This Week in the Big Ten

Rose Bowl bound Montee Ball of Wisconsin earned the Doak Walker Award on Thursday as the nation's top running back.

Dec. 9, 2012

[ONE // stars align for indiana men’s soccer]
It is an Indiana soccer tradition to include stars above the IU pitchfork logo to signify the number of national championships the men’s soccer program has won.  On Sunday, the Hoosiers added an eighth star to the logo.  Indiana got a goal from Nikita Kotlov in the 64th minute and the stifling Hoosier defense made it stick Sunday.  IU defeated Georgetown 1-0 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., to claim its record eighth national championship. The goal came after a kick from near the corner-kick spot came in to Eriq Zavaleta.  Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Gomez rushed to the right of the goal to keep Zavaleta in check. When Zavaleta's header attempt came to the center, Kotlov then had a wide-open net and didn't miss.  For more on the Hoosiers winning the national title, click here.

[TWO // a potential all-big ten ncaa volleyball championship final]
Two of the four national semifinalists in the NCAA Volleyball Championship belong to the Big Ten Conference!  With six squads advancing to the Round of 16 for the third straight season last week, Michigan and Penn State have now made it through to Louisville, Ky., where the Big Ten tandem will battle for the NCAA title.  The No. 1 Nittany Lions advanced by defeating Kentucky in the regional semifinal and then conference foe Minnesota in the regional championship after the Golden Gophers topped Purdue on Friday.  Michigan bested in-state rival Michigan State on Friday and then upset No. 2 seed Stanford to advance to its first ever NCAA national semifinal.  Michigan and Penn State can be found on opposite sides of the bracket as the Nittany Lions will battle Oregon in the national semis and Michigan will meet Texas, meaning an all-Big Ten national championship final is possible.  For a complete look at the Big Ten’s run through the NCAA bracket, click here.

[THREE // success in the classroom]
The Big Ten Conference on Thursday recognized a total of 816 fall sports student-athletes who were named to the Academic All-Conference team. The list of honored student-athletes features 72 field hockey players, 259 football players, 58 men’s and 127 women’s cross country runners, 78 men’s and 147 women’s soccer players and 75 volleyball players. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.  At least 18 of these student-athletes have maintained unblemished GPAs.

[FOUR // football leading the way in academics]
The Big Ten led all conferences with nine student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-America first or second teams in football as announced Thursday by CoSIDA. The Big Ten has now led all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences in Academic All-Americans for eight straight seasons, with 64 honorees over that time span.  The Big Ten’s total of nine Academic All-Americans topped all conferences, as no other conference produced more than five honorees. The Big Ten also led all conferences with five first-team selections, followed by the Big 12 with three first-team honorees and the Mid-American, Southeastern and Western Athletic conferences with two first-teamers each. Penn State was one of only two schools with two first-team Academic All-Americans.

[FIVE // miller and montee garner major football awards]
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was named Friday as the winner of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football, granted to the Big Ten's most valuable player and voted on by the conference coaches. The Chicago Tribune Silver Football has been awarded since 1924, when Illinois' Red Grange was the first honoree. The sophomore signal caller is the first Buckeye to be honored since quarterback Troy Smith in 2006 and the 16th OSU standout to earn the laurels. Miller has already been honored as the Big Ten's Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media.  In addition, Wisconsin's Montee Ball, the NCAA all-time leader in touchdowns, was named Thursday as the winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's top running back. Ball led the conference in rushing yards for the second straight season with an average of 146.0 yards per contest in Big Ten games only. The senior standout also tied for the conference lead in scoring, marking the third straight year Ball has led the Big Ten in points, the first time a player has accomplished that feat since at least 1939.

[SIX // hazell ready to boiler up]
Purdue athletics director Morgan J. Burke announced this past week the hiring of Darrell Hazell as head football coach. The 48-year-old Hazell becomes the 35th football coach in school history.  Hazell comes to the Boilermakers from Kent State, where he served as head coach for the last two seasons, compiling a 16-9 record. The Golden Flashes have enjoyed arguably their most-successful season ever in 2012. They are 11-2 after winning their first-ever Mid-American Conference East Division Championship and will play in their first bowl game in 40 years. Hazell was named the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year, the third Kent State to be so honored, following Don James (1972) and Glen Mason (1986).

