- Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The Lombardi Award named Alabama linebackers Don’ta Hightower and Courtney Upshaw as two of the four finalists in 2011. It’s only the sixth time that teammates have been finalists. Given the news of the day, it’s noteworthy that the last two pairs of teammates came from Penn State: 1999 (defensive end Courtney Brown and linebacker LeVar Arrington) and 1978 (linebacker Matt Millen and the winner, defensive end Bruce Clark). It’s yet another facet of the enduring legacy of Joe Paterno.
2. In September, Paterno was nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and one of the few that Paterno hasn’t won, for the second consecutive year. Oh well. The National Football Foundation made a curious decision in “vacating” the 2011 John Toner Award it had announced it would give to Penn State athletic director Tim Curley. He is on administrative leave after being charged with perjury this week. The Foundation should give the award to another deserving AD.
3. The odds of No. 7 Oregon and No. 18 Wisconsin playing in the Rose Bowl are decent. Here’s why it would be interesting: Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is adamant about the importance of time of possession (the Badgers average 31:00 per game). Oregon coach Chip Kelly says it’s the most irrelevant statistic in the game (the Ducks average 23:52, last in the Pac-12). And while we’re on the subject, No. 4 Stanford leads the league in time of possession (33:17). So who’s right?
21hDavid M. Hale