Writing Illini's Big Ten Coach of the Year

When it comes down to picking the Big Ten coach of the year, there are really only two choices. This is because of the fact that two different Big Ten teams were issued bowl bans and had to cut scholarships prior to the 2012-2013 season.

The first choice for Big Ten coach of the year is Urban Meyer from the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer agreed to become Ohio State’s head coach on November 28, 2011, but did not take over as head coach until after the Buckeyes’ 2012 Gator Bowl game against the Florida Gators.

In December of 2011, the NCAA issued a one-year bowl ban along with additional penalties. The reason why the NCAA imposed these penalties on the Buckeyes was because of the scandal where players received $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for autographed jerseys, rings and other memorabilia. Along with the one-year bowl ban, OSU had to forfeit three scholarships in each of the next three seasons.

Although Ohio State could not contend for the conference or national titles, they still had a pretty amazing season during Urban Meyer’s first season as head coach.

The Buckeyes finished the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record which included wins over #20 Michigan State, #21 Nebraska, and #19 Michigan. They were the best Big Ten team in scoring (36.9 points per game) and rushing offense (248.8 yards per game) along with being second in total offense (422.1 yards per game).

The other choice for Big Ten coach of the year is Bill O’Brien from the Penn State Nittany Lions. O’Brien was named the head coach of Penn State on January 6, 2012. Before replacing Joe Paterno at Penn State, O’Brien was the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots (a job he kept until after Super Bowl XLVI).

Just like Ohio State, the Penn State Nittany Lions were coming into this season with penalties from the NCAA. Over the summer of 2012, all the news from Penn State was about the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. On July 23, 2012, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, issued them a four-year ban, vacated all of the program’s 112 wins from 1998 to 2011, and took away 10 scholarships for the 2011–2012 season and 20 scholarships for the next four years.

Another issue that Bill O’Brien and Penn State had to deal with was players transferring. The NCAA stated that if players wanted to transfer out of PSU then they would not have to sit out an entire season. One of the most important players to leave the Nittany Lions was running back Silas Redd (went to USC).

Bill O’Brien still was able to coach the Nittany Lions to a winning season this season. They started the season off rough with losses to Ohio and Virginia, but still finished with an 8-4 record. Penn State also went 6-2 in conference, but could not play in the Big Ten championship because of the bowl ban.

So, who should be the Big Ten coach of the year? Urban Meyer at Ohio State or Bill O’Brien at Penn State?

In my opinion, Urban Meyer is the coach of the year in the Big Ten. Both of these coaches had to deal with similar issues while at their respective schools. Even though the issues at Penn State might have been harder to deal with, one needs to look at how each team finished the season.

Yes, Penn State exceeded everybody’s expectations this season, but Ohio State finished with a perfect record this season. If it was not for their one-year bowl ban, the Buckeyes would be playing for the National Championship against Notre Dame. Also, the Buckeyes could very well have the same success next year, but actually be in the title talks. This is because they could have a ton of players return next season which includes: Braxton Miller, Philly Brown, Devin Smith, and Carlos Hyde.

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Tags: Big Ten Bill O'Brien Coach Of The Year Football Urban Meyer

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