- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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This is supposed to be a big night for the Big Ten.
While the Heisman Trophy presentation doesn't take place until Saturday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), nine of college football's top individual honors get passed out tonight during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Orlando. This was the same night that recent Big Ten stars like Malcolm Jenkins, Shonn Greene, Dan Connor and Troy Smith took home coveted awards like the Thorpe, Doak Walker, Bednarik and Davey O'Brien.
This year, the hopes of Big Ten Nation rest with ... Zoltan Mesko?
No offense to Mesko, who is a fabulous punter for Michigan. The senior should win the Ray Guy Award tonight as the nation's top punter.
But what does it say about a league when its only finalist for nine major awards is a punter?
At least Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be there, as he tweeted earlier today: "En route to Orlando to present an award at the ESPN College Football Awards tonight!
Now there are reasons for the Big Ten's lack of representation. Several standout players, namely Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham and Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, played for sub-.500 teams. There were certainly a few snubs, like Michigan State kicker Brett Swenson not being a finalist for the Lou Groza Award. Other players, like Minnesota star wide receiver Eric Decker, had their national award campaigns derailed by injury.
But the lack of star power is revealing, especially on offense. Where are all the offensive stars in the Big Ten? The league's problems at quarterback have been well documented here, and it's imperative that the Big Ten improves under center for 2010 and beyond.
Here's hoping Mesko takes home the Ray Guy Award tonight. But my bigger wish is for the Big Ten to have a greater presence in Orlando at this time next year.