Gophers coach P.J. Fleck earned a Big Ten Coach of the Year award Tuesday.
One of them, at least.
Fleck was named Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, an award voted on by conference coaches. Ohio State’s Ryan Day garnered the media’s Dave McClain Coach of the Year accolade.
“When it comes from your peers, it means a heck of a lot more,” Fleck said on the Big Ten Network’s awards show Tuesday. “Because we all go through it together. We all know the challenges. We all know the adversity.”
Fleck led the Gophers to a 10-2 season, accomplishing seven conference victories for the first time and the program’s first 10-win regular season since 1905. The team went undefeated until Nov. 16 and likely will play in a New Year’s Day bowl game. The Gophers just missed out on the Big Ten Championship Game and the Rose Bowl with Saturday’s 38-17 loss to Wisconsin.
Day, in his first year as coach at Ohio State after replacing the retired Urban Meyer, helped the unbeaten Buckeyes to the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff ranking. They will play for the conference title and figure to be selected for the four-team playoff as well. Day is the first Ohio State recipient of Coach of the Year since Earle Bruce in 1979.
Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. also earned a major conference honor as the first Gophers player to win the Big Ten Conference’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award. The fourth-year sophomore endured back-to-back season-ending injuries ahead of this season.