Merry Urbzmas and Coach of the Year

AndyVance's picture
November 28, 2012 at 6:59p
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The collective B1G coaches to Urban MeyerWhile it may no longer be Hate Week, the hate heaped toward our Buckeyes continues in the form of a metaphorical middle finger from the league's coaching fraternity. Even though seven members of the 2012 squad were named First-Team All-Big Ten, the coaches largely told the Bucks to "piss off" via their all-conference selections. Think I'm just being a homer? Hell, even ESPN, the center of the OSU-hating universe, noticed the snubs (...for once, the media got it right).

As Bennett noted in his write-up at ESPN's Big Ten blog:

Let's start with the coaches' team. Braxton Miller is named the quarterback of the year in the league, but he's only the second-team quarterback on the coaches' selections? Uh, what? No offense to Taylor Martinez, who had a terrific year, but Miller was simply better all season long.


That's not even the biggest stunner involving an Ohio State player. Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier did not make the first team, falling behind Michigan State's Max Bullough and Wisconsin's Chris Borland (Penn State's Michael Mauti is an understandable lock). There was talk of Shazier for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the way he blazed through the second half of the season. But that looks less likely now. (Unless the coaches want to engage in some serious trolling by naming Miller the offensive player of the year and Shazier defensive player of the year as second-teamers).

Bennett also suggested OSU's Bradley Roby should have been named Defensive Back of the Year and that left tackle Jack Mewhort was noticeably absent from the coaches' selections, though he was named Second Team by the media voters. In all, the media named twice as many Buckeyes to the First Team as did the league's play callers. Braxton Miller did get some nice props despite the snub on the coaches' all-conference team, earning Quarterback and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Somewhat surprisingly, consensus all-conference selection John Simon was named Defensive Player of the Year.

While naming on three defenders to their first team and naming ZERO offensive players from the highest-scoring offense in Buckeye history to the first team, the biggest snub from the Bitter Ten coaching corps came last night with the selection of Bill O'Brien as Coach of the Year over undefeated first-year head coach Urban Meyer.

Let's set one thing straight up front: what O'Brien did at Penn State this year is pretty impressive, and he certainly has earned any recognition coming his way. Taking a team that was largely expected to be the whipping post of the league this season and turning it into arguably the second-best squad in the conference was a feat of Herculean proportions. In particular, his development of Matt McGloin (a favorite target for derision from the 11W audience - feel free to leave appropriate wisecracks in the comments) into a legit quarterback is noteworthy.

Setting aside O'Brien's credibility for a moment, passing over Coach Meyer still steams my clams, and here's why: it reinforced what a shaft-job the voters did in passing over Jim Tressel for a solid decade, and reminds us that Urban will likely never win the league's Coach of the Year Award:

Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was a victim of his own success when it came to winning Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

Tressel never claimed the award despite dominating the league during most of his Buckeyes tenure. If Tressel had a down year midway through his run at Ohio State, only to get the team back to a league title or a BCS bowl the following year, he would have had a better chance.

In many ways, the Big Ten Coach of the Year award is about what happened the previous season or the previous offseason rather than the actual season for which the honor is presented. Recent history also shows first-year coaches who bolster programs have a good chance for the award.


Who won COY in 2002, then, the last year that Ohio State went undefeated and untied (oh, and went on to win the National Championship)? None other than three-time B1G COY honoree Kirk Ferentz. Leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to an 11-1 season (yes, that loss was to Iowa State) after a 7-5 outing the prior season, Ferentz was deemed the more successful play caller.

Ferentz, btw, would go on to win the award again in 2004 (a legit 10-2 and co-B1G champs) and in 2009. The last win, like his first, remains something of a head-scratcher, as Iowa went 11-2, with a home loss against unranked Northwestern and a loss in Columbus to the Jim Tressel squad that won the conference title outright and whipped Oregon in the Rose Bowl to finish with a #5 ranking on the season.

