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WTF AWARDS, PART ONE

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The hokey, played-out ass end of the season is upon us, and with the electric sex of the GMAC Bowl glowing in the window, it’s hard not to sit back, kick off your boots, and think…well, just to think of how fucked-up this whole season has been for most college football fans. In August we sat, dog-eared preview guides surrounding us on every side, awake at the crack of dawn just seizing with excitement thinking: football. Goddamn, football.

Yet something cruel and addictive happens along the way to football Oz. One minute you’re cruising along in the halcyon daze of 3-0, 4-0, happily skipping along the Yellow Brick Road through fields of poppies…and then, without warning, flying demon monkeys come and mercilessly rip your precious dreamworld to pieces. For we Florida fans, flying monkeys wore crimson this year, and came screaming in on a sultry afternoon in Tuscaloosa to the tune of “Rammer Jammer.” For Virginia Tech fans it came in the form of a hell-for-leather Miami team who administered a jackhammering on national television. For others, flying monkeys beset their every step: Tennessee’s season became an exercise in defining new lows week to week, with the nadir coming in a loss—in Knoxville—to Vanderbilt, a team whose ass had been handed to them yearly by the Vols since 1983. Colorado endured a three game long troika of redass beatdowns culminating in a smiting in the Big 12 championship game, losing to Texas 7294-3.

Flying monkeys: they strike when a fan least expects it.

(Okay, 70-3. But really, what’s the difference, semantically? It’s like telling your wife that you’ve slept with ten other women. You might as well tell her a thousand—the effect is the same past a certain number, and will certainly seem more impressive.)

Individuals, too, had unforeseen devils besetting their seasons. Brad Smith, perpetual Heisman hopeful? Pinkeled into invisibility. Devin Hester? Ted Ginn? Bueller? Bueller?

With flying monkeys and the fog of disappointments past reeling in our head, we bring you our first WTF awards, dedicated to those teams, games, and moments in the 2005 season that made you say…What….The…Fuck.

WTF Award, Team:

Tennessee. Should win the national WTF award for disappointment, blown expectations, and squandered talent on a single 1-A squad. For sum total dysfunction, no team rivaled the toxicity of the Knoxville crew: an off-season straight from the scenes of The Program, top 5 preseason rankings combined with the coach’s very public high expectations for the team, and a mismanaged qb rotation between Casey Rick Clausen and Eric Ainge that became the locus for a season-long offensive catastrophe. Tennessee, traditionally brutal on the run and efficient on the pass, couldn’t even run its way through the Vanderbilt Commodores toward the end of the season, losing to Jay Cutler and the fancy lads from the West End for the first time since 1983…at home. John Chavis’ defense played heroically all year in the face of atrocious field position, but not even a late season shifting of playcalling responsibilities could jolt a stillborn attack into anything resembling life. It’s bad times in Outer MonVolia when Fulmer’s considerable waistline wanes rather than waxes during the season. Last we saw, Phil’s double-pleated Dockers were looking awfully baggy.

Lowest WTF moment: losing to Vandy at home. We’re going to type that again: Tennessee lost to Vandy at home. A team that lived this season in such agony that even from the eyes of a hated rival---er, ahem us—it brought little joy to see the flaming shambles that this program had become by the end of the season. It was like being Sherlock Holmes and, instead of killing Dr. Moriarty in a dramatic hand to hand duel, seeing him selling his disheveled, ruined ass on the corner for crack one day.

WTF Award, Individual: Plenty of potential candidates here, including our own dear Chris Leak, who lived three seasons in one in his first year as the mismatched captain of the spread option attack. Devin Hester was another streaking preseason comet whose rising stock evaporated; so was Steve Breaston (ah-member him?) of Michigan, a speedy waterbug of a receiver who went from gamebreaker to afterthought.

The greatest discrepancy, though, between 2005 performance and 2005 intro hype had to be Ted Ginn, WR/KR for Ohio State. The award remains more of a testimony to bubbling preseason overhype than to Ginn’s lack of production—with more playing time at wideout his numbers are up and his punt return average soared around 30 yards a return, third in the nation overall. Still, it would have been close to impossible for him to validate the “Second Coming of Charles Woodson” line tacked on him by most media outlets, who had his talent pegged somewhere between messianic and mutant. Still runs a 4.3 and shakes like an epileptic when he has to---and is only a sophomore--but with the college football media proclaiming you as the next football Jesus, coming up as a mere saint would have anyone set for a letdown.

