So without further ado, we present the First Annual Cougfan.com Fanny Awards!
(Voting procedures and tabulations were overseen by a guy who once took an accounting class and seemed like a good Joe.)
The envelope please ...
Game of the Year
WSU 30, USC 27 (October 5, Pullman). The Trojans brought the nation's number one defense to town but gave up 516 yards to a balanced Cougar offense. Outland winner Rien Long nearly single-handedly won the game in overtime, sacking Heisman winner Carson Palmer and stuffing tailback Justin Fargas, turning a doable 40-yard field goal into a difficult 52-yard attempt, which Trojan kicker Ryan Killeen missed. Moments late, Cougar kicker Drew Dunning was soccer sliding at midfield in celebration of his game winning 35-yard field goal.
Loudest Game of the Year
of the Year
Safety Virgil Williams. After suffering through 3 injury plagued seasons, Williams became a crucial cog in the Cougar defensive machine, improving each week and registering 74 tackles, tying him with DB mate Marcus Trufant for third most on the team.
of the Year
Linebacker Mawuli Davis. Sure, we took notice of this New Mexico State transfer at the Crimson and Gray game, but no one could foresee how instrumental this walk-on (awarded a midseason scholarship) would be in our championship season. His 78 defensive stops were second on the squad and only tackles Jeremey Williams and Long surpassed his 11 tackles-for-loss.
Runner-up: Receiver Scott Lunde. Another walk-on rewarded at midseason with a scholarship, Lunde came through big early on while the Trio -- Jerome Riley, Devard Darling, and Mike Bush -- worked through physical setbacks. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined him for most of the second half of the season yet he still managed to catch 30 passes, 4th highest on the squad.
Newcomer of the Year
Tie: Receiver Devard Darling and running back Jermaine Green. Darling, the highly-touted Florida State transfer shone brightly in prime-time, catching 54 passes for 800 yards, 11 of those were 6-pointers. He did his twin proud.Slowed by a nagging injury early on, Green more than lived up to expectations as the season progressed, rushing for 829 yards at 5.5 hashes a carry and not once, but twice, cracking the WSU top ten for longest runs from scrimmage (the aforementioned 80 and 75 yard TD runs). Let's not forget his 9 rushing trips to pay dirt, either.
Defensive Player of the Year
Defensive tackle Rien Long. Outlandish defensive play.
Offensive Player of the Year
Quarterback Jason Gesser. Natural Born Leader.
Tie: Rien Long insisting he will be back for his senior season and Bill Doba being named Head Coach. Runner-up: The news that assistant coaches Mike Levenseller, Mike Walker, Robin Pflugrad, and Robb Akey were "staying home."
Alabama coach Mike Price declaring he would participate in the Rose Bowl.
Defensive Play of the Year
Will Derting, 98-yard interception return versus Nevada, week one, Seahawk Stadium.
Offensive Play of the Year
Jermaine Green, 75-yard touchdown run versus USC. Runner-up: Green, 80-yard TD run versus UCLA.
Special Teams Player of the Year
Punter Kyle Basler. And if we had a worst hair award, he'd win that too.
Most Distasteful Fans
Ohio State Buckeyes. Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life … unless you live in Columbus. George W. would feel more welcome at a Taliban intra-squad scrimmage than many Cougfans felt at OSU.
Opponent with Best Fans
Oklahoma Sooners. The thought of sitting in the middle of the Sooner section at the Rose Bowl made me cringe. And had I known I'd be shuttling back to L.A. with dozens of them afterward, I'd probably have opted for walking. But what I thought would be a nightmare turned out to be a pleasant experience. I can't speak for all Cougfans, but the Sooner fans we encountered were polite, knowledgeable, gracious, empathetic, and funny.
Player We'd Most Like to See
on the Coaching Staff
Jason Gesser. Every potential recruit assigned to Gesser has become a Cougar. And, hey, we just can't bear to say goodbye to the guy.
Best AP Ranking
No. 3, week 12.
Worst AP Ranking
No. 16, Week 4.
Hit of the Year
Erik Coleman, Apple Cup. Talk about setting somebody up for a fall. In the third quarter, the Dawgs lined up running back Rich Alexis at receiver on the short, right side of the field. It appeared the WSU secondary didn't realize he was there. As fans on the press box side of the field yelled down to watch out, the ball was snapped. And sure enough, Cody Pickett fired a quick one to Alexis. Coleman, clearly playing possum, was more than ready. He was closing on Alexis as the ball left Pickett's hand. He delivered a truly bone-jarring, molar-loosening, snot-bubbling hit that limited the gain to two yards and sent Alexis to the sidelines to clear the cobwebs.
Block of the Year
Calvin Armstrong at UCLA. The All Pac-10 sophomore steak eater delivered a brutal de-cleater on some poor Bruin (I forget his name and he probably does as well!) that sent shivers down the spine of all who witnessed it. The only thing missing from this textbook flapjack was a pint of Aunt Jemima.
Runner up: Cougar receiver Mike Bush's blindsided devastation on Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman.
Walk-On We'd Most Like to See
Get a Scholarship
Doc Farley. The Montana native developed a cult following with his aggressive special teams play before suffering a season-ending injury.
Future Star Award
Defensive end Adam Braidwood. The glimpses we got of Braidwood showed us something special this way comes.
You'll Never QB
in this Town Again Award
Kicker Drew Dunning. Cougar running back John Tippins was so wide open in the UCLA end zone you could almost see the referees lifting their arms into a touchdown signal. Unfortunately, Dunning did his best Garo Yepremiam impersonation and tossed a brick. Thankfully, we could laugh about it before the day was over.
Player We'll Likely See
Starting in the NFL Next Season
Cornerback Marcus Trufant.
Indelible Image Award
Outland Trophy winner Rien Long sacking Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. The recollections of this match-up will reach mythic proportions with the passing of time.
Player of the Year
Rien Long. Year of the Caveman.