Mike Hull Is Not A Butkus Award Semifinalist, For Some Reason
Deserving players are left off of recognition lists all the time in every sport. In every All-Star game or award ceremony, several worthy standouts remain home. I can just point to last year, when Allen Robinson was not one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award. Sure, it sucked, but one could at least make a reasonable argument for the three players that made it over him.
However, today’s snub is of such consummate inexplicability that it belongs right up there in the Snub Hall of Fame with Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team and Pete Rose’s exclusion from baseball enshrinement.
According to 51 people apparently qualified to make such judgments, Mike Hull is not one of the 15 best linebackers in America this year and therefore absent from the semifinalists list for the Butkus Award that was revealed today.
It’s just so amazingly nonsensical.
Let’s start with the basics: Hull is sixth in the country in total tackles per game with 11.9 (83 total), and ninth in the country in solo tackles per game at 6.7 (47 total). Both of those numbers are tops in the Big Ten. Tackles don’t tell the whole story of a player’s effectiveness, but it’s a widely accepted measure of success for linebackers. The argument could easily end right here, as the tackle leader in a conference like the Big Ten should at least get a Top 15 hat tip. But I’ll throw this in: No one on the list has more total tackles per game than Hull. Yeah.
I should note that five linebackers with more tackles than Hull are also not on the Butkus list, seemingly indicating that tackles do not mean much. On the contrary, all five of those linebackers have something in common: They play for mediocre-to-terrible defenses. None of those defenses are even in the country’s top 50 in total yards allowed. Penn State’s defense, on the other hand, is No. 4 in the country. While the other linebackers are diamonds in the rough, Hull stands out even surrounded by some of the nation’s best defenders who chip away at his stats, and that seems lost on this committee.
Moving along, the list contains only one Big Ten player, Michigan’s Jake Ryan. Here’s this:
Ryan: 8.5 total tackles per game, 1.25 TFL per game, two sacks, zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles
Hull: 11.5 total tackles per game, 1.0 TFL per game loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble
Ah. That extra 0.25 tackle for loss per game must have been the explanation.
And while a skimming of the numbers should be enough to ascertain why this is complete and utter bullshit, there’s more! Awards like this always take intangibles into account (or they at least say they do). The award’s description says that it is meant to honor both the country’s best linebacker and one who gives back to the community, as part of the “original purpose” of honoring athletic achievement.
There is no question that Hull has followed in the footsteps of the great linebackers of Penn State past, both in spirit and performance. Behind him, a should-be mediocre linebacking corps is one of the best in the country.
Mike Hull left it all on the field tonight, and also took some of the field with him. pic.twitter.com/ps82J2qUaV
— Onward State (@OnwardState) October 26, 2014
Former heart and soul of the Lions Michael Mauti has taken notice, telling Lions247 that “he could watch [him] play all day.” Head coach James Franklin also praised Hull after Saturday’s game against Ohio State, saying: “I think [Hull] should be on every award list right now. He deserves that. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve coached in a lot of different leagues, even the NFL. The guy is playing at a really, really high level week in and week out… You guys have heard me say this before, but I have a man crush on that guy. I love him. He’s a big-time football player.”
Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive line coach Herb Hand added:
Let’s turn to the folks for some more reasons as to why this is just the strangest damn thing:
Maybe Mike Hull privately asked to be slighted by everyone? Really, it’s the only plausible explanation. — Nate Bauer (@NateBauerBWI) October 27, 2014
Mike Hull: 83 tackles OU LB Erik Striker: 31 tackles One of these players is a Butkus semifinalist and one is not. — Dan Vecellio (@djvecellio) October 27, 2014
Mike Hull not being a Butkus semifinalist is the worst April Fools joke ever, and only partially because it’s October 27th.
— Matt d (@PSUMatt2005) October 27, 2014
Mike Hull not being on the @butkusaward list is ridiculous. Must’ve been a “breakdown in voter mechanics” or something like that.
— Evil James Franklin (@JamesFrankwin) October 27, 2014
It’s just the latest in a series of mind-boggling events to befall Penn State football. I don’t buy into those conspiracy theories about the college football world actively screwing us over since the scandal, especially since Penn Staters have won all sorts of conference and national awards since. The injustice of this snub is still perplexing — Hull might not be the country’s best linebacker, but to place him outside of the top 15 is balderdash. My guess is that the selection committee hasn’t actually watched any football and pulled names out of a hat. Outside of that, I’m shit out of explanations for this one.