The coach of the year race came down to two candidates: Iowa's Kirk Ferentz and Ohio State's Jim Tressel. Ferentz led Iowa through a maze of obstacles and wild games to a 10-2 record and a possible BCS at-large berth. Tressel did what he does best, win Big Ten titles, but this year's championship run took on a different tone after an Oct. 17 loss to Purdue.
Both coaches should be commended for their work, but in the end, I could only choose one.
I endorse Iowa's Kirk Ferentz for Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Ferentz had so many things working against him this season, namely a brutal road schedule and several unfortunate injuries. Running back Jewel Hampton, the projected successor to Big Ten MVP Shonn Greene, went down with a knee injury during the summer. Ferentz lost left tackle Bryan Bulaga and tight end Tony Moeaki for a chunk of the season, and running back Adam Robinson missed two games with a high-ankle sprain. And Iowa still went 10-2, finding new players to step up and new ways to win games seemingly every week.
Had quarterback Ricky Stanzi not gone down with an ankle injury Nov. 7, Iowa might be undefeated and in the national title discussion. But even Stanzi's injury didn't keep the Hawkeyes from nearly stunning Ohio State in Columbus before falling in overtime. Ferentz readily admits Iowa isn't the most talented or deepest team in the Big Ten, but he and his assistants got the most out of the Hawkeyes this fall.
Tressel deserves to win this award one of these seasons, and he did a great job turning things around after Purdue and worked his November magic yet again. I'd be happy for Tressel if he got the nod tonight, but the honor should go to Ferentz.