Someone had to get snubbed.

The Big Ten featured 3 of the top 10 running backs in the country by a variety of statistical measures. Factor in that the league boasts 4 of the top 6 defenses in all the land (and 6 of the top 13), and Blake Corum, Mohamed Ibrahim and Chase Brown in reality are 3 of the 5 best backs in the country.

But with only 2 first-team slots for running backs on the All-Big Ten team, one of them had to be relegated to a second-team selection.

Illinois’ Brown drew the short straw, as Michigan’s Corum and Minnesota’s Ibrahim received first-team recognition from both the league’s coaches and media. Of 25 positions, including special teams, 20.5 had unanimous selections, including running back.

Given that the poll of league coaches produced a tie for first-team center between Michigan’s Osegun Oluwatimi and Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz, it would have been fitting for Brown to share a first-team spot with one of the other backs.

More than that, Brown should have been an outright first-team selection and maybe even the Running Back of the Year ahead of Corum, even though that will come off as blasphemy to Wolverines fans.

This would be a moot point if not for the hit to the knee Corum took 2 Saturdays ago against Illinois. Had the 5-8, 210-pound junior not been limited to 3 carries for 11 yards over Michigan’s past 6 quarters of football, he’d have the Heisman sewn up right now. He’s the marquee player on a 12-0, No. 2-ranked team.

But the fact is, Donovan Edwards, behind the team’s dominant offensive line, ripped through Ohio State for 216 yards and 2 TDs. It’s to his credit that Corum wants to play through his injury, but he’s not needed to the extent Brown and Ibrahim are needed by their teams.

No one was more of a workhorse this season than Brown. He led the nation in carries (328) and was 2nd in yards (1,643). Ibrahim, who missed 1 game with an injury, was slightly better on a per-game basis: 27.6 attempts per game (1st) and 144.9 yards per game (2nd) vs. Brown’s 136.9 (3rd).

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Here’s the kicker in Brown’s favor, though: He has 27 receptions for 240 yards and 3 TDs. Corum has gone 11-80-1 as a receiver out of the backfield; Ibrahim 7-50-0.

These 3 are so close it’s like choosing whether you want $1 million dollars in $100s, $50s or $20s. The money’s good regardless. Brown and Ibrahim are 1-2 in the B1G in runs of 10+ yards. Corum leads in runs of 20+ or more. Do you prefer battering rams or a home run hitter?

Another reason to give a slight nod to Brown is that he has the weakest supporting cast. Michigan has 4 o-linemen who made 1st or 2nd-team all-conference. Minnesota has Schmitz listed 1st team by both coaches and media. Illinois has 1 2nd-teamer and 1 3rd-teamer on each list.

I’d have Brown, following his 2nd straight 1,000-yard season, as Running Back of the Year. I’d have Ibrahim as the other 1st-teamer, based on his streak of 19 100-yard games and better totals. If the voting actually had gone that way, I could have easily made the counter argument in favor of Corum. The 3 backs are that close.

But in a league that extracts a brutal toll on running backs, Brown went the distance better than anyone.

Not much controversy

It’s hard to argue with CJ Stroud as Offensive Player of the Year, even after a 2nd straight loss to Michigan. He leads the nation in QB rating and TD passes (37, 15 ahead of the next B1G quarterbacks). If Corum had remained healthy and put up the numbers Edwards did against the Buckeyes, I’d make that argument. Marvin Harrison Jr. has been amazing as Stroud’s top receiver, but teammate Emeka Egbuka is also a 1,000-yard receiver and Purdue’s Charlie Jones has more catches and yards.

On defense, the pick was Iowa middle linebacker Jack Campbell, who had a second straight 100-tackle season as the heart and soul of the Hawkeyes’ defense. His numbers are inflated a bit because Iowa’s defense spends so much time on the field, but he’s the quintessential Big Ten linebacker. He had no sacks and just 3.5 TFL. Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg (112 tackles, 12 TFL, 2.5 sacks) might have gotten the nod had the Buckeyes beaten Michigan. Edge-rushing LB Nick Herbig of Wisconsin led the B1G in sacks (11) and TFL (15.5), but had just 47 total tackles for a 6-6 Badgers squad. Penn State’s Joey Porter and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon (3 INTs, 14 passes defensed) both were unanimous first-team selections in the secondary, but neither produced quite enough wow plays or stats to create an argument against Campbell.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh as top coach and Jake Moody as top kicker were no-brainers. Penn State RB Nick Singleton as top freshman can only be argued by teammate LB Abdul Carter. Both seem destined to be B1G superstars in the coming years. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski very well might be the top OL in the league, but given that his team went 1-11, maybe Ohio State’s Paris Johnson should have been the pick. Harrison as top receiver and Iowa’s Sam LaPorta as top tight end are hard to argue against.

In fact, I’m out of nitpicks here. The coaches and media agreed on most of the selections, and Chase Brown was the biggest snub. I’ll leave you fine folks to continue the arguments.