Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Do we have a consensus? | by Pat

As the awards and all-american honors keep rolling in for Jeff Samardzija, he's an easy pick for one of the most dramatic breakout years in Irish history. His rise is production and publicity has been meteoric as he transformed from seldom used "possession receiver" to consensus All-American.

But hold on a minute. You see, you can't just call yourself a consensus all-american. Despite the fact that Jeff Samardzija has been named to eight different All-American teams, he is still not by definition a Consensus All-American yet. So just what will it take for Samardzija to be awarded the "Consensus" label and become the 79th Fighting Irish player to earn this honor?

Well, to be named to the official Consensus All-American team, it appears that a player must be named as a 1st team All-American by at least three of five select All-American lists. Those chosen All-American lists are the ones produced by the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the Walter Camp Foundation, and The Sporting News.

The fifth and final list was released yesterday by The Sporting News and Jeff Samardzija was named as a 1st Team All-American wide receiver. However, among the other four "official" lists, only one, the Football Writers Association of America, also named him to the 1st Team. That means that Jeff only nabbed two 1st team honors and therefore will fall short of earning the Consensus tag. This despite also being named as a 1st Team All-American by, CBS,, and Sports Illustrated.

But it wouldn't be college football if there wasn't some loophole programmed into the system to give everyone some wiggle room. And in this case, a repeat of what happened with the 2004 team may just be that loophole. Last year, only four offensive lineman reached the 3 of 5 limit with two other lineman each being named to two teams. Rather than flip a coin, both were named to the Consensus All-American team.

That situation appears to have repeated itself with the 2005 lists at wide receiver. Southern Cal's Dwayne Jarrett was a unamious choice to all five 1st teams (another debate for another time), but the 2nd WR chosen varied from list to list. As previously mentioned, Samardzija was named 1st Team by The Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America. The Associated Press and Walter Camp foundation decided to nominated Oregon State's Mike Hass. And the American Football Coaches Association in somewhat of a surprise selected Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson. That means that only Jarrett reached the 3 of 5 limit and Samardzija and Hass tied with two selections apiece.

It then leads me to believe that, assuming they follow protocol from last year, both Samardzija and Hass will be named along with Jarrett as Consensus All-Americans. The official list will be released in early January so we'll have to wait until them for the final word. Personally, I don't see any reason for leaving either of them off the list. If Samardzija does get named to the Consensus All-American list he will be the first Irish player to earn the title since Shane Walton after the 2002 season and only the 2nd Irish player since Bobby Taylor in 1994.