Feb. 7, 2011
Thirteen former Big Ten players and coaches helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, Feb. 6. The Big Ten was well-represented in the Super Bowl with 18 former student-athletes and nine coaches with previous conference connections on the rosters of the Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Big Ten was the only conference to feature at least one former player from every institution in the Super Bowl. The Big Ten and the SEC (20 players) were the only conferences with 18 or more players on the two Super Bowl squads, followed by the ACC (14), Big 12 (13), MAC (13) and Pac-10 (10).
The eight former Big Ten players to earn Super Bowl rings with the Packers included six on the active roster - Hawkeye offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, Wolverine cornerback Charles Woodson, Buckeye linebackers A.J. Hawk and Matt Wilhelm and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and Nittany Lion tight end Andrew Quarless. Hawk racked up five tackles and a pass defense while Woodson collected three defensive stops before missing the second half due to injury. On offense, Quarless hauled in a five-yard pass. Purdue defensive end Mike Neal and Wisconsin offensive tackle Mark Tauscher were on the team’s injured reserve list.
Ten former Big Ten student-athletes appeared on the Steelers’ roster - Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, Indiana wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, Michigan linebackers Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley and free safety Ryan Mundy, Michigan State offensive tackle Flozell Adams, Minnesota tight end Matt Spaeth, Northwestern offensive guard Trai Essex, Ohio State safety Will Allen and Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos. Mendenhall posted 63 rushing yards and an eight-yard third-quarter touchdown to pull the Steelers within 21-17. Randle El caught two passes for 50 yards and also ran for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 28-25. Woodley posted three tackles, two quarterback hits and a sack, while Kapinos averaged 51.0 yards on three punts, including a long of 56 yards.
All 11 Big Ten schools were represented on the field, while seven were represented by an assistant coach. Ohio State and Michigan tied for the lead among all schools with four active players, followed by Penn State with two. The remaining eight schools laid claim to one former player apiece. Three assistant coaches had ties to the Wolverines, giving them the most of any conference squad, followed by the Buckeyes with two assistant coaches. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue were also linked to a member of the Packers’ or Steelers’ coaching staff.
Nine assistant coaches with Big Ten ties took part in Super Bowl XLV, including five members of Green Bay’s staff and four members of Pittsburgh’s staff. The Packers’ offensive and defensive coordinators are both linked to Big Ten schools, as offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was an assistant coach at Iowa from 1999-2002 and defensive coordinator Dom Capers was an assistant at Ohio State from 1982-83. Other Green Bay coaches with a connection to the Big Ten included tight ends coach Ben McAdoo (assistant at Michigan State), safeties coach Darren Perry (played at Penn State) and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac (played and served as an assistant at Michigan). Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau played at Ohio State from 1956-58. Other members of the Steelers’ coaching staff who represented the conference are quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner (assistant at Purdue and Michigan), offensive assistant Harold Goodwin (played and served as an assistant at Michigan) and wide receivers coach Kirby Wilson (played at Illinois).