January 9, 2008

Powered Up: 2007 season awards

I'm trying to move on. I really figure eventually there will come a time when the retrospective looks at the football season will get old. But judging by the posts on our message boards, I also figure that time is still a little ways off. That said, for this week's Powered Up, I figured I'd hand out my awards for the 2007 Tigers.

Offensive MVP: This one's pretty easy. A lot of people brought a lot of things to these Tigers. But none of them brought what Chase Daniel did. Without him, this season doesn't happen. What a year he had. And he's back for one more.

Defensive MVP: William Moore. When Pig Brown went down, no one knew what to expect. What almost no one expected was that Willy Mo would turn into the best safety in America. At one point during the Cotton Bowl, a woman next to me said, "Is anyone else besides Moore playing defense?" If he's not the pre-season Big 12 defensive player of the year next year, I'll be shocked.

If you'll follow, I'll lead: Daniel was the offensive MVP, but this offense doesn't get where it's going without Martin Rucker. A year ago, I was sure he was going to the NFL. If he'd gotten a better draft review, he might have. I didn't think Rucker was truly a team guy. I thought there were times he seemed upset he wasn't catching passes last year. Now, maybe it's easy to be a team guy when you're setting the school record for receptions. And I'd buy that argument if T. Ruck had started to lead halfway through the season. But he didn't. He started running defenders over against Illinois, and he stopped early this afternoon. The heart and desire this kid showed his teammates, well, that's tough to replace.

You Deserved It: Shortly after I took this job, Missouri's sports information director told me "If Gary Pinkel can't get this done, we might as well quit playing football." There were times that was tough to believe (like all the times between 2004 and the second half of the 2005 Independence Bowl). But Missouri stuck with Pinkel and gave him everything he asked for. In return, Pinkel delivered a season no Tiger fan will ever forget. I have long said that I didn't know if Gary Pinkel was the best football coach in America, but I respected the hell out of him for the way he did things. Well, it turns out the man can coach a little bit too. Not one of us knows how much work went into climbing the mountain Pinkel faced when he got to Columbia. And therefore, not one of us can know how good it must feel to be standing at the top.

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