Last year's winners
First, a quick note on the four finalists for the Bushnell Cup, (players of the year awards):
The two offensive finalists are Harvard QB Colton Chapple and Cornell QB, (and 2011 winner), Jeff Mathews.
The defensive finalists are Princeton DL Mike Catpanano and Brown DB AJ Cruz.
The defensive choices are good ones and I think that Catapano will probably win.
But I have to say that the true MVP of the season isn't even named above and that's just plain wrong.
As much as we Columbia fans might hate to admit it, Penn's Billy Ragone was the heart and soul of his Ivy championship team. And I think it's really puzzling why he isn't even a finalist for the top award.
Think about it: in the key moments against Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Harvard, Ragone was the difference between winning and losing.
Usually, he did it with his feet. But Ragone also had some clutch completions and the Lions know all too well how much better he performed when the Quakers were backed into a corner.
Since Cornell finished with such a disappointing record, I assume Chapple will win the Bushnell. As good as he was, he wasn't a champion. Ragone is.
Special Teams Report Card
After years of subpar and even downright scary play, the Lion special teams in 2012 showed the most improvement of any unit on the team.
The stats spell out some of the story. Columbia improved in average kickoff return yards, average punt return yards, punting yards, kickoff yards, field goal percentage and PAT percentage.
But the stats can't show the complete shot in the arm the special teams gave the program, often at key times in games.
It started in week one, when Wells Childress' blocked an extra point to win the game against Marist 10-9.
It continued with several great kickoff returns by Trevor Bell and Travis Reim and a number of exciting punt returns by Alec Fisher.
Punter Paul Delaney had a breakout year. He nailed 10 punts of over 50 yards and had a number of clutch kicks along the way. He even had a 73-yarder.
Kicker Luke Eddy cut down on his inconsistency and seemed to revert to his impressive 2010 form.
Everything was not perfect. Kick coverage wasn't the best, and the kickoff return for a TD to start the game against Princeton was a killer.
Using Seyi Adebayo on punt coverage in week two against Fordham resulted in a season-ending injury. That's not completely something you can blame the coaches for, but hopefully they'll reconsider using key defensive starters like that too often.
But in general, there was improvement across the board here. The unit gave Columbia an advantage in games, not a disadvantage,
Kickoff Returns: B+
Kickoff Coverage: C
Punt Returns: A-
Punt Coverage: A-
Field Goals: B+
Overall Special Teams Grade: A-