As is usually the case after a 10-win season, the accolades are beginning to pour in for the Iowa Hawkeye football team. Everyone and their mom has an all-conference or All-American team, but the two that actually matter--Walter Camp and the AP--are now out. And for the 33th year in a row, the unanimous selection for player of the year is Frank Stallone*.
More importantly, the AP named three Hawkeyes to their All-American teams. While nobody made it onto the first team, thanks to Ricky Stanzi's ankle injury--come on, you know if he stays healthy and Iowa goes 11-1 and finishes at #5 or so, even the guys on defense get a little bit more of a bump--both Bryan Bulaga and Pat Angerer made it to the second team, while Tyler Sash made third-team AA as a sophomore. A fine moment for all three players (two of whom, as we insular and provincial types are quick to point out, are native Iowans).
Meanwhile, the Walter Camp Foundation agreed with the AP, naming Bulaga and Angerer to their second team as well and effectively establishing the two as the de facto MVPs of their respective sides of the ball. We have a little beef with each designation, but for wholly different reasons.
First, though Bulaga is by far the best pro prospect on the line as of right now and was utterly dominant in 2008, the reality is that even notwithstanding the 3-week absence as he recovered from thyroid issues, he struggled in 2009. Brandon Graham and O'Brien Schofield manhandled Bulaga. And while those are two very good defensive ends, so was Aaron Maybin, the 11th pick of the 2009 by the Buffalo Bills and Bryan Bulaga's personal prison bitch after Iowa-PSU 2008. There was a substantial dropoff in play by Bulaga in 2009, and voters just didn't notice it when it came time to hand out awards.
Meanwhile, Dace Richardson was actually very good in his return to the line, and he got a fair amount of media attention when mid-season awards were being handed out. Then his ankle was rolled up on against Michigan State, and he disappeared from both the depth chart and voters' attention. But why should he have been punished for an ankle injury while voters looked past Bulaga's absence of a similar length? It's all past reputation, and that's not really fair to guys who come from nowhere and work their butts off--especially in their senior year, where there's no chance for any payoff in the "rewarded in Year X for play in Year X-minus-1" system that's come to be when it comes to honoring offensive linemen.
What this comes down to is that if the AP were to select an Iowa lineman for All-American this season, we'd have preferred it be Dace--though we'll certainly "settle for" Bulaga instead. If both men are playing their last game for Iowa next month, as lots of speculation suggests, then they've both had stellar careers in the black and gold and we wish them well.
On defense, on the other hand, Pat Angerer didn't really establish himself as the most dominant player for that Iowa defense, but that's hardly through any fault of his own. After all, one usually does so by being simply better than his teammates, and the talent level on the Iowa defense this year was both so high and so consistent that it was hard to see Angerer as someone who was the best player on defense. After all, you could always come back with, "well why not Sash? Or Adrian Clayborn? Or Amari Spievey? Or A.J. Edds? Or, hell, Jeremiha Hunter?" We're not saying that Angerer was the 6th best player on the Iowa defense by any means--just that ranking the top 5 or 6 or so would be impossible, because the gaps would be so miniscule that personal preference could easily mean a 3- or 4-spot swing here or there and it wouldn't even be objectionable.
Angerer's accolades, then, come from two areas: 1) his name, which is everything you could ever hope for times infinity; 2) and his stats, which sort of sneak up on you for the same reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. As mentioned before, he was 5th in the nation in tackles at 11.3 a game. That's pretty outstanding, especially since--as TRE noticed during the season--Angerer's real strength might have been in pass coverage, not run support.
Still, absent game-changing plays, it's somewhat difficult to notice the overall impact a player has on a game. And all of those game-changing plays seemed to happen to other players--most notably Sash and Clayborn, and to a lesser extent Spievey.
Thus we have a weird ambiguity about how we look at Angerer's standing as the most highly-lauded member of the 2009 Iowa defense. It's not that he didn't deserve it--far from it--but with a defense like Iowa's, you could basically pick a name out of a hat and feel relatively confident that you made a good choice. It was that kind of year. Effectively singling out Angerer for praise, then, seems unusual and almost a little unfair. Oh well. There are worse problems to have.
Full AP All-American teams are after the break.
Quarterback -- Colt McCoy, senior, 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Texas.
Running backs -- Toby Gerhart, senior, 6-1, 235, Stanford; Mark Ingram, sophomore, 5-10, 212, Alabama.
