Week Twelve Hog Blog: “Don’t Answer the Phone!”

It’s my least favorite time of the year. Moments after announcing the Fan Vote for the 2017 Silver Pigskin Player of the Year, the second guessing begins. Some are upset they were left off the Fan Vote; others are angry that they need to “qualify” for the podium and aren’t automatic finalists. We thought expanding the Fan Vote pool from nine to sixteen athletes might curb some of the criticism, but it has actually made things worse. 

I get it. You’re angry your athlete didn’t get selected. You have every right to voice your displeasure in any forum and in any way you choose. I promised viewers on Facebook that I would address some of their concerns about our voting process. I prefer to do that in this Hog Blog.

I’ll start with a quick review:

The Prestigious Silver Pigskin is awarded annually to San Diego’s most outstanding football player. San Diego high school football coaches, prep sportswriters, broadcasters, select social media writers, along with the voting members of the Prep Pigskin Report and other distinguished members of the football community, participate in the voting. Last year we mailed out 287 Player of the Year ballots.

We also allow you the viewer to have a voice in the outcome. But remember one thing – our Fan Vote for the Silver Pigskin Player of the Year is weighted. It counts as ten percent of the returned ballots; think of the Electoral College. It’s possible for an athlete to win the Fan Vote but not win the trophy, which is exactly what has happened the last two years. You the people can decide a close race, but we ask our PPR Silver Pigskin Ballot Voters to carry the most responsibility when it comes to crowning the PPR Silver Pigskin Winner.

That said, the Fan Vote became such a powerful interactive tool we decided to employ it in a different way in 2013, when the PPR Player of the Year committee was hopelessly deadlocked. We simply couldn’t decide who should get the final seat on our Player of the Year podium. So, we let the people decide – no weighted vote here! The athlete who received the most votes would join the other finalists already on the podium. San Pasqual’s JaJuan Thomas orchestrated a clever grassroots campaign and earned himself a nomination to the Gala stage. That Fan Vote for the final place on the dais proved to be so popular, we have used it every year since.

Fast forward to 2017. The prep football landscape has changed considerably. Enrollment rules have relaxed and the county’s best football players are more frequently congregating at the high schools with the best football programs. That change is now reflected on our Gala podium. The past few years, it’s been the same seven or eight schools producing our Silver Pigskin Finalists. I think this trend is bad for the sport and I know it’s bad for the PPR. Nobody wants to watch the same schools being honored at the Gala year in and year out. It’s boring and frankly unfair.

So in 2017 we made an unwritten change. Our committee still chooses the top five or six players who receive “automatic” berths on the podium. You the viewers still decide the final spot via the first of two Fan Votes.

But this year only the top player from each finalist school gets an automatic berth. If a second player from the same school is deemed a worthy candidate for the trophy, he must qualify through the Fan Vote. We won’t tie up two “automatic” spots on our podium with athletes from the same school.

Additionally, no school will have more than two athletes eligible for the trophy.  It’s possible to have one athlete “locked on” to the podium and another in the Fan Vote, or to have two in the Fan Vote. But that’s the absolute limit.

Our motives are simple to understand: we want to spread the PPR love while rewarding kids who “stay at home” and play for their neighborhood school. 

We want to have the best possible cross section of the county on our podium.

And, perhaps most importantly, we want to give the top Finalists that we choose a chance to win the award without having to split votes with a Teammate Finalist. Two Finalists from the same school often divide support, which allows Finalist number three to sneak in and go home with the trophy.

Which brings us to Chris Olave. The Mission Hills receiver is an incredible talent and even better person. The PPR loves him. But using the above guidelines, he didn’t get placed on the podium. I think everyone (including Olave) agrees that the Grizzlies’ success this season starts with quarterback Jack Tuttle. In our estimation, Tuttle is the hands-down choice for the automatic berth, with Chris being placed into the Fan Vote.

Naturally that didn’t sit well with OlaveNation. I understand your frustration and appreciate your passion. But before you cast the next rock, remember a couple things.

We see every game. We have a video vault that is the envy of any coach or recruiter in the country. We speak to coaches and recruiters on a daily basis. Do I need to continue? We have three iconic coaches on staff with nearly 1000 combined wins and three state titles. When it comes to evaluating prep football talent, we can hold our own with anyone.

We spend hours upon hours trying to make the most fair and accurate decisions. We hold no bias for or against anyone or any school. Our goal is simply to build a podium that best represents the caliber of football played throughout San Diego County. We want the best players, the best student-athletes, and the best leaders in the community. In short, we want it all. 

Is that possible? Probably not. Can we please everyone? Absolutely not. Every year there will be a handful of players we regret not being able to honor. I want to mention one. Carson Baker is an excellent quarterback at Helix Charter High School. He is one of the top four quarterbacks in the county. In any other season he might actually win the trophy, but in 2017 he’s playing on a team that boasts both Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Rashad Scott.  Isaac was placed on the podium, Scott was relegated to the Fan Vote, and Baker was left out in the cold altogether.

My message to Carson and all the other great athletes that slip through the cracks of the PPR Gala spotlight is to keep your chin up and soldier on. Whenever I suffered a “life isn’t fair” setback, my parents were quick to remind me, “Your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.”

Think of how much fun you’re going to have years from now, when you’re back in San Diego celebrating a new multi-million dollar contact. You can stare into the eyes of this over-the-hill sportscaster and say, “What do you think of me now?” Current NFL quarterback Alex Smith and former NFL leading rusher Arian Foster both come to mind as real life examples of that exact conversation.

We’ll announce the Fan Vote finalist Friday. And we’ll start Fan Vote number two immediately upon the conclusion of the Prep Pigskin Report.


Paul Rudy

Prep Pigskin Report

Categories: The Hog Blog