Last night was Awards Night in College Football Land, as all the big name awards (short of the Heisman) and the Walter Camp All-America Teams were announced in an ESPN special. UB's star linebacker and holder of two NCAA records, Khalil Mack, was left off the first team defense in favor of Alabama's CJ Mosley, UCLA's Anthony Barr, and Stanford's Trent Murphy. The Walter Camp Football Foundation named a second team offense, but no second team defense. (Unless they're hiding it from me)
While Mack's second-team showing on USA Today's All-American rosters ultimately has little effect, other than reminding us of power-conference bias, the First Team label means a little more in these other organizations:
The NCAA recognizes the All-American teams selected by the American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation to determine consensus All-American status. Receive first-team honors from three of these five organizations and a player can be considered a "consensus All-American." First team honors from all five gives a player the "unanimous All-American" recognition.
Obviously, Mack is now out of the running for Unanimous All-American status, and needs a first team showing in three of the remaining four All American teams to qualify as a Consensus All-American. With last night's announcement, this gets harder on two fronts, both because one opportunity is out of the way, and because the Walter Camp team placed Stanford's Trent Murphy on the First Team.
It's hard to argue with Mosley and Barr's inclusion: the two were finalists for both the Butkus (Linebacker) and Bednarik (Defender) Awards, which were won by Mosley and Pitt DL Aaron Donald, respectively. However, the inclusion of Murphy on the Walter Camp team and Ryan Shazier of Ohio State on the USA Today team shows that Mack is not seen as a clear #3, or even one of two players vying for that final First Team spot, but rather a cluster of players are seen as a second tier behind Barr and Mosley. When you consider that not Murphy, but his teammate Shane Skov, was Stanford's representative among the Butkus Finalists, the waters get even murkier.
This is only the second time that the Jack Lambert Award Winner has not been named a First Team Walter Camp All American. The only other instance of such a snub was in the Lambert Award's first year, when Michigan's Erick Anderson was left off the 1991 All American Team. Anderson also won the Butkus Award in that year.
The Football Writers Association of America will announce their All America Team next Wednesday, December 18th.