The Fifth Down

President's column:
Ready to pick some winners

Those breezy, carefree conference calls to pick the All-America teams are right around the corner.

Lay in a supply of heating oil, medical supplies and the complete first season of "The Office" on DVD (volume on mute, of course). Picking the best players in the country is going to be the usual marathon.

Which reminds me to remind you to keep these names in mind ... for various awards including the FWAA's Bronko Nagurski (best defensive player regardless of position).

There are strong Nagurski candidates, particularly at places such as Ohio State, LSU, Penn State, Texas.

But the magical Mkristo Bruce led the nation with 10 sacks halfway through the season. Never heard of him? Part of the problem well, all of it is that Bruce plays in Pullman, Wash. If the 6- foot-7, 234-pound Washington State defensive end were in a major football media market like Austin or Tuscaloosa, he'd have entire sorority houses groveling at his feet.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
President's column: Ready to pick some winners
ABC to televise All-America selections
Courage Award nominees announced weekly
Lodge notes

The former high school quarterback from Renton, Wash., has been a sack master his entire career with 28.5 career sacks and 40.5 tackles for loss. "He gets in your head. He strikes fear," Gary Rogers said.

Sound scary? Scarier for Rogers who is the Cougars backup quarterback.

As far as the best quarterback in college football comparisons to Vince Young don't apply anymore. Ohio State's Troy Smith is a better passer, a pure pocket passer. He has matured before our eyes this season picking apart defenses and managing games. If the Buckeyes are going to be beat some defense is going to have to find a way to harass No. 10.

Chase Holbrook was a little known high school option quarterback in Texas. New Mexico State's Hal Mumme transformed him into the nation's leading passer.

First there was Peyton, then Eli, Tennessee offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe is trying to make Erik Ainge into his latest prodigy.

As far as the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe is not a product of MAC defenses. He has sliced through the Michigan and Ohio State defenses the past two seasons. The Huskies' senior is chasing Barry Sanders' single-season yards record.

Every defense knows West Virginia running back Steve Slaton is going to get the ball, that quarterback Patrick White doesn't pass much, and West Virginia still pounds people with the run. The Mountaineers are in contention for the Big East and national championship because of the guy Maryland didn't want.

Can we just hand Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) right now?

Utah defensive back Eric Weddle might be the most versatile player in the country.

Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Iowa, Nebraska usually have Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) candidates aplenty. But could a Wisconsin or LSU have its first winner in 2006?

Through the first half of the season Rutgers' Greg Schiano was the nation's best coach and a prime candidate for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The former Miami defensive coordinator led the Scarlet Knights to their first bowl game in 27 years last season. Through mid-season, Rutgers was undefeated and a candidate to win the Big East. If the school can hold onto Schiano, even greater things are coming.

And, if we could save a spot somewhere for Steve Logan it would be appreciated. The former East Carolina coach is my new favorite talk show host.

Logan is so easy on the ears during his daily show out of Raleigh, N.C. that he may have missed his calling.

Logan likes blues, fine wine and, bless him, Saturday afternoon football.

Which is another way of saying he hates Thursday night football.

"If I wanted to torture a terrorist, I'd put him in charge of a football team, put him in a hotel and tell him we're not going to kick it off until 8 o'clock that night, watch 'I Love Lucy' reruns for about eight hours. I could get him to confess to anything. I've been there."

We need you, Steve. Either back on the sidelines or in the FWAA. Now.

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