The Big Ten announced its superlative awards on Tuesday, lauding Ohio State by granting DE John Simon the Defensive Player of the Year award and hailing QB Braxton Miller as the Offensive Player of the Year. Both men are obviously deserving of their respective awards.
It is worth pointing out, however, that Braxton Miller wasn't even the first-team QB on the coaches' All-Big Ten ballot released Monday; that was Taylor Martinez, Nebraska's star junior. The media didn't make that same mistake, of course, but still—we're talking about a guy who was named Player of the Year by the conference and didn't even get both First Team nods.
Here's how that happened.
Taylor Martinez did have a pretty good year
It's not taking anything away from Braxton Miller to note that Taylor Martinez took a major step forward as a quarterback this season. He told the college football world before the season that he was shooting for a 70 percent completion rate. The world laughed. He didn't.
Martinez eventually fell short of that goal, but he still completed 63.3 percent of his passes, a clip only surpassed by Robert Marve at Purdue. Martinez led the Big Ten in passing touchdowns and passing efficiency as well. Better yet, his trademark bad throws were much more sporadic (though they still happened). His release is still wonky, but there's no denying that Martinez was an effective quarterback.
So we're not going to be terribly upset if coaches want to give the award to the conference's best passer (yes, we're talking about Taylor Martinez in 2012 and without a trace of irony—in case you weren't sure the world was coming to an end).
The coaches' All-Big Ten team was basically crazy pants
You would probably be surprised to find out that Ohio State's rushing game—its quarterback, running back and offensive line—was able to gain over 240 yards per game on the ground...without a single First-Team All-Big Ten player.
Such was the opinion of the coaches, who deemed that Michigan guard Patrick Omameh was a better lineman than OSU guard Andrew Norwell (a media first-teamer). Miller and RB Carlos Hyde were relegated to the second team in the media's eyes, while not a single member of Ohio State's offensive line even made the media's second team list.
Here are some other guys the coaches threw into the honorable mention pile: Michigan LB/DE Jake Ryan, Wisconsin C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin LB Mike Taylor, DE Will Gholston—actually, we're completely all right with that last one; Gholston was infuriating this year.
The coaches also snubbed Nebraska FS Daimion Stafford, Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier and Nebraska K/P Brett Maher with second-team nominations; with Maher it was doubly hilarious because he didn't make the first team at either position in the coaches' eyes...then still got a share of the Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award from the conference.
So yeah. The coaches biffed several times on their ballot. It's fine.
Braxton Miller was still amazing
The point of this article wasn't just to tear things down and convince everyone Taylor Martinez was the best quarterback in the Big Ten. As we said before, Miller deserved his Offensive Player of the Year award and he got it. That is a very good thing.
One horrific game against Purdue aside, what set Miller apart from say, Montee Ball, was Miller's ability to come through in the clutch. During both the Ohio State and Penn State games to finish Wisconsin's season, Ball was given the ball in goal line situations with the game in the balance. In both games, Ball was stuffed at the line.
Meanwhile, Ohio State didn't have a lot of close games in the 2012 season. When it did, Braxton Miller made play after play to help OSU put games away.
You want to know how to get named Offensive Player of the Year in your conference when coaches are still looking else here for a better passer? That's how.