Unibrow & Other CBB Entrants Are Snubbed But Watford Wins at the ESPYsPosted by EJacoby on July 12th, 2012
Last night were the ESPYs, and somehow, neither of the #15 over #2 shockers during last year’s NCAA Tournament won ESPN’s award for “Best Upset” of the year, and Anthony Davis‘ epic season wasn’t even enough to win over voters in the “Best NCAA Male” category. Not even legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was rewarded for breaking Bob Knight’s all-time wins record. In general, college hoops was vastly overlooked during Wednesday’s 2012 ESPY Awards, but one shining moment came in the form of Indiana forward Christian Watford‘s wild shot to beat Kentucky back in December. “Watford For The Win!” was crowned with the “Best Play” award from the past year in sports; a very deserving honor for one of the defining moments of the 2011-12 college hoops season. ESPN announcer Dan Shulman’s call on Watford’s game-winner over the top-ranked Wildcats sticks as one of the great broadcasting moments in recent memory, as does Dick Vitale’s incomparable reaction and IU head coach Tom Crean’s shocked celebration. It’s hard to find a singular more significant or lasting moment than that one, as Watford beat out a field of 31 other nominees through a lengthy tournament vote. Unfortunately, John Calipari, Anthony Davis, Kentucky, Coach K, the final Border War, Lehigh, and Norfolk State were unable to seize any hardware against their considerably thinner fields of competition.
Watford’s buzzer-beating three-point shot marked the official return of Hoosiers basketball. One of our sport’s bluebloods, Indiana had struggled at the bottom of the Big Ten for several years, and the victory over UK symbolized a resurgence. Indiana quickly jumped into the top 15 of the polls and stayed there much of the season, eventually making a run to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to those same Wildcats in a rematch not played in the friendly confines of Bloomington. But Watford’s shot isn’t forgotten for Hoosiers or Wildcats fans, both of whom were heavily invested in that December game as part of a longstanding border rivalry (which was sadly not renewed for 2012-13), nor the entire world of college hoops, which sent off an explosion of posts and tweets on social media across the country.
Davis won enough awards last season, so he’s probably not all that upset at losing out on an ESPY to fellow top competition. But it’s unfortunate that the ‘Brow wasn’t rewarded in any of the three categories in which he was featured, all three of which he was solidly qualified to win. In the “Best NCAA Male” category, Baylor’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III was victorious, even though RGIII failed to win a National Championship or become his sport’s #1 overall pick in the subsequent draft – both notably accomplished by Davis. In the “Breakthrough Athlete” category, AD was less of a favorite against a stacked field of competitors including Jeremy Lin and the worldwide phenomenon that was ‘Linsanity,’ who wound end up taking home the hardware. And in another challenging group, the National Champion Kentucky Wildcats lost out to its counterparts in the professional realm, as the NBA’s Miami Heat were crowned the top team of the past 12 months. Davis is so used to winning everything that he may have been a bit shocked at Wednesday’s event to learn that he still has some hills to climb.
There were several other snubs at the ESPY Awards, most notably in the form of “Best Upset.” The NCAA Tournament produced not one but two massive #15-#2 upsets on the same day when Norfolk State knocked off the elite Missouri Tigers and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks suffocated the storied Duke Blue Devils. How much bigger does an upset get than a Patriot League team taking down a blueblood program like Duke or a MEAC squad knocking off a team that had been in the conversation for a #1 seed? Perhaps these two nominees split some votes, which allowed the Los Angeles Kings hockey squad to sneak away with the victory, despite there being no single event to represent the nomination. In addition, Coach K’s passing of Bob Knight for tops on the all-time victories list got snubbed in the “Record-Breaking Performance” category, losing out to Drew Brees who broke the single-season NFL passing yards record. Brees’ accomplishment is incredible, but a single-season record in a pass-happy league doesn’t exactly hold the same weight as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport reaching a pinnacle of winning that represents longevity and extended greatness. Coach K, though, also won’t be crying about his loss — he’s only leading Team USA into the Olympics as we speak. John Calipari also lost in the “Best Coach/Manager” category to New York Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin, and Kansas-Missouri’s final Border War classic fell to the thrilling 49ers-Saints game of the NFL playoffs. No, it’s not easy to knock off the NFL in anything when it comes to sports fans’ popularity, and Wednesday’s ESPY broadcast was yet another reminder.
The women’s collegiate game was well represented on Wednesday night, as Hall of Fame Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt was honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in a touching tribute to the legendary Lady Vol, and Baylor’s Brittney Griner walked away with two awards including Best Female Athlete. College hoops was given a long look during ESPYs night, but unfortunately only Indiana’s Christian Watford was lucky enough to give a speech with a trophy in his hands. Nonetheless, it was a great reminder of the classic year we had in college basketball that so many names were among the nominees to begin with.