THE AWARD SHOW
Just because everything else has been unpredictable this season doesn't mean we should be, too. So, as always at this time of year, we herewith confer darts and laurels on players, coaches and teams.
•Offensive Player of the Year: Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. Alabama's David Palmer did it all—run, catch, pass and return kicks—and Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer threw better than anyone, but Ward was special. Over the past two seasons he has made his coaches restructure what was already the best offense in the game to take advantage of his talents.
•Defensive Player of the Year: Texas A&M end Sam Adams. The son of former New England Patriot guard Sam Adams, Adams led the Aggies in tackles (79), sacks (10½), tackles for loss (14) and fumbles caused (five) and was the main reason they were second in Division I-A in scoring defense (10.8 points per game) and third in total defense (247.6 yards per game). Honorable mention goes to Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts, Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham and Arizona noseguard Rob Waldrop.
•Special Teams Player of the Year: North Carolina safety Bracey Walker, who blocked four punts this season, giving him eight for his career (including two in the 1992 Peach Bowl). Tar Heel coaches won't let him try to block punts in practice because they're afraid he'll hurt somebody.
•Special Teams Teammates of the Year: Texas A&M's Aaron Glenn and Leeland McElroy, who became the first members of the same team to lead Division I-A in punt returns and kickoff returns. Glenn averaged 19.94 yards per punt return, McElroy 39.33 per kickoff return.
•Freshman of the Year: Rutgers running back Terrell Willis, who rushed for 1,261 yards and 13 touchdowns on 195 carries. His stats are even more impressive considering that opposing defenses could focus on him since the Scarlet Knights had virtually no air attack.
•Coach of the Year: Auburn's Terry Bowden. In his first season in Division I-A, Bowden inherited a team that went 5-5-1 the year before and was beginning the first year of a two-year NCAA probation. Runners-up: Eastern Michigan's Ron Cooper and Oregon State's Jerry Pettibone, both of whom took teams with limited resources to the relatively remarkable record of 4-7.
•Division I-AA Player of the Year: Howard quarterback Jay Walker, who completed 223 of 406 passes and threw for 3,349 yards and 24 touchdowns as the Bison finished the regular season 11-0. Howard lost to Marshall last Saturday in the playoffs, but not before the Bison got residents of Washington, D.C., to begin talking about a college football team for a change.
•Division II Player of the Year: C.W. Post quarterback Perry Klein. Division II rivals were no match for Klein, who transferred from Cal. He threw for 38 touchdowns and a Division II record 3,757 yards as the Pioneers finished the regular season 9-1.
•Division III Player of the Year: Willie Seiler, quarterback at St. John's of Minnesota, who has excelled in the playoffs after completing 141 of 205 passes for 2,648 yards and 33 touchdowns, with only six interceptions, during the Johnnies' 10-0 regular season. His pass-efficiency rating of 224.6 was a record for a player at any NCAA level.
•The Second Annual Jackie Sherrill Bonehead Award: Jackie Sherrill. Again. Last year Sherrill had a bull castrated in front of his team before the Texas game. This year he accused Auburn punter Terry Daniel of using improperly inflated footballs. We can't wait for '94.
•Most Offensive Game: Minnesota 59, Purdue 56. The Boilermakers were hurt tremendously when Glenn Robinson fouled out.
•The Screwed-up Budget Award (Non-Government Division): Clemson, which is now paying two ex-Tiger coaches a total of $390,000 a year. Arkansas coach Danny Ford, who was fired by Clemson in 1989, is receiving $190,000 a year from the Tigers through 1994. Ken Hatfield, who left Clemson last week, will get $200,000 a year for the next three years.
•The FTD Award: Ohio State. Some Buckeye players waved roses after defeating Indiana on Nov. 13; the team then put its Rose Bowl hopes in jeopardy by playing like petunias in a 28-0 loss to Michigan a week later.
•Tokyo Rose Award: Wisconsin. Aren't the Badgers sorry that they scheduled their last "home" game of the year in Japan? Turns out their hopes for their first trip to the Rose Bowl in 30 years ride on the outcome of the Coca-Cola Bowl against Michigan State this weekend in Tokyo.
•The Rocky Top This Award: Tennessee fans. The Vols' only loss was to coach Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators, so naturally the Tennessee faithful booed Duke wideout Steve Spurrier Jr. when the Blue Devils played in Knoxville on Oct. 2.
