The build up to the college football season is ripe with prognostication and prediction, ranging from which coaches are least likely to retain their post through bowl season, which teams are likely to emerge from the gauntlet of their conference triumphant, which conference will hold head highest among its peers by season's end, and of course, which players will be taking home the hardware for their individual accomplishments.
This is the first year in a while that the reigning Heisman trophy winner isn't trying to Archie, by which I mean win a second Heisman not father two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, so the preeminent honor in the land is more freely up for grabs than it appears to be most years. There are even some speculators suggesting that this might the year that a pure defensive player sneaks off with the usually (always) offensive minded award.
I have written about our cultural difficulty appreciating the negative space in an athletic contest, and how sometimes a player's performance wrenches the conversation away from us and forces us to pay attention to all the things that player is taking away from the game, forcing the background into the foreground. Even when the best player in college is a defensive player, they rarely win the award, and never without a significant contribution in the more tangible, positivist space.
In fact, forget winning the award. A defensive player has only finished in the top five in the voting 18 times in the last 80 years, and only 10 of them played on just the defensive side. That is ten players who have wrenched our focus from our addiction to offense and managed to even make the shortlist, out of 400.
In the scoreboard spinning whirlwind of the spread offenses, it takes a special player to even break into the conversation, and by the time most players have managed to generate enough traction in the public awareness they are leaving for the greener pastures of the Sunday games (by greener, I mean collecting green money for their services, not trying to slight collegiate ground crews).
It is a true rarity for a player to declare their preeminence before their three years of mandatory indentured service are up, and as Jadaveon Clowney showed us, living up to that notice is a particular challenge in it's own right. This year general consensus seems to have declared that the best player in the country is a player who was a nightmare for opposing coaches as a sophomore, and is set to put on an even more impressive show now that the spotlight will be firmly fixed upon him for the entire season.
Tell me, have you heard about Joey Bosa?
Thoughts on culture, community, and development.