Something tells me that B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is going to get overlooked this year for a league award, but he shouldn't.
The CFL will announce Wednesday who the conference finalists are for the six league awards. I believe that the announcement will give us some insight into what criteria the league sees as most important when evaluating the award recipients.
As we await the winners, there are two questions that I have: Will we see one player in two categories? Is there a desire to celebrate the emergence of new stars?
I am of the opinion that when the opportunity naturally presents itself, you avoid placing one athlete in multiple award categories. Therefore, I think it is crazy to nominate Stampeders running back Jon Cornish as the Most Outstanding Player and Canadian when you have a well-deserving Harris sitting in the wings.
It would be great if we could execute a crossover like the playoff format in order to have Cornish and Harris go head-to-head for the Most Outstanding Canadian, but we can't.
Over the past week, all I keep hearing is how many are of the opinion that Cornish is more deserving of the Most Outstanding Canadian than Harris. What I do know, is that it would be a shame if the latter is not recognized for his accomplishment this season.
Harris had a record-setting year for the most cumulative yards in a single season by a Canadian, breaking the previous mark set by Terry Evanshen in 1967.
Offensive football is about gaining enough yards to move the sticks in order for your team to have a shot at scoring points. Score enough points and you win. It's pretty simple.
Why then is Cornish's running for 1457 yards seen to be a greater accomplishment than Harris' 1830 yards from scrimmage?
If Harris had the same number of touches as Cornish had directly from the quarterback, the two very well could have ended up dead even in yards on the ground. The fact that B.C. runs an offence that releases the back as often as they do should not hurt Harris' case. However, whenever he was given the opportunity to perform, he made the most of it.
Harris may have finished third in league rushing, but he was only five yards shy of leading the 13-5 Lions in receiving and finished with more yards in the air than Geroy Simon, arguably the best receiver to play the game.
Some may argue that Cornish is a better tackle-to-tackle runner than Harris. You can just as easily build an argument that Harris is a better open field runner.
Cornish was just named Canadian player of the month for October after averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 97 per game. Harris, on the other hand, averaged 102 yards per game this season.
Yes the Stamps have gone 8-2 since Labour Day, but they also played four games against the Edmonton Eskimos, two vs. the lowly Winnipeg Blue Bombers and one against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
I would suggest that the best head-to-head comparison between Cornish and Harris was the Oct. 6 game. Cornish finished with 12 touches for 93 yards, while Harris finished with 125 yards and a touchdown. Harris was clearly the better back on that day.
This is definitely not a slag on Cornish, as I agree he stepped up and had the season that all of us expected him to have. Being the first Canadian to lead the CFL in rushing since 1998 and breaking Normie Kwong's record for most rushing yards by a Canadian in a single season are tremendous accomplishments.
There were times this year when Cornish single-handedly took over the game. Cornish is the guy that you need to stop when you play the Stamps if you want a chance to win. Riders head coach Cory Chamblin recognized this as he issued this challenge to his team prior to its game against Calgary in week 13.
You can easily point to the moment that the Stamps' rushing attack improved as the turning point to their season.
Opinionated and abrasive
Cornish is opinionated and abrasive at times, but he is definitely a great talent, and he is the best choice to go head to head for the Most Outstanding Player Award this season against Chad Owens.
Yes... you heard me right. I believe that Owens should be the MOP for the East.
Don't get me wrong, Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo had an amazing season. His ability to find a way to win with a porous defence and an offence that was depleted of key players due to injuries speaks to the amazing talent that he is. The problem is that Calvillo has set his own standard too high. We have grown to expect 5000 yards and 30 plus touchdowns from the pivot every year.
When given the opportunity to do so, we need to usher in the next generation of CFL star players.
We also need to take the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments that were earned this season. Breaking Michael Clemons's 1997 mark of 3,840 all-purpose yards is a big deal.
We all knew that Owens was a good returner, but the fact that he also led the league in receiving means he has evolved as an athlete and become a more complete football player.
Owens gained 3,863 yards this year, which is a lot of offence by one person. Not only does this total speak to the type of skill that Owens has, but it also speaks to his durability and his desire to stay motivated each and every week of a long 18 game season.
Given the opportunity, we should celebrate accomplishments and then take the opportunity to usher in the next generation of CFL stars. Hopefully the CFL Awards nominations reflect this.
Enjoy the games!
Back to accessibility links