Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thoughts on the media's All-Big 12 team
By David Ubben
If you missed it, here are the award winners and All-Big 12 teams that were released today.
For comparison -- and I'll reference these briefly -- here's how the coaches voted for awards and All-Big 12 teams this week.
- I expected on Tuesday for the media to vote differently from the coaches on the Defensive Player of the Year, and that's what we got. That's not necessarily good or bad, but definitely not surprising. Playmakers like Jeremy Beal, Von Miller and Orie Lemon get more attention and awards than cornerbacks like Prince Amukamara who relegate opposing receivers to irrelevance on a weekly basis, even if he leads the nation in pass breakups. That said, Beal's award is well-deserved, but it's also a good move on the coaches' part to award Amukamara.
- Alex Henery had taken on a bit of a Susan Lucci persona from the media after consistently being one of the nation's top kickers, but never making All-Big 12 first team. That ended today, and it was well-deserved. The Big 12 has some great kickers, but if I'm building a team, I'm taking Henery. All-Big 12 isn't a career award, but the guy's made 66-of-74 career kicks, and missed just one this year -- a blocked kick from beyond 50 yards. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini called Henery not making the coaches' first team "crazy" this week. Barring a Big 12 title-game meltdown, he'll likely end his career as the most accurate kicker in college football history.
- It's good to see underpublicized guys get recognition as well. Amukamara earns the awards and NFL scouts' love, but word out of Nebraska all season was that Eric Hagg was the defense's most valuable piece. The versatile defensive back plays the hybrid linebacker/defensive back spot in the Huskers' Peso scheme, and players like him aren't too common. He made plenty of plays from that spot, including one of the biggest of Nebraska's season, intercepting the pass on a two-point conversion in overtime against Iowa State that, if completed, would have cost the Huskers the North.
- Like Hagg, Byron Landor at Baylor didn't get a lot of ink this year, but I'm glad to see his efforts weren't ignored. The first-year starter followed in former Baylor star Jordan Lake's footsteps as one of the league's hardest hitters, and was fourth in the league with 115 tackles.
- I wasn't one of the 20 panelists for the awards, and I would have voted for Mike Gundy as coach of the year, but Sherman is definitely deserving. He made the toughest call of any coach this season, benching the school's leader in total offense, and it paid off bigtime. He also had to play through losing his best running back, Christine Michael, and Cyrus Gray (who earned a second-team nod) came through for him. The offense played well behind an offensive line with three freshmen, and his defense was one of the most improved units in the conference. Sherman started the season mildly on the hot seat, but a six-game winning streak to close the season after starting 3-3 (with three losses to good teams) and landing in the Cotton Bowl has put that on the backburner for quite awhile. This was a big year for the Aggies, who look like they've turned a corner under Sherman. Keeping defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter must be a priority moving forward.
- There were a lot more unanimous selections on the media's team: From OSU: WR Justin Blackmon, RB Kendall Hunter, OL Levy Adock, LB Orie Lemon; Nebraska: DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David. Others: Colorado OL Nate Solder, Texas A&M LB Von Miller and Texas DL Sam Acho.
- I wrote extensively about Rodney Stewart not even earning honorable mention by the coaches. His spot on the media's second-team is well-deserved. I also mentioned Missouri linebacker Andrew Gachkar as a guy who perhaps deserved more than honorable mention, and I was surprised to see him on the first team, but he's one of the most underrated players across the league. On a stout Missouri defense mostly devoid of superstars, excluding Aldon Smith, Gachkar is the next-closest thing it has.
- It's a little odd to see Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter earn All-America honors from the coaches, but not a first-team All-Big 12 nod from the media, but that's nothing new. Coaches and media have differing opinions. No breaking news there.