2006 College Football Blog Awards: Dr. Z Award for Best Analysis

I've thought throughout this process that the Best Analysis Award was among the most interesting and prestigious of the twenty-two awards being presented this year. When Joel announced that the final votes had been tallied, I more or less insisted that I be given the opportunity to present this one.

Before I announce the 2006 winner and runner up, I'd like to talk a little bit about why.

As a complete and total(ly hopeless) sportsaholic, my fandom has been enhanced immeasurably by the wonderful advances of the internet age. The internet allowed for junkies like you and me to elevate our obsession by providing us with access to sports-related content beyond our local newspapers. In the early years of the internet age, misplaced fans were gifted the ability to read the local papers of his favorite team, or dive into writing and analysis from sports content behemoths like ESPN.com.

As technology continued to improve exponentially, access to online content became increasingly convenient and widespread. Along with reading content from big providers, likeminded individuals began gathering together in user-created message boards to discuss their interests. Inevitably, self-publishing became so easy that the era of individually run websites erupted. The fan has always had a voice, but now he has a platform from which to speak to hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of fellow fans.

And that's a wonderful, wonderful thing, because as any serious sports junkie can tell you, the best analysis about our favorite teams comes from fellow fans. Our best sports conversations always involve other hopeless team devotees. Enter: bloggers, blogs, and the communities therein.

Without the strictures of conventional journalism to concern themselves with, bloggers are often more creative, unafraid to test big ideas, and less constrained by the requirement that they not over-challenge conventional wisdom. Without an editor assigning them stories they must write, bloggers dive into the topics they think would be most interesting. Often devoted exclusively to a single team or sport, bloggers wind up lording over their realm with far more authenticity and - I'd argue - authority, than any journalist paid to cover so many different teams and sports ever could.

The end result for the college football blogosphere? Delightful, inspired content and analysis like the BlogPoll. MaxwellPundit. Friday Morning Quarterback. The list is seemingly endless, and grows with each season as the army of impressive college football bloggers grows.

Sports blogs are wonderful because they provide a way for the fans of our favorite sports teams to speak. And in so doing, the market - in this case, information, analysis, and commentary - becomes more competitive. And when a market becomes more competitive, the quality improves. Instead of being forced to just read Beano Cook, you can now read Brian Cook. Or the pack of Irish writers at Blue-Gray Sky. Or any of this year's Dr. Z Award nominees for the best analysis.

Without further ado, that leads us to the award presentation.

The winner of the 2006 Dr. Z Award for Best Analysis is...


MGoBlog, written by Brian Cook!

The runner up, in a very tight vote, is Sunday Morning Quarterback!

The other finalists, listed in alphabetical order, were: Blue-Gray Sky, Burnt Orange Nation, DawgSports, and Mark May Be Wrong.

I wanted to write that longish introduction because these awards seek to highlight the outstanding work of college football's best bloggers, and I think the thing I love most about all this is the amazing analysis I get on a daily basis from all the blogs that I read.

And no one provides more, or better, analysis than Brian Cook at MGoBlog. I recall Brian writing at one time that his operating philosophy is to pick a niche and completely, totally, and thoroughly dominate it. Reading that, everything that Brian does came into clear focus. The exhaustive season previews. The advanced, video-enhanced pregame breakdowns of each of Michigan's opponents, and then, following the games, the play by play breakdowns of each contest. We do our best to spoil our Texas fans here at Burnt Orange Nation, but it's fair to say that MGoBlog is a gigantic slice of heaven for Wolverine football junkies.

Not that Brian stops there. His analysis extends to national stories, teams well outside Michigan's schedule, and issues germane to college football generally. I'm sure I speak for many, many bloggers when I say that I've worked hard to improve my own college football analysis simply to attempt to remain in the same neighborhood as that which Brian is providing. Weak analysis, in turn, is often digested by Brian, sent through the meat grinder which is his mind, and spit the hell out, if it's not up to par. Bad arguments and weak takes are systematically shredded, if Brian's deemed them sufficiently interesting enough to comment on. If he weren't so busy making such a good sports blogger, and had even an iota of interest in it, he'd undoubtedly make for one hell of an elite lawyer.

The standards for cogent, interesting analysis in the college football blogosphere are set by Brian at MGoBlog. And just think: I haven't even mentioned the BlogPoll yet. That's a conscious choice, by the way. Even if the BlogPoll didn't exist, Brian would be deserving of this award.

No need to take my word for it, either. Awe for Brian's work extends well beyond these pages. Maize N Brew's Dave writes:

Brian's piece on third down efficiency was one of the coolest things I've ever seen statistics applied to. MGoBlog consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty in researching some of the most important and most interesting aspects of college football, offers insightful opinions in flowing prose, then supports them with Fields Medal worthy statistical data. He gets nod number one.

Elsewhere, Johnny from RBUAS writes:

It should be noted that had I not been sent a link to one of Brian’s Upon Further Review entries during the 2005 season, I probably would not have a blog. His Third Down Efficiency expedition could blow dandruff off a man’s scalp.

So let me conclude by saying: Brian - congratulations, and thank you for all your fine work.


I do want to conclude with some nice words about this year's runner up, the Sunday Morning Quarterback. We know that SMQ won't be satisfied with any second place moral victories here, but hopefully I can assure him that his talents are as thoroughly enjoyed as those of any blogger around. There may not exist a blogger more universally appreciated and enjoyed by fellow bloggers, in fact, which explains his many nominations in these awards, and strong finish in every category for which he was nominated.

His Friday and Sunday Morning Quarterback features are the most rewarding reads of many of our weeks. We shake our heads in awe while reading them, thinking, "I wish I could comment so insightfully on so many different teams and topics." It's truly marvelous, and inspired me to write the comment that is quoted on his site:

How much football does he watch? Dude's got insights on everybody - and by everybody, I mean everybody. Throw in some of the best writing in the blogosphere, and we're talking about a daily must-read.

Yeah. That pretty much says it: an insatiable appetite for all things college football, a supremely developed analytical mind, and elite writing. That's a winning formula.


Congratulations to all of this year's nominees for the Dr. Z Award!

The next award presentation will be in one hour, at 11:00 a.m. eastern time, at DawgSports.

--PB--

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