As Michigan gets set to make Brady Hoke its ex-head coach — a 4:30 p.m. ET press conference today has been called on that front — the man Hoke replaced is making the situation in Ann Arbor a little tougher to swallow.
Tuesday afternoon, the Pac-12 announced its year-end awards for the 2014 season, with Rich Rodriguez taking home honors as the conference’s Coach of the Year. In his third season at Arizona, Rodriguez guided the Wildcats to a 10-2 regular season, a South division title and a spot opposite Oregon in the league title game.
In three years at UA, Rodriguez is 26-12; in his three seasons at UM, Rodriguez went 15-22.
Below are the winners of the other four major awards, with blurbs provided by the conference:
Offensive Player of the Year – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Mariota, a junior from Honolulu, Hawaii, threw for 3,470 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions, leading the Pac-12 and the nation with a 190.2 passing efficiency rating. Mariota led all Pac-12 quarterbacks in rushing yards with 636 (53.0 yards per game), accounting for 47 touchdowns in total with his 36 though the air and 11 on the ground. The Davey O’Brien Award & Maxwell Award finalist has led the ducks to wins over No. 7 Michigan State, No. 18 UCLA and No. 20 Utah, helping Oregon close the year out on a seven-game winning streak and win the Pac-12 North to earn a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. Mariota ranked second in the Conference and fifth in the nation in total offense averaging 342.2 yards per game. Mariota was selected as the Conference’s offensive Player of the Week twice this season. Mariota takes Player of the Year honors two seasons after earning honors as the Freshman of the year.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year – Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona: Wright, a sophomore from Windsor, Calif., anchored an Arizona defense that captured its first-ever Pac-12 South division title, while leading the Conference in forced fumbles (6) and ranking third in the nation in sacks (14). A finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and Rotary Lombardi Award, he led both the Conference and the nation in tackles for loss, recording 27.0 total and averaging 2.25 per game. Wright helped spearhead a defense that forced two or more turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown in each of its last four games en route to clinching the South title. Wright, who recorded 139 tackles this season (11.6 avg), helped the Wildcats to their first 10-win regular season since 1998. The sophomore was selected as the Conference’s defensive Player of the Week three times this season and earned Pac-12 honorable mention honors as a freshman last season.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year – Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: Freeman, a freshman from Imperial, Calif., made an immediate impact in his first season of collegiate football, leading a Ducks offense that ranked first in the Conference in rushing (232.0 ypg), total offense (539.5 ypg) and scoring (45.9 ppg). Freeman led the Conference with 16 rushing touchdowns and ranked fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (98.8 ypg). The freshman ranked fifth in the league in scoring, averaging 8.5 points per game and accounting for 17 touchdowns in total (one passing), more than any other running back in the Conference. With 1,185 yards rushing this season, he’s extended an Oregon streak of having a 1,000-yard rusher in eight consecutive seasons.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year – Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC: Jackson, a freshman from Belleville, Ill., came in and made a difference as a three-way standout for the Trojans. Jackson alternated between being a shutdown corner on defense, an impact receiver on offense, and a threat as the Trojans’ kick return man on special teams. On defense Jackson was often called upon to matchup with opposition’s best receiver and he helped lead the team to a finish as the Conference’s second ranked defense while also limiting opposing quarterbacks to the Conference’s second lowest passing efficiency rating (118.5). Jackson ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff return average (27.7) and took one kick back 100 yards for a touchdown (at Utah 10/25) and added two receiving touchdowns. Jackson earned honors as the Conference’s special teams Player of the Week one time this season, and now becomes the third Trojan in the last four years to be named Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.