This week was a weird one in that there are four people that deserve awards, and I only have three, so we are going to have some Co-Awardees.
Halloween Spice Drop Award of Being Amazing Every Week, and then Being Amazinger:
There is a player that we are going to miss terribly next year. He is not leading the team in anything except maybe motor and applied bruises, but he is most likely one of the best defensive linemen to wear a Beaver Jersey. At least top 10 since 1999. Dylan Wynn is a machine that plays anywhere, does everything and proved it this weekend more than ever. Not only did he record his first ever interception, but he was a disruptive force all game long. Wynn and co-conspirator Bud Delva were all over the place, but Wynn getting the interception and setting up two sacks with his physical play got the edge for me.
We are going to miss Dylan as a leader and as a player next year, and while he is not going to leave OSO with his name all over the record books, he will leave a huge hole to fill. This weekend was proof of that. I would not be shocked if Delva and Wynn are competing for this award next week as well.
Jujifruit Award for Improved Play that Belies Their Age
If I knew nothing about OSU Football and had never seen a game or looked at a roster, I would be SHOCKED to hear that Jordan Villamin and Justin Strong were not at least Juniors. Both of these players forced my hand at giving them co-awards by being dominant forces that could not be denied.
In Villamin, we may have found our deep threat, as the 6’4″, 230 pound receiver has the tools to separate and make teams pay while at the same time was able to pull in two highlight reel catches that both happened to be touchdowns. Hopefully the confidence that Jordan got this weekend carries through because he is a big and important target fort he Beavers, especially with the injury to Mullaney. If Jordan continues to improve, along with Bolden and Jarmon, this could be the most talented trio of receivers OSU has had ever.
Justin Strong on the other hand has only become the kind of player we have always wanted on defense. He covers well, he tackles like an 8 year NFL veteran and he is fearless. I have been trying to think of the last player that has his skill set we have ever seen, but every name I think of is less complete. Piscatelli wasn’t abel to cover as well as Justin, nor could Afalava. Meeuwsen wasn’t as fast as Justin, Mitchell wasn’t the same tackler. Murphy would be the closest in my mind, but Justin seems to have unbelievable instincts. Ultimately, I have a hard time remembering a player that I just trusted 100%, even in the open field, to make the play and get the guy down.
Both of these guys have NFL potential, and it was super nice to see them flash it on Saturday. Obviously the loss was rough, but without those two guys, it would have been a heck of a lot rougher.
Good N’ Plenty Award For Ruining Football
For the first time in forever, a la Frozen, I am at a loss for words. I am looking at the last week in football and there are no huge issues for me. I was annoyed that Florida State beat Notre Dame, even though I am not a fan of either team, but because there is so much to dislike about FSU.
And that was really my issue. I look at the game of college football and I see it getting ruined. While it has never been pristine (read the book Meet on the Hoof to find out what old school terribleness was like) there were always certain things that football had, including a deep tie to the school, a certain amount of school spirit and a certain level of joy for the game by the community and the team itself.
I feel like that is exiting the sport rapidly. Attendance is down in all sports, especially from students. Players are less and less accessible to the schools, in some cases having separate housing, studying and even courses so that their involvement in the actual day to day activities of the school are limited. For those that remember the Giant Killers, most of the players on that team were part of a fraternity and part of everyday life at their school. While OSU players tend to still be involved with their schools, not all universities can say the same.
You have huge money going to coaches, going to networks and players soon to be getting paid. The model of the sport has changed to the point that stadium attrition and media attention are going to make the bulk of the income that athletic departments get be from media contracts and not ticket sales. With the ever changing media markets, and the trouble networks are having due to DVR and alternative viewing sources like Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire, that relationship may be more tenuous in the long run than people realize.
Throw in the creation of the Big 5 and when I look around at football, the biggest disappointment is the sport itself and what it has become. I enjoy watching games, but I hate seeing something that could be great turned into something that will be managed like Reality TV instead of just Reality. I watch Pac-12 games and am bombarded with Pac-12 propaganda that has nothing to do with the game at hand. TV timeouts that used to last a minute or two are now six minutes and the effect of all the game stoppages due to advertisement result in silly conditional rules to speed the game up, like not stopping the clock on out of bounds plays unless it is the last two minutes of each half. Or rules that cater to the up tempo offenses rather than that just protect players and keep the game fair.
For instance, for the first time in my life, I saw a play where a quarterback was across the line of scrimmage, passed the ball, threw an incompletion and the QB was knocked on their butt. The play was reviewed and the refs indicated that the players whole body was not across the line, so the hit on him was a personal foul. THEY CALLED A PENALTY FROM THE BOOTH! That has never happened and is a terrible precedent. Not only that, the only time in the entire game of football where it is not just the ball that dictates what being across the line is, or any part of your body, is this new rule about approaching the line of scrimmage. This is because it helps spread teams that use this technique a lot. Every other instance in the game if your toe touches the out of bounds, or the ball touches the goal line, that is all you need. But in this ONE instance, you have to have your whole body across the line. That is ridiculous and a dumb rule.
So college football, you get this award for being the worst version of yourself I have ever seen. The games are still exciting, but every thing around you is painful and in some case, harmful to the sport.