Not, in fact, Football Jesus.

WTF Award, Injury: Tyrone Prothro. There’s sickening things in sport: Bobby Allison almost flying into the crowd at Talladega, Joe Theisman’s leg going all spaghetti on him on Monday night, Koy Detmer’s wrong, wrong, wrong, “spank-it-doggie style” celebration dance he did a few years ago after a TD…and then there’s watching a man’s ankle turn to chunky Jell-o in front of your eyes. Putting the stankfinger on Florida already in the third quarter, Mike Shula opted to go for an emphatic passing TD to Prothro, who’d had the game of his life against Florida. Prothro leapt for the jump ball in the right corner of the endzone, came down the wrong way on his ankle, and placed his foot at an angle perpendicular to his leg, a hurl-inducing injury ending Prothro’s season and putting the brakes on the Crimson Tide offense. Plenty of what-the-fuckededness surrounds the Prothro injury: the horrific image of Prothro’s foot hanging sideways from his leg, the timing of the call, the disastrous effect that the loss of Prothro had on the Tide’s offense, the why why why cursedeness of the whole thing. Even thinking about it at the distance of months, we still think about that bend and say to ourselves what…the…fuck.

What...the...fuck.

WTF Award, Statistic: Reggie Bush’s YPC for 2005. 8.9 yards per carry. Reggie Bush cannot be mathematically given more credit—really, it’s physically impossible, so we won’t try—so we’ll heap some accolades on the USC line, who in their final matchup against UCLA were knocking Bruin defenders three yards off the ball before Bush even got the handoff. A monumental testament to Bush’s epochal talent, the mammoth USC line, and the mush-handed, whimpering rush defenses of the Pac-10. (Requisite SEC blog dig at Pac-10! Respond with snide remark about inbreeding and lousy offenses! Rinse, wash, repeat!)

WTF Award, catch: Tyrone Prothro, again. This time catching a ball against someone’s helmet freakily in the Southern Miss game. Sickening described something positive in Prothro’s short but spectacular season, too.

(Said in a positive tone this time...) What...the...fuck!

WTF Award, upset: TCU over Oklahoma. Rebuilding, yes; this, no. Losing to TCU at home on the first big weekend of the season meant Daddy broke out the bourbon early and often in the Stoops house. With Chuck Long going to San Diego State now and Rhett Bomar recovering from the “pound you in the ass federal prison” beating he took this season, things should look scads different next season for the Sooners. A good place to start would be NOT losing to the Horned Frogs, who scuttled Oklahoma’s chances at a good season in a miserable game one. Baylor nearly pulled the upset on OK as well, but blew it in overtime.

WTF Award, Seagal Beatdown. Named for the scene in Under Siege where Seagal breaks every bone in a man’s arm up to the shoulder in a joint lock move, kicks his knee in sideways, and then throws the man shoulder-first into a running saw blade. The recipient of this award is Texas, who administered the gridiron equivalent of this move to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship game, putting the brakes on early in the third quarter with the score up 70-3. Texas could have easily scored a hundred on the Buffaloes, who died a miserable, wretching death on the turf of Reliant Stadium as their Sooper Genious coach watched his contract extension evaporate in the wake of their third straight blowout defeat. Not even fun to watch after the second quarter, even with Barnett getting Waterloo’d on national television.

WTF Award, Hit: Dwayne Slay, Texas Tech. He’s named “Slay”—did you expect flowers and butter tarts? The hit in question came in the Kansas State game, when Slay played Wolverine on a Cannonball Fastball Special to Kansas State’s qb Alan Evridge. Slay knocked ten IQ points off Evridge along with the ball, capping the hit by watching the replay on the big screen and celebrating all over again on the sidelines. Evridge gets credit for…well, living and not visibly shitting himself on television, which is what we would have done while crying gales of tears in the same situation.