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College Football Analysis: Handing Out End of Season Awards

Last week, the college football end of season awards were handed out in Orlando, Florida. Today, the Tailgater crew is going to tell you who SHOULD have won these awards. Some of the award winners were fine, while some of them left us shaking our heads.

Here is who Zach Bigalke, Matt Strobl, and I thought should have won the awards.

Maxwell Award

Winner: Andrew Luck (QB/Stanford)
Tailgater Winner: Robert Griffin III (QB/Baylor)

Somehow, Heisman front runner Robert Griffin III was not even a finalist for the Maxwell Award, which is awarded annually to college football’s most outstanding player. Now, I like Andrew Luck. I think he is going to be a very good pro QB, but there is no way he deserved this award for RGIII.

Griffin threw for more yards, completed a higher percentage of his passes, threw for more touchdowns, less interceptions, and finished with a higher QB Rating. His QB Rating also happened to break Colt Brennan’s record.

Luck actually had a better season last year, but his name carried him this year to the Maxwell Award and to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Coach of the Year Award

Winner: Les Miles (LSU)
Tailgater Winner: Bill Snyder (Kansas State)

LSU had a great season, but they started out the season as a top five team, and many had them pegged as the best team in the SEC, and a serious contender to play for the National Championship.

Kansas State, on the other hand, wasn’t even expected to make a bowl game. Most preseason predictions had them pegged for 4 or 5 wins at the most. Instead, Snyder pulled off one of the best coaching jobs of his career, leading the Wildcats to a 10-2 record and a berth in the Cotton Bowl.

Kansas State finished the regular season 8th in the BCS Standings, finishing 2nd in a Big 12 that was considered the best conference this season, and yet were snubbed of a BCS bowl game in favor of Michigan and Virginia Tech.

Les Miles is a solid selection, but Bill Synder was more deserving this season.

Doak Walker Award

Winner: Trent Richardson (RB/Alabama)
Tailgater Winner: Montee Ball (RB/Wisconsin)

You really can’t go wrong with either of these guys, and for me personally I voted Richardson #1 for Doak Walker over Montee Ball for reasons I discussed in the Heisman Trophy piece. Ball had a historically great season in Madison for the Badgers.

Ball led the nation with 1759 rushing yards on 275 carries for an average of 6.4 yards per carry. He also added 255 receiving yards on 20 catches. He ended the season with 38 total touchdowns, finishing just one shy of Barry Sanders’ record he set back in 1988 for Oklahoma State.

Ball had at least two touchdowns in every single game this season, and is a major reason Wisconsin won the Big Ten and is headed to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl against Oregon.

Davey O’Brien Award

Winner: Robert Griffin III (QB/Baylor)
Tailgater Winner: Robert Griffin III (QB/Baylor)

No complaints with this one. Robert Griffin was the best quarterback in the nation this season, and completely deserved the Davey O’Brien.

Biletnikoff Award

Winner: Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State)
Tailgater Winner: Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State)

Once again, no real complaints. We all had different #1s, but we all three had Blackmon in the top three of our votes. Zach liked Houston’s Patrick Edwards, Matt liked Baylor’s Kendall Wright, and I went with Blackmon.

I was tempted to go with Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles just because of the impact his injury had on Oklahoma. Landry Jones didn’t throw a single touchdown after Broyles’ injury, and tossed seven interceptions.

This is the second straight Biletnikoff Award for the NFL-bound Blackmon.

Mackey Award

Winner: Dwayne Allen (TE/Clemson)
Tailgater Winner: Tyler Eifert (TE/Notre Dame)

Dwayne Allen was my midseason selection for the Mackey Award, but Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert had the better season. We all had a different #1 for the Mackey, but we all had Eifert in the top two.

Eifert had 57 receptions for 713 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Fighting Irish in 2011. Eifert was Notre Dame’s second leading receiver this year behind Michael Floyd. He had more catches, more yards, and averaged more yards per receptions than Allen.