If you look at the history of the COY award, it becomes apparent that the coaches of one of the most dominant programs in the league for half a century just don't get the love when it come to league honors. While the modern version of the award chosen by the coaches is named in part for the legendary Woody Hayes, it has been 33 years since an Ohio State chief has won the award (Earle Bruce won in 1979):

  • Woody won the award the second year it was given - 1973 - a year after his friend and nemesis Bo Schembechler won the inaugural award. In all, Bo one the honor six times in 17 years; the Ohio native won the honor in '72, '76, '80, '82, '85 and '89. Woody won twice, in '73 and '75.
  • That Team Up North has seen its coach named COY nine times in total, by far the most of any school in the conference. Gary Moeller won the award twice, with Brady Hoke earning the award in his inaugural season.
  • Iowa comes in second, with long-time leader Hayden Fry taking home the trophy three times, as has the aforementioned Ferentz.
  • Illinois and Michigan State are tied with five wins each, though the Illini wins are notable because they were won by four different men. Northwestern coaches have won the award four times since 1972, while Purdue, Wisconsin and Joe Paterno are tied with three wins a piece.
  • Paterno won the first of his awards in 1994, the year after Penn State joined the Big Ten. He won again in 2005 and 2008, though in theory those wins have been vacated under the imperious NCAA sanctions stemming from the Sandusky debacle.
  • Indiana's Bill Mallory won in 1986 and 1987 (perhaps the last time the Hoosiers were anywhere near relevant in football), and Minnesota's Glen Mason won his school's only entry in 1999 (not quite the last time Minnesota was relevant in football, but close).

In total, 29 different coaches have won the award in 40 years. From 1986 through 2010, the award was dedicated in honor of Wisconsin coach Dave McClain, and was selected by the media. The coaches selected a separate award from 1982 to 1991; the coaches resumed selecting a coach of the year in 2011. The coach-selected honor was named for the first two recipients of the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, as the Hayes–Schembechler Coach of the Year.

So what is it about the coaches that leads them to ignore the Buckeyes?

Earle Bruce-coached teams won the Big Ten title outright twice - in '79, when he was named COY, and again in 1984. The Buckeyes also tied for 1st in the B1G twice during Bruce's tenure, in 1981 and 1986.

In 1981 Iowa's Fry won the honor despite losing one additional non-conference game than did Bruce; the Hawkeyes earned the right to represent the league in the Rose Bowl by virtue of edging OSU in the AP Rankings at the end of the regular season. In 1984, Purdue's Leon Burtnett won the honor - his team only went 6-3 in the conference, but '84 was the first time in school history that the Boilermakers defeated Ohio State and Michigan in the same season.

Indiana's Mallory may have been among the first B1G coaches to win the award because of a major turnaround... After going 0-11 in '84 and 4-7 in '85, the Hoosiers finished 6-6 and went to their first Bowl Appearance since 1979.

John Cooper, much to the ever-lasting shame of Buckeye Nation, earned a share of the Big Ten title only thrice in 13 seasons at the helm:

  • In 1993, Barry Alvarez earned the honor as he took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl - the Buckeyes tied Wisconsin 14-14 at Camp Randall.
  • In 1996, after again losing the M*ch*g*n, Cooper took the #4 ranked Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl - and won - but Northwestern's Gary Bartnett won COY for the second year in a row after leading the "Cardiac Cats" to back-to-back Big Ten titles.
  • In 1998, Cooper again led the Buckeyes to a single loss (again, to TTUN), and again shared a piece of the B1G crown with Alvarez, who again won the award... One thinks John Cooper must have hated Alvarez, as the Badgers' coach twice swiped the trip to the Rose Bowl and COY honors. (As a side-note, Ohio State actually should have gone to the Rose Bowl that season, but B1G tie-breaker rules were apparently designed by the same people who give participation ribbons to every kid because "we're all winners.")

Here's to you, B1G coaches...The history of coaches snubbing Senator James Patrick Tressel is fairly fresh to readers' memories, so I'll not recapitulate the numerous insults in the past season. As Bennett noted in his ESPN write-up, the Tressel era saw the B1G play callers largely selecting the "feel good" stories of major comebacks, rather than rewarding a coach who dominated their sorry asses squads for 10 years running. Vest-coached teams only lost 14 conference games in 10 seasons, winning the conference outright three times and taking home a share of the championship an additional four.

Usually we think of as the media being the major Buckeye-haters of the world, but when you look at it on paper, it's pretty clear that green is a color most Big Ten coaches wear pretty well. Well here's to you, rest of the Big Ten - congrats on going a combined 70-62 this season (that's an even .500 if you take away the league's only other 10+ win team, Nebraska). Looking forward to seeing you represent the league during Bowl season... Good luck, we're all counting on you.


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