The Big Ten has been busy the last two days handing out conference awards. Keep something in mind as we talk about which Buckeyes did and didn’t make these all conference teams and individual honors: Ohio State finished 8-0 in Big Ten play. Nebraska finished 7-1, Michigan 6-2 and Penn State 6-2. I mention those next three teams because they were the second, third and fourth best records in the conference.
And Ohio State beat all of them. (And Wisconsin for good measure.)
There were two sets of all-conference team. The coaches voted for one team, and a media panel voted on the other. You would have to wonder if some of the hurt feelings surrounding Urban’s recruiting didn’t spill over onto a ballot or two.
The Buckeyes named to the coaches All-Big Ten Conference team:
First team- John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Bradley Roby.
Second team- Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Corey Brown, Ryan Shazier, Christian Bryant.
Honorable Mention- C.J. Barnett, Travis Howard, Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell.
Three Buckeyes on the first team. Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State (3-5 in conference play) each placed 5 players on the first team. Nebraska and Michigan had 2 each. Nebraska had 9 players named to the second team.
The media team had a different flavor to it:
First team- Braxton Miller, Andrew Norwell, John Simon, Ryan Shazier, Travis Howard, Bradley Roby.
Second team- Carlos Hyde, Jack Mewhort, Johnathan Hankins.
Honorable mention- C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown, Christian Bryant, Reid Fragel, Corey Linsley, Etienne Sabino.
Yesterday, Braxton Miller was named the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year by both the media and the coaches, and John Simon was the unanimous defensive player of the year. Strange that Miller was given the offensive player of the year award, and the Griese-Brees quarterback award despite not being named first team all conference by the coaches.
The real head scratcher may just be the coach of the year award.
Penn State’s Bill O’Brien was given the award by both the coaches and the media. Let’s be clear about this- he did an outstanding job. Nobody expected that group to compete the way that they did this year. I’m not actually surprised that he won. I also don’t think that the team with the most wins automatically gets their coach the award.
But there is something going on here.
As many have pointed out, Ohio State hasn’t had a coach of the year winner since Earl Bruce won it in 1979. Think about that for a moment. Jim Tressel never won it. The Buckeyes have won outright or tied for the conference title 14 times since Bruce won it in ’79, but neither Cooper, Tressel or Meyer won it. The Buckeyes went 13-0 in the regular season, and was an underdog to the Hurricanes when they won it in 2002, but no COY award.
Ohio State was 3-5 in the conference last year. That’s a five game turn around to an undefeated season. You can’t even claim that Meyer wasn’t selected because of the sanctions. Penn State’s head coach won it.
I wanted to give out my own team awards. It’s hard not to give Braxton Miller the offensive player award. I mean, he did lead the team in rushing and was much improved in the passing game this season. His completion percentage was higher, he threw for more yards and more touchdowns. He deserves the award.
So I’m going to give a best supporting offensive player award. There are many candidates. Carlos Hyde was the yin to Braxton’s yang. He had a heck of a season, falling 30 yards short of 1000 yards rushing despite missing 2.5 games with an injury. Corey Brown led the team in receptions and was Miller’s safety net.
But I’m giving the supporting offensive player award to Reid Fragel. This guy was a tight end last season, and he transformed his body and skill set to become a very effective right tackle in his senior year. I can’t tell you how impressive that is.
On the defensive side of the ball, I have to concur that John Simon deserves the award, but it isn’t such a run away win. Ryan Shazier was the most dependable and consistent player behind the line of scrimmage all year. He led the team in tackles with 115 and tackles for a loss with 17. Add in five sacks, an interception and 3 forced fumbles. He gets the supporting defensive player of the year.
I have to give out one more award. I’ll call it the Buckeye pride award. And it goes to Zach Boren.
It is really hard to imagine switching positions mid-season. Even harder to imagine switching sides of the ball. When Chris Gamble started playing defensive back for the Buckeyes, well that kind of made sense. Who better to use covering wide outs than a wide out himself, and one who played the position in high school. What made Gamble remarkable was the high level at which he played CB once making the switch.
That is a very apt comparison for what Zach Boren did this year. The team was in desperate need of someone to step up and play the inside linebacker position. Not only did Boren come in and play the middle spot, he was the best MLB we’ve seen since Laurinaitis. We don’t beat Penn State, Wisconsin or Michigan without him. Not even if Storm Klein was healthy.
Zach Boren is a football player. And he is the kind of guy that Bill Belicheck drafts and uses. I know I’d rather have him on the Browns than any of the fullbacks in Berea. And he’ll be a good special teams player at the next level.