This vanished rather quickly from Gazetteonline.com’s home page and sports home page. The news marches on, and there was quite a bit of it this weekend in preps and college sports.
But the Hlog’s owner has an ego to feed, and wants his work to be available to the greatest people on the planet — visitors to the Hlog.
So without further ado …
IOWA CITY — If Shonn Greene isn’t in New York City the night of Dec. 13, college football lacks justice.
That isn’t a provincial opinion, nor is it a bias because I like the way Greene has stayed humble when even modest types might get fat heads with his accomplishments. It’s because the best players in the country should be Heisman finalists, period.
If Greene isn’t deemed one of the five premier performers in college ball this year, the Heisman electorate needs to turn 2009 ballots over to someone more qualified. Like the residents of a monkey house in any of this nation’s fine zoos.
We know Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell is sensational and a deserving candidate. So is Texas QB Colt McCoy, and ’07 Heisman-winning QB Tim Tebow of Florida, and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. We know gifted Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree had the season’s Heisman moment in the Red Raiders’ stirring win over Texas.
So that’s five well-known and wonderful players just in that one paragraph. But how about a little love for the best running back in college football, a player who can spin with the best of them on “Dancing With the Stars” on one touchdown, and deliver merciless power and punishment on another?
Greene’s two TD runs Saturday in Kinnick Stadium were yin and yang, seemingly opposite forces that came together to carry Iowa to a not-so-pretty 22-17 win over Purdue. It was a brilliant way to end the home portion of Greene’s meteor of a college career. He has lighted the sky in his too-brief time as a Hawkeye starter, and he’ll surely be gone after Iowa’s bowl game.
“One more year,” Iowa students chanted. But that’s only asked of the players who are surely gone.
A 23-year-old junior who runs for 100 yards 11 times in 11 tries, gains 6.2 yards a carry, and averages 154 yards a game in Big Ten play has nothing left to prove in college football. In a few months, it’s time for Greene to make some money in the NFL. A lot of money. The team that drafts him immediately gets better.
After Saturday’s game, Greene was just as evasive on the possibility of turning pro this winter as he was on his 75-yard, sleight-of-foot touchdown dash in the second quarter. It’s the prudent thing to do. You don’t want to be a distraction to your team by telling the world you’re going pro after the bowl game.
Maybe that’s not the way Greene is consciously approaching it. It’s probably just his instinct, which would be consistent. Based on his running all season long, his instincts are very good.
“I just want to cap two more wins off,” Greene said, “then I’ll worry about that stuff.”
Well-played, Shonn. Just like his answer to whether he wants to be invited to the Heisman ceremony next month.
“I really don’t care too much for it,” Greene said. “We’re trying to get the best bowl game as of right now. Heisman, I’ll let all those other people deal with that stuff.”
If those other people were his teammates and coaches, Greene would be in Manhattan in four weeks.
“An amazing back, isn’t he?” said defensive tackle Mitch King. “It’s fun watching him run. I’m excited having him on our team rather than any other team. He can make plays when plays aren’t there.”
Of Heisman talk, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said, “Those are comparisons I can’t make. I know there are a lot of quarterbacks playing at an extremely high level. I don’t put the whammy on anybody. But after 11 weeks, I can’t imagine anybody playing their position better than Shonn’s playing it.”
No man is an island, and Greene lauded his offensive line over and over for the 11th-straight postgame.
But let’s not forget Iowa’s defense. More specifically, we cannot in good conscience let Iowa’s home finale pass without praising King.
It didn’t close Iowa’s win, but it was fitting that King sacked Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter on the Boilers’ final drive. King was held on the play by a Purdue blocker and still dropped Painter for a 9-yard loss.
The last two years, you would swear Big Ten officials allowed offensive linemen to clutch and grab King just to make it a semblance of a fair fight. King ranks alongside Bob Sanders and Matt Roth in the amount of pandemonium he caused on defense for the Hawkeyes this decade. The good kind of pandemonium.
“Mitch has been awfully disruptive,” Ferentz said, “and that didn’t start this year. He’s had a phenomenal career here.”
If Iowa wins Saturday night at Minnesota, it finishes 8-4 and probably goes to the Outback Bowl. King and Greene deserve a New Year’s showcase game. They and their team have much to play for in the Metrodome in six days.
“I don’t expect anybody to let up this week,” King said. “They better not, anyway, I’ll tell you that. I’ll get after them if they do.”
That should be all the motivation the Hawkeyes need.