The most elusive award for a Buckeye: Big Ten Coach of the Year

Bucki1978's picture
December 4, 2013 at 1:31a

Earl Bruce was the last Buckeyes head coach to win the award of Big Ten Coach of the Year.  He did so in 1979 which was his first season at the helm of the Ohio State football program.  In 1979, Lee Corso was the head coach at Indiana, Gary Moeller was the head coach at Illinois, Hayden Fry was in his 1st year at Iowa and Lou Holtz was still 5 years away from becoming the head coach at Minnesota.  Since then, 34 seasons have passed and no other Ohio State head coach has won the award but every other Big Ten school (except Nebraska which joined the conference in 2011) has had at least 1 coach win the COY award.  Michigan, Iowa and Illinois are tied with 5 COY awards since 1979.  Twice the winner of the Big Ten COY has had a losing conference record in the season they won the award (Northwestern's Dennis Green was 2-7 in 1982 and Indiana's Bill Mallory was 3-5 in 1986).  5 times a Big Ten team has gone undefeated in conference play and the coach did not win the COY award.  4 of those times were undefeated seasons by the Buckeyes.  Below is listed the Big Ten schools by conference winning % from 1980-2013.  Next to that is the number if conference championships and then COY awards:


Ohio State - .752 - 13 - 0

Michigan - .732 - 13 - 5

Nebraska - .680 - 0 - 0

Penn State - .631 - 3 - 4

Iowa - .578 - 5 - 5

Michigan State - .533 - 3 - 3

Wisconsin - .507 - 6 - 3

Illinois - .437 - 3 - 5

Purdue - .420 - 1 - 1

Minnesota - .341 - 0 - 1

Northwestern - .327 - 3 - 4

Indiana - .310 - 0 - 2


The list of winners of Big Ten COY since 1979 includes coaching legends Brady Hoke and John L Smith.  With those names on the list, I would rather just have the wins.


Go Bucks!!









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Tropicalbuckeye's picture

Still kind of amazed Tressel never won this.  And I'm kind of wondering how there are teams with zero conference championships whose coaches have gotten it.  College coaching is a very holistic thing insofar as you can't be a great coach without being great at all facets of the college game, including building teams, getting those recruits, and managing to win on Saturday, and it takes all of that coming together (or the two teams above you being sanctioned by the NCAA) to win the conference.

ATT2121's picture

Great post! It always bothers me when the justification is something along the lines of " I could win with that talent!" or " He did more with less". Talent doesn't just walk in the door and win games. Great coaches not only recruit the great talent, but mold that talent into a great team. IMHO it's more difficult to have talented players put aside their egos and come together then it is to make subpar athletes play above their ability for one season. The fact that Jim Tressel didn't win a COY is beyond ridiculous.


"It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it's close."
Jesse Owens

rock flag and eagle's picture

Well, perhaps you're making assumptions about the voters' justifications.  Maybe voters didn't give it to Dantonio because he did more with less.  Maybe voters felt Dantonio coached better this year.  He certainly coached better than Meyer tonight.

steveoz49's picture

Could it be that at Ohio St it's expected that you are at the top and at all the other schools, 8 wins is called a successful season?
It does baffle me that no Buckeye coach has won this award. 
In thinking about how Coach Meyer got overlooked this year (again)...I can't help but wonder:  How does 24 wins in a row NOT mean something?

Buckabroad's picture

That is the question. I do think it is a matter of envy. Whatever Meyer has touched so far has turned to gold. Not everyone who compares themselves to that will be able to avoid an inferiority complex.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Yeah, but Michigan is right there behind us in winning percentage (and was most likely ahead of us until fairly recently), and they've won a decent number of COYs. It's not the Wolverines have had all that many years since 1979 where they were "surprisingly" good.
Some of this apparent avoidance of the Buckeyes is a fluke (e.g. our 2002 season coming in the same year as what was probably Ferentz's best Iowa team; Urban losing in 2012 because Penn State exceeded expectations by not being a disaster area), but you'd think somewhere along the line, there would have been no obvious "surprise" team and voters would have said, "Hmmm, maybe try giving it to the coach of the actual best team in the conference?"

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

mtrotb's picture

Actually crazy that Urban did not win it last year after taking over a team that was 6-7 in 2011 and doubling the wins to 12 in the first year.  If he didn't win last year, he never will.



That is always the standard for winning, how much improved is the team in wins. But last year the Penn St ordeal, and O' Brien wins. Id much rather have the titles and wins though, because TOSU has no shot at this award.

Pay It Forward!

acBuckeye's picture

This is mystifying....... like, i can't wrap my mind around it.

00Buck's picture

When you have voters like PAT FORDE from the tribune as a voter, do you expect anything less, The Bucks have already stated in the past "They CAN KEEP THEIR AWARDS..... WE KNOW WHO THE REAL WINNERS ARE "   Jim Tressel  .   Can the media be more obvious of their bias, tOSU is the most hated team in the nation.........because all we do is WIN  and that is what counts..... If you watched BTN last night you could tell via interviews that the SHITcago Tribune is the most biased toilet paper in the BIG...... i.e.  Pat Forde still thinks Auburn should be over the BUCKEYES............  PISS ON HIM AND HIS RAG TOO

Upon this Rock, I build my house....and Let no man put asunder

TilstheHun3's picture

Who actually votes for this award?

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?

M Man's picture

Great post.  Hard to argue with any of it.  
Personally, I have no bad feelings about Brady Hoke having won in 2011; who else should have won that year?  Beilema?  Luke Fickell?  Who?  (If you say Kirk Ferentz I'll hit you.)  Fitzgerald?  (Hoke beat him.)  Dantonio?  (Spartans had the same record in Dino's fifth year as Hoke had in his first year.) 
Anyway, yeah the CoY deck is stacked against whoever leads the Buckeyes.  And yeah if I were you guys I'd much rather have the wins than some glassware in the Hayes Center.

yrro's picture

I have no problem with Hoke winning in 2011. He got a huge benefit from a soft schedule, but they still won the games (something RR never managed to do).
It is odd to me, in general, though, that Michigan is apparently not immune to the "frontrunners can't win" notion. Looking at conference winning percentage, you're right behind us, and that's after the RR disaster.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I think it's a given Kirk Ferentz should win it every year

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Kaceybrown's picture

Apparently being a great coach at a great program disqualifies you for the award. I'll take a the great coach and great program with great results over a mediocre program with (maybe) a good coach with good/mediocre results and that award every single time. 

AndyVance's picture

I looked into the Big Ten bylaws, and there's actually a clause prohibiting the head football coach at Ohio State from winning the Coach of the Year award.

jthiel09's picture

I think they are changing the name of the award to the: 
B1G Usually Iowa or Some Other Semi-Successful Season Coach of the Year Award
It's wordy but it fits the trend of winners.


Maceyko's picture

This year Dantonio did a great job, but for Urban Meyer to not win it is, as the Auburn AD would put it, "Un-American."

45has2's picture

B1G COTY is for losers that somewhat overcome their ineptitude and somehow manage to achieve a winning record.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

KLF Buckeye's picture

At least the trophy has the name of an Ohio State coach on it....Nope, this doesn't make me feel any better about this.