Feb. 6, 2012
Eighteen former Big Ten players and coaches helped the New York Giants win Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, February 5, at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Big Ten Football Championship Game. The Big Ten was well represented in the Super Bowl with 22 former student-athletes and eight coaches with conference connections on the rosters of the Giants and New England Patriots.
The Big Ten and the SEC (23 players) were the only conferences with 20 or more players on the two Super Bowl squads, followed by the ACC (17), Pac-12 (13) and Big East (11). Ten of the 12 Big Ten schools were represented on the Super Bowl rosters, while five were represented by an assistant coach. Michigan tied for second among all schools with four players, followed by Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue with three each. Three assistant coaches have ties to Penn State, while two spent time at Iowa and Michigan.
The 14 former Big Ten standouts to earn Super Bowl rings with the Giants were Illinois tackle David Diehl and punter Steve Weatherford, Indiana tackle James Brewer, Iowa safety Tyler Sash, Michigan center David Baas and wide receiver Mario Manningham, Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones and wide receiver Devin Thomas, Nebraska defensive back Prince Amukamara, Ohio State tight end Jake Ballard and center Jim Cordle, Penn State defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie and Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum. Manningham hauled in five catches for 73 yards, including a 38-yard grab on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Weatherford averaged 40.8 yards on four punts, placing three inside the 10-yard line.
Eight former Big Ten players appeared on the Patriots roster in Iowa linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, Michigan quarterback Tom Brady and punter Zoltan Mesko, Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer, Penn State offensive guard Rich Ohrnberger and Purdue linebacker Niko Koutouvides, offensive tackle Matt Light and linebacker Rob Ninkovich. Brady set a Super Bowl record with 16 consecutive completions during the game and totaled 276 passing yards and two touchdowns while connecting on 27 of 41 throws. Ninkovich posted four tackles and a half sack while Mesko averaged 41.0 yards per punt with one inside the 20-yard line.
Eight of the Giants’ and Patriots’ assistant coaches have ties to Big Ten schools, including incoming Penn State head coach and New England offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Patriots’ tight ends coach Brian Ferentz (played at Iowa, son of current Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz), defensive line coach Pepper Johnson (played at Ohio State) and offensive assistant Josh McDaniels (graduate assistant at Michigan State) have also spent time with Big Ten teams. Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty (assistant at Iowa and Penn State), secondary and cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta (assistant at Penn State), linebackers coach Jim Herrmann (played and served as an assistant at Michigan) and running backs coach Jerald Ingram (played and served as a graduate assistant at Michigan) also have Big Ten ties.