The Dick Butkus Award, named after one of the greatest linebackers of all time, awards the nations most feared and dominant linebacker in college football. This morning and all last night I am thoroughly disappointed at the committee that named Wake Forest standout linebacker, Aaron Curry, the 2008 Dick Butkus Award winner. In a word, it is ROBBERY.
Now I have nothing against Wake Forest, Aaron Curry, or any of the linebackers that were among the top vote getters for the Dick Butkus award. I enjoy watching Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, but they aren't the player that Boston College junior linebacker, Mark Herzlich has been in 2008. Call me a homer, but after reading this I leave no doubt that you'll agree, or maybe you'll just call me a homer again either way, your choice.
MID-WEEK KEEP IT REAL SESSION!!!
At seasons end the Eagles defense was ranked sixth in total yards allowed per contest, in large part due to the play of one Mark Herzlich. The junior linebacker lead his team in tackles with 105 on the season, 79 of those being solo tackles. Tied with senior defensive back, Paul Anderson, Herzlich had six interceptions to lead a defense which led the country in total interceptions with 26. Of those 26 interceptions, Boston College ran five of them back for touchdowns including two pick sixes from Herzlich himself. Only Baylor's Joe Pawelek has as many interceptions at the linebacker position, and no linebacker or defensive back has returned more int's for touchdowns than him. 105 total tackles, 79 unassisted tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 6 interceptions, make Mark Herzlich the most feared linebacker in the ACC and the country.
As for Mr. Curry of Wake Forest. Four less tackles than Herzlich, 16 less unassisted tackles than Herzlich, 5 less interceptions. On a defense which gave up more than 27 yards more per game than Boston College did. He played against the same offenses, the same quarterbacks, and the same position, and Herzlich was better. Ask yourself why Herzlich was selected over Curry as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year?
The boys from USC, Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga Sorry If I'm a numbers guy and I go by the books but this isn't an award for hearsay. Cushing, Mauluga, and USC in general get scouted by more NFL teams than any school. Since it's those scouts and writers that vote for the Butkus, Cushing and Maualuga get votes. Their numbers? Combined they only have 6 more solo tackles than Mark Herzlich, and combined Herzlich has three more interceptions than them.
James Laurinaitis of Ohio State, the 2007 Butkus Award Winner, is in the conversation because he's a previous winner, just like Matt Leinart in the Heisman conversation the year after he won it. Sure he's listed with 121 tackles, yet nearly 62%(75) of those tackles are NOT solo tackles. Herzlich of course has three times as many interceptions and five and a half more tackles for a loss than Laurinaitis does. Simply put, your picking up what I'm putting down.
Then again, should I be shocked at all that Mark Herzlich gets the snub treatment? Of course not, BC doesn't turn out the pros that USC and Ohio State does, they aren't the national program that those teams are either. Aaron Curry has been a touted linebacker for three years and scouts pour into his games, the same way they will if Herzlich remains at BC for his senior season. Congrats to Aaron Curry, but Mark Herzlich had a great season and in my mind is the hands down 2008 Dick Butkus Award winner. BY THE WAY, on December 4th he was named 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, yet misses out on the Butkus to a guy who plays in that same conference?