clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 2005 BSD Football Awards

It's long past due to honor the incredible achievements of one of the most beloved Penn State teams that ever hit the gridiron.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

We have a special treat for you dear BSD reader- throughout this week, we'll be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of one of Penn State's most beloved teams by paying tribute to the heroic 2005 squad. So kick back and help us celebrate the magical 2005 season and all of the many memories that no Penn State fan will soon forget. We kick off our tribute week with our awards for the 2005 season.

Offensive MVP: Michael Robinson

No one quit embodied the spirit of the 2005 squad like Robinson, who became one of the best leaders ever to wear the blue and white. The season started with a big question mark of whether Robinson should play QB full time and ended with him as a Heisman finalist. Robinson had the presence that made everyone around him give everything they had, and much more. If you started following Penn State after the 2005 season, all you need to do is watch the Orange Bowl to learn what Robinson was all about. He took an absolute pounding, yet somehow got up after each crushing hit to rally the troops and make play after play, until the Penn State finally closed out the victory. He wasn't always the most accurate passer, but when the team needed a score, every pass landed exactly where it needed to. There aren't many players like Robinson, and our fanbase is truly fortunate to witness his greatness under center for one magical season.

Honorable Mention: Tony Hunt, Deon Butler, Levi Brown

Defensive MVP: Tamba Hali

It is so difficult not to go with Paul Posluszny here. especially considering he was named the best defensive player in all of college football in 2005 (and again in 2006). Yet, without Hali's constant disruption, the incredible 2005 defense would not have been at quite the level that made them a national title contender. He was constantly in the opponent's backfield and created so much chaos that opposing offenses always struggled to find a rhythm. There have been a plethora of outstanding defensive linemen in Penn State's storied history ,but perhaps none were as unblockable as Hali.

Honorable Mention: Paul Posluszny, Alan Zemaitis, Dan Connor, Jay Alford

Best Play: Derrick WIlliams' game-winning touchdown against Northwestern

For a while it looked like Penn State was dead in the water and the Dark Ages would remain. However, Penn State kept fighting back and gave us all hope the 2005 season would be something different. Robinson's deep throw to Derrick WIlliams sealed the deal and ushered in a new era of Penn State football, while giving the first glimpse of the astounding grittiness of one of the all-time great Penn State teams.

Honorable Mention: Isaac Smolko's 4th-and-15 receprion against Northwestern, Tamba Hali's sack and forced fumble on Troy Smith against Ohio StateEthan Kilmer's incredible touchdown grab in the Orange Bowl, Calvin Lowrey's near pick-six against OSU

Best Game: Orange Bowl

The win against Ohio State is easily one of the most meaningful games in program history, but it's hard to top the nonstop action of a triple-overtime thriller in Penn State's first BCS game. The Nittany Lions overcame injuries to Tony Hunt and Paul Posluszny but clawed their way to a game with numerous lead changes and complete changes in momentum. After several years of competing for the wins record, the head-to-head match-up of Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden in the Orange Bowl was an unbeatable storyline, and the crescendo of an incredible rivalry/friendship of two of college football's all-time greatest coaches.

Honorable Mention: Ohio State, Northwestern

Best Coach: TIE- Tom Bradley and Joe Paterno

Tom Bradley did the impossible in 2004- build the best defense in the nation despite constantly being forced to stay on and defend the short end of the field because of an inept offense. He carried that momentum over to 2005 to lead one of the all-time great Penn State defenses. The defense was fantastic across the board and could shut down a variety of offenses in a variety of ways. Bradley remains a defensive mastermind who made the incredible 2005 season possible.

I nearly placed Paterno on the honorable mention list but just could not do it. After a few years of pressure and calls for him to step aside, Paterno ignored the claims that the game had passed him by and restored the program back to its former glory as one of the best teams in the nation that won with players who also excelled in the classroom. Paterno knew that Penn State was just a few speedy perimeter players away from competing for the national championship, and he stuck to his guns despite many who were ready to set aside the man who built Penn State into a national program. He righted the ship by doing what he did for decades- teach a gritty group of players to play to the whistle, play fundamentally-sound football and play smarter than the guys across the line of scrimmage.

Honorable Mention: Larry Johnson, Galen Hall

Best Moment: Pure jubilation as the clock hit 0:00 against Ohio State

There is no word in the English language to quite describe the atmosphere in and around Beaver Stadium immediately following the program-altering victory against Ohio State. I've been fortunate to witness many memorable moments in that stadium but there was never quite like the feeling of standing in the seats long after the game ended and walking around University Park and experiencing true jubilation. Also, there's not much better than joining a mob as they rushed to the College Gameday set to chant "F*%^ You Corso!" for having the audacity of wearing the Brutus headgear during the pregame predictions much earlier in the day.

Best Moment II: Michael Robinson and Joe Paterno hoisting the Orange Bowl trophy

There are few images that produce such a plethora of warm emotions for Penn State fans than Michael Robinson standing next to Joe Paterno in front of the well-earned Orange Bowl Trophy. The two Penn State legends went through a tumultuous journey to get to the crowning achievement of a brilliant championship season, and the pure sense of pride, joy and achievement was likely the only thing keeping them upright after an emotionally and physically wrenching three-overtime classic to put the cherry on the most improbable season in the program's long and storied history.

Most Head-Scratching Moment: Michigan gets an extra two seconds

After a frantic second half that saw both offenses come alive in a classic back-and-forth finish, it appeared Penn State would outlast Michigan following Michael Robinson's three-yard touchdown scamper with just 53 seconds remaining. The Wolverines, aided by a big kickoff return from Steve Breaston, had one final shot to take the lead in the final seconds of the game. With seconds ticking off the clock, the dream of keeping the improbable undefeated 2005 season alive seemed more and more likely. Then something completely unexpected happened- in true Big Ten officiating fashion, Lloyd Carr somehow persuaded the officials to add an extra two seconds on the clock. A few short moments later, Chad Henne connected with Mario Manningham for the game-winning touchdown with just :01 left on the clock.

Worst Officiating: See above

I don't think there is a Penn State fan out there who has yet to come to peace with the extra :02 awarded to Michigan.

Newcomer of the Year: Deon Butler

This would have been Derrick WIlliams award for adding an instant and ever-so-needed spark to the offense, but an arm injury sidelined him for the second half of the season. Butler went from unknown walk-on to beginning his journey of becoming Penn State's all-time receptions leader. There were many "ifs" heading into 2005 for Penn State to return to its former glory, but the biggest may have been the need for a group of freshmen receivers to play like heralded veterans. Butler did that and much more.

Honorable Mention: Derrick WIlliams, Jordan Norwood, Justin King

Most Underrated Player: Alan Zemiatis

Zemiatis was among my favorite players on a star-studded team. He had a way of making the opponents best receiver completely disappear, all while being a primary playmaker who regularly did the unthinkable when the team needed a spark. I'm not certain why Zemiatis' name hasn't lived in Penn State lore like he deserves, but he was an irreplaceable part of the dream 2005 season and the best Nittany Lions defensive back in recent memory.

Honorable Mention: Matthew Rice, Anwar Phillips

So let's hear your take- what did I get wrong? What other awards would you bestow upon the 2005 season?