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Tag:Awards Watch
Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Nick Fairley follows coach's lead, wins Lombardi

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's one of those stories that would be edited out of a film script for being "too heavyhanded," but happened in real life Wednesday night anyway: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, playing the past two seasons under the tutelage of his school's last winner of the Lombardi Award, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, became the school's newest winner of the same award . It's not irony, but it's close enough that Alanis Morrisette would think it is.

In any case, the award's voters -- "a distinguished committee of nearly 400 of America's most prominent college football coaches, football writers, sports broadcasters and previous Rotary Lombardi Award winners and finalists," charged with selecting the nation's best lineman or linebacker -- weren't voting based on the headlines; Fairley was arguably the nation's most disruptive defensive force this season, leading the SEC in tackles for loss with 21.5 (for comparison's sake, one more than Ndamukong Suh totaled in 2009) and finishing second with 10.5 sacks. But Fairley's penchant for brutal hits on opposing quarterbacks -- a handful of which straddled the line between fair play and unnecessary roughness, and earned him something of a villain's reputation in some quarters of the conference -- meant his impact was felt even beyond his imposing statistics.

All that said, the Lombardi committee couldn't have gone wrong with the equally beastly Da'Quan Bowers, the Clemson defensive end who leads the nation in sacks and was one of three other Lombardi finalists (with the others Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn and TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick ). Bowers won the Nagurski Trophy over Fairley, setting up a kind of rubber match vote with the Bednarik Award , given to the nation's best defensive player later today.

Whether Bowers or Fairley triumphs in their little one-on-battle on the awards circuit (the Bednarik could also declare an effective tie by honoring LSU corner Patrick Peterson ), the real winner here is the NFL draft, which assuming Fairley declares, looks poised to have an outstanding class of defensive linemen on its hands this April.

Follow along with all the postseason college football honors at the CBS Sports Awards Watch .

Posted on: November 29, 2010 5:58 pm
 

Broyles finalists have offensive flavor

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The ancient saw about football is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. But based on this offense-dominated 2010 season, it may be time to admit that when it comes to college football, offense can just about handle the whole thing, thanks; likely BCS title game participants Auburn and Oregon both ride their record-breaking offenses first and their defenses second, and whether it's the Big Ten with Wisconsin , the Big 12 South with Oklahoma , or the SEC East with South Carolina (and their 100th-ranked pass defense ), defense-first teams are giving way to more explosive counterparts.

Which helps explain why of the five finalists announced today for the Broyles Award , given annually to the nation's top assistant coach, four of them are offensive coordinators at the helm of some of the nation's best attacks. They are:

Dick Bumpas, defensive coordinator/defensive line coach, TCU
Paul Chryst, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Wisconsin
Dana Holgorsen, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Auburn
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, Stanford

Of the five, Malzahn has become (almost without question) the biggest name in the group and with his unorthodox scheme producing not only an SEC West title but a probable Heisman Trophy for Cam Newton , he's your likely front-runner. But all five have done incredible work this season: Holgorsen took over a Cowboy offense missing its longtime quarterback and biggest receiving threats and helped make Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter All-Americans; Chryst has made Scott Tolzien  the most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten by a mile while maintaining the Badgers' bulldozing ground-based mentality; Roman, likely the most obscure name in the bunch, has coordinated an offense that lost Toby Gerhart and still averaged better than 40 points per game; and though a couple of off-games have denied TCU their run at being the best statistical defense of the decade , Bumpas's perenially excellent Frogs again lead the nation in both total and scoring defense.

But a vote for Bumpas in 2010 feels a bit like counterprogramming opposite the Super Bowl or something similar. This is the season of offense in college football, and the Broyles winner will likely reflect that.

 
 
 
 
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