Big Ten: Chris Spielman

Miller, Simon lead B1G award winners

November, 27, 2012
The Big Ten announced the winners of its four major awards on Tuesday night, and Ohio State and Penn State split them.

Here you go:

Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year: Ohio State DE John Simon

Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year: Penn State DE Deion Barnes

Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote): Bill O’Brien, Penn State

Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote): Bill O’Brien, Penn State

We made our thoughts pretty clear on who we liked for these awards in our endorsements earlier today. I endorsed three of the winners, while Adam had two.

The mildly surprising one, of course, is Simon. The Buckeyes senior led the Big Ten in sacks (14) and finished third in tackles for loss (14.5) and was the emotional leader for the Ohio State defense. We certainly had him among our top candidates for the award and would love to have seen what kind of numbers Simon would have put up if he weren't playing through pain much of the year.

We both endorsed Penn State's Michael Mauti and viewed Simon's teammate, linebacker Ryan Shazier, as the other top candidate. But Simon was named the league's defensive lineman of the year on Monday and is very respected by coaches throughout the league. We have no major quarrel with this selection.

Miller held off a charge by Nebraska's Taylor Martinez to win the offensive player of the year award. I find it very amusing that Miller won this honor and was named the quarterback of the year in the league, yet the coaches voted him as a second-team All-Big Ten performer. Whoops.

Barnes was the biggest lock of any of the award choices. O'Brien beat out Ohio State's Urban Meyer, who capped off a 12-0 season but couldn't win the coach of the year award. O'Brien was rewarded as much for what he had to deal with off the field as his tremendous work on it.

Ohio State product Chris Spielman won the Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award, while Michigan's Jon Runyan, a U.S. Congressman from New Jersey, won the Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award.

Big Ten lunch links

April, 24, 2012
Bye, bye, Blackhawks. You made this mess, Stan. Time to clean it up.

Big Ten lunch links

May, 11, 2011
Spring finally has come to Chicago, at least for a few days.

Big Ten lunchtime links

March, 14, 2011
Greetings from Scottsdale, Ariz. Last time I stepped in for Adam, there was a wee bit of excitement in the Big Ten. A bit quieter this Monday, though the hand-wringing probably won't stop for a while in Columbus.
Most coaches would take one look at Brian Rolle and think strong safety or running back.

A 5-foot-11, 218-pound middle linebacker? Maybe in the Sun Belt, but never at Ohio State, a program rich in linebacker tradition that can hand pick the players to put in the center of its defense.

This is the team that produced Chris Spielman, Andy Katzenmoyer, James Laurinaitis and other prototype middle linebackers. Why would the Buckeyes settle for less?

[+] EnlargeBrian Rolle
AP Photo/Terry GilliamWhile not a prototypical linebacker, Brian Rolle is the undeniable leader of Ohio State's defense.
Because Rolle isn't less.

"I suppose if you plug him into the computer, Brian Rolle doesn't fit," Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said. "But he sure can play football."

Rolle's résumé speaks for itself. After two seasons as a special-teams standout, Rolle stepped into a starting role in 2009 and recorded 94 tackles, seven for loss, with an interception, a fumble recovery and a rare defensive PAT after picking off a pass on a two-point conversion attempt and racing 98 yards to the end zone.

He opened his senior season with a bang Thursday night, recording his first career pick-six, a 30-yard interception return to the end zone in a 45-7 rout of Marshall.

Rolle might lack ideal middle-linebacker size, but he has all the other tools to excel at the position.

Let's start with his voice, which can be heard just about any time on the practice field or during a game.

"Most people think I'm talkative, but it's just if I have something to say to somebody, I'll say it," said Rolle, one of six co-captains for the Buckeyes this fall. "I’m the quarterback of the defense, so I feel like I'm obligated to make all the calls and tell guys where they need to be and where they line up.

'There's more weight on my shoulders to do things right, and as a senior, I know I'm going to have guys looking up to me even more."

Rolle's loquacious personality stands in stark contrast to the man flanking him on most plays. Ohio State standout outside linebacker Ross Homan is more of a silent assassin, and Rolle jokes that those who don't know Homan well "would think he was a mute or something."

