Te’o had 103 tackles and seven interceptions this year to help the Fighting Irish (12-0) reach the BCS championship game against Alabama. He edged Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the award.
SEC HONORS: League coaches named Clowney the league’s top defensive player and South Carolina return man Ace Sanders shared special teams player of the year honors with Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Clowney and Sanders made first-team all-conference along with Jarvis Jones.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is the league’s offensive player of the year while the Aggies’ Kevin Sumlin shared coaching honors with Florida’s Will Muschamp. Barrett Jones is the top scholar-athlete.
On Tuesday, Clowney won the 2012 Ted Hendricks Award, becoming the first sophomore chosen as the nation’s top defensive end.
Clowney set a school record for sacks (13), tackles for loss in a season (21½) and sacks in a single game (4½ vs. Clemson).
ACC HONORS: The Atlantic Coast Conference’s coaches selected Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd as their player of the year and Duke’s David Cutcliffe as their coach of the year.
Miami’s Duke Johnson is the rookie of the year and Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner is the defensive player of the year.
Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and receiver DeAndre Hopkins are among the five Clemson offensive players on the all-conference first team. Tight end Brandon Ford and center Dalton Freeman also made the first team.
Guard Omoregie Uzzi is the only Georgia Tech player to make the first team.
LOUISVILLE: ESPN and SI.com reported that Charlie Strong turned down an offer to become Tennessee’s coach and will remain with the Cardinals, citing Louisville sources.
Strong and Louisville are said to be finalizing a long-term contract extension that could be announced as early as today.
ARKANSAS: New coach Bret Bielema will be paid $3.2 million annually for six years.
The former Wisconsin coach said at his introductory news conference that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.
KENTUCKY: New coach Mark Stoops hired Florida State defensive ends coach D.J. Elliot as defensive coordinator, according to Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher. Stoops and Elliot were assistants under Fisher this season.