The quarterback of the year award in the Big Ten is one of the many awards that has only been handed out for three years. The change came about because of conference expansion. The history of the quarterback position in the Big Ten is long and storied, and the two men whose names on the trophy are iconic. There are definitely some award winners who never had the chance to lay claim to the trophy because of its lack of existence.
In fact, only two men have won the award – Russell Wilson (Wisconsin Badgers) and Braxton Miller (Ohio State Buckeyes), whose win this season makes him a two-time recipient of the award. If Wilson’s success in the NFL is any indication, Miller should be excited about his future.
In fairness, this award is not a representation of the winner of first team All-Big Ten award — the two are separate. Last season saw Nebraska Cornhuskers‘ Taylor Martinez win the honor of being first team All-Big Ten and Miller the Griese-Brees Trophy. This year, Miller now lays claim to both.
Miller’s accomplishment is particularly impressive considering the early-season knee injury that he quarterback suffered. He was forced to miss significant playing time, and the Buckeyes were fortunate enough to have senior Kenny Guiton, who was very impressive as Miller’s replacement. Some unwarranted arguments were even discussed about Guiton seeing more playing time upon Miller’s return, but these conversations were quickly quelled.
Miller was also awarded the overall Offensive Player of the Year award in the Big Ten this season. This is his second consecutive season receiving the Graham-George award as well. Had it not been for his early-season injury, a very legitimate case could be made for Miller to receive another award this season: the Heisman Trophy. Miller had hoped to contend for the trophy and follow in the footsteps of former Buckeye Troy Smith, who won the award in 2006. Some still contend that Miller deserves consideration for the top award in college football regardless of the injury.
He was the standout at his position in the Big Ten this season, and the Quarterback of the Year award may have been the lone award were there was not much of a conversation to be had. There could have potentially been a conversation had Martinez been able to compete in this his senior season, but unlike Miller, Martinez was unfortunately unable to fully recover from his injury.
Connor Cook of the Michigan State Spartans won all of his starts as a Big Ten quarterback this season, but had trouble winning the job at the beginning of the season as he competed for snaps with Andrew Maxwell. Nathan Scheelhaase of the Illinois Fighting Illini also had a very productive offensive season for his football team, but neither of the two second-tier quarterbacks came close to Miller’s production this season.