Added Rolle: "The only thing I really hear him say during the game is, 'B-Rolle, what's the call?'"

Despite their differences, Rolle and Homan mesh well together. Both were preseason All-Big Ten selections by most media outlets.

And after playing behind Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman for several years, Rolle and Homan have a vision for their own legacy.

"We saw how great James and Marcus worked together," Rolle said. "I was thinking, me and Ross, if we continue to do what we're doing and we go in with our heads on right and lead like seniors are supposed to, in the years to come, the coaches will be able to talk to the young guys about how great we were our senior year in leading this team hopefully to a national championship."

The next step toward that goal arrives Saturday, as No. 2 Ohio State hosts No. 12 Miami (ESPN, 3:40 p.m. ET).

For Rolle, this one's "personal."

He grew up in Immokalee, Fla., a football hotbed in South Florida. His cousin Antrel Rolle was an All-American cornerback for Miami who played in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

Needless to say, Brian Rolle was all about the U.

"Growing up, that was the only thing that mattered in college football," he said. "Being from South Florida, you either were a Gator fan or a Cane fan, and I was a Cane fan. Miami was my first love."

As Rolle moved up through the high school ranks, he pictured himself wearing a Miami jersey.

"There was no doubt in my mind," he said. "My sophomore to senior year, I just knew I was going to play at Miami. But I didn't get that offer I wanted."

Miami went through a coaching transition during Rolle's senior year. Despite numerous overtures to the program, Rolle never got a chance to be a Cane.

"I took a lot of unofficial visits there, went up to a bunch of games, talked to a bunch of coaches," he said. "In the end, I was sad about it, but now I'm at Ohio State, it's my senior season, and I feel blessed to be here now."

The Buckeyes feel blessed to have Rolle directing their defense -- all 5-11, 218 pounds of him.

"Brian is unique," Tressel said. "He's probably not as big as some of the guys we've had, but he's got tremendous instincts and fabulous leadership skills. He's an excellent tackler, he plays the pass very well, loves the game, loves to prepare for the game.

"Glad he's on our side."

Big Ten lunch links

July, 16, 2010
Ready ... link.

Big Ten lunch links

December, 8, 2009
Joe Flacco just threw another interception.

Big Ten mailblog

November, 20, 2009
No video mailblog today, but plenty of questions and answers.

JW from Novi, Mich., writes: Can any of the sports writers tell us, with a straight face, how Jim Tressel, does not get selected as Big Ten Coach of the Year? EPSN blog predicts Wiscy or Iowa (again). In 9 years at The Ohio State University, has now won 6 Big Ten titles, 2 (or 3, depending on when you answer this) outright. We always here that he has "the talent" that other "more deserving" coaches do not have, but 1) you need to recruit that talent and 2) the cupboard was pretty bare in 2001, so he had to build it. I guess he'll have to wait for the Big Ten Lifetime Achievement Award.

Adam Rittenberg: It's still amazing that Tressel has never won one of these, and he definitely deserves to be considered this year. Ohio State really turned things around after the Purdue loss. But in terms of adversity, Iowa faced more than the Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes were hit really hard with injuries, particularly at running back, and overcame temporary losses of starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga and tight end Tony Moeaki. Kirk Ferentz should be the Big Ten Coach of the Year, but Tressel is right up there as well.

Drew from New York writes: Adam - love the new vlog segment. Cuts down on time spent viewing your blog instead of doing my job. One thing though. Maybe time for a haircut there, buddy?? I think you should go with the John Clay/O.B. style mohawk. Certainly workin' out well for those guys this season, huh?

Adam Rittenberg: You people spend way too much time thinking about my hair or my out-of-date TV! But hey, if you can sell my wife on the Mohawk idea, maybe I'll do it. But I can tell you this: I won't look nearly as cool as Clay, O.B. or my personal favorite, Illinois State basketball star Osiris Eldridge, who sports the O-hawk.

(Read full post)

Big Ten lunch links

November, 20, 2009
Come on, Lemon. What do we elites do when we screw up? We pretend it never happened and give ourselves a giant bonus.

