On Thursday night, the Southeastern Conference had a solid showing in the Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The SEC had several finalists for most of college football’s most prestigious awards.
For the Chuck Bednarik Award, given out to the nation's best defensive player, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley was beaten out by Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald, who cleaned up in his own right. Donald, a defensive tackle, also won the Outland Trophy (nation's top interior lineman), Lombardi Award (nation's top lineman), and Nagurski Award (top defensive player in the nation).
Reese Dimuskes, a lineman from Auburn, fell short of winning the Rimington Award. The Rimington Award is given to the best center in the country. That award was collected by Florida State center Bryan Stork, a redshirt senior who looked dominant throughout the 2013-14 campaign.
As noted earlier, the Outland Trophy was taken home by Aaron Donald. Future first-round pick Jake Matthews from Texas A&M came up short in that regard, but still could be argued as one of the best pro prospects in the nation, and had a superb season in his own right protecting the fleet-footed and exciting Johnny Manziel.
But one result truly pulled in all of the headlines and all of the attention.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron won the Maxwell Award, given out to the collegiate player of the year. McCarron, a senior quarterback who has won two national championships, had a superb season in 2013. He completed 67.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,676 yards, threw for 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
So why is there a lot of hubbub about this?
For starters, the same finalists for the Maxwell Award were also finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award. The Davey O’Brien Award is given out to the quarterback who excelled over everyone else in the country. But, it was not given out to the quarterback who won the Maxwell Award. Instead, it went to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
Secondly, McCarron was also not the recipient of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, which presented by the Walter Camp Foundation. The Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, much like the Maxwell Award and the Heisman Trophy, is awarded to the collegiate player who excels above everyone else in the country. The winner of the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award was not AJ McCarron, but instead, it was Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
Winston too was superb as a redshirt freshman. Rarely has someone showcased so much physical talent and promise. Winston threw for 3,820 yards, completed 67.9 percent of his passes, and tossed 38 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. His efficiency was off the charts, and he threw an obscene 10.95 yards per attempt, averaging over a first down per throw. It is exactly why he is believed to be the frontrunner in the Heisman Trophy race, even though he is carrying the weight of some controversy along with him.
So, let’s recap this once again:
- Quarterback A.J. McCarron won the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's best player
- Jameis Winston won the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback
- Jameis Winston won the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, given to the nation's best player
How does one win an award for being the nation’s best player, and another win an award with the same definition?
Well, these kinds of differences are not new in any fashion. In the past, we have seen a lot of discrepancies in the voting, and more often than not, the Heisman Trophy and these two national Player of the Year awards do not necessarily correlate. Since 2007, only Tim Tebow and Cam Newton have won both the Maxwell Award and the Heisman Trophy.
Meanwhile, as for the Walter Camp Award, only Cam Newton has won both the Heisman Trophy and the Walter Camp Award since 2007. You would have to go back to Troy Smith in 2006 to find a Walter Camp Award winner who won the Heisman Trophy too, aside from Newton’s collective sweep in 2010.
So what does this all really mean? It's tough to guess.
On Saturday, we will watch the Heisman Trophy be handed out to a player that the voters believe was the best on the field. That could seem like a broken record at this point. Could you imagine if another player wins the Heisman Trophy who is not named Jameis Winston or A.J. McCarron?
There has been a lot of debate amongst fans and pundits about will win the coveted trophy. Many believe it could very well come down to Winston and McCarron once again, though Winston is strongly favored to win. That is, unless Auburn tailback Tre Mason has anything to say about it, as he has helped push Auburn to the National Championship Game, fresh off of an incredible performance in the SEC Championship Game against the Missouri Tigers.
When it comes down to it, McCarron winning the Maxwell Award is an outstanding accomplishment for one of the most successful quarterbacks in Alabama football history. If not for the dramatic "Kick Six," McCarron could have been chasing a three-peat of National Championships, on perhaps the greatest run in the sport in decades.
His story has been written already. The Maxwell Award could be the icing on the cake for him, should he fall short of collecting the Heisman Trophy and adding it to his outstanding list of accolades he has received since becoming the starting quarterback in the 2011 season.
With all of that said, there still appears to be a lot of confusion coming out of this. Then again, after Friday night’s ceremony and presentation, this could very well become a thing of the past.