Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Politics And Football

The Know Nothing Party was, as TB remembers it, all about curbing German and Irish Catholic immigration in pre-Civil War America. The movement, though essentially political, wasn't shy about using other means, including a violent turn at an 1855 election in Kentucky in which 22 people were killed.

In other words, every time TigerBlog hears that American politics are as messed up as they've ever been, he always thinks back to the Know Nothings. Or any number of other political movements that he learned about back in his days as an American history major.

Still, the current state of American politics isn't exactly shining brightly. TB saw a poll last week in which 65% of Americans - basically two-thirds - favored getting rid of every single incumbent from both parties.

The great thing about America, of course, is that you can go vote. And if you think your one vote doesn't matter, well, that's the wrong attitude to take, considering just how many people have died to give you the right to vote.

The 15th amendment, the last of the three Reconstruction Amendments after the Civil War, says that people cannot be denied the right to vote because of race or because they used to be slaves.

Of course, it wasn't until the 19th amendment 50 years later that women were given the right to vote. And then in 1971, the 26th amendment was passed, lowering the voting age to 18.

TigerBlog has voted every year since he turned 18, whether it was for President or township committee or anything in between. His preferred candidate hasn't always won, and TB has often voted for someone he knew was going to lose, but not voting isn't an option.

Today, obviously, is Election Day, a mid-term election at that. Go vote.

One election that you won't have a say in, unless you're an Ivy League head football coach, is the All-Ivy voting that will take place in a little less than three weeks.

The Bushnell Cup, of course, goes to the Ivy League Player of the Year, and TB has one question about the ultimate winner for 2010: Can he come from a team that finishes at or near the bottom?

In other words, can Princeton's Trey Peacock win the Bushnell Cup?

Well, there are a few things working in his favor.

For starters, TigerBlog is pretty sure that Peacock is the best player in the league. Certainly his receiving stats are amazing, as he leads the league in receptions per game (8.0, or 18% more than the next-highest total) and receiving yards per game (116.3, or 28% more than the next-highest total). He has caught touchdown passes of 92 and 80 yards, which are the two longest receptions in the Ivy League this year.

Beyond that, he has also rushed for a touchdown and played on almost all of Princeton's special teams, where he has made seven tackles.

Yes, you can make the case that Princeton has to throw the ball because it's been behind, and the Tigers do lead the Ivy League with 285 pass attempts, one more than Yale, 13 more than Brown and 132 more than Penn. Still, Princeton lost its starting quarterback, Tommy Wornham, to a broken collarbone in Week 5 against Brown and has now played the last 2.5 games without him.

And, as an aside, Princeton has completed more passes (160) than Penn has attempted (153).

But Peacock's numbers aren't a function of some pass-happy offense, and for that matter, his numbers don't define him. What defines Peacock is the fact that any time he's on the field, there's the anticipation that he might be about to do something spectacular.

Simply put, it's a "know it when you see it" thing.

The other thing working in Peacock's favor is that there is no clear-cut favorite for the award this year. Penn is the only undefeated team in the league, but the Quakers are not led by one superstar. The Ivy League stats reflect that Penn has no one in the top five in the league in rushing or passing yards, no one in the top 10 in receiving and no one in the top 14 in tackles.

What Penn does dominate in the team stats, pretty much across the board, and that's why the Quakers are 4-0 in the league.

So who are the favorites? Well, the leading rushers in the league are Harvard's Gino Gordon, who has 804 yards (including 204 against Princeton) and Dartmouth's Nick Schwieger with 778; no one else has more than 466. Should Harvard win out, it would be guaranteed at least a share of the title, possibly a piece of a three-way championship with Penn and Brown, and that would help Gordon.

The leading quarterbacks are Yale's Patrick Witt (61% completions, 275 yards per game, 11 TDs, 10 interceptions) and Columbia's Sean Brackett (60% completions, 200 yards per game, 16 TDs, three interceptions, 152.4 efficiency). Yale is one of three teams with one league loss and therefore is very much alive in the Ivy race; that helps Witt as well.

Looking back at the history of the award, which was first awarded in 1970, the winner has been a quarterback (13) or running back (18) 31 times (there were co-winners twice). Beyond that, there have been four linebackers, two defensive lineman and one defensive back.

As for wide receivers, there have been four winners, including Harvard's Carl Morris twice and Brown's Buddy Farnham, a co-winner a year ago. The other was Sean Morey of Brown.

As for where the winner's team finished, well, as you might have guessed, the champion has often gotten the Bushnell Cup as well, as 27 of the winners have come from the first place team.

The second-place and third-place teams have had five winners each, while fourth has had one, fifth has had two, sixth has had one and seventh has had zero.

And the eighth-place team? It's happened once, back in 1982, when Columbia quarterback John Witkowski threw for 3,050 yards - including a pair of 400-yard games - for the 1-9 Lions.

Summing it up, the 42 Bushnell Cups have gone to teams in the top three in the standings 37 times and in the bottom five of the standings five times. And no wide receiver has won it without finishing in the top three.

Could 2010 be the first year that a wide receiver from a team not in the top three to win it?

Well, if anyone can do it, it's Trey Peacock, after the year he's put together, one that stamps him in TB's mind as the Ivy League's best player.

1 comment:

Brett Hoover said...

Let me also say that I spent three weeks with Trey at a college residential experience for at-risk urban high school students and he was fantastic. We lived in the dorms with these students and Trey worked closely as a teacher and mentor with the students. Watching him led me to believe that he was the Ivy League's MVP before he caught his first pass this year. I look forward to him in the NFL followed by a career as an education reformer!