The Swenson snub
Brett Swenson, somehow, is not one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, and that has some people pretty upset.
MSU isn't happy about it. Associate AD John Lewandowski called it "remarkably disappointing."
Swenson's high school coach, Tim Conrad, really isn't happy about it. He has been e-mailing the Groza committee, e-mailing reporters, doing what he can to get to the bottom of this.
So I called Charlie Dunn, marketing director for the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, which sponsors the award, and asked him how Swenson -- who is tied for the national lead with 19 field goals, set a school record this year with 15 straight and is the sixth player in Big Ten history to be named special teams player of the week three times in one season -- isn't in their top 20.
The problem, Dunn said, is that the list was chopped down on Oct. 26, right after MSU's win at Michigan. After that game, in which Swenson was short on a 50-yarder, had one blocked and shanked a short try after a bad snap, he was sitting at 15 of 19 on the season.
"Brett ranked 42nd in the nation at 78.9 percent after that game," Dunn said. "Unfortunately, he was coming off an absolutely horrible game against Michigan."
Did the committee realize the circumstances of that game? Yes, Dunn claims. But...
"The record shows he went 0-for-3."
And what if the list of semifinalists was determined after last week, in which Swenson hit all four tries, including a 50-yarder and the game-winner with seven seconds left vs. Wisconsin?
"It'd probably be a different story," Dunn said.
It certainly should be. I looked at the list of 20 semifinalists. Four of the guys have nine field goals. One has eight. Five of them come in below Swenson's 82.6 percent. Taking everything into account, not only should he be on this list, he should have a great shot to win the award.
And he may yet earn All-American honors. I'd have to think that would be embarrassing to the Groza committee, which puts out a weekly award for three top performers. Swenson made it after week five, but he did not make it this week. None of the three honorees this week had as many as four field goals, hit a 50-yarder or made a game winner. All three are award semifinalists.
What the Groza people ought to do is make this a 21-man group and go from there. But they probably won't. It's bad luck for Swenson, who had no responsibility for two of those three misses. I suspect the Groza folks didn't realize that until later, which is on them if true. Either way, the 15 in a row should have been enough to get Swenson in this field of 20.
MSU has received some good news on the award front. Otis Wiley is one of 13 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top defensive back. Javon Ringer is one of 15 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, given to the nation's best player. And Mark Dantonio is one of 15 finalists for the George Munger National Coach of the Year Award. He's joined by Nick Saban, Joe Paterno and Tim Brewster.