Biletnikoff Award sleeps on USF’s Tyre McCants

The burly Bulls receiver averaged nearly 20 yards a catch during his breakthrough 2017 season
USF receiver Tyre McCants totaled 15 catches for 315 yards in the Bulls' two biggest games last season. (OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
USF receiver Tyre McCants totaled 15 catches for 315 yards in the Bulls' two biggest games last season. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published July 20, 2018|Updated July 20, 2018

Since USF's transition (or demotion, depending on one's perspective) to the American Athletic Conference, screams of Power Five bias steadily have resonated throughout its fan base.

In some cases, the outcries are warranted. In others, they ooze whining. When a certain 26-win women's hoops team manages only a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament? Bring on the bias chants. When a certain football team doesn't crack the top 20 of someone's AP football ballot? Well, bias comes off as a convenient alibi.

Which leads us to burly Bulls senior WR Tyre McCants, whose name doesn't appear among the 50 on the Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

In the case of this glaring omission, there can be no debate on whether Power Five bias seeped into the selection process. In fact, we'll lead the catcall.

McCants was shafted, plain and simple.

Both the numbers and aesthetics undergird our claim. In 2017, McCants caught 36 passes for 686 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking 19th nationally in yards per catch (19.1). Translation: At least 31 guys on the watch list had fewer yards per catch than McCants.

In arguably USF's two biggest games (UCF and Texas Tech in the Birmingham Bowl), he totaled 15 receptions 315 yards and three TDs, setting a school single-game yardage record (227 yards) against the Knights.

His season TD-catch total was greater than 27 players on the watch list, and his opening-drive score at UCF remains one of the enduring images of the '17 collegiate season.

But if those stats don't stoke your rage, this might: One Power Five player on the watch list — LSU's Jonathan Giles — didn't even play last year.

Texas Tech's leading receiver (69 catches, 1,158 yards) in 2016, Giles sat out the '17 season per NCAA transfer rules. All of which seems to indicate that while the award committee can remember a Power Five player's feats from two seasons back, it's oblivious to a Group of Five guy's career game against an unbeaten ranked opponent eight months ago.

Also making the watch list: Miami's Ahmmon Richards (24 catches, 439 yards), who missed five games last season due to various injuries; and Louisville's Dez Fitzpatrick, whose receiving yards per game (53.8) were notably fewer than McCants' (57.2).

Even more embarrassing for the selection committee is the fact the award's sponsor — the Tallahassee Quarterback Club — is located just down the Panhandle from McCants' hometown of Niceville.

And so another Bull gets bypassed. For the Biletnikoff committee, this is bad optics. It's bush-league.

And it's bias.