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Hot Reads names its Chinstrap Award winners

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(RNN) – The end of the regular season and the eventual avalanche the SEC Championship game will bring about mean one thing – it's time to hand out the first-ever Chinstrap Awards.

Like many awards, this inaugural edition of the "Chinnys" is a way to highlight outstanding contributions of top players and coaches. Unlike many awards, it is also a way to point out the ineptitude of underachievers.

Was it just us, or did the SEC seem a lot more vulnerable this year? It was weird we had to put up with the mediocrity of other leagues and still swallow the reality of a megaconference that looked a little less super and more human.

Could expansion be the culprit to blame? It's too late to do anything about it now, but it remains a valid question.

Before we go any further, we owe an apology to Vanderbilt. Not that they read this or that they care, but Hot Reads seriously underestimated the will of the Commodores. Only time will tell if the college football culture has truly changed in Nashville, but things sure look good right now.

However, we do not owe apologies to Arkansas, Missouri or Tennessee. Those trains were flying off the rails; all we did was sound the warning.

And just to round this thing out, Mississippi State and LSU owe apologies to us. You both teased us with your glitzy statistics and lofty expectations and then threw disappointment right in our faces.

Now that the mushy stuff is over, let's hand out the hardware.

Best Drama

Winner: Auburn – It's hard to know where to even begin.

Let's start with the elephants in the room (no, not those elephants). Fans have been trying to push Gene Chizik toward the guillotine since the loss to Arkansas, and a report that the NCAA is investigating the team won't help.

If things stay on the current track, Auburn could lose its head coach and best recruiter in addition to its pride – not exactly a great way to start fresh.

Other nominees: Tennessee, Arkansas.

Best Comedic Performance

Winner: Les Miles – While his impassioned speech after the Ole Miss game was probably meant to be serious and inspirational, the ending made it corny and hilarious.

Sorry, LSU, you won't get championships in either your conference or the BCS. But at least you have a nutball coach who isn't afraid to show his emotions. And you also have him to thank for any potential dates.

Other nominees: Steve Spurrier vs. newspaper reporter; John L. Smith's confusion; Derek Dooley's press box reactions vs. Miss. State.

Jockstrap Award

Winner: T.J. Yeldon – Alabama's No. 2 running back is a runaway for the award given to the backup player that does the most to support his team.

He is in the top 10 in the SEC in rushing, rushing touchdowns, scoring and he has one more 100-yard game than Eddie Lacy. Oh, and there was that game-winning play against LSU, but who's counting?

Other nominees: Jeremy Hill (LSU); Chaz Sutton (South Carolina); Keith Marshall (UGA).

No "I" in Team Award

Winner: Vanderbilt – The Commodores are going to a bowl for two straight years for the first time ever, and they're becoming that team no contender wants to play.

Who knows? They may become a contender themselves soon. The "want to" is already there, and the talent is coming.

Other nominees: Georgia, Mississippi State, Florida.

Unknown-to-Unstoppable Award

Winner: Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M didn't even have a quarterback in August, and now it has the ultimate trump card lining up under center.

Manziel's ascension has been the stuff of legend, and he's not done yet. He's probably not more deserving of the Heisman than Manti Te'o, but Manziel is handily the winner of this award.

Other nominees: Todd Gurley (UGA); Avery Williamson (Kentucky); Jeremy Hill (LSU).

Bottom-of-the-Pile Award

Winner: Gene Chizik – The distance from Ames, IA, to Auburn, AL, gets a lot greater when you don't win, and Chiz has not done a lot of that lately.

It's more than the losing, though. The poor body language and less-than-rabid support of Tigers fans make a football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium look almost unrecognizable.

Other nominees: Derek Dooley (Tennessee); Joker Phillips (Kentucky).

Manning Award

Winner: Deshazor Everett – The award for a player who made the biggest impact on a single play goes to Texas A&M's Everett.

