It's silly season again in Heart of America Conference football.
No, it's not the NAIA Championship Series, in which only one of the league's three entries advanced to the quarterfinal round. The truly ludicrous, instead, is the annual vote on conference awards.
Consider this: MidAmerica Nazarene received all 10 votes in the pre-season to win the league title, yet had to share it with Missouri Valley College -- which won the head-to-head match-up, 26-21. Yet, the HAAC "coach of the year" was the Pioneers' Jonathan Quinn -- for barely doing what was expected.
The Vikings were picked to finish second, but tied for the title, yet Paul Troth doesn't get the nod. Neither does Larry Wilcox of Benedictine, which also finished one place higher than projected in third and made a surprise return to the playoffs.
Which team had the loop's best defense? Missouri Valley finished first in run, pass and total defense -- but Benedictine had five first-team selections and the Vikings only three.
While Ravens defensive lineman Jordan Ancar wasn't in the top 20 in tackles and was 12th with 4.5 sacks, he ends up as the "defensive player of the year." Meanwhile, MidAmerica senior lineman Brandon Smith gets overlooked despite leading the nation with 14 sacks. So does the league's top tackler, Peru State junior Preston Bruss -- whose 10.1 stops be game were 2.2 higher than No. 2 on the leader board.
Even sillier is the "most valuable player," MNU senior tight end Juan Redmon. Yes, a tight end, one who had 46 total touches.
Forget about the "co-offensive player of the year" -- Baker quarterback Jake Morse, who averaged 212.5 yards per game in total offense and threw 17 touchdown passes -- as MVP. Ignore the 183.8 yards and 24 TD's provided by Benedictine quarterback Bill Noonan, sent to the all-conference third team. How could either of the league's two total offense leaders be considered less valuable than a tight end?
One could make the case for scattered other atrocities throughout the list, but the bottom line is this: if the best teams and individual performers -- by at least objective metrics -- aren't duly recognized, what's the point?
It may not be just about the stats, but to wholly ignore the data in favor of a largely subjective -- and dare we suggest political? -- approach defies credulity and credibility.