Heisman Trophy runner-up WR Larry Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh was named the winner of the Walter Camp Award as the nation's top player and the Biletnikoff Award as the best wide receiver in the country. He also received the Big East Offensive Player of the Year Award. FS Sean Taylor of Miami won the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year Award. Other conference award winners were; Special Teams Player of the Year – Pittsburgh punter Andy Lee, Rookie of the Year – WVU WR Chris Henry, and Coach of the Year – Rich Rodriguez of WVU.
The rumor mill is swirling about Ralph Friedgen of Maryland. If the Atlanta Falcons hire Rich McKay, recently fired as G.M. by the Tampa Bay Bucs, to that post, he'll reportedly go after Friedgen to replace the fired Dan Reeves. Friedgen has NFL experience, having served as the Offensive Coordinator on San Diego's Super Bowl team.
John Bunting appears to have survived his 2-10 year at North Carolina. He did demote Defensive Coordinator Dave Huxtable to Linebackers Coach.
Purdue made a smart move, extending the contract of Head Coach Joe Tiller for three years. Tiller is now under contract through the 2010 season.
Congratulations to Michigan running back Chris Perry for winning the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the country. Perry finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting. Iowa senior Offensive Tackle Robert Gallery won the Outland Trophy as the top interior lineman in the country. Ohio State punter B.J. sander captured the Ray Guy Award.
Oklahoma QB Jason White was presented with the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. Could White have an opportunity to win the award again? He's supposedly thinking about petitioning the NCAA for a 6th year of eligibility. White lost two years of playing time due to injuries to both knees. White's teammates also took home some hardware. Teddy Lehman won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and the Chuck Bednarik Trophy as the nation's top defensive player. OU cornerback Derrick Strait was named the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the defensive college player of the year.
It will be interesting to see if newly named Arizona Head Coach Mike Stoops tries to hire away any of big brother Bob's staff. His first hire was brother Mark as Defensive Coordinator. Mark served as the Secondary Coach at Miami this season.
USC Head Coach Pete Carroll won the Coach of the Year Award.
If an NFL team wants to hire Nick Saban away from LSU, they'd better be prepared to pay him very well! If Saban's Tigers upset Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, his contract stipulates that his salary will be increased to $1.00 above the highest paid college head coach. That individual just happens to be Saban's opposite number in the Sugar Bowl, Bob Stoops. Stoops is currently paid just over 2 million dollars per year. Win or lose in New Orleans, Saban is sitting very pretty in Baton Rouge, especially with another great recruiting class coming in this year. Saban won the Associated Press Coach of the Year Award.
Mississippi players won some individual honors. QB Eli Manning captured both the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback and the Maxwell Award as the nation's best all-around player. Rebels' place kicker Johnathan Nichols captured the Lou Groza Award.
– Army hired Bobby Ross as their new head coach, replacing the fired Todd Berry. Ross won the National Championship at Georgia Tech in 1990 and led the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl game in 1995. He's been out of coaching since 2000. He faces a monumental challenge at Army. The Black Knights were 0-13 this season, setting an NCAA record for the most losses in one season. They are also leaving CUSA and will play as an Independent next year. Berry was named the Offensive Coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe. Berry should feel right at home there, since the Indians were 1-11 this year.
– Central Florida made a statement about their intentions to become a major player in Division One by hiring George O'Leary as their new Head Coach. O'Leary had been the head man at Georgia Tech when current Central Florida A.D. Steve Orsini was the Senior Associate A.D. there. O'Leary was hired as the Defensive Coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings in 2002 after he was forced to resign by Notre Dame for falsifying his resume. This occurred just days after the Irish hired him to replace the fired Bob Davie. O'Leary reportedly signed a 5 year contract at UCF worth $700,000 per year. That's well over three times the salary of his predecessor, Mike Kruczek. Also in the MAC, Akron hired Pitt Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach J.D. Brookhart to replace the fired Lee Owens.
– Another D1 opening was filled as USC Linebackers Coach Nick Holt was named the new Head Coach at Idaho. Holt is a former Idaho assistant, and replaces Tom Cable who was 3-9 this year and 11-35 in his four years in Moscow.
– The D1AA Finals will be played Friday night in Chattanooga. Colgate advanced by defeating Florida Atlantic 36-24 in Fort Lauderdale. The Red Raiders were not bothered by the warm weather despite having won their previous two games in blizzard conditions. QB Chris Brown passed for 207 yards and 3 TDs and running back Jamal Branch carried 45 times for 130 yards and a touchdown as the Red Raiders controlled the ball for over 42 minutes. Branch set NCAA season records for carries (430), touchdowns (29) and the D1AA record for season rushing yards with 2,271. It is a remarkable feat for a Patriot League team to reach the D1AA Finals, since they are one of the few D1AA leagues that does not offer athletic scholarships! The Red Raiders will meet Delaware for the championship. The Fighting Blue Hens used a balanced offense and tough defense to defeat Wofford, 24-9 in Newark (Del.). The Hens' were led by Germaine Bennett, who rushed for 186 yards and all three of their TDs.