•The Beavis and Butt-Head Role Model Award: Colorado athletic director Bill Marolt, who became so incensed at a penalty call in the Miami game on Sept. 25 that he left his skybox and charged onto the field to confront the offending official. His display did not exactly leave him in a strong moral position when the teams engaged in a brawl later in the game.
•The Rush Limbaugh Hot Air Award: South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill, who said this to Tennessee defensive end Horace Morris while returning to a huddle: "Horace, I want you to come get me." On the next play, Morris did. "The most satisfying sack of my career," he called it. The Vols won 55-3.
•Niftiest Reversal of Field: Texas Tech. After the Red Raiders lost five of their first six games, the school newspaper called for coach Spike Dykes to resign, which elicited this response from him: "The fat lady might have cleared her throat, but she hasn't sung yet." Texas Tech won its last five games and earned a trip to the John Hancock Bowl. The only singing in Lubbock these days is in praise of Dykes.
When it was called to our attention that Minnesota is the only team that has played against both Marshall Faulk of San Diego State and Tyrone Wheatley of Michigan this year, thus making the Gopher defensive players uniquely qualified to compare those terrific tailbacks, we decided to seek out the opinions of those who had faced two or more standout players at the same positions. Here are their impressions.
Wheatley versus Faulk. Minnesota coach Jim Wacker, defensive coordinator Marc Dove and two defensive starters were each asked which back he would pick if he were an NFL general manager. The result: Wheatley 3, Faulk 1. "Faulk tried too hard to make the big plays," said Gopher middle linebacker Russ Heath. "Wheatley likes the big play, too, but knows when it's not there and comes up with some sort of gain."
Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward versus Tennessee's Heath Shuler. Duke coach Barry Wilson says Ward "may be more difficult to defend because of his escape ability," but he concedes that Shuler has the stronger arm. "Shuler may be more of a prototypical pro quarterback because of his size," he says, "but I think Ward has all the attributes necessary to play pro ball."
UCLA wide receiver J.J. Stokes versus Southern Cal's Johnnie Morton versus Wyoming's Ryan Yarborough. Oregon State is the only team that has played all three. Says Beaver defensive coordinator Rocky Long, "I think Morton is a little quicker and a little faster than the other two. Stokes has great size and strength to go along with speed, and he really shields defenders away from the ball. I think Yarborough probably is between the other two; not as big as Stokes and not quite as fast as Morton."
Stokes versus Colorado's Charles Johnson. Says Stanford cornerback Vaughn Bryant, "They're a lot different. Johnson has no weakness—he hustles. He's fast and makes acrobatic moves. Stokes can jump and runs real good routes and uses his strength." But Bryant says that Stokes doesn't block on every running play and sometimes fails to run routes all-out when he doesn't figure to get the ball.
Notre Dame center Tim Ruddy versus Virginia Tech's Jim Pyne. Says Pitt defensive lineman Matt Hosilyk, who played head-up against both, "I just thought Ruddy had a little more speed, quickness and got on top of you faster. He's more mobile."
Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham versus Texas A&M's Aaron Glenn. LSU's junior split end Brett Bech, who caught one pass each against the Tide and the Aggies, says, "Antonio, I think, breaks better on the ball, and Aaron has better overall speed. He closes better." Tiger split end Scott Ray, who caught two passes each against 'Bama and A&M, adds, "Glenn's got great quickness. If he makes a mistake, he makes up for it with his athletic ability. I just think of Langham as a winner."
Ohio State defensive tackle Dan (Big Daddy) Wilkinson versus Penn State's Lou Benfatti. Says Randy Bierman, a tackle at Illinois, "Wilkinson has a little more power, Benfatti a little more penetration. I think Wilkinson understands the game a little more. Benfatti just penetrates and tries to mix up the backfield, but he's going to make a good name for himself at the next level. Wilkinson has more power than Benfatti. You don't face defensive linemen 6'5", 310 pounds all the time. That messes with your mind."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEEK
Wyoming's Ryan Yarborough, a senior wide receiver, caught 10 passes for 217 yards, including TD receptions of 38, 47 and 5 yards, in a 43-38 defeat of San Diego State.
In the I-AA playoffs, Boston University end John Schaefer had three sacks and a 48-yard fumble return for a TD in a 27-21 double-overtime win over Northern Iowa.
Willie Seiler, a senior at St. John's of Minnesota, threw for 332 yards and a Division III playoff record six touchdowns as the Johnnies beat Wisconsin-La Crosse 47-25.