Maybe it’s the Internet, and awareness of the picayune in any selected area of interest is magnified because of it.
Maybe it’s college football itself, grabbing at every straw of publicity to get a little more attention in a constantly competitive market.
But this summer it seems as if college football award watch lists have come at like plagues of locusts. Every other day, some organization that gives a specific trophy to an individual at the end of the season puts out a list of its preseason candidates for the honor.
Which, really, shouldn’t be necessary. Let the games be played, judge everyone with a clean slate starting the first weekend of September, and go from there. But like the Top 25 rankings, that doesn’t happen. There’s no profit in that. The hype needs to be started in the preseason.
The topper for me was this week when the watch list came out for the Lombardi Award. That goes to down linemen competing either on offense of defense from end to end who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, and linebackers who set up no father than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage.
Also eligible, I presume, are trombone players in the marching bands, baton-twirlers, the security guards outside the teams’ dressing rooms, and the guy who sells big-you-know-what turkey legs across the street from Kinnick Stadium on game days.
Anyway, The Lombardi Award Committee released the 2011 Lombardi Award Watch List. There are 120 FBS (Division I-A) teams. There are 125 Lombardi Award candidates. In other words, enough down linemen to fill out 10 starting lineups.
OK, we’ve got our 125 players to watch. If Arkansas State linebacker Demario Davis misses a tackle at Illinois on ASU’s first defensive play of the Red Wolves’ and Illini’s season-opener, we can cut our list down to 124. Unless some Illinois lineman not already on the Lombardi watch list makes a brilliant play himself. Then we’re back to 125.
By the way, there are two Iowa State players on the List of 125 in linebacker Jake Knott and offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele. Iowa has just one, offensive tackle Riley Reiff.
Osemele and Reiff are also on the Outland Trophy watch list. That award goes to the best lineman in the nation. In taking out the linebackers, it’s a whole different universe. Sort of.
“Only” 65 players are on the Outland’s watch list.
The Bronko Nagurski watch list has 87 players. That’s for the defensive player of the year, by the way. Iowa’s lone candidate is cornerback Shaun Prater. Iowa State’s is Knott. Both players are good players. That’s clearly been established. But isn’t this like putting half of all the movies that have been released this year on an Academy Awards watch list?
On Tuesday, the Rimington Award watch list was released. That award, honoring the best center of the year. So how many preseason candidates can there really be, right? Eight, 10, 15 tops?
Try 43, six from the Big Ten alone including Iowa’s James Ferentz. I was almost surprised Alabama and Oklahoma didn’t have three or four centers on the list.
There can’t be more watch lists, can there? You know the answer to that. We’ve heard from the Biletnikoff Award (receivers), the Bednarik Award (another Defensive Player of the Year), the Mackey Award (tight ends), and the Maxwell Award (Player of the Year). Iowa running back Marcus Coker is on the Maxwell list. Missouri wouldn’t argue.
Wait, there’s more. The Dick Butkus Award (linebackers) watch list comes out on Thursday. On Friday, it’s the Davey O’Brien Award (quarterbacks) and Doak Walker Award watch lists. Next Monday gives us the Walter Camp Award (player of the year) watch list.
I went back and checked last summer’s Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O’Brien watch lists. Auburn’s Cam Newton wasn’t among the players listed for any of them. Yet, he won them all. Yet, he won it in December. Teammate Nick Fairley wasn’t on the 2010 Lombardi watch list last July. Yet, he won the award in December. How could this have happened?
Oh yeah, now I recall. They played the games.