Normally, I’d never watch the ESPYs, an award show made completely redundant by the fact that every sport already hands out individual awards – what, exactly, is the difference between the Worldwide Leader’s College Football Player of the Year and the Heisman Trophy? The answer, of course, is none: Reggie Bush won both, because the Disney-ABC-ESPN mega-sportstainment conglomerate – whether it actually casts the votes or not – ultimately make the decisions for voters based on which highlights it decides to show and which players it decides to fawn over and over-expose via the most horrible possible music and (oft-thumped Heisman voter Stewart Mandel, who presumably actually watches enough football to deserve a voice in choosing the MOCFPITN, makes a good point along these lines in an interview last week with the also oft-thumped – by me - Heisman Pundit, and also has a reasonable solution: fewer, better-informed voters). And "Best Moment," you know, must be the autistic kid raining basically uncontested threes - you cannot argue against that moment as the best, even if, say, your team won its first World Series in 89 years or you were moved by Adam Morrison’s genuine reaction when his team blew its big lead to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament or were roused, simultaneously with three friends, out of your seat, screaming "Oh my God!" when the ball suddenly popped out of Jerome Bettis' grasp on the goal line at the end of a playoff game. Those emotions did not measure up.
Anyway, when you’re getting smacked in pool in a bar during a weekend stop in New Orleans, you’ll watch even the darndest tape-delayed corporate schmooze-fests, "">risque" jokes and extended in-show commercials be damned. Oh, Neil Armstrong is Lance Armstrong’s dad? Ho ho. Wait, what, not really? And you mean the guy in the spacesuit’s not really Neil…oh, you’re good, ESPN. You are on top of your game. Matt Leinart takes home a mantelpiece for his role in a game ? He is one lucky man, I’ll tell you what. Even when he loses, he wins!
My real dad abandoned me when I was two.
As long as we’re in the spirit of sports-awarding, with which various postseason college football awards have been bestowing strapped media relations offices throughout the later stages of the offseason draught in the form of miles-long preseason "watch lists" including virtually every returning starter in the nation at the appropriate position(s), I’d like to trot out my own preseason "watch list" for awards I’ll give out over at SMQ in December. A few of you (like, two) may remember a couple of these from SMQ’s all-America team at the end of last season, which was unfortunately deleted for technical, non-content-related purposes. There are some new ones, too, with last year’s winners noted where appropriate:
D’Brickashaw Onyenegecha Award
Awarded to the player who has exhibited the best name in the nation
OK, so, technically, this one could go ahead and be awarded as it’s not dependent on performance and none of the names are likely to change. Still, decorum – and the off chance that someone alters or adds a name, a la Alabama linebacker Juwan Simpson nee Garth, and typesetters have to figure out how to fit BenJarvus Green-Ellis Abdul-Rauf onto a depth chart – dictates we wait this one out like the others.
2005 Winner: Award namesake D’Brickashaw Ferguson, OT, Virginia
DE C.J. Ah You, So., Oklahoma: The initials, obscuring a no-doubt unpronounceable string of consecutive vowels, lend an air of intrigue to the delightful last name, which sounds like the response of a not-so-surprised, suave villain after the breach of his impenetrable hideout by our hero in some James Bond knockoff: "Ah, you. I was hoping they’d send you..."
QB Jim Bob Cooter, Sr., Tennessee: Would easily earn "Central Casting Stereotype" title, if not for Jim Bob’s recent willingness to live up to them
FB Asaph Schwapp, So., Notre Dame: ‘Asaph’ is a virtuosic touch to a surname that sounds tantalizingly similar to an animated sound effect meant to simulate violence in the corny old “Batman” TV series. Perfect moniker for a 250-pound Midwestern blocking back. "Schwapp ‘em, Asaph!"
RB Chubb Small, So., Marshall: Though not on the level of immortal Unfortunate Name Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus, his moniker has caused plenty of trauma for young Chubb, we’re sure.
P/K Britt Barefoot, Jr., Southern Miss: Fortunately for Small, ‘Most Apt Name’ goes to the projected USM punter and kickoff guy, even if he’s yet to strike a ball in a game with an unadorned foot.
LB Mike Klinkenborg, Jr., Iowa: Rock Rapids, Iowa, native, or alien overlord taking the form of touted 250-pound solution to the Hawkeyes’ vacant middle linebacker position? Kirk Ferentz takes him either way.
Who dares run the counter trey against Klinkenborg?!
Awarded to the most outstanding white skill player everyone reflexively assumes is slow but can really fly
Soon to be formally incarnated as the “Embarrass DeBerry” committee.
2005 Winner: Jeff Samardjajafjka, WR, Notre Dame
WR Jeff Samardzzjzjvkf, Sr., and FS Tom Zbikowski, Sr., Notre Dame: A highly draftable baseball player and a pro boxer – i.e. legit athletes, man – get to personally blow past DeBerry’s own Caucasian ranks in November.
CB Kayle Buchanan, Jr., BYU: “4.41 speed,” exclaims Phil Steele in nearly indecipherable bold type, though no word on this DB’s ability to drop an opponent in under a minute.
