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Old 01-02-2005, 03:54 PM   #1
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It's about that time again. While the BCS mess sorts through its annual complaint box, the rest of the college football world look back on another great season. Four unbeatens cloud the four major bowl games, Utah in the Fiesta, Auburn in the Sugar, USC and Oklahoma in the Orange. And with the majority of the bowl season over, and a host of great games still brewing in my mind, it's time to introduce the best of the best.

USC came into the season ranked #1, got by California in a thrilling test, survived rival UCLA in the finale, and trounced the rest never relishing that top spot. Besides putting up All-Americans, Hesiman trophy winner and runner-up, and some great playmakers, USC is simply the NCAA team of the year. But Pete Carroll is not the coach of the year. And neither is Cal coach Jeff Tedford. Nor is it OU's Bob Stoops. Rather it goes to Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville who led the all-out Tigers to a perfect record one year after Auburn shopped in Louisville for a new head coach.

Miami and Louisville thrilled us with a 'Canes comeback victory. Florida and Tennessee gave us a good one too, but SEC officials' mistakes gave the game to the Vols. Still it was USC and California that gets the game of the year. The triple OT game last year made the hype of one of the biggest games of the year, and these two teams did not disappoint. Give a nod to North Carolina for their upset of Miami, and Notre Dame for bouncing Michigan early in the season. Hell, give a nod to 1-AA Maine for knocking off Mississippi State. Still it is Mississippi State who gets biggest upset for knocking off Florida, tempting AD Jeremy Foley to fire Ron Zook. All year long the Backyard Brawl Pitt and WV was the rivalry of the year. But Florida and Florida State took the prize for rivalry of the year. The Gators took the victory in Doak for Ron Zook's farewell.

Matt Leinart is the best QB. J.J. Arrington is the best running back and I don't care who disagrees. You already know that Michigan's Braylon Edwards is the best receiver...nobody else came close. David Pollack is Georgia's go-to on defense and the nation's best defensive lineman. Meanwhile Florida State's Alex Barron takes my offensive lineman trophy home. Derrick Johnson takes home the Best Linebacker trophy. Defensive Backs looked solid this year, but runners-up Antrel Rolle and Ernest Shazor couldn't outdo Auburn's own Carlos Rogers. Best Special Teams player found an assortment of nominees. Mike Nugent was a solid kicker for Ohio State and John Eubanks electrified Southern Miss with his return skills, but none could quite outdo USC's Reggie Bush. Adrian Peterson won't be left out though. He is my Freshman of the Year.

Mid Major success rang out this year as the Mid Major Team of the year Utah went undefeated and became the first non-BCS team to bust into the final four bowl games. And Urban Meyer is the Mid Major Coach of the year at his last year at Utah. He is now gone to Gainesville to challenge the SEC. I couldn't leave out Louisville's Bobby Petrino without at least a mention nor could I do that to Navy's Paul Johnson. Both had great years. Stefan LeFors of Louisville was astounding. Michael Boley is Mississippi's best player. But Alex Smith is definitely the Mid Major Player of the Year.

And now the final ring... my version of the Heisman. This years NCAA Player of the Year beat out NCAA Heisman winner Matt Leinart. In fact, he wasn't even a finalist for the trophy. Yet he still beat out Jason White and Adrian Peterson. Reggie Bush, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson... none of them could beat him out. But since when did the Player of the Year have to be an offensive player. Derrick Johnson of Texas was dominating every game he was part of. Opposing offenses modeled their game plan to accomodate the All-American, All-Big 12, All-Texas linebacker.

And there it is...my choice for the NCAA's best.
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