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Friday, April 2, 2010
Best Big Ten coach: Izzo or Tressel?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

As Michigan State basketball players cut down the nets Sunday in St. Louis, only one thought came to mind.

Tom Izzo did it again.

You might have read this statistic a couple thousand time this week, but it bears repeating. Izzo has led Michigan State to the Final Four in six of the last 12 years. That's simply remarkable.

His best coaching performance took place this year, as the Spartans struggled down the stretch in Big Ten play, flopped in the league tournament quarterfinals (a game I covered) and lost their best player, Kalin Lucas, in a second-round matchup against Maryland. But Izzo somehow worked his magic again and further cemented his legacy as one of the great college coaches of our time.

This got me thinking a bit. Who has been the best Big Ten coach in a major revenue sport in the last decade?

Before I hear from the wrestling crowd, the volleyball crowd or the women's lacrosse crowd, I'm taking revenue sports. Translation: football or basketball.

Only two candidates qualify here: Izzo and Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. Both have dominated the Big Ten, led their teams to national championships and consistently competed on the highest stages.

Here's a look at how they stack up.

So who's better? It's not an easy answer, but this gives me a new appreciation for what Tressel has done at Ohio State. Izzo has been regarded as one of the nation's best basketball coaches for quite some time, while Tressel often doesn't get the credit he deserves in football. The Vest has done more in a shorter time at Ohio State than any coach in recent memory, yet he still hasn't been named Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Send me your thoughts on this topic and I'll include them in a post next week.