In my last Pac-10 post, I lamented about the end of the regular college football season. Today, my feelings are still the same. Sure, there'll be plenty of bowl games to choose from starting in a couple of weeks. But my Saturdays will be a little less exciting. My wife would rather me help out with the Christmas decorations, but I digress.
Still, just because no football is being played doesn't mean that there isn't anything to report in the Pac-10. Last week, the Pac-10 Football Awards were announced and we at World Financial Group are proud of the accomplishments of these collegiate athletes.
Our first award winner actually won two awards. Freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers of the Oregon State Beavers was named both the Offensive Player of the Year and the Freshman of the Year. This is a first in the Pac-10, as no freshman has ever been named offensive player of the year. Rodgers became the third freshman in Pac-10 history to rush for over 1,000 yards, including 186 against then first ranked USC. His total yards of 1,253 and eleven touchdowns can only be improved upon as the Beavers have the Brut Sun Bowl to go. During the season, he was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week three times and earned a national accolade after the USC game. Also, not to be outdone, Jazquizz's brother, sophmore James, was named to the Pac-10 First Team Special Teams unit as a kick returner. Congratulations to the Rodgers brothers!
On defense, we have to travel down I-5 to the University of Southern California. There, Trojan senior middle linebacker Rey Maualuga earned the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award. The Trojan defense only allowed an average of 7.8 points a game this season, basically allowing 11 touchdowns in 12 games. He led USC with 73 stops and a career total of 267 tackles. Not to mention that he was the defensive player of the game in last year's Rose Bowl. Rey has been nominated this year for the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award, which all go to defensive players. The Rose Bowl may be his last game in a USC uniform, as he is a senior. Major kudos to this fine young man for his athletic prowess.
After the season is over, a Coach of the Year award is given in the Pac-10. This year, Mike Riley of Oregon State is the winner. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Coach Riley as the Beavers were to have the fewest number of returning starters. However, a certain upset over the number one ranked team in the country (USC) and a six game win streak ended those "rebuilding" pangs. Over eight years coaching the Beavers, coach Riley's record stands at 55-42 with the Brut Sun Bowl left to be played. Congratulations to Coach Riley!
Finally, we'd be amiss if we didn't name the five players that made both the All-Pac-10 First Team and the All-Pac-10 Academic Team. Center Alex Mack of California, punter Aaron Perez of UCLA, defensive end Nick Reed of Oregon, wide receiver Sammie Stroughter of Oregon State and quarterback Mark Sanchez of USC all made both lists. And not to be left out, defensive end Clay Matthews of USC and cornerback Alterraun Verner of UCLA made both the academic team as well as the second team in the Pac-10.
Look for more Pac-10 coverage soon from WFG.