|Penn State's Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Tuesday. (US Presswire)|
The Big Ten announced its top awards on Tuesday night and unlike its all-conference team, there were only a few mild surprises. Penn State coach Bill O'Brien was named Big Ten Coach of the Year voted on by coaches and associated media.
O'Brien was lauded nationally for his outspoken and candid approach while dealing with the media in the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandal. After Penn State lost its first two games, the Nittany Lions reeled off eight wins in their next 10 games to finish second in the Leaders Division. Many analysts had written them off after numerous key players transferred from the program, but O'Brien, with a strong senior class, helped galvanize those who stayed.
“This is a fantastic honor; it's very humbling,” he said in a statement. “Any time you are named coach of the year, it has a lot to do with two groups of people -- it's your coaching staff and obviously your players.”
Ohio State's Braxton Miller was named the conference's Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year. Miller, who was also named the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year, rushed for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Curiously, Miller was named second-team All-Big Ten quarterback by the coaches but nabbed first-team honors by the media. The last Buckeye to win the award was Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith in 2006.
The Buckeyes' standout defensive end John Simon was named the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year after recording a league-leading nine sacks and averaging 1.3 tackles for loss per game. He was part of a defense that yielded just 116 rushing yards per game, the 14th-lowest in the country.
Penn State's Deion Barnes, an honorable mention on the all-Big Ten coaches team, was named the conference's Freshman of the Year on Tuesday night. Barnes finished with 26 tackles and six sacks on the year.
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