Big Ten lunch links

May, 1, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

"I got a real good chance [to play this fall]," Denard Robinson said. "It's my gut feeling and the coaches have been telling me I have a chance to start."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman, Iowa linebacker Larry Station, and Penn State running back Curt Warner are members of the 2009 College Football Hall of Fame class, which was announced today in New York. The Big Ten had 16 players on the ballot this year, as well as two coaches who spent part of their careers in the league. 

Here are the bios for the three inductees from the Big Ten: 

  • Chris Spielman, Ohio State, linebacker (1984-87) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1986-87) who was unanimous in 1987 and consensus in 1986. The recipient of the 1987 Lombardi Award, he was a three-time first team all-conference selection and a member of two Big Ten title teams.
  • Larry Station, Iowa, linebacker (1982-85) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1984-85) who was unanimous in 1985, consensus in 1984. A three-time first team all-conference selection, he was named team captain and MVP in 1985. Iowa's all-time leader in tackles with 492, Station topped the team's tackles chart in all four seasons and recorded 10 or more tackles 23 times. 
  • Curt Warner, Penn State, running back (1979-82) -- Named first team All-America in 1981 and led Penn State to 1982 national championship. Most outstanding offensive player in 1980 and 1982 Fiesta Bowls. Finished career with 11 season, 10 career, 14 bowl and 42 school records.
The class includes several Heisman Trophy winners, including former Notre Dame wide receiver Tim Brown, but Michigan's Desmond Howard didn't get in on his first try.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The National Football Foundation announced its 2009 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday, and the list includes 16 players from the Big Ten and two coaches who spent time in the league. 

Former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner, leads the Big Ten contingent on the ballot, which includes 76 players and six coaches.

Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue each have three players on the list, while both Penn State and Michigan State have two players. Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana each have one candidate.

Here's the list of Big Ten players eligible for induction, along with some information on each candidate provided by the NFF:

Otis Armstrong, Purdue, running back (1970-72) -- Named consensus All-America in 1972 after accumulating 3,315 career rushing yards, a school and Big Ten record. Named Big Ten MVP in 1972. 

Dave Butz, Purdue, defensive tackle (1970-72) -- Consensus first team All-America. Finalist for the Lombardi Award in 1972 and named first team All-Conference. Named Defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl.

D.J. Dozier, Penn State, running back (1983-86) -- Named 1986 consensus first team All-America and led Penn State to perfect 12-0 season and national championship (1986).  Finished eighth in 1986 Heisman voting. First Penn State running back to lead the team in rushing for four consecutive seasons.

Dave Foley, Ohio State, offensive tackle (1966-68) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1968. Led Buckeyes to the 1968 national championship and an undefeated season. National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete in 1968.

Kirk Gibson, Michigan State, wide receiver (1975-78) -- Named first team All-America, led Big Ten in receiving in league play and helped the Spartans to a Big Ten co-championship and a No. 12 national ranking in 1978. Played Major League Baseball for 17 seasons and won National League MVP honors in 1988.

Curtis Greer, Michigan, defensive tackle (1976-79) -- First team All-America selection. Set school record for tackles for loss in a season (23) and career (48). Two-time first team All-Big Ten selection (1978-79). Led Wolverines to three conference championships and four bowls.

Mark Herrman, Purdue, quarterback (1977-80) -- Named unanimous first team All-America, Big Ten MVP and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1980. A first team All-Conference selection, he broke NCAA career records for passing yards (9,188) and completions (707).

Desmond Howard, Michigan, wide receiver (1989-91) -- Consensus first team All-America and Heisman Trophy winner in 1991. Led Wolverines to three Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls. Led the nation in scoring (11.5 points per game) and kickoff returns (27.5 avg.) in 1991.

Tim Krumrie, Wisconsin, defensive line (1979-83) -- Named a consensus first team All-America in 1981. Led Badgers to 1981 Garden State Bowl and earned Defensive MVP honors in 1982 Independence Bowl. Three-time first team All-Conference selection, recording 444 career tackles.

