We've already covered some of the best indvidual performances of the 2009 college football season. In part two of our coverage of the 2009 Homies, we run down some of the year's top moments, trends and developments–good and bad.
*Game of the Year: Oregon 37, Oregon State 33 (Dec. 3)
It seems fiitting that this classic settled the best season for the Pac-10 in recent memory. The Beavers' triplets of quarterback Sean Canfield, running back Jacquizz Rodgers and wideout James Rodgers played the Ducks down to the wire in Eugene, but they didn't have enough to overcome Oregon's wide-open spread offense. It capped off an amazing turnaround for the Ducks, who put on a disgusting display in their first game of the season, a loss at Boise State.
*Depressing Sign of the Times: Sam Bradford
The 2008 Heisman winner made the decision that college football fans wanted to see when he opted to remain at OU for a fourth year. Look where that got him. If there's a silver lining to Bradford potentially sliding in the NFL draft, it's that he may go to a better team. Unfortunately for the game, his season will serve as a cautionary tale for years to come when prospects think of the millions of dollars at stake.
*Start the Heisman Campaign Now: Ricky Dobbs
Dobbs, the Navy Midshipmen's option quarterback extraordinaire, set a single-season NCAA record for quarterbacks by scoring 24 touchdowns this year. The last signal caller to do that, Tim Tebow, won a Heisman Trophy. That ship has sailed for Dobbs, but there's always next year. I'll be honest: Dobbs is my favorite non-Sooner in college football at the moment.
*Conference of the Year: Pac-10
As I wrote prior to the season's start, USC's collapse actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Pac-10. Rather than talking about another year of Trojan dominance, the rest of the country got a chance to check out what some of the other programs could do. Stanford, Oregon and Arizona all turned out their best seasons in recent memory. Following up on the conference's outstanding bowl record last year, 2009 represented a huge step forward for the Pac-10's national reputation.
*Cool It: "The Greatest of All Time"
For anyone outside of Gainesville, the most irritating ongoing story this season was the rush to try to determine Tim Tebow's place in college football history. Somehow, the entire season turned into some kind of referendum on Tebow's place in the pantheon, even though he had yet to finish his career. How is it possible to even make that kind of judgment before all the returns are in? I'm declaring a moratorium on talk of the all-time best until we've had at least a year to let a player/career/game/whatever breathe.
*Worst Broadcaster of All Time: Dave Lapham
I've seen enough of Lapham's lousy act on the Fox College Sports Big 12 broadcasts over the years to feel confident making this call. Lapham blathers on at a rate comparable to Gary Danielson of CBS, but with none of the insight. Most of his commentary focuses on the positioning of officials on the field. Ironically, though, another hallmark of a Lapham-ized broadcast is his frequent misinterpretation of the rules of the game. Don't be surprised if we find out one day that Lapham has a safe full of compromising photos of his superiors.
It has taken Mike Stoops a little while, but he appears to have the Wildcats in position to contend for the Pac-10 championship on a pretty consistent basis. Under offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, Arizona has finally found an offensive identity to pair with Stoops' defensive background. Southern California is teeming with talented football players, and Stoops and his staff should continue to make inroads there.
*Falling: Penn State
On its face, a 10-2 year doesn't sound so bad. Given the schedule the Nittany Lions played this season, however, it's an embarrassment. Losing not one but two conference games at home makes the season a near disaster. The only thing saving JoePa from the Bobby Bowden treatment at this point is the mediocrity of the Big Ten.
*In Need of a Refresher Course: The Media
"My sources tell me that when all is said and done, Coach X will be the next head coach at School Y." How many times have we heard such a proclamation in the last month or so, only for it to turn out to be flat-out wrong. A couple pieces of advice for all of the sports muckrakers out there: a source who has heard from someone who heard from someone who heard from someone isn't "close to the situation." Also, just throwing out any rumor that comes down the pike isn't really "reporting."
*Hope It Was Fun: Jeff Tedford
Homerism wrote before the season that Tedford was facing a make or break season in Berkeley. Tedford definitely isn't on the hot seat at California, but he doesn't have the makings of a world-class coach. His team, which started the year as a national championship dark horse, folded badly in the second half of the year. Tedford has done a great job building up the Cal program to where it is today, but the Bears have hit their ceiling.
*Keep Your Heads Up: UConn
Following the murder of cornerback Jasper Howard in October, I know I would have excused the Huskies had they just packed it in. Coach Randy Edsall somehow managed to keep his team from giving up, producing the most inspiring story of the season. Connecticut lost five games this year by a total of 15 points and finished with a winning season. On top of all that, after seeing Edsall's name mentioned in conjunction with some job openings, it appears as though the Huskies' head man will be sticking around Storrs for the time being.
*Letdown Game of the Year: Florida 13, LSU 3 (Oct. 11)
This was one of those defensive struggles that even the purists should hate. At the time, many media folks were billing this SEC matchup as the top game of the regular season. This ugly snoozer failed to live up to the hype. The signs of Florida's eventual undoing showed up in this game, as the Gators' offense failed to get anything going.
*Statement Game of the Year: Stanford 55, USC 21
Most of the postgame brewha over this game centered around the animosity between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh. The real story, though, was how badly the Cardinal physically whipped the Trojans. It was pretty shocking to watch a team like Stanford do whatever it wanted against one of college football's elite. Any talk about the demise of Pete Carroll's dynasty is premature, but this game signaled that the difference between 'SC and the next level of teams is far smaller than before.
*2010 National Champion: Oregon
Next season, Phil Knight will show T. Boone Pickens how it's really done. The Ducks are probably the most dangerous team in the country right now, and they will be absolutely loaded in 2010. (Take a look at Oregon's current depth chart.) The schedule includes trips to Tennessee, USC and Oregon State, but it's far from brutal.