Welcome back to campus!
The 2011 college football season heads for the history books, and congratulations to the Alabama Crimson Tide for winning a second national championship in three years.
Here are a few closing notes on the SEC season.
Most Valuable Player: Trent Richardson (Alabama) ... the Tide defense actually carried this squad, but if you have to single out one player it would be the powerful junior tailback. Richardson rushed for nearly 1600 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. He also set a work ethic on and off the field that was a model of leadership.
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Wilson (Arkansas) ... excluding Richardson since he was MVP, this became a close race between underclass quarterbacks. Aaron Murray of Georgia threw for a remarkable 33 touchdowns, but Wilson gets the nod for leading the Razorbacks to an 11-2 record with the only losses coming to Alabama and LSU. He and Murray will be back.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyrann Mathieu (LSU) ... who else - the Honey Badger! The little defensive back earned the nickname of the year award for his stellar defensive play and game-changing special teams contributions. He nearly single-handedly saved LSU in the SEC title game against Georgia with two long punt returns and a long interception run back.
Special Teams Player of the Year (tie): Joe Adams (Arkansas) and Brad Wing (LSU) ... Adams narrowly edges the Badger by taking three punts to the house and averaging over 16 yards a return. Wing was the only player in major college football to cost his team a touchdown under the new taunting rule, but that was about all that went wrong for the freshman from down under as he averaged 44 yards a punt and was an effective weapon in pinning teams down.
Newcomer of the Year: Jarvis Jones (Georgia) ... this USC transfer lead the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss by a large margin over any other defender. The future NFL first-round pick will return for his junior season in Athens.
Coach of the Year: Les Miles (LSU) ... yes he reverted to confounding form in the national title game where he was completely outclassed by Nick Saban but that cannot wash away a full season of excellence. Miles' Tigers whipped the champions of the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Gator Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and the BCS Championship Game. Yes Saban is the best in the business, but Miles did the best job in 2011.
The old professor finished up the regular season at a pretty good 120-41 and then prognosticated a 23-12 bowl record. The blight on the record was missing the BCS title game pick for the first time in eight years (though I'm actually partially blaming a Crimson Tide-following cousin who claims I jinx the Tide whenever I pick them in a big game!).
Unless you are a recruitnik, the end of the bowl season brings a bit of deflation to the college football fan.
After watching virtually every minute of all thirty-five bowls, I would watch another tonight if one was on television. Keep an eye on the BCS post-season formula ... I remain staunchly opposed to a playoff but it looks like there is some momentum for a four-team system of some sort (make it the week after the conference championships if it has to be done).
The professor will continue to post regularly so check back often and always feel free to send comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you at kickoff!