Honestly, this shouldn't surprise anyone. Penn State's offense ran through one man in 2014, for better or worse, and that man earned this title. Is it a bit weird that he was the Nittany Lions' best offensive player? Absolutely! But still, when you're money, and you're the team's most consistent offensive weapon, it doesn't matter.
Here are the poll results for Penn State's 2014 Offensive Player of the Year:
- Winner: Sam Ficken, Kicker (68 percent of the vote)
- Second Place: DaeSean Hamilton, Wide Receiver (20 percent)
- Third Place: Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback (12 percent)
Hamilton and Hackenberg both were absolutely fantastic at times during the 2014 campaign. Their main issue was that the two of them were liable to have bad games pretty frequently. Hamilton disappeared at a times, while Hackenberg was turnover-prone and didn't always play up to his enormous talent. Of course, that could have been explained by PSU's weak offensive line, and when Hack and BaeSean were on, they were spectacular. But still, consistency is key.
Which is why Ficken is a pretty obvious choice to win this award. By now, you already know that he was unreal. He made every PAT -- which as we learned against Boston College, is not always an easy task. Ficken went 24-for-29 on field goals. He missed two field goals that went past the line of scrimmage. His other three misses were blocked. When he lined up to kick a football, you almost certainly knew that it was going through the uprights.
Just from a scoring standpoint, Ficken wins this award in a landslide. Here were the Nittany Lions' leaders in scoring:
EGADS! It was Sam Ficken's world, and the rest of the football team just lived in it. If you took the Nittany Lions' second, third, fourth and fifth-best scorers and added their point totals together, they would have combined to score two more points than the team's kicker. Two more points. Than the kicker.
The final reason why Ficken won this almost certainly had to do with his history. While this wasn't necessarily supposed to be part of the voting criteria, it makes sense, because if you told me on September 8th, 2012 that Sam Ficken would be the most important part of the Nittany Lion offense in 2014, I'd assume it was because he was the only player to stick around after the sanctions and the roster was filled with 1-star recruits from Luxembourg.
People love stories of athletes who bounce back from some kind of adversity, whether it be a bad game or an off-the-field tragedy. As we all know, in 2012, Sam Ficken didn't just have a bad game when Penn State took on Virginia, he had a miserable outing that cost PSU a win. You probably know the stats off of the top of your head, but as a refresher: 1-for-5 on field goals and 1-for-2 on PATs in the Nittany Lions' 17-16 loss to the Cavaliers. It led to assholes like me tweeting shit like this:
So are there any soccer players that have always wanted to play the other kind of football? Only requirement: You can't be Sam Ficken.— Bill (@bflip33) September 8, 2012
And you know what? More than two years later, all of us should look back on whatever negative things we said regarding Ficken at the time. We should all be willing to put out what we posted about the kicker from Indiana who couldn't hit broad side of a barn against Virginia. Then, we should take whatever criticism and ribbing that comes our way, because over the rest of his career -- especially in 2014 -- Sam Ficken proved us wrong.
So good on you, $ammy Franchise. You win the Anthony Morelli Award for Excellence in Offensive Play, which probably won't be the name of this award for longer than, like, 20 minutes. But still, you earned, this, Ficken. I hope you kick my beloved Patriots to a Super Bowl someday.