Our Pac-12 Friday miniseries kicks off the 21st century in college football for the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren, the B1G. This was the season we really started to see some B(C)$ shenanigans when it came to the mythical national championship, in terms of bias against the Best Coast teams. Darn shame, too, as three excellent teams this year in the conference deserved a shot.
Here’s our best effort to break it all down for you …
2000 Pac-10 MVP: Marques Tuiasosopo, QB, Washington & Adam Archuleta, LB, Arizona State (original); Tuiasosopo (revised)
A three-way tie atop the conference between Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington created a fun logjam, as all three teams finished in the Associated Press Top 7 at the end of the year. The Huskies lost to the Ducks by 7 points on the road, who lost to the Beavers by 10 points on the road, who lost to the Huskies by 3 points on the road. One of those teams has to produce our MVP.
The two vote winners were Washington quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and Arizona State linebacker Adam Archuleta. With the Sun Devils finishing under .500 in conference play, we will start with Tuiasosopo: He was sixth in QB rating (115.9), posting a 14:11 TD:INT ratio. He did add 6 rushing touchdowns, but overall, his stats aren’t that impressive. So, we’re going off board here.
Oregon State’s offense had the highest-rated QB (Jonathan Smith, 134.6)and the top scrimmage-yards running back (Ken Simonton with 1,573 yards), so we look to Oregon now. But the Ducks also had a dynamic duo: QB Joey Harrington (2,967 passing yards and 22 TDs, both tops in the conference) and RB Maurice Morris (1,396 scrimmage yards, second in league).
In reality, Tuiasosopo had next-to-no help on the Huskies offense: No skill-position player topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage for Washington, and his 2,540 total yards were just fourth overall—but Tuiasosopo was the entire Huskies attack, and the fact the team went 11-1 that way just defies logic. He was a true leader, carrying the burden for better or for worse on the No. 3 team in the nation. Context matters.
2000 B1G MVP: Drew Brees, QB, Purdue & Jamar Fletcher, CB, Wisconsin (original); Damien Anderson, RB, Northwestern (revised)
There was a three-way tie here, too, although not with as-impressive bunch: Michigan, Northwestern, and Purdue all posted 6-2 conference records, with only two of the teams finishing in the AP Top 15. Ohio State finished 1 game behind the leading trio, as Boilermakers QB Drew Brees (132.6 QB rating) and Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Jamar Fletcher (6 INTs) shared MVP honors at the time.
But Brees was second in QB efficiency by 5 points. Meanwhile, Wildcats RB Damien Anderson topped the conference in rushing yards (2,063), scrimmage yards (2,195), and scrimmage TDs (23)—winning that Triple Crown. While Brees had both a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver at his disposal, the Northwestern offense didn’t have much beyond Anderson. He’s our MVP pick here.
2001 Rose Bowl MVP: Tuiasosopo (original, confirmed)
Purdue got to Pasadena, since it beat both Michigan and Northwestern, but in the Rose Bowl, the Huskies—who won a convoluted tiebreak for the Pac-10 bid—dominated, winning 34-24, as Tuiasosopo won the MVP vote. He passed for 138 yards and ran for 75 more, totaling 2 TDs along the way, as Washington controlled the ball for almost 36 minutes of game time against the pass-happy Boilermakers.
Overall, the Huskies ran for 268 yards on 52 carries: It was a committee effort, with Tuiasosopo gaining the second-most yards on the ground. The UW defense did its job against Purdue, stuffing the run game and limiting Brees to just 275 yards through the air on 39 attempts. We will confirm Tuiasosopo’s award, for one of those infrequent double dips.