Here's a B1G tradition that goes back more than 30 years -- 1982 for men and 1983 for women. Each year the conference selects one male and one female as its Athlete of the Year. The men's award is named in honor of Jesse Owens, the great Ohio State track and field star. The women's award is, as far as I know, currently nameless.
Those with long memories and who pay attention to such matters may recall that the women's award was at one time also named for a Big Ten track and field great, Suzy Favor, who won nine NCAA championships while running for Wisconsin. The conference removed her name in 2012 when the website The Smoking Gun reported that Favor, then known by her married name Suzy Favor Hamilton, had worked as an escort prostitute under the name ‘Kelly Lundy' (and yes, she was married with one child).
Each of the now 14 members of the conference submits the name of one male and one female athlete for consideration. A pre-selected panel of media members (of which I am not one) then selects the winners. The winners will be announced Wednesday, June 24.
Past men's winners include Steve Alford, Jim Abbott, Glen Rice and Luke Donald. Some of the notable women's winners are Katie Douglas, Kelly Mazzante, Hannah Nielson, Shannon Smith and Amanda Kessel. You can see a complete list of previous winners on the award's Wikipedia page.
Maryland's men's nominee
Certainly, one would have to consider Craddock a bona fide contender for the men's award and a worthy Terrapins' nominee. The junior from Adelaide, Australia, led Maryland in scoring with 98 points. He connected on all 44 of his extra point attempts and made 18 consecutive field goals before missing a 54-yard attempt in the final regular season game against Rutgers -- his only missed field goal of the season.
Craddock made three field goals in a game on three different occasions in 2014 and connected on a record-breaking long field goal of 57 yards against Ohio State. He was 2-3 from beyond 50 yards.
In 2014, Craddock became Maryland's first Football Writers Association of America First Team All-American since 2002. He also received the Big Ten's Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year Award.
His competitors for the award are:
Illinois: Tyler Jay, baseball
Indiana: Tevin Coleman, football
Iowa: Brandon Scherff, football
Michigan: Zach Hyman, ice hockey
Michigan State: Jake Hildebrand, ice hockey
Minnesota: Luca Wieland, track and field
Nebraska: Robert Kokesh, wrestling
Northwestern: Jordan Wilimovsky, swimming and diving
Ohio State: Logan Stieber, wrestling
Penn State: Matt Brown, wrestling
Purdue: Steele Johnson, swimming and diving
Rutgers: Anthony Ashnault, wrestling
Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky, basketball
Maryland's women's nominee
So for those among you who have a minimum of a passing familiarity with the overall performance and success of Maryland's athletics programs beyond football and men's basketball, then I say welcome to the no-brainer segment of this story. To those of you who are not familiar with Taylor Cummings and her lengthy list of achievements, I can only ask, "Where the hell have you been?"
I'll go out on a limb here and make a statement not backed by any research and say that not only is the junior midfielder from Ellicott City the most decorated athlete currently at Maryland but she is the most decorated athlete currently competing in the Big Ten. Here's the list from Maryland's website:
2015 Tewaaraton Award winner
2015 Honda Award winner
2015 IWLCA First Team All-American
2015 IWLCA First Team All-Region
2015 NCAA Championship MOP
2015 NCAA All-Tournament Team
2015 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year
2015 All-Big Ten
2014-15 U.S. National Team member
2014 Tewaaraton Award winner
2014 Honda Award winner
2014 IWLCA National Midfielder of the Year
2014 IWLCA First Team All-American
2014 IWLCA First Team All-Region
2014 NCAA Championship MOP
2014 ACC Championship All-Tournament Team
2014 First Team All-ACC
2014 ESPY Best Female College Athlete nominee
2013 IWLCA First Team All-American
2013 ACC Freshman of the Year
For those who somehow don't know, the Tewaaraton Award is essentially lacrosse's equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy. Although she is not the first player to win the Tewaaraton more than once, she is the only player to win it as a junior. And those repeat wins as the Honda Award wins are also no small achievement, either.
This season, Cummings led the Terps in assists (37), points (100), ground balls (41), draw controls (143) and caused turnovers (36) while scoring more goals (65) than anyone on the team except freshman attacker Megan Whittle. And her team has done well since her arrival at Maryland, too.
In her freshman year, the Terps won their first 22 games but fell one game short of winning a national championship when they lost in triple overtime to North Carolina. Maryland again dropped a single game when Cummings was a sophomore but that came in the middle of the season as the Terps finished 23-1 capturing the National Championship with a 15-12 win over Syracuse. The Terps repeated as national champs in 2015 finishing the season 21-1 capping it off with a 9-8 win over North Carolina for Maryland's 12th NCAA title and 13th national championship.
Her competitors for the award are:
Illinois: Stephanie Ritchartz, track and field
Indiana: Jessica Parratto. swimming and diving
Iowa: Samantha Logic, basketball
Michigan: Sierra Romero, softball
Michigan State: Leah O'Connor, track and field
Minnesota: Amanda Zahui B., basketball
Nebraska: Lizabeth Kuhlkin, bowling
Northwestern: Hannah Kim, golf
Ohio State:Ashley Bauer, rowing
Penn State: Micah Hancock, volleyball
Purdue: Devynne Charlton, track and field
Rutgers: Betnijah Laney, basketball
Wisconsin: Ivy Martin, swimming and diving
The chances that Maryland will sweep both awards are slim. In the 34 years in which men and women have been eligible, the same school has won both awards in the same year only twice. The first came in 1998 when defensive back Charles Woodson and softball player Sara Griffin won as Michigan Wolverines. Five years later, Illinois swept the awards with hurdler Patricia Felicien winning the women's award while tennis player Amer Delic and Wrestler Matt Lackey shared the men's award for the only time in history. The women's award has been shared twice in 1991 and 1997.
On the men's side, the University of Michigan has produced the most winners with seven. Three schools, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, have each posted six women's winners. Excepting first-year additions Maryland and Rutgers, Nebraska is the only conference member with neither a men's nor women's winner. It is joined on the women's side by Indiana.
By sport, wrestling has produced the most men's winners with eight followed by football with seven. Basketball players have won five men's awards, swimming and diving four, gymnastics (yes, the B1G has men's gymnastics) and track and field three each. Ice hockey, with a pair of winners is the only other sport to produce multiple winners. Finally, baseball, golf and tennis have produced one winner each.
On the women's side, track and field (including cross country) is the runaway leader with 10 awards. Six winners have come off the basketball court and three off the softball field. Swimming, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse have each had two winners. (Although it's possible to say that lacrosse has 2.5 and field hockey has 1.5 since 1987 winner Jennifer Averill is listed for both sports.) Joining field hockey with one stand-alone winner are diving, fencing, golf and ice hockey.
The conference will announce the winners on Wednesday, June 24.