We waited until the end of the Pac-12 football season — until after the title game — to bestow honors. Herewith:
Outstanding offensive player — Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona. It’s an injustice — and really, a reflection on how the Pac-12 is sometimes viewed nationally — that they’re taking six guys to the Heisman Trophy ceremony and none of them is Carey. He averaged 5.3 yards a carry (for 1,716 total) on a team that couldn’t throw the ball very well.
Outstanding defensive player — It’s probably pointless to rely on statistics to argue for Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy over the official Pac-12 choice for defensive player of the year, Arizona State’s Will Sutton. But Sutton’s tackle-for-loss and sack numbers were far below his 2012 totals, and Murphy led everybody else with 21.5 and 14, respectively. Choose this after the title game, and I have to think it goes to Murphy.
The Swiss-army-knife player of the year — Who else but Myles Jack of Bellevue High and UCLA, who might be getting some Heisman attention down the road if he continues to play both ways?
Disappointing team — California. The Bears had a coaching change and an unceasing list of injuries, but they were out of their league all season long, only a nervous victory over FCS Portland State from going winless.
Game of the year — 1. Oregon 36, Oregon State 35, Nov. 29. Hard to top a game that had four lead changes in the final quarter. 2. Arizona State 38, UCLA 33, Nov. 23. Sun Devils broke out big and held on to get a leg up on the Pac-12 South title. 3, Oregon State 51, Utah 48 (OT), Sept. 14. Ultimately, you could say it meant one team getting to a bowl and the other not. 4, Stanford 31, Washington 28, Oct. 5. But for a controversial official replay-overturn in the final minute, the trajectory of two seasons might have changed.
Upset of the year — 1, WSU 10, USC 7, Sept. 7. Yes, Lane Kiffin was still coaching the Trojans. But the Cougars still had to shut down USC on the road, as a 15-point underdog. 2. Arizona 42, Oregon 16, Nov. 16. Thanks for showing up, Ducks. 3, Utah 27, Stanford 21, Oct. 12 — Half of Utah’s two league victories came against the team going to the Rose Bowl.
The obligatory Pac-12 officiating blunder of the year — Jack Folliard’s crew fluffing the finish of the Wisconsin-Arizona State game, which probably stole a victory from the Badgers.
The strange play-calling award — On third-and-2 from the Utah 6 in the final minute, Stanford elected to throw twice rather than ram the ball at the Utes, which the Cardinal did at pretty much everybody else.
Stat of the year — USC’s long passing play against WSU was for eight yards. Maybe that really was a Denny’s menu Kiffin brandished on the sideline.
Best 20 minutes of the year — Just before and after 11 p.m. on Sept. 14, you could toggle between the bizarre finish between Wisconsin-Arizona State and the wild, entertaining conclusion to Oregon State-Utah. Doesn’t get much better than that, especially when you had an IPA in your hand.
The Bad-timing award — On Sept. 28, the day an unseasonable monsoon struck the Northwest, all four schools were playing at home (if you count the Cougars against Stanford in Seattle).
The May-I-get-you-another-knuckle-sandwich award — Stanford broke to a 29-0 lead on Arizona State and cruised in their first meeting. Then ASU swept to the league title game, impr0ving as much as any team in the conference, and Stanford bludgeoned the Sun Devils again, 38-14.
The Cut-your-losses award — Oregon came into November undefeated and widely figured to be playing in the national title game. Then it (a) got strong-armed by Stanford; (b) boat-raced at Arizona; (c) mumbled apologies on behalf of two players who dissed the Rose Bowl; and (d) just had tight end Pharoah Brown suspended for the Alamo Bowl because of his part in a snowball-fight-gone-bad in Eugene (where’s a warm rain when you need it?)
Quote of the Year I — “At the end of the day, his family gotta eat.” — Washington quarterback Keith Price, expressing understanding that Steve Sarkisian would leave for a bigger payday at USC, and speaking for all those Pac-12 coaches who may be having trouble putting bread on the table.
Quote of the Year II — “It’s B.S. that he threw the ball at the end of the game. I think it’s low class.” — Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, after WSU’s Mike Leach had Connor Halliday throwing footballs (89, an NCAA record) deep into the night in Eugene.
Quote of the year III — “We don’t fake injuries. We never have and never will. I don’t care what Steve Sarkisian thinks he saw.” — Stanford coach David Shaw, responded to Sarkisian’s claim that the Cardinal slowed the UW offensive pace by faking injuries. The Stanford-USC rivalry boiled with Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, and now it simmers anew with Shaw and Sarkisian.