Dick Butkus Award is a Complete Joke

Left it all on the field, as usual.

Left it all on the field, as usual.


If the Dick Butkus Award selection committee got points for honesty, probably all of them would admit to skipping the Notre Dame vs. Temple football game on Saturday night. The award is supposed to go to the nation’s best linebacker.

One of the linebackers in that game had 13 tackles and an interception and is the nation’s leading active career tackler and the only player in the FBS to lead his team in tackles for all eight games. Another had 10 tackles and no interceptions, is not the FBS career leader in tackles nor has led his team in tackles in each and every game.


The guy with 13 tackles and an interception, Temple’s Tyler Matakevich, was left off the list of Dick Butkus Award semifinalists released by the committee on Monday. The guy with the 10 tackles, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith, was on it. There were 10 linebackers on that semifinal list and not to include Matakevich should be enough evidence to get every member of that committee fired.

The argument extends beyond that single game and the comparison with that single foe. It is supposed to be an award based on this single season of performance in the college football realm alone, not on where the guy projects in the NFL draft. On their criteria, it is hard for the committee to make a case for any of the 10 being better than Matakevich.


Along with Smith, the following are the semifinalists:  Kendall Beckwith and Deion Jones of LSU, Su’a Cravens of USC, Kyler Frackrell of Utah State, Leonard Floyd of Georgia,   Blake Martinez of Stanford, Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State, Antonio Missison of Florida and Reggie Ragland of Alabama.

For the season—and that’s what this award is based on—Matakevich has 78 tackles, four sacks and five interceptions for the 7-1 Owls and has led a defense that is ranked No. 9 nationally in scoring defense (15.8 ppg.). He has more sacks and more interceptions than anyone on that list and only one player has more tackles.

Certainly, it cannot be because Matakevich plays for a Group of Five team because he has reserved his two best games against Power 5 teams—a 27-10 win over a 6-2 Penn State team and a 24-20 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame. Plus, Frackwell–wit his measly 53 tackles and no interceptions by comparison–is on the list and he’s on G5 team. If the Dick Butkus Committee is going exclude Group of 5 linebackers, it should say so in the criteria. Otherwise, this award is a complete farce.

In almost every category across the board, No. 8 ranks No. 1.

In almost every category across the board, No. 8 ranks No. 1.

The hard numbers suggest none of these linebackers rate on a par with Matakevich, let alone deserve to jump over him. Craven has 50 tackles and two interceptions. Beckwith and Jones are tied for the LSU team lead with 51 tackles and only Jones has interceptions (two).  Frackwell has 53 tackles and no interceptions.  Floyd no interceptions and 44 tackles.  Martinez has 91 tackles, but only one interception. McMillan has 74 tackles and no interceptions and there is a poll on one Ohio State website questioning whether he is even the best linebacker on the Buckeyes, let alone one of the top 10 in the nation. Missison has 60 tackles and no interceptions and Ragland has 71 tackles and no interceptions.

No one has made the kind of impact in the nation and on his own team as Matakevich and the Butkus Award committee should be ashamed to leave this young man off a final list of 10. There can be no valid reasons for this sloppy work, just excuses.


9 thoughts on “Dick Butkus Award is a Complete Joke

  1. While I agree with you that Matakevich should have no way, at all, in any way, not even for a second, have been thought about let alone actually, maybe even possibly been left off the list; to say that none of those other guys are on par is a little silly. However, Matakevich is clearly playing at a higher level than a bunch of these guys and needs to be on this list.

  2. With Toledo losing at home last night against an NIU team that lost it’s starting QB and receiver the path is now cleared for the Owls to step into one of the New Year’s bowls. Hope they get rid of the ND hangover and step up and take advantage of the opportunity.

  3. Utah State isn’t in a P5 conference either (or is it in the Big12?) and Matakevich’s stats are far superior to their lb. Like I keep saying, Temple is always getting screwed, one way or another. Not winning the award is one thing but getting left out of the semifinalist list is outrageous. Never mind Tyler, you need to know life isn’t fair and just keep playing the way you have been. We wouldn’t expect anything else from you. You’re a gamer if ever there was one.

  4. I was angry when I read your article Mike but unfortunately not surprised. Was it Hardy the WR last year for ECU that dominated but was left off the final 10 for the Belitnikoff? The Haves control college sports but football is off the charts.

  5. This should answer the question of why he’s not there. He probably never had a chance.

    School Winners
    Oklahoma 4
    Alabama 3
    Colorado 2
    Florida State 2
    Illinois 2
    Ohio State 2
    Penn State 2
    Boston College 1
    Maryland 1
    Miami 1
    Michigan 1
    Michigan State 1
    Nebraska 1
    Notre Dame 1
    Ole Miss 1
    Texas 1
    Texas A&M 1
    UCLA 1
    USC 1
    Wake Forest

  6. Like I said Micah, not having a chance at the award and being left off of the semifinalist list are 2 different things. Only one player wins the award and all other semifinalists lose, but Tyler should have gotten the honor of being in contention at least. A bunch of bogus BS.

  7. I actually sent an email to the Butkus award committee earlier this week with some of the statistics that you presented in this article and ask them to explain why Tyler was left out of the selection. This was their response.

    Thanks Micah. Our selectors evaluate talent at multiple levels so we ask them to evaluate candidates at all three levels of play. Our selection process is simply a 3-2-1 vote and we tally up the results. In this case, Tyler just didn’t quite make the cut. Last year, it was Scooby Wright, even though he received other awards. Our selectors and criteria are posted at http://www.thebutkusaward.com. I know it doesn’t change your mind or ease your disappointment, but I appreciate your taking the time to reach out.

    Ron D. Arp
    Butkus Foundation 360.601.2991

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