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Pirate Notebook No. 457
Monday, December 20, 2010

Denny O'Brien

Coaches fumble all-league voting task

By Denny O'Brien
All Rights Reserved.

It’s too bad Conference USA coaches aren’t required to publicly reveal their choices for league superlatives. Truthfully, they should in the future.

Perhaps that would improve the integrity of the voting for 1st- and 2nd-team All-Conference selections. Because when you consider the most glaring omission, you can’t help but conclude that the league’s coaches are voting an agenda.

Either that or they paid very little attention to what occurred outside of the parameters of their own programs this season. Maybe it's both.

That C-USA coaches didn't consider East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis among the league's top two quarterbacks clearly calls into question the manner in which voting is conducted and the criteria that is used for judgment.

Especially when comparing Davis' production with the league's other quarterbacks:

• With 3,700 passing yards, Davis led the conference. His closest competitor, Southern Methodist slinger Kyle Padron, threw for 173 fewer yards despite the benefit of playing an extra game.

• Davis’ 36 scoring tosses were also league tops. That was seven more than Padron, eight more than 1st-team QB G.J. Kinne, and double the production of Southern Miss QB Austin Davis, the 2nd-team selection.

• When you factor his nine scoring runs, Davis accounted for 45 touchdowns combined. That wasn’t just tops in C-USA. It ranked first nationally, edging Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.

• He was also among the top three in both total offense (2nd) and passing efficiency (3rd). Both are impressive accomplishments for seasoned veterans, let alone a first-year quarterback who had only a month of official practice within the system.

Solid numbers to say the least. Wonder which of the league's coaches' memories went blank when filling out the slots for quarterback?

It couldn’t have been Tulsa’s Todd Graham, who saw Davis shred the Golden Hurricane in the season opener. In that memorable 51-49 shootout, the Pirates’ QB debuted with five touchdown tosses and 383 yards.

And it shouldn’t have been Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora. Though Davis did throw three picks in the game, he threw for four scores and brought the Pirates back from a 20-0 deficit on the road.

His 32-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bowman on fourth down and amid a heavy blitz provided the deciding points.

Doubt it was Neil Callaway, who witnessed the most courageous quarterback performance in C-USA this year. The UAB coach must have felt helpless as Davis, bum left shoulder and all, engineered his fourth 4th-quarter comeback of the season.

Davis missed most of the third quarter after a hit on the opening play of the second half. He was heavily favoring the shoulder after his return and noticeably wincing through postgame interviews.

Yet “Honorable Mention” was all the league's coaches could muster for a quarterback who led the league in essentially every passing category, and who performed at his best during the fourth quarter.

It would be tempting to attribute Davis' omission to an ECU offensive philosophy that is designed to give quarterbacks a statistical bump. But the fact that essentially every offense in C-USA has adopted a pass-first approach suggests otherwise.

Honestly, there isn't a sufficient explanation around Davis' exclusion from 1st- or 2nd-team All-C-USA honors. That leads me to only one conclusion:

Maybe it’s time for C-USA to alter the way it determines its postseason honors.

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Denny O'Brien Archives

12/20/2010 02:11 AM

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