Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
For leading Michigan to a 10-win season and perhaps a BCS bowl in his first season in Ann Arbor, Brady Hoke has been named the Big Ten coach of the year by both the conference's media and Hoke's fellow coaches.
Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball is the league's offensive player of the year, and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still is the defensive player of the year, the Big Ten announced. And quarterback Braxton Miller of Ohio State has been chosen the league's top freshman for 2011.
Hoke took a team that went 7-6 last season under former coach Rich Rodriguez and turned it around, leading the Wolverines to their first 10-win season since 2006 and a runner-up finish in the Legends Division. Michigan had the second-highest scoring team in the conference, and ranked fourth in defense.
Ball is the second Badger tailback in three years to take the league's top offensive honor, following John Clay in 2009. Ball led the Big Ten in rushing at 135.2 yards per game, and has scored a Big Ten-record 34 touchdowns, heading into Saturday's championship game against Michigan State.
Like Ball, Still follows a former teammate as the conference's top defender; Nittany Lion defensive tackle Jared Odrick won the honor in 2009. Still has a league-high 17 tackles for loss. And Miller, who started the Buckeyes' last nine games, led all freshmen with 11 passing and seven rushing touchdowns.
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