“Keep an eye on Taylor Martinez. If Ohio State loses one of its last two — and Martinez finishes strong — Taylor has a shot to beat out Braxton Miller.” — Mad Chatter, Nov. 16
Martinez didn’t finish particularly strong. Miller didn’t lose a game. Yet Monday night, the Big Ten coaches dropped a mini-bombshell, selecting Martinez over Miller for first-team all-Big Ten.
Their conference statistics are comparable:
Miller: 830 rushing yards, 1,285 passing yards, 14 total touchdowns, 9 turnovers, 137.4 pass efficiency
Martinez: 642 rushing yards, 1,605 passing yards, 18 total touchdowns, 12 turnovers, 134.5 pass efficiency
But almost always, team success breaks the quarterback tie. Miller carried OSU to 12-0 and, against Nebraska, he had arguably his best game of the year. Martinez, meanwhile, faltered against the Buckeyes, committing four turnovers.
So how do you explain it? Well, the voting committee is small. Only 12 coaches. That means it takes only one or two votes to swing a close race. And considering the bitterness toward Urban Meyer and Ohio State, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brady Hoke, Mark Dantonio and Bret Bielema omitted from their ballots some high-profile Buckeyes.
The coaches named only three Ohio State players to the first team, defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins and John Simon and defensive back Bradley Roby; the media named six Buckeyes to their first team (I’m not a voter).
I don’t believe that 12-0 Ohio State should automatically have more first-team picks than 10-2 Nebraska, just as I don’t believe Nebraska should automatically have more than 7-5 Wisconsin. Some teams have a balanced roster with few standouts; other teams have imbalanced rosters with a few great players.
But the Big Ten coaches’ treatment of Ohio State smells fishy. I guarantee Meyer’s peers won’t pick him for “Coach of the Year.”
>> I’ll have more on Ohio State in Wednesday’s Chatter.
>> ESPN’s Big Ten bloggers assess the coaches’ odd choices.
>> Look at those five Huskers who received first-team honors from either the media or the coaches: Martinez, Brett Maher, Eric Martin, Spencer Long and Daimion Stafford. What an unlikely cast.
Just a year ago, Martinez was openly mocked by the most prominent analysts in college football, not to mention the scrutiny he received locally, myself included. He still too often plays with fire, but his improvement is indisputable. I wouldn’t want to defend against him.
Martin looked like he might never advance past Husker special teams; now he’s the Big Ten’s best pass rusher.
Maher and Long are former walk-ons. Both are indispensable pieces of the team.
And Stafford, who had every reason to give up before he even made it to Lincoln, overcame a slow start to his senior year and made critical plays down the stretch.
>> The biggest snubs were Ciante Evans and Kenny Bell. (I’m shocked that Evans didn’t even make the coaches’ second team). Evans was the best player on this defense the first two months of the season. And Bell deserved the nod over Jared Abbrederis.
Thankfully, both will get another shot next year.