Ohio State's Miller, Simon earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors

Associated Press Published:

PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The Big Ten on Tuesday named Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller Offensive Player of the Year and his Buckeye teammate, John Simon, Defensive Player of the Year.

Ohio State finished the season with a perfect 12-0 record following Saturday's 26-21 victory over arch-rival Michigan at Ohio Stadium.

Miller, who averaged 275 yards in total offense per game, rushed for 1,271 yards this season, ranking him second in that category in conference record books.

"I'm grateful for this moment and this honor," Miller said. "And I am very thankful for the coaches we have and for their working so hard with us."

Simon started 37 consecutive games for the Buckeyes before a knee injury sidelined him for the final game of the season, a 26-21 win over Michigan.

The defensive end called his honor a team award, crediting the play of his defensive teammates.

"I praise those guys for helping me get this and that is what it is all about," he said.

Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien on Tuesday was named the Big Ten's Coach of the Year, earning allocates from fellow coaches and the sportswriters reporting on the conference.

O'Brien, then the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator, was hired earlier this year to replace Hall of Fame head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired last year in the aftermath of child sex abuse charges against now imprisoned assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record, going 6-2 in conference play. His eight wins are the most by a first-year Penn State coach. Six Penn State players obtained first-team All-Big Ten status under his coaching.

"This is a fantastic honor; it's very humbling," O'Brien said in a statement. "Any time you are named coach of the year, it has a lot to do with two groups of people -- it's your coaching staff and obviously your players."

Penn State defensive end Deion Barnes was named the conference's Freshman Player of the Year. A redshirt freshman, Barnes led the Nittany Lions with six sacks. He was tied for fourth in the conference with three forced fumbles.

"It feels good," Barnes said of the honor. "But I am looking forward to next season. I need to play better than I did this year."

Kentucky hires FSU assistant Mark Stoops as coach

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky has hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops as the Wildcats' football coach.

Stoops replaces Joker Phillips, who was fired on Nov. 4. Phillips went 13-24 in three seasons at Kentucky and the Wildcats were 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference this year.

Kentucky made the announcement on Tuesday and the 45-year-old Stoops will be introduced here at a news conference on Sunday. No. 13 Florida State (10-2) plays Georgia Tech Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Stoops' hiring concludes a quicker-than-expected coaching search by the university. After Saturday's season-ending loss at Tennessee, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said he had no timetable to find a replacement for Phillips.

But it didn't take long for Barnhart and the Wildcats to make a move. The decision makes Stoops a head coach for the first time in his career.

Mark Stoops has been the Seminoles' defensive coordinator the past three seasons. Florida State's defense was ranked 108th when he took over and he has turned the Seminoles into one of the nation's top defensive teams.

The Seminoles have the nation's second-ranked defense, giving up 249.4 yards per game.

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