Rimington Trophy: Which Players Have the Inside Track to Winning in 2012?

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Rimington Trophy: Which Players Have the Inside Track to Winning in 2012?
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The Rimington Trophy is one of the most coveted pieces of individual hardware on the college football landscape. Centers all over the nation are eyeballing the award going into the 2012 season. The Rimington Trophy recently released the spring watch list for the award, and the list of 50 players touches every corner of the college football world. The SEC has nine on the list, but every conference has representation on the preliminary list of names to watch. 

Obviously, all of these guys can play, but who has the inside track to winning this award? To figure that out, we have to look, not just at the individual players, but the systems and conferences they play in, as well as the school they are at.

In the last 10 years, the Rimington Award has been dominated by the SEC and the Big Ten. Seven out of the last 10 are from those two conferences, with the SEC getting three winners and the Big Ten leading the nation with four award winners.

The Big East has two past winners out of the 10, but, both West Virginia and Virginia Tech—the schools that housed the Big East's trophy winners—are no longer in the conference. There is one non-BCS winner, TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick, from 2010. The rest of the leagues—Big 12, Pac-12, ACC, MAC, WAC, Conference-USA, Sun Belt and Independents—have not fielded a winner. 

Since they have not had a winner, let's go ahead and cut those guys out and narrow down our field. That leaves 14 players on the list—the guys from the Big Ten and the SEC.

In looking at the last decade of award winners, the average regular season win total was 9.8—just under 10 wins a season. We can scratch Kentucky, Illinois, Ole Miss and Northwestern off the list right now.

Which of these 5 guys will win the Rimington Trophy?

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Given the struggles and transition at Iowa, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida and Penn State, odds are that those teams won't hit the must-have nine-plus win plateau. 

That leaves five guys on the list: Travis Frederick of Wisconsin, T.J. Johnson of South Carolina, Barrett Jones of Alabama, P.J. Lonergan of LSU and Travis Swanson of Arkansas.

A look at the last five years of award winners shows that not only does the win total increase to almost 11 games (10.6), but four of the last five winners had teams that participated in a BCS bowl. All of these teams can get to a BCS bowl. However, Arkansas and South Carolina are the least likely participants out of the five listed.

In addition to participating in a BCS bowl, the winner of the Rimington Trophy in the last decade has never participated in the BCS championship game. That's an interesting note, though if Barrett Jones—who already has been an award-winning lineman—performs well at center, it is tough to imagine him not taking home the Rimington.

Just in analyzing the numbers, we have five guys with a better shot than others to get the Rimington Trophy, provided the last decade of award winners holds true in 2012. 

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