WRs Todd Blythe, Jr., and Austin Flynn, Sr., Iowa State: Flynn moved from quarterback before last season to give the Cyclones the Big XII’s most racially representative receiving corps relative to the population of the state as a whole, and to combine with Blythe for 107 catches
CB Eric Weddle, Sr., Utah: Strong safety moved to corner in ’05 and won Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
WR Nick Coon, Sr., UAB: Lost his starting job to injury, but once averaged more than 36 yards per catch on ten grabs as a freshman
QB Drew Stanton, Sr., Michigan State: Most reminiscent of ex-Arkansas QB/Jax WR/human-gazelle hybrid Matt Jones, with a more accurate arm. Won’t have to even at the next level, but could make the move outside himself.
Ron Jeremy Award
Most outstanding performance by an overworked appendage
As most positions require extensive work from many appendages, this is a relative category – like the Unitas “Golden Arm” Award – restricted to players in systems of certain proclivities (“Unitas,” by the way, fails spell check, an outrageous oversight and insult to America that would not happen if Steve Sabol - who should be running, or at least editing, everything - was in charge of those latte-sippin’ hippies at Microsoft, dammit!).
2005 Winner: John Torp, P, Colorado
QB Colt Brennan, Jr., Hawaii: His tender, first-year-starter arm flung an astounding 515 passes last season, which the watch list projects will leave it a useless, withered mass dangling helplessly and unsettlingly out of t-shirts by the time Colt hits grad school
P Daniel Sepulveda, Sr., Baylor: A big (6-3, 227) punter who represents, via field position, the Bears’ most consistent weapon; punted nearly six times a game in BU’s best season since joining the Big XII
P Brendan Carney, Sr., Syracuse: Then there’s the Orangemen’s leg man, who booted – seriously – 82 punts for the pathetic SU attack in ’05 (this is a team that, at 1-10, had to go for it in losses a high number of times, one would surmise) and, not coincidentally, was responsible for the free upgrade in CarrierDome whirlpools
QB Graham Harrell, So., Texas Tech: As pirate-loving coach Mike Leach debates whether to swing his sword in the form of even a single handoff, his presumptive new quarterback is spending the offseason combing the Canadian woods for admantium rotator cuff implants
K Alex Serna, Jr., Oregon State: Lou Groza winner led the PAC Ten with 28 field goal attempts, which will not go down – though they may get farther – with the loss of the likes of Mike Hass. Also “Most Likely to Commit On-field Hari-Kari” in the instance of failure due to his single-minded, maniacal mission to bury the memory of LSU 2004 at all costs
Fitzgerald-Edwards TrophyBest player at whom to throw the ball as high as possible, as often as possible
I've noted before that the new breed of wide receivers who can go up and get balls that almost no wide out ever could before are not only athletically incredible but aesthetically stunning as well. The forthcoming embodiments of the game's awe-inspiring capabilites:
2005 Winner: Sidney Rice, WR, South Carolina
WR Calvin Johnson, Jr., Georgia Tech: The odds-on favorite for Cirque de Soleil-quality body control at sprinter speeds. Just doesn’t get it enough.
WR Dwayne Jarrett, Jr., Southern Cal: Doesn’t possess the “embarrass the flailing defender now looking up at me from his back” physicality of predecessor Mike Williams, but is more fluid and can out-hop almost anybody
WR Marcus Monk, Jr., Arkansas: Any deep passes – regardless of completion – elicited cheers in Fayetteville over the second half of last season, which could give alpha recruit Mitch Mustain more license to toss up a few more to the Hogs’ under-used but touted deep threat
WR Evan Moore, Jr., Stanford: Six-foot, seven-inch ex-tight end missed almost all of ’05, but previously did this:
Meet Evan Moore
WR Sidney Rice, So., South Carolina: Just turn to page 50 in Phil Steele’s national annual if you doubt his ability to defend this title
Other Award Watch Lists
Carson Palmer Award
Best performance by a highly- recruited underachiever in his last chance for success
QB Chris Leak, Sr., Florida
RB Lorenzo Booker, Sr., Florida State
WR Ryan Moore, Sr., Miami
WR Steve Breaston, Sr., Michigan
WR Matt Trannon, Sr., Michigan State
QB Tyler Palko, Sr., Pittsburgh
Emily Dickinson Award
Best performance in anonymity
2005 Winner: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis
RB Garrett Wolfe, Sr., Northern Illinois
QB Kevin Kolb, Sr., Houston
QB John Beck, Sr., BYU
CB John Talley, Sr., Duke
FB Brian Leonard, Sr., Rutgers
Toniu Fonoti Award
Best massive Polynesian lineman
2005 Winner: Taitusi Lutui, OG, Southern Cal
C Samson Satele, Sr., Hawaii
DT Kelly Talavou, Sr., Utah
C Enoka Lucas, Sr., Oregon
OG Shannon Tevaga, Jr., UCLA
DT David Faaeteete, Jr., Oregon
Did I miss any? SMQ will consider sponsoring other suggested awards after the season.