Truth be known, Nick Saban probably would trade all of his individual conference and national honors for victory in the next college football game played by his Alabama Crimson Tide. And not just the upcoming semifinal game in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State in the inaugural College Football Playoff on January 1. Any of them.
Saban led his team to a 12-1 record, including a 7-1 SEC mark and a 43-13 win over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game and a number one ranking in all polls, including the CFP ranking, and yet the coaches of the SEC looked past him in the vote for coach of the year.
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Those SEC coaches didn’t look past one of Saban’s top players. The league announced the 2014 SEC individual awards Wednesday as voted by the coaches. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players on their own teams.
Alabama’s Amari Cooper was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Missouri’s Shane Ray was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Missouri’s Marcus Murphy was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, Georgia’s Nick Chubb was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, Georgia’s Chris Conley was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel was named the SEC Coach of the Year. LSU’s La’el Collins earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Cooper, who on Monday was announced as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, has caught a school and SEC-record 115 passes for 1,656 yards with 14 touchdowns, while leading the Crimson Tide to the 2014 SEC Championship and the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Cooper leads the nation this season in receiving yards, while ranking second nationally in receiving yards per game (127.4) and touchdown receptions (14).