The Associated Press released their FCS All-American list earlier today, and two Villanova players made the cut, and deservedly so. Don Cherry, the national runner-up for the Buchanan Award, was named a 1st Team All-American. After the season he had and the awards he has collected, that was no surprise and a great honor for him.
The bigger surprise came as John Robertson was named a 2nd Team All-American. Eastern Washington sophomore Vernon Adams got the nod as the 1st Team quarterback. Given the season Adams put up in limited action that normally wouldn't raise an eyebrow.
But John Robertson just won the Walter Payton Award, given to the best player in FCS football - and not by a slim margin. He bested Adams by 84 total points, and had more first place votes than the next 3 nominees combined. Not exactly a tight race.
So how is it that the 'best player' isn't the best quarterback? For starters, the Walter Payton is voted on by a collection of 160 media members and college SIDs. The AP has its own panel of sportswriters, so there is a difference in who is voting. It's the same reason the AP and Coaches polls look different every week.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mike Jensen surmised on Twitter that a split isn't all that uncommon, and has happened with the FBS' Heisman Trophy before.
@pretzel_logic Other QB had fantastic stats, may have won Payton bt missed 4 games. A split is fair. Pretty sure this has happened w Heisman— Mike Jensen (@jensenoffcampus) December 17, 2014
Even if a split is 'fair' as Jensen says, it still doesn't add up to me. I just missed the 'trophy generation' growing up. I never knew about participation medals and when I lost I usually got a 'do better' from my coaches and parents. So making sure both guys take home a top honor doesn't strike me as 'fair' but as a system that's broken.
When there isn't a sure-fire determination to deciding who is the best player or team, you end up with scenarios like this where it takes away some of the prestige of the Walter Payton or the Heisman or being a 1st Team All-American - or back before the playoffs - who the National Champion was.
No system is perfect and I don't have the silver bullet, but there's got to be a better way than the current setup.