Who Should Take Home This Year’s Coach of the Year Award?
The Big Ten Race is coming down to the wire, and many debates are starting to catch full flame. With a multitude of teams vying for playoff position and post season discussion we will dive into who should be in the discussion for Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Article continues below ...
Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The first coach when talking about the Big Ten that comes to mind is Urban Meyer. Meyer entered the season with a record of 50-4 in four years as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. This run includes an undefeated season, Big Ten Championship, and National Title. The Buckeyes are currently 10-1 this season and ranked 2nd in the AP poll. Entering into the classic rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines.Any given year, Urban Meyer has a chance to be named Big Ten coach of the year, an award he has yet to receive. Ohio State isn’t a lock to make the conference championship game this year and have struggled at times. However, they do have big wins against Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. But with all of their success, the loss that’s really going to hurt Ohio State and Meyer is Penn State. It could prevent them from contending for a conference title and ultimately a National Championship. Ohio State has failed to exceed expectations. I don’t see Urban Meyer winning the award this season.
Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
The next coach who has been catching lots of media attention over the course of the last two seasons is Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has quickly returned Michigan football to a national powerhouse after Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke failed to do so. Harbaugh and Michigan rolled throughout the season and started 10-0. But took a bad loss to Iowa a couple of weeks ago and additionally lost their starting quarterback Wilton Speight. Following their loss, Michigan struggled against Indiana. Backup quarterback John O’Korn failed to ignite the Wolverine offense. He will most likely be the guy for the rest of the season, which could cause trouble for Michigan. With O’Korn starting, they become more questionable to win the Big Ten. If Michigan doesn’t make the College Football Playoff then they too fail to exceed the standards for their program.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The other candidate that could be Paul Chryst’s biggest competition is James Franklin, the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions. James Franklin appears to have rebuilt the Penn State program from the Sandusky Scandal that rocked Penn State a short time ago. James Franklin has improved Penn State’s record each year in his first three seasons as head coach. This success comes despite the sanctions being enforced on the program due to the Sandusky incident. Now sanction free, they are having the most success they’ve had in the College Football Playoff era.Penn State is 9-2 this year going into their final game against Michigan State. With a chance to make the Big Ten Championship Game. After a tough loss to rival Pittsburgh and a beat down at the hands of Michigan early in the season, the Nittany Lions really turned the season around. The exclamation point was their big win at home against Ohio State. If Franklin and Penn State can make the Big Ten Championship game, it makes a really good case for Franklin to win Big Ten coach of the year. However, the Big Ten East is a mess and the champion is anyone’s guess at this point.
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Finally we get to Paul Chryst, who came home to his alma mater to coach the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are arguable playing one of the toughest schedules in college football this year. Wisconsin is 9-2 this season and ranked 5th in the AP poll, despite playing a brutal stretch where they were not favored to win any of their contests.
They started the season with a win against LSU, who many “experts” were taking to win the SEC and the National Championship this year. Wisconsin also blew out Michigan State in East Lansing when the Spartans were ranked 8th. Their two losses came in the middle of the season and were one-possession losses to Michigan and Ohio State, respectively. Both teams were and still are ranked in the top five. The Badgers added to their resume by defeating number seven Nebraska and traveling to Kinnick to take on Iowa .Since finishing this tough stretch, the Badgers have won about every way possible. They have been winning by grinding out games as well as blowing opponents out. The inexperience that once looked to possibly hurt the Badgers has turned full scale on account of Chryst’s coaching.
The backfield combination of Corey Clement, Dare Ogunbowale, and Bradrick Shaw have been a great trio for the Badgers. Each running back brought his own specific style when called on. Clement just eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark after the Badgers weren’t able to have a running back record 1,000 yards, breaking a string of nine consecutive seasons with a 1,000 yard rusher. Look up specifics I don’t feel like it. Wisconsin is getting the most out of every back they choose to use.
Wisconsin is also getting the most out of the talent they have in the passing game that feature players such as Robert Wheelwright, Jazz Peavy, and Troy Fumagalli. Chryst’s play-calling is a big reason for getting the ball to these receivers and utilizing each one’s specific talents. The old adage says, “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.” This may be true, but Chryst is a quarterback guru and has been seamlessly interchanging Alex Hornibrook and Bart Houston to perfection. Wisconsin doesn’t have one quarterback, but is defying the odds and excelling with a two quarterback system. The interchanging of the two quarterbacks is based on feel throughout the game. Both quarterbacks seem to be putting their ego aside for the team and are complementing each other throughout the game. I think the mentality and maturity of these two is largely because of the leadership that Paul Chryst has embodied in the Wisconsin Football program, for this reason I believe coach Chryst should be the favorite to come away as the Big Ten Coach of the year.