The Sporting News magazine named its college football award winners and here are the winners for the Big Ten:
Offensive MVP: Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa
Defensive MVP: James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State
Coach of the year: Joe Paterno, Penn State
Freshman of the year: Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State
It's difficult to argue with "Freshman of the year" or "Offensive MVP"; Pryor's athleticism was a needed addition to the Ohio State offense even if his passing numbers weren't spectacular and I've been banging the Shonn Greene drum almost as much as these guys but the other two are questionable picks at best. A case can be made for Paterno for Coach of the year, and he has exceeded many expectations, but I think Pat Fitzgerald and Tim Brewster have done more with less. Minnesota went from 1-11 to 7-5 and an Insight bowl berth. Fitzgerald managed to beat Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois on his way to a 9-3 season greatly exceeding all expectations of Northwestern. Either of those two could easily be tabbed as coach of the year and there would be little argument from me.
That brings us to the Laurinaitis pick. Really!? Thank God he doesn't have any eligibility left, we won't be forced to deal with the Laurinaitis overhype machine any more. James is simply the most overrated player to come out of the Big Ten in… well… ever. I can't think of a more overhyped player in the time Penn State has been in the Big Ten. Brit Miller leads the Big Ten, and is 5th in the nation, in tackles with 132, 11 more than Laurinaitis. But here's the kicker: Miller has 72 SOLO tackles. Laurinaitis has 46. That's 46! Laurinaitis has 75 assists on the year seventy-fucking-five assists. That my friends is some clever accounting by the Ohio State statisticians. Laurinaitis must get 5 assists for putting on his helmet before the game. Miller is 5th in the league with 19 tackles for loss while Laurinaitis is a not so healthy 56th with 7. Miller is statistically better (much better actually) at Tackles for Loss, Forced Fumbles, Passes Defended, Tackles, and Sacks. There's a laundry list of players in the Big Ten that had more productive years than Laurinaitis, it's really too bad the talking heads are too lazy to actually do research.
James Laurinaitis shown here not making the tackle, although he did get 3 assists on the play.