What would surprise you more about me:
- I was asked to debate the Heisman Trophy on The Huffington Post with NFL Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, 2001 Heisman Winner Eric Crouch & HuffPost Sports guys Jordan Schultz & Marc Lamont Hill.
- I get to cast an official, counts toward the award, vote for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.
Both are kind of ridiculous, but as I joined the Google+ Hangout and started chatting with Eric Crouch about his Heisman in the kitchen and Fran Tarkenton confirmed his allegiance to SEC's Johnny Football Manziel I couldn't help but wonder, "What the hell am I doing in here?!?" I imagine most people who started blogging 16 months ago that found themselves in that situation might think the same. As far as the COY ballot goes – I became a certified Football Writer's Association of America (FWAA) member this year and paid my dues so it's a privilege I take seriously. Here's a some notes about both experiences.
In case you were wondering – I spent some time framing my Notre Dame memorabilia wall juuust so in preparation for this debate. I don't have a Man Cave covered in ND stuff and the majority of it is hanging on a weathered pallet you can see over my left shoulder. I watch HGTV and try to class up my memorabilia with nifty design ideas and you can't do much about it. In the other corner you might notice a home-made piece that was a gift from the Lady Friend. It's the best Sports Illustrated covers featuring ND Football matted on solid black. Not to scale. Wardrobe choice was blue patterned dress shirt, chocolate brown dress RL Polo sweater, and my cuff links made from ND Stadium Seat wood. Keeping it classy friends.
Naturally I was the first to log in to the Google+ Hangout before we went to the live portion and Fran Tarkenton, followed by Eric Crouch, weren't far behind. I was the first to engage anyone by asking "Am I the only person behind Te'o?" Fran then asked me "Where are they projecting him in the draft?" I said Kiper just listed him at #1 recently and Fran offered his opinion, which would foretell the upcoming HuffPost debate, "I think Jarvis Jones is the clear #1 pick." Tarkenton then asked me for data he'd utilize against me later: "How many sacks does he have and how do you pronounce it again?". I said "He's only got 1.5 but he does have seven interceptions … and it's tay-OH."
Eric & Fran then exchanged some banter about how they keep their trophies in the basement, which would come up later and Fran even asked "What the hell is behind me anyways?" before giving his background a quick scan. I believe I offered up something along the lines of "I have a few academic awards but didn't really want to go toe-to-toe with you gentlemen." We were then told by the HuffPost's tech guy that we were about to go live and I began staring at my notes and numbers, which I knew by heart but felt convinced I'd forget. The rest is now viewable history. Thanks to everyone for all the great tweets, e-mails, texts, and Facebook love in the aftermath of my unexpected battle with the wily Tarkenton. If you haven't seen it or care to watch again, I offer you the official link:
FWAA's Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Couple of things – They give you 9 names and you have to slot all of them before you're allowed to submit.
I'd Have Preferred To Not Vote Either For Anything
9 – Urban Meyer (Ohio State) – He may have gone undefeated but doing the best coaching job in the Big 10 in 2012 isn't going at the top of Meyer's resume anytime soon. Maybe it's the fan in me but I'm not feeling much sympathy for the boys in Columbus during awards season.
8 – Will Muschamp (Florida) – Did Florida finish stronger and get better down the stretch? Below mediocre performances against Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette & Jacksonville State in November doesn't really indicate worthiness of any award to be honest.
7 – Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) – Safe to say Sumlin's decision at quarterback in Year 1 was correct. Unlike Muschamp's Gators, the Aggies played their best football down the stretch. I drop him below Shaw because he DID pad Johnny Football's stats against some miserable defenses and the program will be most likely rewarded for this.
6 – David Shaw (Stanford) – I couldn't have more admiration for what Jim Harbaugh & David Shaw have done in Palo Alto. Shaw admitted his own mistake at QB and pulled the rare switch at the position despite a Top 15 ranking. It paid dividends and Shaw's staff did what nobody else in college football could do in 2012 – slow down Chip Kelly's Oregon attack. If I'm second guessing any ballot choice it'd be this one. I could justify Shaw as high as 4.
5 – Gary Andersen (Utah State) – A case could be made that Andersen was actually the best of the mid-major guys in the conversation. The Aggies took on Big 10 Champ Wisconsin in Madison and only lost by two, 16-14. Three weeks later, again on the road, Andersen's boys barely fell to BYU 6-3. By comparison the next man on this list only topped Kansas while falling to a terrible Iowa squad way back in Week 1. Tough choice but I stand by my ballot.
4 – Dave Doeren (Northern Illinois) – I gave the edge to Doeren, who is already off to NC State, over Andersen, because his team took care of business down the stretch and pulled out the epic 2OT win over then #17 Kent State to secure the elusive MAC BCS Bowl appearance.
If Any Of These Two Won I'd Have No Complaint
3 – Bill Snyder (Kansas State) – Absolutely phenomenal season in Manhattan. Four wins over ranked teams and Irish fans know that a win in Norman, Oklahoma counts for more than something. To have the Wildcats a game from the National Championship & Heisman Trophy just a few years removed from a well-earned retirement is Coach of the Year worthy.
2 – Bill O'Brien (Penn State) – Maybe O'Brien should get this award for volunteering to step into this wasteland of a program last winter. Count me among many who though the Nittany Lions might not see .500 football for another 7-9 years. His ability to hold the team together in the face of much vitriol and anger that had nothing to do with them is going to rightfully be recognized by quite a few groups and publications.
Undefeated, Undisputed, Unexpected
1 – Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were mentally and physically tougher than every opponent in 2012. Most don't want to ever call Notre Dame a "Cinderella story". but Kelly took a group with everything against them and conducted a magical masterpiece that was unmatched by any program in America. He is the clear choice for me when voting on this award whether I blog and cheer for ND or not.