The winner: Texas, which received three awards to USC’s two.
Longhorns quarterback Vince Young and Trojans running back Reggie Bush took home two awards apiece, and Longhorns defensive back Michael Huff broke the tie with an award of his own.
The two-hour ceremony opened with Young winning the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s most outstanding quarterback and closed with Young winning the Maxwell Award for the country’s outstanding all-around player.
"It means a whole lot," Young said. "A lot of people doubted me about being a quarterback. [They said] I should be moved to another position, so I wanted to show the world how I could be a good quarterback."
In winning the Maxwell, Young beat out the other two finalists for the Heisman Trophy, Bush and USC quarterback Matt Leinart. He also beat out Leinart for the O’Brien.
The bad news for Young: None of the past five Maxwell Award winners won the Heisman in the same season.
The Walter Camp Player of the Year award tends to be the better predictor of Heisman success. Eleven of the past 15 Walter Camp winners also won the Heisman.
Bush, the game-breaker behind USC’s 34-game winning streak, took home the Walter Camp, announced during "SportsCenter", and the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back.
"I would like to be known first and foremost as a running back," said Bush, who’s also a dangerous kick returner and pass-catcher. "Over this summer, I really tried to focus on becoming a complete running back and just showing everybody I can run between the tackles, around the tackles. I can do it all."
Dressed fashionably in a gray three-piece suit with light pinstripes and a light blue tie, Bush received one of the night’s loudest ovations after the Doak Walker announcement.
But Penn State Coach Joe Paterno made the night’s best entrance. Paterno, who will turn 79 on Dec. 21, sat down in his third-row aisle seat a couple of minutes before the ceremony began.
"JoePa!" one person yelled, and the rest of the audience clapped.
Paterno, whose team shared the Big Ten title this season, won The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award and, moments later, saw Nittany Lions linebacker Paul Posluszny win the Chuck Bednarik Trophy for the nation’s best defensive player.
Two Oregon State players took home awards, with Alexis Serna winning the Lou Groza Award (best kicker) and former walk-on Mike Hass taking the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver).
"I can’t put into words what I feel right now," Hass said. "It’s just elation. I’m so happy that I won this."
Minnesota center Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman). Wake Forest’s Ryan Plackemeier won the Ray Guy Award (best punter). Huff won the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back).
The NCFAA Contribution to College Football Award went to U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.), the former Nebraska Cornhuskers coach. Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award went to the Tulane football team, which played on after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.
But Young, the quarterback behind Texas’ 19-game win streak, left Thursday’s last impression. He won the Maxwell, the night’s final award, and received a standing ovation as he reached the stage.
"It’s a blessing," he said.
© 2005, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.