– In Division Two, Grand Valley State won their 2nd consecutive championship with a narrow 10-3 win over North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux were driving for a possible tying TD in the final seconds but Mike Hoad picked off a desperation 4th down pass with 27 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
– In Division Three, the finals will be played on Saturday in Salem, Virginia with Mount Union facing State John's of Minnesota. Mount Union won its 55th consecutive game in destroying Bridgewater (Va.) 66-0 in one semi-final. The Purple Raiders have won six of the past seven Division Three championships. Their opponent, St. John's, ran over RPI 38-10. St. John's is led by the legendary John Gagliardi, who is completing his 51st season as head man of the Johnnies! Gagliardi broke Eddie Robinson's record of 408 career wins earlier this year.
Heisman Trophy Recap
Jason White's winning the 69th annual Heisman Trophy should have come as no surprise. In addition to his outstanding individual statistics, he had the added advantages of being a senior, a quarterback, and on the #1 team in the country. What was remarkable was how close the voting turned out to be. White ended up with 1,481 points, only 128 more than Pittsburgh WR Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald came close despite being a sophomore (none has ever won the award), a wide receiver (the award almost always goes to a quarterback or running back) and a member of a team with an 8-4 record. The last player to win the Heisman Trophy and play on a team with four losses was Steve Owens in 1969. Ironically, Owens played for Oklahoma. Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning was a distant third in the voting with 710 points followed by Michigan running back Chris Perry who garnered 341 points.
A look at the voting by regions is telling. Fitzgerald and White each won three regions, but Fitzgerald's margin of victory was narrow in both the Northeast (2 points) and Midwest (5 points). In the Mid-Atlantic Region, Fitzgerald had a 49-point margin over White. White had a huge margin in his home Southwest Region (95 points). He also scored substantial victories in both the South (40 points) and Far West (49 points) Regions. Manning actually edged Fitzgerald out for 2nd place in the South Region.
The rest of the Top Ten were: Kansas State running back Darren Sproles, USC quarterback Matt Leinart, North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers, USC wide receiver Mike Williams, Miami of Ohio quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons. It's hard to believe no defensive players made it into the Top Ten. Certainly deserving were Miami free safety Sean Taylor and Oklahoma cornerback Derrick Strait. It's enough to make me wonder once again if most of the voters have a clue as to what the trophy is supposed to represent!
This Week's Bowl Games
The long bowl season gets off to a start this week with two games. Tonight, Bourbon Street and the rest of the "Big Easy" warms up for the Sugar Bowl by hosting the New Orleans Bowl. The 8-4 Memphis Tigers representing CUSA take on the 9-3 Mean Green of North Texas State, the champions of the Sun Belt Conference. Memphis, who had their five game winning streak snapped by South Florida in their final game, is currently favored by 4 points.
On Thursday night, the GMAC Bowl in Mobile should provide an offensive display of epic proportions. MAC champ Miami of Ohio with star junior QB Ben Roethlisberger face Loiusville from CUSA. Both teams have displayed some awesome offense at times this year, as evidenced by the astronomical"Over/Under" of 70 points. Miami is a 13.5-point favorite over the Cardinals.
The "#1 Jinx" struck again last week as the Florida Gators lost both of their games and dropped 14 spots to #15 in this week's A.P. Top 25 Rankings. The Gators lost at home to Maryland 69-68 in OT and then were defeated 73-65 by Louisville at Freedom Hall. Moving up to #1 in this week's A.P. Poll is 7-1 Connecticut. The remainder of the new Top Ten is as follows:
2. Kentucky (5-0)
3. Duke (6-1)
4. North Carolina (6-0)
5. Georgia Tech (8-0)
6. Kansas (5-1)
7. Arizona (4-1)
8. Oklahoma (7-0)
9. Stanford (5-0)
10. Missouri (3-1)
Here's a summary, by region, of last week's major games:
Tuesday – St. Joseph's, currently #11 in the A.P. Poll defeated B.C., 67-57... St. John's notched a rare victory, narrowly topping St. Francis of Brooklyn by a 58-52 score. The troubled Johnnies have dismissed guard Willie Shaw from the team... Villanova topped city rival Penn, 73-63.
Wednesday – Freshman SG Quincy Douby scored 17 points to lead Rutgers past Penn State, 60-47 in "Happy Valley."
Friday – Villanova won again, defeating Northeastern 74-55. The Wildcats are starting to get healthy.