[SEVEN // penn state’s o’brien up for coach of the year awards]
Big Ten Coach of the Year Bill O’Brien was named this past week as a candidate for several national Coach of the Year honors.  On Wednesday, the Penn State football coach earned his third recognition in as many days as a finalist for a national coaching honor with his selection as one of three candidates for the 2012 Maxwell Football Club's Collegiate Coach of the Year. Earlier in the week, O'Brien and Ohio State's Urban Meyer were named finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. Michigan's Brady Hoke was named the Maxwell Football Club's Collegiate Coach of the Year last season, the seventh such honor for a coach from a current Big Ten school.

[EIGHT // nittany lion seniors honored with spirit award]
Speaking of Penn State, Maxwell Football Club President Ron Jaworski has announced that the 2012 senior members of the Nittany Lion football team will be honored as winners of the Club's Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award in recognition of their commitment, leadership and outstanding effort during this season.  Penn State completed the 2012 season, its first under Coach Bill O'Brien, with an 8-4 record, winning eight of its final 10 games. The Nittany Lions were 6-2 in Big Ten play, with the only setbacks coming to division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. Under O'Brien, Penn State finished the season by defeating eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 24-21 in overtime, on Senior Day.

[NINE // minnesota’s dungy earns national honor]
Former Minnesota student-athlete and Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy will be honored with the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award at the 2013 NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas, it was announced this past week. Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, whose concern for the conduct of intercollegiate athletics led to the formation of the NCAA in 1906, the award is the NCAA's highest honor and is given annually to an individual "for whom competitive athletics in college and attention to physical well-being thereafter have been important factors in a distinguished career of national significance and achievement." Dwight Eisenhower was the first recipient of the "Teddy" in 1967. Dungy's name will be added to the distinguished list of recipients at the Honors Celebration on Jan. 18.  Dungy's name appears on the Big Ten's Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award, which recognizes Big Ten football players that have achieved success in the area of humanitarianism after their college careers have ended. Indiana's George Taliaferro was honored with the inaugural Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award in 2011, while Ohio State's Chris Spielman earned the award in 2012.  Dungy excelled in football during his college days at Minnesota, won a Super Bowl ring as a defensive back with the Pittsburgh Steelers and later become a Super Bowl-winning head coach. For more information on his latest honor, click on this link.

[TEN // soccer standouts up for postseason honors]
Prior to Indiana claiming the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship on Sunday, Big Ten soccer made headlines earlier in the week on the women’s side for on-the-field efforts.  Penn State's Christine Nairn was named a finalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, it was announced on Thursday. The Big Ten Midfielder of the Year guided the Nittany Lions to the national title game and a 21-4-2 record by leading Penn State in every offensive category this season.  The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. A banquet will be hosted at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 11, to recognize the finalists' accomplishments and announce the winners.  Additionally, 16 women's soccer players were named to the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Team, it was announced on Monday. Standouts from conference institutions make up 16 of the 33 representatives, including seven of the 11 on the first team. Click here to see the complete list of Big Ten student-athletes on the All-Great Lakes Region Team.    

[ELEVEN // northwestern’s fuchs awarded regional honor]
Northwestern's Tracy Fuchs has been named the 2012 Dita/NFHCA West Region Coach of the Year, it was announced on Wednesday. Fuchs led the Wildcats to a 16-4 overall record, including a 4-2 mark in Big Ten play.  NU notched seven victories over ranked opponents this season as the Wildcats reached as high as a No. 8 national ranking. The Wildcats won 15 of 16 games over a stretch from Aug. 29 through Oct. 21, including winning streaks of eight and seven games.

[TWELVE // on track and ready for new conference members]
Finally this week, in a week where the Big Ten opened its men’s and women’s indoor track and field seasons, we also saw our new conference members are on track to enter the Big Ten with open arms.  The University of Maryland and Rutgers University accepted invitations this past week to join the Committee on Institutional Cooperation effective July 1, 2013.  Following the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors approval of Maryland and Rutgers’ applications to join the athletic conference, the matter of CIC membership was referred to CIC Provosts for action. The Provosts, who govern the CIC, voted unanimously to invite the University of Maryland-College Park and Rutgers University to join the consortium.  The addition of the University of Maryland and Rutgers University will increase CIC membership to 15 institutions, which includes the Big Ten Conference institutions and the University of Chicago. All CIC universities share a very strong research emphasis. Together CIC universities engage in $8.4 billion in funded research each year—the addition of these two universities will push that to $9.3 billion, and will add another 8 million library volumes and over 5,600 more full-time faculty to the collective resources of the consortium. In addition, these new colleagues bring leading-edge collaborative research projects in areas as diverse as biotechnology, transportation, cyber-security, and food safety research.