Robert Lytle, Michigan, running back (1974-76) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1976. Finished third in the 1976 Heisman Trophy voting. Named Big Ten MVP in 1976 and led Michigan to two conference championships.

Tom Nowatzke, Indiana, fullback (1961-64) -- Named first team All-America in 1964. A two-time All-Conference selection (1963-64), he led the Big Ten in rushing in 1963. Played in the East/West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and Coaches All-American Game.

Jim Otis, Ohio State, fullback (1967-69) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1969. Member of the 1968 national championship team. Named First Team All-Big Ten in 1969 and led the Buckeyes to two conference titles. Led the team in rushing three times.

Percy Snow, Michigan State, linebacker (1986-89) -- Unanimous First Team All-America in 1989 and Butkus Award winner. Led MSU to 1987 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl win. Ranks second all-time in career tackles (473).

Chris Spielman, Ohio State, linebacker (1984-87) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1986-87) -- unanimous in 1987, consensus in 1986. The recipient of the 1987 Lombardi Award, he is a three-time first team all-conference selection and a member of two Big Ten title teams.

Larry Station, Iowa, linebacker (1982-85) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1984-85) -- unanimous in 1985, consensus in 1984. A three-time first team all-conference selection, he was named team captain and MVP in 1985. Iowa's all-time leader in tackles with 492.

Curt Warner, Penn State, running back (1979-82) -- Named first team All-America in 1981 and led Penn State to 1982 national championship. Most outstanding offensive player in 1980 and 1982 Fiesta Bowls. Finished career with 11 season, 10 career, 14 bowl and 42 school records.

Howard and Dave Foley are on the ballot for the first time. 

Two coaches with Big Ten ties also are on the ballot. Darryl Rogers coached Michigan State from 1976-79, going 24-18. William "Lone Star" Dietz coached Purdue in 1921, going 1-6. 

The 2009 class will be announced on April 30 and inducted at the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner on Dec. 8 in New York.  


Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Excellent response so far on the Big Ten Rushmores. It's a fun project, and one that really reveals the figures who mean most to fans. Keep 'em coming.

I haven't been ripped for an entire list yet, but as expected, you guys have taken issue with a few of my picks. The biggest miss appears to be linebacker LaVar Arrington for Penn State, with linebacker Chris Spielman of Ohio State a close second.

Keep in mind that Rushmore includes only four faces, so if a guard or a kicker is to be included, they better be pretty freaking good.

Though some of the suggestions for Arrington's replacement are laughable, several users bring up good points. Despite his insane talent and highlight-reel plays, Arrington doesn't appear to be beloved by Penn State fans, in part because of the way the 1999 team struggled down the stretch.

I still think Arrington's sheer talent makes him a good candidate, but I probably should have gone with a guy like Shane Conlan. It would mean that Penn State's Rushmore wouldn't feature any players from the last two decades, illustrating how the program has fallen off its perch from the early and mid 1980s.

Here's a sampling of e-mails I've received on Penn State's Rushmore.

Neel from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Adam, Totally agree with you regarding your first three choices for Penn State's Mt. Rushmore. But I'm having trouble with Arrignton being on there. Don't get me wrong, he was an absolute beast. I'd go with Pete Giftopoulos instead though. He had arguably the most memorable moment in PSU football history with that Vinny Testerverde interception that sealed a Fiesta Bowl victory and a Penn State national championship.

Adam Rittenberg: That was a great play, Neel, but Giftopoulos is a few slots down from being considered for Rushmore. He doesn't even have his own Wikipedia entry!

Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: I understand the tough choices for PSU's Mt. Rushmore, but for you to say that you didn't even have Shane Conlan on your short-list is hard to forgive. We are talking about a guy that made the BIGGEST plays on the BIGGEST stages. The nastiest of the nasty LB's ever at LBU. Not only that, how cool would that mountain side look with a guy missing a front tooth? Also, how can you not have Franco (I don't even need to put a last name there) on the short list?? And Mike Munchak and/or Steve Wisniewski are just as deserving as Lavar/Cappy/Ham. I love Lavar...he was truly special, but sorry, there are about 8 or 10 others that are more worthy. Guys that helped to build the PSU lore, not just their own highlight reel.