Outland Trophy

Winner: Barrett Jones (OT/Alabama)
Tailgater Winner: Matt Kalil (OT/USC)

Matt Kalil wasn’t even a finalist for the Outland Trophy, despite being thought of as the best offensive tackle in all of college football. I had no problem with the selection of Barrett Jones because of all he meant to the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, but it is hard to argue that he is better than Kalil.

Personally, I voted Jones #1, while Matt and Zach went with Kalil. Other guys such as David DeCastro, Devon Still, and Whitney Mercilus were all worthy of consideration.

Lombardi Award

Winner: Luke Kuechly (LB/Boston College)
Tailgater Winner: Luke Kuechly (LB/Boston College)

Luke Kuechly was the Boston College defense. He was an absolute tackling machine, finishing with 191 total tackles, which comes out to just under 16 per game. Kuechly had 44 more tackles than any other player in the FBS.

Guys such as Courtney Upshaw from Alabama, Danny Trevathan from Kentucky, Dont’a Hightower from Alabama, and Jonathan Martin from Stanford also were considered.

Rimington Trophy

Winner: David Molk (C/Michigan
Tailgater Winner: David Molk (C/Michigan)

Another one that we agreed on. Zach and I voted Michigan’s Molk #1, while Matt went with Oklahoma State’s Grant Garner. Molk was the leader of the Michigan offensive line, and was named a first team All American. Along with Molk and Garner, Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, Georgia’s Ben Jones, Alabama’s William Vlachos, and Clemson’s Dalton Freeman received votes.

Bednarik Award

Winner: Tyrann Mathieu (DB/LSU)
Tailgater Winner: Tyrann Mathieu (DB/LSU)

This was probably the closest vote we had. We all three had different guys #1, but Mathieu received a first place vote from me, and a second place vote from Zach, which led to him ultimately finishing at #1. Zach voted the nation’s leader in sacks, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus, at the top, and Matt went with Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan.

But, it’s hard to argue against the Honey Badger, who was such a playmaker on the LSU defense this season. To go along with those three guys, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower were in the running.

Butkus Award

Winner: Luke Kuechly (LB/Boston College)
Tailgater Winner: Luke Kuechly (LB/Boston College)

More Kuechly. Again, he had a hell of a season in Chestnut Hill, and was one of the lone bright spots in a rough season for the Eagles. Zach and I once again agreed with the Kuechly selection, while Matt continued with his man crush of Danny Trevathan from Kentucky.

Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, and Houston’s Sammy Brown also received votes.

Thorpe Award

Winner: Morris Claiborne (DB/LSU)
Tailgater Winner: David Amerson (DB/NC State)

I believe Morris Claiborne is the best cover corner in college football, but David Amerson is a ballhawk, and led the NCAA with 11 interceptions, which was four more than anybody else. Amerson was a finalist for the Thorpe along with Claiborne and Alabama’s Mark Barron.

Along with those three guys, Tyrann Mathieu and Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo were in the hunt.

Groza Award

Winner: Randy Bullock (K/Texas A&M)
Tailgater Winner: Randy Bullock (K/Texas A&M)

It might have been a rough year in College Station compared to the lofty preseason expectations, but they sure can’t blame their kicker. Bullock led the nation with 2.08 field goals per game, and connected on 25 of his 29 attempts. Bullock was also 52 of 54 on extra point attemps.

Ray Guy Award

Winner: Ryan Allen (P/Louisiana Tech)
Tailgater Winner: Bobby Cowan (P/Idaho)

It is a crime that LSU’s Brad Wing was not a finalist. The voters ultimately gave the Ray Guy award to the second best punter in his own state. Wing had a great season, but Idaho’s Bobby Cowan was even better.

None of the other candidates had to punt the ball as much as Cowan did, which he did 88 times in 2011. Despite the high number of punts, Cowan still finished 2nd in the nation in average with 46.41 yards per punt, behind only Florida State’s Shawn Powell, who punted it 39 less times than Cowan.

Cowan also finished 4th in the nation with a 40.78 net punt average.

Disagree with our picks? Leave a comment and let us know why.


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