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SEASON'S BEST

Dec. 12, 2011
Dec. 12, 2011

Table of Contents
Dec. 12, 2011

LEADING OFF
GOLF PLUS
  • How big was Tiger's victory at the Chevron? Can Luke Donald hang on to No. 1? Who's most likely to become the top American? How do the major venues rate, and who will win the four championships?

  • Great majors, a new No. 1, LPGA dominance, an old school fight for the money title and the rediscovery of a vintage track too tough to die made 2011 a terrific year in golf

  • The game will long remember Europe's leading light, a pioneering woman and a television innovator

Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR / SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR, 1981
SPORTSWOMAN OF THE YEAR, 1976
  • A couple of recent divorces have dusted up the Girl Next Door, but as always she will never sit back and accept defeat

SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR, 1982
  • A man can gather plenty of insight on the road from boy wonder to senior statesman for the sport he loves

PRO FOOTBALL
  • The Patriots' defense, built from spare parts, castoffs and converted receivers, ranks dead last in the NFL, and yet New England is once again cruising to the playoffs. The real test is yet to come

SPECIAL REPORT
COLLEGE FOOTBALL
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
BASEBALL
  • In 136 major league seasons, there's never been a more dizzyingly dramatic day than Sept. 28, 2011. The Red Sox and the Braves may disagree, but for everyone else it's a date that will live in ecstasy

PRO HOCKEY
  • With the club slumping and captain Alex Ovechkin seemingly checked out, the Capitals dumped their coach. Now one of the NHL's superstars isn't just struggling to rediscover his game, but he's also trying to shed an ugly label

  • The NHL's coaching carousel began to go 'round in earnest last week, with three jobs turning over in a four-day stretch. Besides the departure of Bruce Boudreau and the arrival of Dale Hunter in Washington, D.C., here's the lowdown on what went wrong and what to expect from here on in

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
WALTER IOOSS JR.
Departments

SEASON'S BEST

The month of December means it's that time of the year: time to recognize the best in college football for 2011. The top of the list? One unstoppable dual-threat quarterback from Baylor

HEISMAN (most outstanding player)

This is an article from the Dec. 12, 2011 issue

MAXWELL (player of the year)

DAVEY O'BRIEN (quarterback)

ROBERT GRIFFIN IIIBaylor

The former All-America hurdler has shed the track guy label and become the nation's most electric force at QB. RG3 set the FBS season passing efficiency record (192.3) and ranked second nationally in total offense (386.8 yards a game), while still burning opponents with his legs (four games with 70-plus rushing yards). Most impressive, he led the Bears (9--3) to their first nine-win season since 1986.

CHUCK BEDNARIK (defensive player)

JIM THORPE (defensive back)

TYRANN MATHIEULSU

The diminutive sophomore (5'9", 175) with a catchy nickname (Honey Badger), Mathieu was the heart of a D that carried LSU into the BCS title game, and he tied for the nation's lead with five fumble recoveries.

FRED BILETNIKOFF (wide receiver)

JUSTIN BLACKMONOklahoma State

His numbers were down from last year when he won this award, but the acrobatic junior ranked second in receptions per game (9.4) and tied for third nationally in receiving touchdowns (15) for the Big 12 champs.

OUTLAND (interior lineman)

BARRETT JONESAlabama

The 6'5", 311-pound road grader was key in paving the way for Trent Richardson, but Jones's biggest attribute was his versatility. The starter at left tackle also saw snaps at left guard, center and right tackle this season.

RAY GUY (punter)

SHAWN POWELLFlorida State

He didn't have enough punts to qualify for the award, but Powell averaged an FBS-best 47.0 yards per attempt and had six kicks of at least 60 yards.

DOAK WALKER (running back)

MONTEE BALLWisconsin

No one ran for more yards (1,759) or scored more TDs (38) than Ball, who heads to the Rose Bowl one score shy of tying Barry Sanders's single-season record. Note: Ball didn't play in the fourth quarter of six games.

DICK BUTKUS (linebacker)

LUKE KUECHLYBoston College

One of the few bright spots for the 4--8 Eagles, this sideline-to-sideline playmaker had 191 tackles, which broke the ACC record of 183 set in 2010 by—who else?—Kuechly and were a whopping 44 more than any other player in the country.

LOU GROZA (kicker)

RANDY BULLOCKTexas A&M

The senior led the nation with 25 field goals, hitting on 86.2% of his attempts for the nation's 11th highest-scoring offense. He also nailed a careerlong 52-yarder in the loss to Texas and hit on 52-of-54 extra-point attempts.

BEAR BRYANT (coach)

BILL SNYDERKansas State

The 72-year-old had another Manhattan Miracle up his sleeve, taking a team that was projected to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 and led it to a 10--2 season and as high as a No. 8 ranking.

FOLLOW @SI_CoryMC

PHOTODAVID E. KLUTHO (GRIFFIN)PHOTOGERALD HERBERT/AP (MATHIEU)PHOTOGREG NELSON (BLACKMON)PHOTOMIKE KITTRELL/THE PRESS-REGISTER/LANDOV (JONES)PHOTOJAKE DRAKE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (POWELL)PHOTODAMIAN STROHMEYER (BALL)PHOTOANTHONY NESMITH/CAL SPORT MEDIA (KUECHLY)PHOTOBOB LEVEY/GETTY IMAGES (BULLOCK)PHOTOSCOTT SEWELL/US PRESSWIRE (SNYDER)