Adam Rittenberg: I'll give you Conlan for sure, but Franco Harris made his legacy in the NFL, not Penn State. He's got no business being on Penn State's Rushmore.

Alan from Parts Unknown writes: Adam, Not an angry email. Just don't understand how Lavar could be on the Mt Rushmore at PSU. Puz stood for so much more than Lavar. Remember, Lavar's team (99) quit. It didn't come back till Puz brought it back along with MRob. I still wouldn't vote for Puz. Wally Triplett is the reason for "We Are Penn State. The first African American to play in the Cotton Bowl. The first African American to be drafted and play in the NFL and the first NFL player to be drafted to serve in the Korean War. If you are creating a Mt. Rushmore for Penn State, you need to understand, for us, it's more than football.

Adam Rittenberg: Good call on Triplett. Paul Posluszny won a ton of awards, but much like Ohio State's James Laurinaitis, I wouldn't call him one of the top two or three defensive players in team history. There are other guys more deserving.

Onto Ohio State's Rushmore and Spielman:

There were few complaints about my other three choices -- Woody Hayes, Archie Griffin and Chic Harley -- but the general sentiment seemed to be that current head coach Jim Tressel deserved the fourth spot. I can certainly see the argument there. Tressel has flat out dominated the Big Ten and archrival Michigan. He has won a national title and led teams to two more championship games.

It still doesn't seem right not to have a home-grown defensive player on Ohio State's Rushmore. Maybe I should have combined them all into a dude named Katzenhawk Spielmanaitis. Actually, that sounds more like a disease.

Other Buckeyes fans have pointed out that more Heisman winners -- Eddie George, Howard Cassady, Vic Janowicz -- should be on the school's Rushmore.

Bax from Atlanta writes: Adam, While Chris Spielman is universally beloved among Buckeye fans, the Rushmore is very clear for 99% of the fans: Woody, Archie, Chic, and Tressel. This has been discussed before on various OSU sites and those four are always the choices.

Adam Rittenberg: And here I thought the Rushmore idea was an ESPN original. Perhaps I should have swapped Spielman for Tressel. Can a sweater vest be carved into a mountain?

Ohio State's Mount Rushmore

February, 18, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Much like Penn State, Ohio State's storied history makes it tough to identify only four faces of the program. The Buckeyes have produced eight three-time All-Americans, most recently linebacker James Laurinaitis. They boast six Heisman Trophy winners (seven trophies) and four Maxwell Award winners. 

There are a few slam-dunk selections, but some tough calls as well. Here's my list for Ohio State's Rushmore. 

  • Woody Hayes -- The coaching icon will always be the face of Ohio State football. He won five national championships and 13 Big Ten titles in 28 years on the sidelines at Ohio State. The fiery Hayes went 205-61-10 as Buckeyes coach and led the team to four Rose Bowls.
  • Archie Griffin -- He remains college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and one of the game's all-time greats. The College Football Hall of Famer had 5,589 career rushing yards and 26 touchdowns at Ohio State. In his four years the Buckeyes went 40-5-1.
  • Chris Spielman -- There's certainly some debate about Ohio State's greatest defensive player, but Spielman certainly is at or near the top of the list. Plus, there are few figures more revered in the state of Ohio than Spielman, a two-time All-America selection who won the Lombardi Award in 1987. Spielman embodies Ohio State football and holds the school record for solo tackles (283).
  • Chic Harley -- Yes, Ohio State football did exist before Hayes arrived, and Harley symbolized the program's dominance during the 1910s. A halfback and a safety, Harley led Ohio State to its first Big Ten championship in 1916 and another title in 1917. Harley earned All-America honors in all three seasons he played and helped Ohio State to a 21-1-1 record, with his lone loss coming in his final game.
There were many others considered for the list, including Jack Tatum, Howard Cassady, Les Horvath, Eddie George, Vic Janowicz, Bobby Hoying, Jim Tressel, David Boston, Jim Parker, Cris Carter and Orlando Pace.