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Thursday, August 26, 2010
Doak Walker Award blows it

By Ted Miller

You could argue the Pac-10 not only has the best quarterbacks in the country, it also has the best running backs.

Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon's LaMichael James both ranked in the top-20 in the nation in rushing last season and have been put on various preseason All-America teams. Two other returning running backs -- Washington's Chris Polk and California's Shane Vereen -- rushed for more than 950 yards. Arizona's Nic Grigsby eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2008.

If you were to have that argument, you might want to start with the Doak Walker Award, which is given annually to the nation's best running back and includes only Rodgers on its initial watch list.

Feel free to be stunned.

There are 49 players on that watch list. James rushed for 1,546 yards last season as a redshirt freshman. Only four players on the watch list rushed for more.

This doesn't seem to be a case of "East Coast bias" -- Stanford's Toby Gerhart won the award last season. It does seem to be a case of not knowing what's happening on the West Coast.

I called the Doak Walker Award's home office and left a message looking for a bit of clarity on the oversights. Will let you know when I get a call back.

Obviously, once the Doak Walker folks are clued in that they missed a candidate -- James -- who's without question among the top four or five best running backs in the country, as well as three other backs who have better resumes than 20 or so of their selected players, they will adjust their list.

Semifinalists will be selected Nov. 10, and finalists will be announced on Nov. 22. The 2010 recipient will be announced live on ESPN on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards on Dec. 9.