Big Ten: Jeff Wolfert

No excuse for Swenson snub

November, 6, 2008
11/06/08
3:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson is not among the 20 semifinalists selected for the Lou Groza Award

Spartan Nation is irate, and for good reason. 

Swenson is not only the best specialist in the Big Ten but one of the best in the country. He's tied with Air Force's Ryan Harrison for the national lead with 19 field goals and connected on a school-record 15 attempts earlier this season. Just last Saturday, he went 4-for-4 in field-goal attempts, drilling the game-winning 44-yarder with seven seconds left to beat Wisconsin. 

Unfortunately, Swenson's splendid day came too late. 

The marketing director for the commission that sponsors the Groza Award told the Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode that the Groza semifinalists were selected last week, following Michigan State's win against Michigan. In that game, Swenson went 0-for-3 in field-goal attempts, missing a 50-yarder, having another one blocked and missing a 24-yarder following a bad snap.

The game left him at 15-for-19 in field-goal attempts this season. 

From Rexrode's blog:

"Brett ranked 42nd in the nation at 78.9 percent after that game," Charlie Dunn said. "Unfortunately, he was coming off an absolutely horrible game against Michigan."

Did the committee realize the circumstances of that game? Yes, Dunn claims. But...

"The record shows he went 0-for-3."

And what if the list of semifinalists was determined after last week, in which Swenson hit all four tries, including a 50-yarder and the game-winner with seven seconds left vs. Wisconsin?

"It'd probably be a different story," Dunn said. 

This is absurd. The selection committee essentially based their selection on one game, disregarding Swenson's performances in the nine others. 

Looking at the list of semifinalists, Alabama's Leigh Tiffin missed two field goals against Kentucky and now sits at 13-for-18 on the season. Missouri's Jeff Wolfert missed two kicks against Oklahoma State and stands at 13-for-17. Florida's Jonathan Phillips has made the most of very limited opportunities this season, connecting on all nine of his attempts.

Swenson made 15 straight. End of discussion.

I'm not trying to tear down these players, who have had excellent seasons, but Swenson deserved to make the list, even more than Penn State's Kevin Kelly, a fine kicker in his own right. 

Perhaps the only silver lining is that Swenson has another year of eligibility left. Here's hoping the Lou Groza Award selection committee doesn't make the same mistake twice. 

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