Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, December 15, 2014
Players and head coaches have received more than their share of shoutouts since the 2014 regular season concluded.
Now, it's time to give the assistant coaches some props.
See my top 2014 Big Ten assistants below.
Coordinator: Tom Herman, Ohio State. Herman's star continues to rise, as he has done the best work of his career this season. He has had to prep not one, but two, quarterbacks this season. J.T. Barrett took over for injured Braxton Miller and became the best signal-caller in the league. After Barrett got hurt, Cardale Jones took over and led the Buckeyes to a win in the Big Ten title game in his first start. Add it all up, and Ohio State has thrived, ranking No. 1 in the Big Ten in scoring (45.2 ppg) and No. 1 overall (507.6 ypg).
Others: Tim Beck, Nebraska; Bill Cubit, Illinois; Ralph Friedgen, Rutgers; Matt Limegrover, Minnesota; Andy Ludwig, Wisconsin; Dave Warner, Michigan State
Line: Ed Warinner, Ohio State. He had to replace four starters from his standout 2013 unit. While there were some growing pains early, Warinner?s group has thrived around left tackle Taylor Decker for an offense that is No. 3 in the Big Ten in rushing (260.8 ypg).
Others: Jim Bridge, Purdue; Mitch Browning, Rutgers; Barney Cotton, Nebraska; Greg Frey, Indiana; Matt Limegrover, Minnesota; Mark Staten, Michigan State; T.J. Woods, Wisconsin
Quarterbacks: Andy Ludwig, Wisconsin. Many didn?t think the Badgers? two-quarterback system would work. Complicating matters was the fact Joel Stave battled a case of the ?yips? to start the season, as completing even the simplest pass was nearly impossible. But Stave bounced back to work in concert with Tanner McEvoy to lead Wisconsin to the Big Ten West title.
Others: Bill Cubit, Illinois; Ralph Friedgen, Rutgers; Tom Herman, Ohio State; Mike Locksley, Maryland; Brad Salem, Michigan State
Running backs: Deland McCullough, Indiana. He had Tevin Coleman ready to go, helping the star junior run for a school-record 2,036 yards and average 7.5 yards per carry. The Hoosiers finished second in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 263.6 ypg. Indiana had all of this production despite playing against defenses primed to stop the run, as the Hoosiers were 13th in the Big Ten in passing (141.4 ypg).
Others: Ron Brown, Nebraska; Thomas Brown, Wisconsin; Stan Drayton, Ohio State; Pat Poore, Minnesota; Dave Warner, Michigan State; Jafar Williams, Purdue
Receivers: Mike Bellamy, Illinois. The Illinois receivers surprised all season for an offense that finished third in the Big Ten in passing, averaging 243.2 ypg. This group excelled despite some tumult at quarterback, as Wes Lunt got hurt, came back, was ineffective and got benched in favor of Reilly O?Toole. Still, the Illini made a bowl. The play of true freshman wideout Mike Dudek was impressive, as he finished second in the Big Ten with 69 catches for 965 yards and six TDs.
Others: Rich Fisher, Nebraska; Josh Gattis, Penn State; Bobby Kennedy, Iowa; Ben McDaniels, Rutgers; Terrence Samuel, Michigan State; Zach Smith, Ohio State
Tight ends: John Donovan, Penn State. No team has an array of tight ends like the Nittany Lions. And Donovan did his best to maximize his guys for an offense that struggled mightily in most facets. Jesse James had 35 catches for 369 yards; Kyle Carter had 13 grabs for 123; freshman Mike Gesicki had 11 for 114.
Others: Jim Bollman, Michigan State; Jeff Genyk, Wisconsin; Bob Heffner, Northwestern; Tim Hinton, Ohio State; Rob Reeves, Minnesota
Coordinator: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin. Nicknamed the ?Professor? for his voracious appetite for Xs and Os and studying, Aranda's unit allowed just 283.2 yards per game, this after replacing its entire front seven from 2013. His 3-4 scheme was known for its multiple looks and ability to confuse the opposition.
Others: Chris Ash, Ohio State; Tracy Claeys, Minnesota; Greg Mattison, Michigan; Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State; Phil Parker, Iowa; Bob Shoop, Penn State
Line: Sean Spencer, Penn State. The Nittany Lions were No. 1 in the nation vs. the run, allowing 84.8 yards per game on the ground. Opponents averaged a scant 2.6 yards per carry with 12 rushing touchdowns in 12 games. Amazing work by Spencer.
Others: Ron Burton; Michigan State; Chad Kauha?aha?a, Wisconsin; Larry Johnson, Ohio State; Rick Kaczenski, Nebraska; Reese Morgan, Iowa; Jeff Phelps, Minnesota; Mark Smith, Michigan
Linebackers: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin. No one coached more linebackers who earned postseason honors than Aranda, who molded guys like Vince Biegel, Derek Landisch, Joe Schobert and Marcus Trotter into a formidable unit.
Others: Randy Bates, Northwestern; Luke Fickell, Ohio State; Greg Mattison, Michigan; Brent Pry, Penn State; Mike Sherels, Minnesota; Mike Tressel, Michigan State
Secondary: Phil Parker, Iowa. He is the Hawkeyes defensive coordinator but doubles as the secondary coach, the position he earned his reputation at in coaching. Iowa was No. 2 in the Big Ten vs. the pass, allowing 175.8 ypg. Big plays were kept at a minimum for this well-schooled bunch.
Others: Chris Ash/Kerry Coombs, Ohio State; Harlon Barnett, Michigan State; Bill Busch/Ben Strickland, Wisconsin; Jay Sawvel, Minnesota; Bob Shoop/Terry Smith, Penn State; Brian Stewart, Maryland
Special Teams: Andre Powell, Maryland. His units ranked consistently across the board as some of the best in the Big Ten. And no kicker was better than Brad Craddock.
Others: Kerry Coombs, Ohio State; Jeff Genyk, Wisconsin; Jay Sawvel, Minnesota; Mike Tressel, Michigan State
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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