(Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris at the podium while Matthew Oplinger ( immediate left of podium) and Chad Kanoff (right) are honored – Photo by Jason Schott)
Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff and Yale senior linebacker Matthew Oplinger were announced as the Ivy League’s 2017 Football Players of the Year and Asa S. Bushnell Cup recipients on Monday afternoon in the Mercury Ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown.
Kanoff was named Offensive Player of the Year and Oplinger took home Defensive Player of the Year at the press conference and reception co-hosted by the National Football Foundation (NFF), presented by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.
Kanoff is the third Tiger to be named Offensive Player of the Year in the past five years, joining Quinn Epperly (2013) and John Lovett (2017), and the fifth to earn Player of the Year since the award expanded to Offensive and Defensive in 2011. Kanoff is the 11th Princeton athlete to receive the Bushnell Cup.
“It’s a huge honor,” Kanoff said of winning the Bushnell Cup. “Obviously, tt’s been around 40, 50 years, so a lot of big names on it. I do really think it’s a team award, I’m happy to accept it on behalf of my teammates, great offensive line, best receiving corps, probably the best coordinator.”
Kanoff is the eighth Bushnell Cup winner to come from a team that finished in the bottom half of the League standings, joining Dartmouth’s Folarin Orimolade (2016), Cornell’s Jeff Mathews (2011), Dartmouth’s Nick Schwieger (2010), Cornell’s Derrick Harmon (1983), Columbia’s John Witkowski (1982), Doug Jackson (1975) and Princeton’s Walt Snickenberger (1974).
Kanoff led the League’s top offense, breaking the all-time single-season passing record with 3,474 yards, eclipsing the previous mark of 3,412, set in 2011 by Cornell’s Jeff Mathews. He also broke the Ivy League single-season completion percentage of 73.2, breaking the mark held by current Dallas Cowboys head coach and former Princeton Bushnell Cup winner Jason Garrett. Among his many accomplishments in 2017, Kanoff broke the Princeton record for single-season completions with 284, third-best in Ivy League history, and set the Tigers record with 29 passing touchdowns, matching the second-most in a single season in Ivy history. He also tied the Ivy League record with three 400-yard passing games and eight 300-yard passing games in a single season.
Kanoff nearly went to Vanderbilt before deciding to take his talents to the Ivy League. Off the field, he is part of the team chapter for Uplifting Athletes which works to raise money for rare diseases, specifically aplastic anemia, which impacted former Tiger Jordan Culbreath. Kanoff was selected to present his Junior Thesis, “Cyber Warfare: A Call to Arms for the Intelligence Community,” at the CIA in Langley, Va.
Oplinger is the 10th Bulldog to receive the Bushnell Cup and the first since Tyler Varga was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. Oplinger is the first-ever Yale athlete to be named Defensive Player of the Year since its inception in 2011.
Oplinger is the third Yale defensive player to be honored with the Bushnell Cup and the first since linebacker Tim Tumpane and defensive lineman Kevin Czinger went back-to-back in 1979 and 1980.
Oplinger led the Ivy League with 11.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. He ranked second in FCS in sacks per game and tied for second in sacks, and his tackles per loss per game is 20th in FCS. He posted two sacks in the Bulldogs’ win over Harvard that gave them their first outright title since 1980. He recorded at least one sack in seven games this season, including three and a safety against Holy Cross. For his career, Oplinger has 21.5 sacks, third-best in Yale history. He was named a Buck Buchanan Award Finalist for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year. Oplinger led a Bulldogs defense that paced the League in scoring defense (15.6), total defense (302.8) and rushing defense (73.1), while also ranking second in pass defense efficiency (111.6). In the national rankings, Yale is third in rushing defense, eighth in scoring defense and 13th in total defense.
Oplinger is the second in his family to win an Ivy title with Yale, as his older brother Justin was a part of the 2006 squad. Oplinger and his family have worked extensively with Healing the Children, through which they foster children from other countries who need surgeries.
Kanoff and Oplinger were selected as Bushnell Cup finalists, along with Brown senior linebacker Richard Jarvis, Penn junior linebacker Nick Miller and senior wide receiver Justin Watson, in a vote by the League’s eight head coaches.
The Bushnell Cup presentation was broadcast live on the Ivy League Network (ILN). An archive of the broadcast is now available on ILN and can be found by visiting IvyLeague.tv.
ASA S. BUSHNELL CUP HISTORY
Presented annually since 1970, The Asa S. Bushnell Cup honors its namesake, a 1921 Princeton alumnus and the commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference from 1938 to 1970. The Bushnell Cup is awarded by a vote of the Ivy League’s eight head football coaches to the players who display outstanding qualities of leadership, competitive spirit, contribution to the team and accomplishments on the field.
From 1970 to 2010, the Bushnell Cup recognized an Ivy League Player of the Year (or co-Players of the Year if there was a tie in voting). Beginning with the 2010 season, the award was presented as a part of the festivities surrounding the NFF Annual Awards Dinner with four finalists named a week prior to the presentation. Beginning with the 2011 season, the award began recognizing Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, honoring each as a recipient of the Bushnell Cup. Two offensive finalists and two defensive finalists are named with the Players of the Year unveiled at the presentation.
