B1G Ten Awards: The Philly's
Now that the Big Ten season is complete, it's a good time to reflect on the season and dish out some awards--some standard, some not so much. It's the first annual Philly awards in a very special edition of the B1G Ten Tour.
By Phil Harrison
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
The coaches of the Big Ten got this all wrong. While Taylor Martinez has had a very, very good year, where would Ohio State be without Braxton Miller? The reality is that this should have been a no contest and Miller should probably be getting more consideration for the Heisman based solely on what he means to his team. The stats were there, but more importantly, the wins were evident. And he should only get better.
TEAM OF THE YEAR - Ohio State
Yes, they are on penalty. Yes, they are sitting at home making bowl-party plans rather than traveling for a business trip, but who saw this coming? There is talent on this year's Buckeye team to be sure, but the talent level is not as good as it has been in other years. On top of that, being able to stay focused and motivated in a year in which the carrot hanging in front of them was rotten and shredded is amazing. If you saw this team coming together and finding a way to win every game on its way to 12 and OH, then I'd like to hire you as my personal bookie.
PLEASANT SURPRISE OF THE YEAR - Penn State
Things looked absolutely bleak after the Nittany Lions lost a close game to Virginia in week two to fall to 0-2. But then something funny started to happen. The Nittany Lions began to play football. Quietly, but confidently Penn State began to get better, shake off the hangover of a very tumultuous off-season and come together as a team. At the end of it all, Bill O'Brien's crew finished the season 8-4 and second in the Leaders Division. It was a bigger turnaround than Apple, and now the challenge moves to working this thing through the next few years.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR - Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State
Barnes, a redshirt-freshman from the Philadelphia area, led the Nittany Lions with six sacks and ten tackles-for-loss. Those aren't just good numbers on his team either as he finished fifth and fourteenth respectively in the entire conference. His upside is tremendous and opposing offenses will be seeing plenty of the blossoming freshman for at least a couple of more years.
SOUR LEMON OF THE YEAR - Illinois
It was a season to forget in Champaign. Dare we say that fans began pining for the Ron Zook days? Uh, no. But still--this year was uglier than a wet-dog after a mud-bath. Despite still having some talent on the roster, the punchless Illini finished its 2012 campaign with only two wins, and none in Big Ten play. The defense gave up points like there was a closeout special on them, and the offense was too inconsistent to keep pace. Sometimes the only thing good about a season is that it comes to an end. On to next year for Tim Beckman.
COACH OF THE YEAR - Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Yeah, Bill O'Brien deserves some credit, but the Big Ten picked the wrong guy when tapping O'Brien on the shoulder for the coach of the year award in the conference. If you're coaching Ohio State, you have to wonder what has to be accomplished to win a conference coach of the year award. Jim Tressel never one despite seven conference titles, one national championship, two more national-title game appearances, and a bushel of BCS game appearances. Now Meyer, who took a 6-7 team from a year ago that had only pride to play for (and a participation trophy for winning the Leaders division) and led them to a perfect season deserves more recognition. The Big Ten coach of the year should have been an open and shut case with a real shot at national accolades. Don't worry Meyer, you get a Philly for your efforts. I'm sure that means more anyway.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - John Simon, DE, Ohio State
The first annual Philly awards are beginning to have a scarlet and grey shade to them, but for good reason. John Simon had to play through injuries all season long, but that didn't stop his motor from firing non-stop. Simon led the league in sacks, and was sixth in tackles for loss despite having to sit out his last game against Michigan, Most notably, John Simon was a factor along the line and in opponents' backfields on a consistent basis when you turn the game film on. He'll be missed on the banks of the Olentangy.
BEST USE OF A MULLIGAN AWARD - Wisconsin
It's not often you get second and third chances in life, but that's exactly what the Badgers got this year. After doing the equivalent of hooking a tee-shot off of the ninth-hole, Wisconsin still got to represent the Leaders division in Indy. Why? Because its playing partners (Ohio State and Penn State) ran out of balls and got DQ'd on the way to the clubhouse. Wisconsin made good on the mulligan and absolutely bombed its next tee-shot right down the middle of the fairway by destroying Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship game. Next, it's off to the Roses for the third-straight year.
Best Play of the Year
Ohio State's Devin Smith one-handing a TD reception against Miami (OH). It was in the first week of the season, but nothing surpassed it as the weather turned colder.
Worst Play of the Year
Denard Robinson throwing to the wrong area code, then sticking his head into a brick wall. There were many bad plays against Alabama, but this one stood out because of two bad decisions on one play.
Hardest Hit of the Year
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier laying the wood on Cal QB Eric Maynard. It too happened early on, but nobody shook the cobwebs more through the remainder of the Big Ten slate.
Superhero Moment of the Year
Le'Veon Bell hurdling a Boise State defender. Next year Bell will be using his X-ray vision to get a better gauge of which running lanes will open up before things develop.
Strangest Moment of the Year
Nathan Scheelhaase left hanging by the ref on a high-five attempt after scoring a touchdown.
Best One-Yard Run of the Year
When Braxton Miller shook a few guys in route to a 1-yard TD plunge, I'm not sure he knew what he did. If this were a video- game move, all of the buttons would have been pushed at the same time.
Throwback Player of the Year
Something about Jake Ryan makes you think of broken-teeth, leather-helmets, and grainy-video. Ryan is just a player that finds his way to the football with his locks of hair flopping around. If you're a coach, you'll take a couple-dozen of these good eggs.
Most Physically Imposing
How would you like to be staring across the line at this? William Gholston may be the most impressive physical specimen in all of college football, not just the Big Ten.
Most Stylish in Uniform
William Gholston looks the part here too, but so does Michigan's Devin Gardner. You know he's tried out his look on game day in front of a few mirrors. It works.
We know Mark Dantonio seldom smiles, but after the Spartans turned in a lackluster effort against Eastern Michigan, he was in rare form. I'm sure it wasn't meant to be entertaining, but boy was it. There were unfortunately many more moments to make Dantonio grumpy in 2012.
Well, there you have it. After at least five-minutes and twenty-seven seconds of scouring the internet, pouring over game film, and pulling my hair out, this is what we have for you in our first annual Philly awards. Yes, it is VERY subjective, but it's my award so there's no hanging-chads, no run-off votes, and no appeals. The judge and jury stops here.
The only thing left to do is to make a trophy out of paper-mache and masking tape to commemorate these to Big Ten lore in years to come. Wish me luck on a starving writer's budget.
Phil is the lead Big Ten columnist for CFN. Follow him @PhilHarrisonCFN