IOWA CITY — Aaron Taylor understands why Iowa football fans might have been a little perplexed when the Hawkeyes’ offensive line won the Joe Moore Award this past season as the top line in college football.
The Hawkeyes did surrender 30 sacks during an 8-5 season, but Taylor said the collection of college offensive line coaches and former players and coaches who select the recipient view things differently than casual fans.
“The voters are people who are line-play junkies, people who have made their lives coaching and teaching linemen. They view things from a more technical perspective and that is where Iowa separated itself from the other finalists,’’ said Taylor, a six-year NFL veteran who earned all-American honors while playing at Notre Dame on a line coached by Moore.
Every offensive line coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level has a chance to vote for the winner, viewing video clips each week to measure growth and overall consistency in play.
Taylor describes many of the electors as people who network regularly and frequently compare the play of lines in conversations following games each week.
“The flow and cohesion that Iowa displayed on the offensive line during the last three weeks of the season was beautiful,’’ Taylor said “The other two finalists (Alabama and Ohio State) may have had more physically gifted individual players, but they did not play together the way Iowa did during the final weeks of the regular season. Our final vote, it wasn’t all that close.’’
Taylor brought the mammoth trophy that was first presented to Alabama after the 2015 season to the Iowa football complex last week, unveiling to the entire Iowa team and to the linemen who earned the award named after the long-time college and high school coach during a team meeting.
The Hawkeyes will have ownership of the trophy until next season’s recipient is chosen.
Sitting on top of a base which makes the largest trophy in all of sports compare in size to a pipe organ, the actual Joe Moore Award is five feet wide and four feet tall and weighs in at more than 350 pounds.
It is topped by the likenesses of five players, each more than two feet tall.
Iowa linemen posed for pictures with the trophy which now sits in the Iowa Football Complex shortly after Taylor presented it to them.
Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was coached in high school by Moore, appreciates the meaning behind the award.
“I think the neatest thing about it quite frankly is that it’s all about teamwork,’’ Ferentz said. “It’s the only honor in college football that recognizes great teamwork and coach Moore would appreciate that.’’