All-Time Recipient List
1970 – Jim Chasey, QB, Dartmouth & Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell
1971 – Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell
1972 – Dick Jauron, RB, Yale
1973 – Jim Stoeckel, QB, Harvard
1974 – Walt Snickenberger, RB, Princeton
1975 – Doug Jackson, RB, Columbia
1976 – John Pagliaro, RB, Yale
1977 – John Pagliaro, RB, Yale
1978 – Buddy Teevens, QB, Dartmouth
1979 – Tim Tumpane, LB, Yale
1980 – Kevin Czinger, MG, Yale
1981 – Rich Diana, RB, Yale
1982 – John Witkowski, QB, Columbia
1983 – Derrick Harmon, RB, Cornell
1984 – Tim Chambers, DB, Penn
1985 – Tom Gilmore, DT, Penn
1986 – Rich Comizio, RB, Penn
1987 – Kelly Ryan, QB, Yale
1988 – Jason Garrett, QB, Princeton
1989 – Judd Garrett, RB, Princeton
1990 – Shon Page, RB, Dartmouth
1991 – Al Rosier, RB, Dartmouth
1992 – Jay Fiedler, QB, Dartmouth
1993 – Keith Elias, RB, Princeton
1994 – Pat Goodwillie, LB, Penn
1995 – Dave Patterson, LB, Princeton
1996 – Chad Levitt, RB, Cornell
1997 – Sean Morey, WR, Brown
1998 – Jim Finn, RB, Penn
1999 – James Perry, QB, Brown
2000 – Gavin Hoffman, QB, Penn
2001 – Carl Morris, WR, Harvard
2002 – Carl Morris, WR, Harvard
2003 – Mike Mitchell, QB, Penn
2004 – Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Harvard
2005 – Nick Hartigan, RB, Brown
2006 – Jeff Terrell, QB, Princeton
2007 – Mike McLeod, RB, Yale
2008 – Chris Pizzotti, QB, Harvard
2009 – Buddy Farnham, WR, Brown & Jake Lewko, LB, Penn
2010 – Gino Gordon, RB, Harvard & Nick Schwieger, RB, Dartmouth
2011 – Offensive Player of the Year: Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell
Defensive Player of the Year: Josue Ortiz, DT, Harvard
2012 – Offensive Player of the Year: Colton Chapple, QB, Harvard
Defensive Player of the Year: Mike Catapano, DL, Princeton
2013 – Offensive Player of the Year: Quinn Epperly, QB, Princeton
Defensive Player of the Year: Zack Hodges, DE, Harvard
2014 – Offensive Player of the Year: Tyler Varga, RB, Yale
Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Zack Hodges, DE, Harvard & Mike Zeuli, LB, Princeton
2015 – Offensive Player of the Year: Scott Hosch, QB, Harvard
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Drake, LB, Penn
2016 – Offensive Player of the Year: John Lovett, QB, Princeton
Defensive Player of the Year: Folarin Orimolade, LB, Dartmouth
Player of the Year Finalists
2010 – Trey Peacock, WR, Princeton &
Billy Ragone, QB, Penn
2011 – Erik Rask, LB, Penn &
Nick Schwieger, RB, Dartmouth
2012 – Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell &
AJ Cruz, DB, Brown
2013 – John Spooney, RB, Brown &
Caraun Reid, DL, Princeton
2014 – Dalyn Williams, QB, Dartmouth
2015 – Will McNamara, LB, Dartmouth &
Justin Watson, WR, Penn
2016 – Kurt Holuba, DL, Princeton &
Justin Watson, WR, Penn
Several past Bushnell Cup recipients currently hold impressive coaching positions, including: Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys Director of Pro Scouting Judd Garrett, Bryant head coach James Perry and Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens.
The evening following the Bushnell Cup Presentation, the NFF will stage its 60th Annual Awards Dinner also at the New York Hilton Midtown. As the culmination of the regular season, the event provides the stage for the induction of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2017 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments; and the bestowing of the 28th NFF William V. Campbell Trophy®, presented by Fidelity Investments and named for the former Columbia player and head coach and 2004 recipient of the NFF’s Gold Medal, to the nation’s top scholar-athlete.
Eight NFF National Scholar-Athletes have claimed the Bushnell Cup: Dick Jauron (Yale, 1972), Kevin Czinger (Yale, 1980), Richard Diana (Yale, 1981), Tom Gilmore (Penn, 1985), Keith Elias (Princeton, 1993), Nick Hartigan (Brown, 2005), Jeff Mathews (Cornell, 2011) and Tyler Varga (Yale, 2014).
Jauron was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2015 class. He joined Ed Marinaro (Cornell) as the only two members of the Hall to have claimed the Bushnell Cup, and Jauron is the first person ever to hold all three titles as a Bushnell Cup recipient, NFF National Scholar-Athlete and a College Football Hall of Famer.