Tackles -- Russell Okung, senior, 6-5, 301, Oklahoma State; Trent Williams, senior, 6-5, 318, Oklahoma.
Guards -- Michael Johnson, senior, 6-6, 305, Alabama; Mike Iupati, senior, 6-6, 330, Idaho.
Center -- J.D. Walton, senior, 6-3, 305, Baylor.
Tight end -- Aaron Hernandez, junior, 6-2, 250, Florida.
Wide receivers -- Golden Tate, junior, 5-11, 195, Notre Dame; Jordan Shipley, senior, 6-0, 190, Texas.
All-purpose player -- C.J. Spiller, senior, 5-11, 195, Clemson.
Kicker -- Leigh Tiffin, senior, 6-2, 212, Alabama.
Ends -- Jerry Hughes, senior, 6-3, 257, TCU; Derrick Morgan, junior, 6-4, 272, Georgia Tech.
Tackles -- Ndamukong Suh, senior, 6-4, 300, Nebraska; Terrence Cody, senior, 6-5, 365, Alabama.
Linebackers -- Rolando McClain, junior, 6-4, 258, Alabama; Greg Jones, junior, 6-1, 228, Michigan State; Eric Norwood, senior, 6-1, 252, South Carolina.
Cornerbacks -- Joe Haden, junior, 5-11, 190, Florida; Javier Arenas, senior, 5-9, 198, Alabama.
Safeties -- Eric Berry, junior, 5-11, 203, Tennessee; Earl Thomas, sophomore, 5-10, 197, Texas.
Punter -- Drew Butler, sophomore, 6-2, 201, Georgia.
Quarterback -- Tim Tebow, senior, Florida.
Running backs -- Ryan Mathews, junior, Fresno State; Dion Lewis, freshman, Pittsburgh.
Tackles -- Bryan Bulaga, junior, Iowa; Chris Marinelli, senior, Stanford.
Guards -- Rodney Hudson, junior, Florida State; Mike Pouncey, junior, Florida.
Center -- Maurkice Pouncey, junior, Florida.
Tight end -- Dennis Pitta, senior, BYU.
Wide receivers -- Mardy Gilyard, senior, Cincinnati; Danario Alexander, senior, Missouri.
All-purpose player -- James Rodgers, junior, Oregon State.
Kicker -- Kai Forbath, junior, UCLA.
Ends -- Von Miller, junior, Texas A&M; Brandon Graham, senior, Michigan.
Tackles -- Gerald McCoy, junior, Oklahoma; Jared Odrick, senior, Penn State.
Linebackers -- Pat Angerer, senior, Iowa; Brandon Spikes, senior, Florida; Sean Weatherspoon, senior, Missouri.
Cornerbacks -- Perrish Cox, senior, Oklahoma State; Kyle Wilson, senior, Boise State.
Safeties -- Taylor Mays, senior, Southern California; Rahim Moore, sophomore, UCLA.
Punter -- Zoltan Mesko, senior, Michigan.
Quarterback -- Kellen Moore, sophomore, Boise State
Running backs -- LaMichael James, redshirt freshman, Oregon; Jacquizz Rodgers, sophomore, Oregon State.
Tackles -- Dennis Landolt, senior, Penn State; Ciron Black, senior, LSU.
Guards -- Brandon Carter, senior, Texas Tech; Jeff Byers, senior, Southern California.
Center -- Chris Hall, senior, Texas.
Tight end -- Dorin Dickerson, senior, Pittsburgh.
Wide receivers -- Freddie Barnes, senior, Bowling Green; Demaryius Thomas, junior, Georgia Tech.
All-purpose player -- Dexter McCluster, senior, Mississippi.
Kicker -- Hunter Lawrence, senior, Texas.
Ends -- Jeremy Beal, junior, Oklahoma; Brandon Sharpe, senior, Texas Tech.
Tackles -- Brian Price, junior, UCLA; Dan Williams, senior, Tennessee.
Linebackers -- Sergio Kindle, senior, Texas; Cody Grimm, senior, Virginia Tech; Navorro Bowman, junior, Penn State.
Cornerbacks -- Brandon Harris, sophomore, Miami; Alterraun Verner, senior, UCLA.
Safeties -- Tyler Sash, sophomore, Iowa; Mark Barron, sophomore, Alabama.
Punter -- Matt Reagan, senior, Memphis.
*Did you know he was in Tombstone, a.k.a. the SINGLE GREATEST MOVIE IN HISTORY? And in a phenomenal scene, to boot.