Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett occasionally will give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We’ll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We’ll let you decide which blogger is right.
As the 2013 season kicks off this week, we’re making our picks for the four major Big Ten individual awards.
Today’s Take Two topic: Who will win Big Ten coach of the year honors?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
Right or wrong, this award almost always goes to a coach who exceeds expectations. That's why Bill O'Brien won it last year for going 8-4, beating out Urban Meyer's 12-0 season. It's why Jim Tressel never won a coach of the year award during his Ohio State tenure. So the trick in identifying who will win the Dave McClain/Hayes–Schembechler coach of the year honors in 2013 is first figuring out who will lead a surprise team. That's why my choice is Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.
Adam and I are both on record predicting the Hoosiers will make a bowl game this year. That might not sound like much until you consider that Indiana has been to only one bowl game since 1993 and none since 2007. Getting to the postseason is still a major accomplishment in Bloomington, and if he gets it done, Wilson will have led a team from the 1-11 ashes of 2011 to a bowl in his third year. Guys like Meyer, Brady Hoke, Pat Fitzgerald, Bo Pelini and Mark Dantonio could guide their teams to greater heights this season, but we've come to expect certain things from those coaches. Wilson has the best chance to exceed expectations -- and to take home some hardware in the process.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
Wilson is a good choice, Brian, and you're absolutely right about this award typically going to a coach of an improving team rather than one who simply meets expectations. But at some point, doesn't the Ohio State coach have to win? It's insane that Tressel went through his entire Buckeyes career without ever claiming this award. While O'Brien certainly was a worthy recipient in 2012, you could make a case for Meyer, as I attempted to in November. Some might be quick to write off Meyer this season because of Ohio State's preseason ranking (No. 2) and consensus status as Big Ten favorite. But isn't there something to be said for living up to expectations, especially in a season where much more is at stake?
Meyer is my choice for the award. Is a 6-6 season at Indiana really worth a coach of the year award? My hunch is that Wilson doesn't think so. Meyer might not post another undefeated season -- I have the Buckeyes finishing 11-1 in an improved conference from a year ago -- but he should be able to guide Ohio State to another Leaders division title. If the Buckeyes go 12-0 again, Meyer should be the obvious choice, no matter what anyone else does. Recording back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in a major conference in today's college football is no small feat. I realize I'm going against the trend of this award, but eventually, it has to end up in Columbus. I think it happens this year.
More major awards picks