Temple: B1G person of the year is Wisconsin QB Joel Stave

Each of our Big Ten writers was asked to pick a Big Ten football "person of the year" for the 2015 season. Today on the Big Ten blog, each writer will lay out the case for his choice.

Joel Stave was confused and emotionally hurting, trying to grasp how a two-year starting quarterback could no longer do the one thing he had always done better than anyone he knew: throw a football.

It was Sept. 2, 2014, and one of the most bizarre days in recent Wisconsin football history was winding down. In the morning, head coach Gary Andersen had issued a three-paragraph news release indicating Stave was being shut down because of an injury to his throwing shoulder. But after practice, Andersen backtracked on those words. Stave, as it turned out, wasn't injured at all. He was suffering from a mental block that made it nearly impossible for him to complete basic passes, the result of a confidence dip from losing out on the starting quarterback job to open the season.

Stave didn't have to speak with reporters that day. He could have slid into the background during the most painful, uncomfortable moment of his college football career. Instead, he wanted to set the record straight. He stood in the middle of a semicircle on the field and answered every probing question, even though he didn't know what answers lay ahead.

Most know the comeback story by now. For a month, Stave couldn't even practice with the team because his throws were so wild. By Week 6, however, he had regained his form, taking back the starting quarterback job and then helping the team win seven straight Big Ten games and the Outback Bowl in overtime against Auburn.

This season, Stave was given the quarterback reins under first-year head coach Paul Chryst from the first day of spring practice. He finished his senior season by guiding Wisconsin to a 10-3 record and a victory in the National Funding Holiday Bowl against USC, the Badgers' first back-to-back bowl wins in nearly a decade.

It is easy to forget now just how low Stave was 16 months ago. I can remember speaking to some inside the Wisconsin program, including coaches, who were convinced Stave would never be an effective college quarterback again. How could he come back from the depths of despair, when he had become a national story as the public poster boy for an affliction many assumed meant he had some inherent weakness to pressure?

But one thing Stave said during his impromptu interview session was telling of the type of person he was, of the mindset required to persevere through it all.

"Things aren't always going to go your way," Stave said. "It's all about how you respond to it, how you bounce back, how you handle adversity. Right now, I've had a little bit of adversity thrown at me, and now I've got to handle it like I've always handled adversity."

Stave then set about slowly overcoming his passing issue by simply telling himself he would throw his way out of the slump. He threw with teammates, with friends or by himself, at a series of dummy targets in the Badgers' indoor practice facility until that familiar zip on his passes returned. During his entire career, he personified an old Japanese proverb: Fall seven times and stand up eight.

He broke his collarbone in 2012 against Michigan State during his best game that season and missed two months. He suffered an injury to the AC joint in his throwing shoulder during a bowl-game loss to South Carolina that closed the 2013 season. He infamously lost that starting job to open the 2014 campaign because the head coach wanted a more mobile quarterback.

Things aren't always going to go your way. It's all about how you respond to it.

This season, he threw as many interceptions as touchdown passes. He was ridiculed by fans who wanted to see a backup take Stave's place, to the point that jeers occurred as much at home as on the road, he said.

He sustained a head injury and missed most of the Illinois game. He was inadvertently stepped on during the Holiday Bowl and broke his nose in his final career game, blood oozing from the bridge and out his nostril.

Things aren't always going to go your way. It's all about how you respond to it.

At every turn, Stave demonstrated the fortitude to carry on. He saved one of his best performances for last, which invariably changed some perceptions of his career. In the Holiday Bowl, Stave completed 18 of 27 passes for 217 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He earned the game's offensive MVP honor after Wisconsin defeated USC 23-21 and he returned to lead the game-winning drive with a busted nose.

Fans will be left to wonder why Stave couldn't deliver like that in so many other games. But Stave gets my vote for Big Ten person of the year for the manner in which he persisted through so many trying times. He won more games than any starting quarterback in program history, finishing 31-10 despite arriving as a walk-on who had one scholarship offer in high school.

Yes, gauging a quarterback solely on wins is a flawed metric. And where he ranks in the pantheon of Wisconsin quarterbacks can be debated for years. But refusing to acknowledge the role he played in many of those victories, particularly while hampered by a depleted offense this season, also doesn't do Stave's career justice.

Stave went out a winner. He did so with class and humility under heavy scrutiny. He was the imperfect picture of perseverance until the very end.