The End of the Year and Decade Awards in College Football
The end of the 2009 year in college football demands a consensus regarding several important achievements.
The end of the first decade of the 21st Century requires a deep look into the past 10 seasons with a review of notable milestones and accomplishments on the gridiron.
Many great performers left it all on the field during the 2009 season. Football programs were made, and some broken, during this decade.
Coaches who were unknown to the nation at beginning of 2009 made a name for themselves in the cities of Eugene, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
Unknown coaches at the beginning of the decade, the trio of Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, and Jim Tressel would perform so well they would be whispered in the same breath as Parseghian, Royal, and Neyland.
There were casualties along the way as well.
Nebraska's Frank Solich, Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, and Miami's Larry Coker were among a group of highly successful coaches at the beginning of the decade who failed to hold on to their jobs.
The NCAA investigation unit was hard at work during the decade, visiting some of the most dominant programs in the land. The question always in the ear, "Is that how they became the dominant programs?"
The 2009 season saw the end of an era at Florida State when Bobby Bowden stepped down after many years of loyal service.
There is no need to knock on the door, let us go inside and take a more in-depth look into the changes and accomplishments of players, schools, and coaches during the season and decade.
The 2009 Season Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Toby Gerhart of Stanford
Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska
Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly of Oregon
The 2009 Awards: Part Two
Most Improved Program of the Year:
Winner: Tennessee under Lane Kiffin
Runner-Up: Southern Methodist University
Honorable Mention: Auburn and Washington
Biggest Impact By A New Coach:
Winner: Lane Kiffin of Tennessee
Runner-up: Steve Sarkisian of Washington
Honorable Mention: Gene Chizik of Auburn
The 2009 Awards: Part Three
Team of the Year: Texas Christian University
Upset of the Year: Stanford 55, Southern California 21 (in Los Angeles)
Disappointment of the Year: California
The Decade Awards
Best Comeback To Glory For A Program:
Winner: Southern California under Pete Carroll
The Trojans were 97-19 for the decade once Carroll took over in 2001. The Men of Troy posted one BCS Title in 2004, a split title in 2003, and an appearance in the 2005 BCS Title game.
Runner-Up: Texas under Mack Brown
The Longhorns are 110-18 from 2000 to present with one BCS Title and an appearance in a second BCS Title Game this season.
Honorable Mention: Oklahoma under Bob Stoops
The Sooners are 109-24 from 2000 to present with one BCS Title and three other BCS Title Game appearances.
Decade Team Awards
Best Conference of the Decade:
The Winner: The Big 12
The Big 12 had three different programs play for the BCS Title with a total of seven appearances in the 10-year period. Only in 2002, 2006, and 2007 was the Big 12 not represented in the BCS Title Game.
Runner-Up: Although the Big 10 may angrily deny it, this spot is best reserved for the SEC, who produced three different teams in five of the 10 BCS Title Games. The four BCS Titles, two each won by Florida and LSU, give the Southeastern Conference the edge over the Big 10 and PAC 10.
Best Team of the Decade:
The Winner: 2005 Texas
This Longhorn unit stakes a claim as the greatest college football team of all-time. These 'Horns averaged 50.2 points a game while giving up 16.4 for a cool average winning spread of 33.8 points a game.
Coach Mack Brown always has his team ready to play their best in big games. The 2005 unit defeated Ohio State in Columbus and Southern California in Pasadena to win the BCS Title.
Along the way, Texas beat Oklahoma by 33 points and won the Big 12 Championship game by a score of 70-3 over Colorado.
Runner-Up: 2001 Miami
Until the 2005 Texas team came along, many observers felt this group of Hurricanes made a good case for being the greatest team of all-time, better than even the mighty 1971 Nebraska Cornhusker Big Red Machine.
The '01 'Canes averaged 42.7 points a game and gave up only 9.8 for an impressive average winning spread of 32.9.
Highlights of the season included clubbing Penn State by 26 in Happy Valley, blowing out Florida State by 22 in Tallahassee, and mashing Nebraska by 23 in the Rose Bowl for the BCS Title.
Honorable Mention: 2004 USC Trojans, 2008 Florida, and 2000 Oklahoma
Best Program of the Decade:
1. Florida, Two BCS Titles
2. LSU, Two BCS Titles
3. Southern California, 1 BCS Title, 1 AP National Title, 1 BCS runner-up
Decade Individual Awards
Player of the Decade:
The Winner: Vince Young of Texas
Runner-Up: Tim Tebow of Florida
Honorable Mention: Reggie Bush of USC, LaDainian Tomlinson of Texas Christian, and Michael Vick of Virginia Tech
Coach of the Decade:
The Winner: Urban Meyer of Florida, Utah, and Bowling Green
Runner-Up: Pete Carroll of Southern California
Honorable Mention: Mack Brown of Texas, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, and Jim Tressel of Ohio State.
Biggest Story of the Decade:
The Winner: Creation of the BCS Title Game as a separate "Bowl Game" in 2006. Prior to then, the "Title Game" had rotated among the usual Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta Bowl games.
Runner-Up: Allowing Instant Replay to review calls. The process began as an experiment with the Big 10 in 2004 and the following season all conferences were permitted to use the instant replay.
Honorable mention: Steve Spurrier steps down as head coach of the Florida Gators following the 2001 season Orange Bowl.
Spurrier's career at Florida spanned nearly 40 years. He won the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback of Florida in 1966 and won the National Championship in 1996 as head coach of the Gators.
Spurrier, known as "Supergator" as a player and "Mr. Gator" as a coach, shocked the world with his bold announcement following 12 seasons at the helm in Gainesville.
During his tenure, Florida won 122 and lost 27 for an "average" of 10 wins and two losses a season. In this era, Spurrier also led the Gators to six outright SEC Championships including four in a row from 1993 through 1996.