Hogan was easily the best cornerback in the Big East. I had him and Johnny Patrick, who was also an official pick, though I heard some support for and strongly considered South Florida's Mistral Raymond.
At safety, Robert Sands was a no-brainer. The other safety spot was my most difficult choice on the entire list. Safety was not a strong position for the Big East this year. The coaches picked Dom DeCicco, who had a solid year. But I felt like he played some his best while working at linebacker for Pitt this year. I went instead with West Virginia's Sidney Glover, a rock-solid senior who fit my "when in doubt pick a Mountaineer" strategy. I liked Rutgers' Joe Lefeged earlier in the year but thought he faded along with his whole team. One coach who played Rutgers late in the season said they picked on Lefeged in the passing game.
So there you have it. How do you feel about the all-conference picks? Do you think, like I do, that Smith and Hogan were the biggest snubs?