Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm all-conference, you're all-conference, we're all-conference

Woody Allen once joked he would never join a group that would be willing to have him as a member. If only the postseason and preseason accolades in football were so selective.

Now that the season is over, it might be a good idea to wonder about the myriad all-conference teams and why the honor loses its luster each time another Web site or magazine decides to promote or produce one.

At one time, being an all-conference player meant you were one of the best athletes in your league. Now, it just seems a way for coaches to get players recognition, regardless of how good they are or how they compare to the best players. While I won't call out any one conference or any one player - that would be unfair unless I could to it for all of them - but you've seen the lists.

Some select players to fill three teams, others have three teams and an honorable mention, and others have super long lists. I have seen a selection process - not this season - where all but three starters from a team were picked. What type of distinction is that?

Imagine the numbers here. Filling three full college all-conference teams - offense, defense and special team skill players - would put the number near 70. Add an honorable mention and you could hit 100.

High school all-conference teams don't reach those numbers but I have seen some pretty incredible lists. One that I recall had six players listed from a one-win team.

Preseason rankings can be wildly different in college. Last season, W&J was a top-5 team in one poll and 24th in another. In this year's midseason AFCA Top 25 Poll, California was listed behind Edinboro . . . the week after the Vulcans decisively beat the Fighting Scots. Hmmmm.

Recognition is fine in any sport. The sheer bulk of all-conference teams mean that many players get to call home and tell the parents they made it. If that's what these teams are now being used for, then fine.

But it is becoming less of an honor when it's not so selective.


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