After UT announced that they'd landed the nation's #1 punter in Matt Darr for this year's class, ESPN's Pat Forde poked fun by tweet at Derek Dooley for earlier promoting the announcement as good news. Bruce Feldman got on the wagon with a retweet, and then Spencer gave the idea a running push, hopped on board, and rode it down the hill. Um . . . up into the sky. TARDY BROKEN METAPHOR ALERT.
Well. I'll show them, I thought. This is Tennessee, and around these parts, we have always loved our feet. Punters and kickers are important to outcomes of games, and surely the numbers would support me. Shirley, the best teams in the nation would also have some of the best feet.
Ahem. Turns out, not so much. Last year's final BCS rankings, with respective punter and field goal rankings:
Bah. With the exception of Florida (BAH!), none of last year's top 25 teams had top ten punters and only five of them had top 25 punters. The average punter ranking for top 25 teams was 50 and something. Field goals weren't that much better, with the exception of Alabama (BAHHHHHH!) and the Big 12. I'm sorry -- Texas.
How did the teams with the best punters and kickers fare last year? Ladies and gentlemen, here are your top ten. Dim the lights and here we go:
|TOP TEN PUNTERS IN 2009|
|1||Drew Butler, Georgia||P||SO||13||56||2691||48.05||4.31|
|2||Matt Dodge, East Carolina||P||SR||14||67||3069||45.81||4.79|
|3||Tress Way, Oklahoma||K||FR||13||61||2787||45.69||4.69|
|4||Matt Reagan, Memphis||K||SR||12||63||2868||45.52||5.25|
|5||Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma St.||K||FR||13||67||3023||45.12||5.15|
|6||Derek Epperson, Baylor||P||JR||12||54||2420||44.81||4.5|
|7||Michael Such, Tulsa||P||JR||12||57||2538||44.53||4.75|
|8||Zoltan Mesko, Michigan||P||SR||11||52||2312||44.46||4.73|
|9||Scott Kozlowski, West Virginia||P||SR||13||64||2844||44.44||4.92|
|10||Trevor Hankins, Arizona St.||P||JR||12||69||3049||44.19||5.75|
|TOP TEN FIELD GOAL KICKERS IN 2009|
|1||Kai Forbath, UCLA||K||JR||13||31||28||0.903||2.15|
|2||Leigh Tiffin, Alabama||K||SR||14||35||30||0.857||2.14|
|3||Grant Ressel, Missouri||K||SO||13||27||26||0.963||2|
|4||Dan Hutchins, Pittsburgh||K||JR||13||29||23||0.793||1.77|
|5||Hunter Lawrence, Texas||K||SR||14||27||24||0.889||1.71|
|5||Alex Henery, Nebraska||K||JR||14||28||24||0.857||1.71|
|7||Justin Kahut, Oregon St.||K||JR||13||27||22||0.815||1.69|
|7||Erik Soderberg, Air Force||K||SO||13||30||22||0.733||1.69|
|9||Joe Phillips, Utah||K||JR||12||22||20||0.909||1.67|
|10||Ian McGarvey, Ball St.||K||JR||11||21||18||0.857||1.64|
|10||Alex Carlton, Army||K||SO||11||24||18||0.75||1.64|
With a few exceptions, that's almost like a Who's Not of college football. (Yes, that's an exaggeration. Leave me alone. I've gotten into a nasty argument with myself, and I lost.) Georgia and Oklahoma had great punters last year, but the teams weren't very good. Alabama and Texas had good field goal kickers, and if I wanted to lie to myself, they would make good anecdotal evidence that feet inevitably lead to BCS bowl games. But yeah, at least in 2009, having the best punters and kickers in the FBS didn't really mean teams won very much.
But here's the thing. You need to have a punter and a kicker, so you might as well have the two best guys in the nation, right? And Vol fans know from experience that punts can be some of the most purtiest things ever:
They can even win games:
Field goals, too, are kinda sorta important:
Forget the numbers, I could not be happier that we have landed the nation's best feet.