College football’s award watch lists are being rolled out by the day, and we still have a few more to go before the preseason honoree love comes to a close. Northwestern had another of its players honored Wednesday, when senior Jeff Budzien was announced as one of 30 kickers on the Lou Groza award’s preseason list. The Groza award is given annually to the nation’s most outstanding kicker.
And Budzien certainly deserves to be in the conversation. You may remember last season that Budzien, who nailed school-record 95 percent (19-of-20) of field goal attempts and aced all 50 PAT tries, was a semifinalist for the Groza Award, but was excluded from the group of three finalists. Naturally, coach Pat Fitzgerald was not at all thrilled to learn his kicker -- who was later presented the Bakken-Anderson award, along with Nebraska's Brett Maher, for the Big Ten's best kicker -- had not been considered among the very best of the best at his position.
'How he’s not a finalist for the Groza Award makes me scratch my head. I have no idea. I’m done. I’m getting off that voting.' – Pat Fitzerald (11/24/12)
Not only are those words indicative of how Fitzgerald, and, presumably, the vast majority of Northwestern’s fan base felt about Budzien missing the finalists cut last season, they are also plastered on the Twitter profile of Budzien’s freshly-activated Groza campaign account: @Budzien4Groza.
Compared to the dumbbell-oriented PersaStrong platform hatched in 2011 to promote former quarterback Dan Persa’s Heisman candidacy, Budzien’s campaign isn’t quite as tangibly unique. But it does align with today’s social media-infused world, where a spiffy Twitter bio and some enlightening statistics -- of which @BudzienforGroza has more than enough to go around, apparently; if you're hungry for some #Budzienfacts, well, now you know exactly where to find them -- could be all any committee member needs to give Budzien a closer look. Budzien's performance last season wasn't convincing enough on its own to earn the voters' respect, but with the help of an account dedicated solely to documenting and promoting his accomplishments over the airwaves, Budzien's kicking exploits will be impossible to miss.
Speaking of not missing things, Budzien did exactly that last season, which is why, empowered with new Twitter branding recognition, his chances to reach the final round of Groza consideration (pending another excellent season, of course) have improved considerably. Maybe not. Maybe this November, Fitzgerald will be forced to rage against the committee's oversights once more. Maybe Budzien won't even kick himself into contention. This is the preseason honoree list, after all. The real thing is decided during the season.
The account is a pretty cool concept all the same. Hey, whatever works, right?