At this point in the season, there is no sense in trying to determine what the All-America voters take into account when picking their teams. It would seem as though the All-America voting has degraded from an objective evaluation of individual player performances to a team-oriented popularity contest.
That is the only rational way to describe the lack of Mountaineers on the ESPN All-America team. The sports gurus of Bristol published their one deep All-American team this week. The team is predictably stacked with Notre Dame and Alabama players, but is surprisingly void of WVU players.
The two biggest snubs by ESPN are Stedman Bailey at wide receiver and Tavon Austin for all-purpose.
Bailey being left out for fellow Biletnikoff finalists Lee and Williams is not a huge snub, but still a hard to digest oversight by ESPN. Apparently the guys in Bristol put more value on receptions and yards than they do on touchdowns.
As much as Bailey’s exclusion is an eyesore, the bigger snub belongs to Tavon Austin. He was beaten out for the all-purpose honor by Dri Archer from Kent State. Archer had a great season for the Golden Flashes with 22 touchdowns between kickoff returning, rushing, and receiving. Archer’s touchdown total bests Austin’s 17 for the Mountaineers, however, Archer scored that many touchdowns against the MAC.
As great a season as the MAC has had, it is nowhere comparable to the Big XII. What Tavon Austin was able to do, especially in big game such as the Oklahoma game, is nothing short of remarkable. It would seem as though the ESPNers thought that touchdowns mattered in the all-purpose category, a 180 degree turn around from their voting for wide receiver.
While ESPN was confusing in their All-America voting methodology, the AP All-America team was much more sensible. Tavon Austin took home 1st team all-purpose honors while teammate Stedman Bailey took home 2nd team wide receiver honors.
Bailey finished behind both Lee and Williams for the 1st team honors at wide receiver. Austin beat out Jordan Lynch for the top spot at all-purpose. ESPN favorite Dri Archer took home 3rd team all-purpose, much more fitting of his performance in the context of the competition he faced.