Saturday – Seton Hall walloped St. Peter's 91-62. Pirates SF John Allen, who had gone an amazing 0-20 from the floor in the Hall's previous two games, shot 5-13 and notched 18 points. Andre Barrett led the Pirates with 20 points. Seton Hall also received some good news as Coach Lewis Orr announced Donald Copeland has recovered from a broken foot and will be returning soon. Orr also is expecting 6'8" sophomore forward Kelly Whitney to regain his academic eligibility after final exams are completed this week. Last season, Whitney averaged 11 PPG and 6.1 RPG and his return will make Seton Hall a very dangerous team in the Big East... Rutgers survived against Princeton by a 51-49 score... West Virginia had their hands full with Duquesne, finally winning 88-84 in OT. New #1 Connecticut overwhelmed the not so mighty Quinnipiac, 88-55... #19 Syracuse easily toppled Binghampton, 75-54... Temple handled Penn State, 67-56.
Sunday – St. Joseph's got their 2nd win of the week as the Hawks defeated city rival Drexel 92-70. All American guard Jameer nelson scored 24 points and his backcourt mate Delonte West had 20. Boston College was life and death to defeat Sacred Hart, 72-70.
Monday – Pittsburgh, now ranked 18th in the A.P. Poll, barely survived against NAIA power Georgetown (Kentucky), 79-74. The Panthers were led by PG Karl Krauser, who tallied 18 points.
Tuesday – DePaul nipped Ohio U., 63-60… Xavier topped Miami (Ohio), 55-36… Iowa was shocked by Northern Iowa, 77-66.
Wednesday – Kansas doubled up on Fort Hays State, 80-40… Kansas State struggled past Wichita State, 54-50… Creighton topped in-state rival Nebraska, 61-54… Bradley notched a narrow 59-55 win over Butler.
Saturday - #17 Purdue raised their record to 7-1 with an 80-39 demolition of Central Michigan… #22 Wisconsin topped Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 89-71… #24 Dayton remained undefeated at 8-0 by nipping Indiana-Purdue-Indianapolis 61-59… Indiana overcame Butler, 62-50... Michigan defeated Bowling Green by a 74-57 score.
Sunday – Notre Dame ended their three-game losing streak with a road win at DePaul, 82-69. Jordan Cornette scored a career-high 17 points for the Irish.
Tuesday – Miami defeated UMBC, 61-52… In a real shocker, Winthrop whipped Georgia by 20 points, 80-60!
Saturday – Georgia rebounded from their defeat by Winthrop to top Clemson, 61-56… VMI overcame Eastern Mennonite by a 107-94 score. I mention this game only because I'm curious if the Eastern Mennonite team all wear beards.
Sunday – Florida State gave Miami a preview of life in the ACC, drubbing the Canes by a 67-58 score.
Monday – Clemson had to go into overtime before finally subduing East Tennessee State, 100-86.
Wednesday – Texas Tech topped TCU, 67-60.
Saturday – 8th ranked Oklahoma beat up on Prairie View, 83-56… #9 Stanford handled UNLV, 86-71… BYU took it to USC, beating the Trojans 85-61… UCLA needed overtime to top Loyola Marymount, 69-66.
Sunday - #11 Texas easily handled New Orleans, 89-55… Tulsa overcame New Mexico State, 78-66.
Tuesday - #24 Dayton won at home over Louisiana-Lafayette by a 66-59 score.
Wednesday - #20 Louisville warmed up for their game against then #1 Florida by defeating Seton Hall at home, 80-71. Francisco Garcia was the game's leading scorer with 24 points. He played despite learning that his only brother had been fatally shot earlier in the week in New York City. PG Andre Barrett led the Pirates' scoring with 21. Both teams were active from 3 point range. Seton Hall shot 10-25 and the Cardinals were 9-23.
Thursday - #21 Illinois coasted past Maryland-Eastern Shore, 85-43.
Saturday – At Detroit's Ford Field, an all-time record crowd for a basketball game of 78,129 saw #2 Kentucky top Michigan State, 79-74. The defeat leaves the Spartans with a 3-4 record as their killer out-of-conference schedule has taken them out of the Top 25. Gerald Fitch led all scorers with 25 points for Kentucky. Paul Davis had a career-high 24 for the Spartans… 5th ranked Georgia Tech overcame St. Louis, 75-62 in Atlanta… #6 Kansas won at home, defeating the Oregon Ducks by a 77-67 score… #7 Arizona topped #23 Marquette 85-75 in Tucson… In a real thriller, 13th ranked Gonzaga needed overtime to defeat #10 Missouri, 87-80… Mississippi State stopped Xavier, 82-70… Murray State remained undefeated by beating Chicago State, 100-80… Texas Tech overcame San Diego State in Lubbock, 78-68... Finally, Creighton traveled to Fresno State and won in OT, 70-62.
Sunday - #3 Duke coasted at Cameron, demolishing Portland by an 80-43 score… #4 North Carolina struggled at the Dean Dome before overcoming Akron, 64-53… Maryland moved into the Top 25 (at #25) by easily handling Pepperdine, 96-72.
Monday - #14 Wake Forest traveled to Dallas to defeat SMU, 78-66… #23 Marquette had a tough time on their home court before finally overcoming Canisius, 68-65… Temple defeated South Carolina, 71-61 in Philadelphia.