The 2009 Pac-10 regular season has come to a close and as we all know, between the end of the regular season and beginning of the bowl season is the all-important awards season. So in that spirit, I present to you, the 2009 BruinsNation Pac-10 Awards. Throughout this week, we will present to you our Pac-10 awards, as voted on by the frontpagers and a select few members of the community, totaling ten votes. Monday was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, with Tuesday bringing us the Defensive Player of the Year and yesterday giving us Freshman of the Year, while Game of the Year will follow tomorrow. First place votes were worth five points, second place votes worth three and third place votes worth one.
Winner: Jim Harbaugh, Stanford- It was by only the slimmest of margins, but Jim Harbaugh came away with the BruinsNation Pac-10 Coach of the Year award thanks to an 8-4 record following a string of very poor seasons on The Farm. Harbaugh came to Stanford in 2007 and won four games in his first season after taking over a program that went 1-11 the previous season. in his second year, the Cardinal improved by a game, getting to 5-7 and this year, it was a three game jump as Harbaugh's tireless work on the recruiting trail began to pay off.
Thanks to a run heavy attack led by Toby Gerhart, Harbaugh's Cardinal finished 6-3 in the Pac-10, tied for second in the conference. All of this came with a redshirt freshman at quarterback who Harbaugh, a former quarterback, mentored and developed into a guy who threw 13 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
Harbaugh's program never got more attention than they did when Gerhart arrived in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist and when the Cardinal took down USC at the Coliseum for the second time in as many tried. He also caught some heat when he went for two late in the game to get to 50 points, although that move could have pushed him over the top and earned him Coach of the Year with our voters.
That win helped the Cardinal to the 2009 Sun Bowl, where they will be featured on CBS versus a marquee program, Oklahoma. These are heights the Stanford program has not seen since their Rose Bowl appearance in 2000. Not only has the Stanford program won their year, but they turned the ball over the second-fewest times in the Pac-10 and committed the second-fewest penalties, showing a disciplined and well-coached team.
Harbaugh edged out Oregon's Chip Kelly by a single point and it is worth mentioning the fantastic job that Kelly did with the Ducks this season. It would have been too easy for the first-year coach to let his program fall apart following the LaGarrette Blount debacle in the opener, but Kelly held the team together and they won the Pac-10, while also bringing Blount back into the fold in the correct manner. Arizona's Mike Stoops and Oregon St.'s Mike Riley finished close to each other, but well back of Harbaugh and Kelly.
Total Votes: 1) Jim Harbaugh, Stanford (4-2-2=28), 2) Chip Kelly, Oregon (3-3-3=27), 3) Mike Stoops, Arizona (2-1-2=15), 4) Mike Riley, Oregon St. (1-2-2=13), 5) Rick Neuheisel, UCLA (0-1-1=4)