Welcome to the first-annual Cutting Edge awards, developed in the tradition of the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys (but not in the tradition of the Blockbuster Awards, TV Guide Awards and Teen Choice Awards).

Paul Wong
Mark Francescutti<br><br>The Daily grind

Tonight”s awards pay respect to some of the notable people and events of the past year in Michigan sports.

Ok, the Joan Rivers fashion preshow is over. Lloyd Carr has a slick tuxedo on.

Now on to the awards.

Best original score Duke 34, Michigan 2 It”s unbearable to even remember. Feel worse for ESPN, which saw its ratings plummet when all of the television sets in Michigan turned to “Martha Stewart Living”s Saturday Night Special” on how to grow the biggest cucumber.

Best director Bill Martin The Athletic Department is in a much more healthy position both financially and internally. Coaches, players and administrative staff, for the most part, have never been happier.

Least supporting Director Bill Martin Deadbeat dads show more support for their illegitimate children than this athletic director does for Michigan coach Brian Ellerbe. After the embarrassing blowout loss at home to Michigan State, Martin gave Ellerbe little confidence.

Betcha Martin is kicking himself for promising not to fire Ellerbe until the end of the season.

Best new director Men”s soccer coach Steve Burns Burns took several club players, mixed them in with varsity recruits and enjoyed a fine inaugural season. His hard work earned men”s soccer its due status. A new field and greater exposure will come.

Best drama (with an unhappy ending) Football vs. Northwestern Damien Anderson can walk down the streets of less-than-football-savvy Evanston unnoticed. But his key drop on fourth down could have made him a marked man in the lackluster sports town. Thankfully for Anderson, Michigan”s Anthony Thomas outdid Anderson”s blunder, fumbling the game away. A high-tense, high-powered instant classic, the Michigan-Northwestern game will go down as one of the most sad, but entertaining, games in Michigan history.

Worst script Michigan basketball”s offense The Wolverines are so predictable that WJR just puts in old tapes to call their halfcourt offense.

“Avery Queen dribbles the ball down, pass to Blanchard, back to Bernard Robinson. Ten seconds on the shot clock. Robinson can”t get into the paint to Josh Asselin. Back to Queen. One second on the shot clock, Queen throws up a three that barely touches the rim.” Rewind and repeat.

Best comedy Football”s defensive backfield The old Woodson days of superior coverage are gone. Now, the Wolverines give up 243 yards per game through the air. How many times did Brandon Williams or Todd Howard fall down? It”s no wonder Justin Fargas left for USC. He probably didn”t want to be a safety. Don”t worry, they”ll be much better next year.

Best song “N Sync”s “Bye Bye Bye” Lance, J.C., Justin, Joey and Chris plan to sing their big hit at Crisler Arena for Brian Ellerbe at the end of the season.

Best supporting role Football”s offensive line Drew Henson was able to balance his overflowing checkbook in the pocket thanks to Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus and Maurice Williams (who should all be NFL first-rounders). The group definitely takes the cake as the best offensive line in Michigan history.

Mark Francescutti can be reached at mfrances@umich.edu.

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