He has two interceptions this year, and one of them was the pick that allowed the Aggies to seal a road win against then-No. 1 Alabama.

Other nominees: Jordan Rodgers' game-winning pass vs. Ole Miss; Jeff Driskel's 70-yard run vs. Vandy; T.J. Yeldon's game-winning TD vs. LSU.

Tree Falls in Forest Award

Winner: Tyler Bray – Who proved he is a passing machine by ripping Troy's secondary for 530 yards, but hasn't proven anything else against a team that matters.

Other nominees: Connor Shaw (South Carolina vs. Mizzou); Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M vs. SMU); Zac Stacy/Brian Kimbrow (Vandy vs. Presbyterian).

Flop and Fail Award

Winner: Georgia's defense vs. South Carolina – Now they're playing for an SEC championship and a BCS title game berth, but on Oct. 6 Georgia looked like the old, backsliding Bulldogs we all know.

They have been lights out since then, but this game still makes you wonder which team will show up when the spotlight is reapplied.

Other nominees: Hugh Freeze's fourth-down call vs. Texas A&M; Arkansas offense vs. Alabama; Tyler Bray vs. Florida (and Vandy).

Cool Customer Award

Winner: James Franklin – The Commodores are probably the best team no one cares about (not a putdown, it's just true).

That's because Franklin has brilliantly led a team that overachieved in several ways and prevented it from falling apart after losses, a true change in Vandy tradition.

Other nominees: Mark Richt (Georgia); Will Muschamp (Florida); Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M).

Hot Seat Award

Winner: Gene Chizik – It boggles the mind why this firing is not official already.

There is speculation Chiz's job is holding on to the bare thread of hope that Auburn could win the Iron Bowl. Even if the Tigers beat Alabama (which might not even happen in a few dozen video game simulations) what would that prove? To paraphrase Buddy Garrity from Friday Night Lights, "Here we win seasons, we don't win games."

Other nominees: John L. Smith (Arkansas); Joker Phillips (Kentucky); Derek Dooley (Tennessee).

Team Logo Face Tattoo Award

Winner: Texas A&M – The Aggies have the only fans in the SEC that filled the stadium at or beyond capacity for every home game.

Add to that great tradition, pageantry and competition in a league that matters exponentially more than the Big 12, and you have one of the best atmospheres in the country.

Other nominees: Arkansas fans; Ole Miss fans on games that don't follow Election Day.

You Couldn't Do This Without Me Award

Winner: Carey Spear – You probably can't name five guys on Vanderbilt's roster, but he's one you should know.

He has a habit of getting up close and personal with kick returners (he's a place-kicker, by the way), and he delivered the most vicious hit of his collegiate career against Tennessee.

Other nominees: Zach Fulton (guard, Tennessee); Kelcy Quarles (defensive tackle, South Carolina); Caleb Sturgis (place-kicker, Florida).

SEC vs. SEC

When was the last time the Egg Bowl looked like a better game than the Iron Bowl?

In case you didn't catch the insinuation, Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss is the Hot Reads NFL Lite game of the week.

This should make for a fun family evening of laughter and reminiscing about that thing they used to call defense.

The Rebels desperately need this win for a shot at a bowl, and the Bulldogs need this win to claim they won a game that halfway mattered.

If you really want to enjoy this game, don't even look at the ball because all the fun is going to happen at the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss is going to gamble too much with its defensive calls, and Mississippi State's stingy line will allow Tyler Russell to exploit that.

But hey, sometimes pulling that trump card early pays off, and the Rebels have proven they can hang tough with the big boys. Finishing the game is another story.

This Week's Unique Stat:

173.39: Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's A.J. McCarron are among the NCAA leaders in pass efficiency while also leading teams ranked in the top three of the BCS, with a combined rating of 173.39. The SEC is the only conference with multiple teams in the top 10 that also has two quarterbacks ranked in the top 10 in pass efficiency.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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