Our Pac-12 Friday miniseries continues forward in college football for the Conference of Champions and its Midwest brethren, the B1G. This was another season where the B(C)$ inexplicably shafted a Best Coast team, in even more egregious form than the year prior. This still makes no sense 20-plus years later why it happened—other than money, of course.
Enjoy our always-objective recap …
2001 Pac-10 MVP: Joey Harrington, QB, Oregon & Robert Thomas, LB, UCLA (original); Harrington (revised)
The Oregon Ducks won the conference with a 7-1 record, followed by three teams at 6-2: Stanford, Washington, and Washington State. Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington won the offensive MVP vote, and we agree with it: He was responsible for 34 TDs and only 6 INTs. Harrington also topped the conference in completion percentage. No other offensive player really had a dominant season.
We still don’t have complete defensive stats, so it’s hard to measure how defensive MVP vote winner and UCLA linebacker Robert Thomas did. But the Bruins only managed a 4-4 record in conference play, so we’re confident in giving this MVP Award to Harrington alone here.
2001 B1G MVP: Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana & Larry Foote, LB, Michigan (original); Kurt Kittner, QB, Illinois (revised)
The Illinois Fightin’ Illini won the conference at 7-1, finishing one game ahead of Michigan. One voted MVP—Indiana QB Antwaan Randle El—couldn’t even get his team above .500 for the year, finishing just 4-4 in league play. As for Wolverines LB Larry Foote, he registered no interceptions. So, is there an Illinois player to isolate here for the award? Or will it be a different Michigan player?
In truth, the most deserving player—albeit underwhelmingly so—seems to be Illini QB Kurt Kittner. He did lead the conference in TD passes (23), and he did so without a skill player finishing in the Top 10 overall for scrimmage yards. Meanwhile, two Wolverines topped 1,000-plus scrimmage yards each, and Michigan’s QB was barely mediocre. This looks like Kittner’s award, which isn’t saying a lot for the B1G.
2002 Fiesta Bowl MVP: Harrington & Steve Smith, CB, Oregon (original); Harrington (revised)
This was the first time the BCS commandeered the Rose Bowl for its “title game”—while also shafting the No. 2-ranked Ducks in favor of another team that didn’t even qualify for its conference title game. So, the Pac-10 champ was pushed into the Fiesta Bowl, while the B1G champ was shuffled off to the Sugar Bowl. We follow the Oregon trail on this one (see what we did there?).
The Ducks pounded the Colorado Buffaloes, 38-16, proving they should have been in the BCS Championship. Harrington threw for 350 yards and 4 TDs to get offensive MVP votes, while Oregon CB Steve Smith had 3 INTs in the game to get the defensive honors. The Ducks outgained the Buffs, 500-328, and Harrington’s 3 first-half TD passes staked his team to a 21-7 halftime lead it did not relinquish.
At one point, the score was 38-7, so Oregon really buried Colorado in this one. We will confirm Harrington’s double double, even though he did toss a Fiesta Bowl INT. Overall, he was the orchestrator of the Ducks’ impressive offense that just left the Buffaloes grasping at thin air in the Arizona desert.