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Everybody's a winner

There are so many awards, I'm creating my own

Posted: Friday December 23, 2005 1:21PM; Updated: Saturday December 24, 2005 2:24AM
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Sorry the Blitz is late this week. The NCAA just recently reinstated me following my appearance on Classic Now.

Are you like me? Do you feel a little left out during the holidays because... because you're the only person who failed to win a postseason award? I mean, seriously, doesn't it seem as if every player in Division I-A brings home a bauble these days? When did college football become the Schaumburg Little League?

I counted. There are 19 different awards for Division I-A players. Thankfully, Tommy McDonald does not hand all of them out. Did you see the former Oklahoma halfback on ESPN's College Football Awards show a few weeks ago when he went all Crispin Glover on Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny? "That guy was nuts," Posluszny said later. Tommy, Courtney Love phoned. She wants her schtick back.

Anyway, 19 player awards exist. You can win three awards for being the most outstanding player (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award), though no one ever seems to. You can also win three awards for being the most outstanding defensive player (Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award and Lott Trophy), though, again, no one ever seems to be able to pull off the sweep. Posluszny won the Bednarik, Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumvervil won the Nagurski and Alabama linebacker DeMeco Ryans took home the Lott... which he accepted by saying, "Thanks. A Lott?"

There are general awards, such as one denoting the best interior lineman (Outland Trophy) or outstanding lineman (Lombardi Award), and then there's a very specific award, given to the nation's outstanding senior quarterback, the Heisma -- oh, my bad, the Unitas Award.

Then there are the position awards. On offense: running back (Doak Walker), quarterback (Davey O'Brien Award... just in case both the Heisman and Unitas eluded you, which they did for this year's O'Brien Award winner, Vince Young), wide receiver (Biletnikoff Award), tight end (Mackey Award) and center (Rimington Trophy).

On defense? There's an award for defensive end (Ted Hendricks Award), defensive back (Thorpe Award) and linebacker (Butkus). Have we forgotten anybody? Oh, that's right, punter (Ray Guy Award) and placekicker (Lou Groza Award).

Now, I have no beef with someone winning an award (unless that someone is Mariah Carey), but I do have a beef with their validity. Of the 19 awards I've mentioned -- plus the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation's outstanding assistant coach -- exactly half were created in 1990 or later. That's correct: half of the I-A college football awards are younger than anyone currently eligible to win them.

But every tradition has to start somewhere, you say. Agreed. I just don't understand why these traditions have to begin at the Little Rock Rotary Club (Broyles Award, est. 1996), or the Greater Augusta Sports Council (Ray Guy Award, est. 2000) or at the Nassau County Sports Commission (Mackey Award, est. 2000). It's as if the most prestigious awards in college football are being decided on during a meeting of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes.

To quote Jerry Seinfeld (and I always do), "Who ARE these people?" It should mean something to be voted the most outstanding tight end in the nation, as UCLA's Marcedes Lewis recently was. But by whom? The happy hour crowd at the East Meadow Hooters? Who votes on these awards? The Heisman is by no means foolproof, but at least its voters are coaches, former winners and media. The Maxwell Award, which also honors the most outstanding player, on the other hand, is voted on by members of the Maxwell Football Club, located in King of Prussia, Pa. And how does one become a member of the Maxwell Football Club? Simple. Just send in $35 for an annual membership (or $750 for a lifetime membership).

Just spit-balling here, but the Maxwell Football Club is situated in Pennsylvania, which means that a fair number of its members are probably Pennsylvanians. And Penn State, last I checked, is attended by many Pennsylvanians. That may help explain why 15 of the Maxwell's 69 winners since 1937 have attended schools in the Quaker State.

Why isn't there a Red Grange Award? Red Grange, contrary to popular opinion, is not a Peter Gabriel song; he was only the most talented and perhaps influential player in college football history.

On October 18, 1924, the University of Michigan visited Grange and his University of Illinois team. Fielding Yost's Wolverines had not been beaten in three years and had allowed just 32 points in their previous 20 games.