Ed Note: I am currently in California (LA to be exact) for the first time...No one told me that a giant gray t shirt gets draped over the city at night...odd
These preseason awards are meaningless and unimportant. However, no stretch of logic points toward Greg Jones being 1) the best defensive player in the Big 10 or even 2) potentially the best defensive player in the Big 10.
Navarro Bowman should have been the PDPOY. But his marijuana incident may have clouded the voters vision. Anyways, let's break down the two backers.
In 2008, Navarro Bowman proved himself to be the Big Ten's best linebacker (Laurinitis is good too, but Bowman is a better one on one tackler). It was an extremely challenging year to be a linebacker in this conference, thanks to the 6-7 NFL caliber running backs and the ever present power run game that helped embarrass supposedly solid defenses (see: Iowa v Wisconsin). Amidst the rubble of off tackle runs, option attacks with Lebron In Cleats, and the Shonn Greene express, Bowman flourished. Numbers:
Penn State Defense
v. Oregon State - 92 rushing yards allowed, Frosh star Jacquizz Rodgers had 22 carries for 99 yards.
v. Wisconsin - 148 rushing yards allowed on 40 carries, PJ Hill with 58, John Clay with 43.
v. Ohio State - 61 rushing yards allowed.
v. Shonn Greene - 28 carries, 117 yards, long run of 14 yards.
v. Javon Ringer - 17 carries, 42 yards rushing.
So obviously Bowman and the PSU defense closed the door on most running games. Further, every single star halfback who got smothered by PSU is gone to the NFL now. Wouldn't it be logical to think that PSU's defense, now with the addition of another All-American in Sean Lee, will definitely not take steps back? Shouldn't these circumstances dictate that Bowman be the the de factor defensive POY until proven otherwise?
Oh but Graham, you might argue, the departure of Aaron Maybin won't give Bowman the protection he had last year. The departure of all the wide receivers and a young O Line will signal a weaker offense, meaning less rest for Bowman. The probation problems will be a distraction to the team and to #18's performance.
I say to you: Just look at Greg Jones and the Spartans in 2008. In every big game save Iowa, MSU got crunched defensively. The stiff arm fest against Ohio State showed that the Capitol One Bowl-bound Spartans didn't have the same level of talent as an OSU or PSU. The Penn State game exhibited those limitations again, as did the early California game when they gave up 38 points and some long runs.
But enough focus on 2008's struggles - If the Spartans improved for 2009, I could see the pick of Jones as PDPOY as being trendy and focused on the potential he holds. However, the Spartans lost their 2nd best defensive player (Otis Wiley) and their offensive stars in Brian Hoyer and Ringer. Sure they play an easier schedule this year, but that shouldn't factor into who is the best defensive player in the conference. Jones is going to find it tougher to succeed with a demanding early schedule and the possibility that the offense will struggle with no experience at the skill positions.
So we have established three things
- Bowman had a monster 2008 year and there are no signs or (I believe) upcoming suspensions that lead us to believe he won't have another one.
- Jones plays for a inferior team that lost just as much talent as Penn State lost.
- The quality of athlete and team talent at Penn State (right now at least) is higher than at MSU.
What happened here? Did the media bow to political correctness and somehow think that a vote for Bowman was a vote for marijuana use? Anyway you look at it, logic was defied in picking Jones as the PDPOY.