Winners and Losers from the All-Big Ten Team and Awards
The Big Ten announced its postseason awards and all-conference teams on Monday night, and suffice it to say, there's going to be a little bit of controversy over the next few days. The individual awards were mostly—mostly—in line with what they should have been, but some of the All-Big Ten nods are going to rub some fans the wrong way.
At any rate, here's a full list of the winners from ESPN.com; now let's talk about them.
WINNER: Montee Ball
You can forgive Wisconsin fans for breathing a sigh of relief about this one. Montee Ball and his fellow Badgers had a challenging start to the season and what seemed like a surefire Heisman-caliber senior campaign fizzled before the month of September was up.
And yet, Ball rebounded nicely, picking up the FBS career record for total touchdowns by the end of the year and finishing with 1,528 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. To that end, he was also named first-team All-Big Ten and the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year by the conference.
A strong case could have been made for Le'Veon Bell to win the award; he was the only running back in the conference to out-gain Ball in rushing (1,648 to 1,528), but his 11 rushing touchdowns—awfully low for a big back who gets so many touches—did him no favors.
WINNER and LOSER: Braxton Miller
Braxton Miller was a phenomenon in 2012, leading the Buckeyes in rushing as well as passing as he led Ohio State to a 12-0 mark and a No. 4 mark in the last AP poll of the regular season.
To that end, Miller was given the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award by the conference, which is about all a signal-caller can ask for in the Big Ten. All fine and good, right?
Well, here's the thing: Miller wasn't the consensus All-Big Ten QB. He was named that by the media, but the coaches voted in Taylor Martinez instead. And sure, Martinez had a good year and merited some serious postseason attention in his own right. But the snub from the coaches on Miller was hard to figure out.
LOSER: Ohio State's Offense, According to Coaches
One of the odder aspects of voting in the Big Ten all-conference teams was the omission of a certain team from the coaches' first team. And we're not talking about Iowa.
The Big Ten coaches declined to name a single Ohio State Buckeye to its first team offense, instead offering four slots to various Wisconsin Badgers and three more to Penn Staters.
Ohio State had the third-best offense in terms of total yardage in the Big Ten and scored the most points. Wisconsin's offense was eighth-best in yardage and points. Penn State was at least fourth in yardage, but seventh in points scored.
The coaches even gave a first-team nomination to Michigan guard Patrick Omameh, which seems like a rather serious error; Omameh was only honorable mention in the media. In fact, the coaches didn't name a single Ohio State offensive lineman to their second team either; three linemen made honorable mention, but that's it.
Think about that: Ohio State rushed for 242 yards per game in 2012 without a single offensive lineman among the 10 best in the conference, according to voting coaches. That must be one heck of a surprise to Urban Meyer and the rest of the Buckeye coaching staff.
WINNER, SOMEHOW: Micah Hyde
Quick, name the best defensive back in the Big Ten. Wait, did you say Micah Hyde? Really? And—and you're the Big Ten? So the answer is officially Micah Hyde? Oh, no. Ohhh, no.
Hyde, who collected all of one interception and led Iowa to the 10th-best passing efficiency defense in the Big Ten, was inexplicably given the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award by the conference.
It's not that Hyde was bad, mind you; he was named first team All-Big Ten by both coaches and the media, and nobody's really protesting that. It wasn't a great year for defensive backs in the Big Ten as a whole.
But come on. Bradley Roby was tied for second in the nation in passes defended; he had 17 breakups and two picks on the year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Roby also recovered a fumble for a touchdown and recovered a blocked kick for another score.
Meanwhile, Hyde had 14 breakups and one interception, which is fine but not "best in the Big Ten" good. He also returned a fumble for a score, but that was it for his scoring. Hyde at least out-tackled Roby, 76 to 63, but do you know what it's called when your top cover cornerback has 76 tackles? A very, very bad sign.
WINNER: Allen Robinson
It can be hard for a first-year player to catch the attention of media and coaches. That's especially the case for offensive linemen, who aren't going to rack up any eye-catching stats, and defensive tackles and tight ends often suffer from an inability to be nearly as productive as players at different positions.
Wide receivers, however, have no such trouble in terms of getting noticed.
In fact, it was hard not to notice PSU WR Allen Robinson, who quickly established himself as the best, most talented wideout in the conference and picked up the Richter-Howard Wide Receiver of the Year title in the process.
Robinson beat out fellow consensus first-team WR Jared Abbrederis for the award, as well he should have: Robinson led the conference in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Y'know, just about all the things a receiver can lead the conference in.
The crazy thing about Robinson isn't just that he's a true sophomore, though that's notable. It's that this is basically out of nowhere. Per Rivals.com, Robinson had four offers out of high school: Buffalo, Toledo, Minnesota...and Penn State. He wasn't an early commit that fell off other schools' radars either; he didn't commit to Penn State until late November of 2010.
Now he's the best receiver in the conference.
LOSER: Devin Gardner
What position would you give Devin Gardner for postseason consideration?
He spent eight games at wideout catching 16 passes for 266 yards and four scores. That's most of the season. The last four games were back at his normal position of quarterback, though, and there Gardner excelled with over 1,000 yards of total offense and 15 total touchdowns in those four starts.
So really, for the purposes of the all-Big Ten team, where do you put Gardner?
Turns out it's a moot question, because Devin Gardner didn't make anybody's list at all.
You're telling us a guy who stepped in at wide receiver over the offseason, was remarkably productive for being a first-year player at his position then stepped right back in at QB and fixed a major, major problem after the Nebraska game can't even get an honorable mention nod? Heck, Iowa OL Matt Tobin was named honorable mention by the coaches, and he might have been the worst offensive lineman in the Big Ten.
Look at it this way: Between passing, rushing and receiving, Gardner was a part of 19 touchdowns in 2012. Montee Ball was a part of 18. Gardner spent two-thirds of his season at an unfamiliar position and he was still sixth in the Big Ten in total points responsible for.
But no, lord no, don't include him in so much as an all-conference honorable mention team.