Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Big Ten mailblog
By Adam Rittenberg
Wrapping up a surprisingly busy day with some questions and answers.
Warning: if you bring it, you better be prepared to receive it, too.
Daniel from Omaha writes: I'm not disputing Nebraska's ranking of #4 in your coaching jobs in B10 but Penn St #3? For the same reason you pointed out for NU, Penn St doesn't take a hit and you point to Bill Obrien's 1 yr of recruiting success? Bill Callahan had a Top Class in 2005, where's he at now? Go back to doing Subway commercials and the media needs to stop coddling OSU, Mich and PSU. How is Madison not better than 2 of those?
Adam Rittenberg: Wisconsin is not a better job than Michigan or Ohio State, Daniel. You won't find anyone credible that tells you otherwise. Maybe when the Badgers upgrade their woeful facilities, they'll be closer. But Wisconsin can never match Ohio State's and Michigan's recruiting clout or tradition. That's why the rankings are the way they are. Regarding Penn State, it's more than just O'Brien's recruiting class. Penn State has superior facilities, more tradition and a fan base that always puts football first. Has Penn State played to its potential as a member of the Big Ten? Absolutely not. But Penn State can be a national power again, and it has an easier path to the top than many schools because of the reasons I've outlined.
By the way, would love to be doing Subway commercials. I'd be ridiculously rich and wouldn't have to deal with The Woefully Uninformed.
Steven from Baltimore writes: I'm sorry Adam, but I'll have to disagree with your recent rankings on the best destinations to be a coach. The fact that you didn't significantly consider fan expectations threw off your rankings from reality. Let's compare two schools. School A's fans live and die for nothing but football, and accordingly complain about their coach's 9-win season. The other school's fans seem to enjoy more the culture of game day (singing a capella Build Me Up Buttercup, for a random example), as opposed to just the win/loss column. Wouldn't you like to write the same high quality articles as you always do, but get less angry fan mail (e.g. the Pac-12 blog)?
Adam Rittenberg: Well, Steven, judging by your email address (@wisc.edu), I'm going to guess you're a Penn State, Nebraska or Iowa fan who now attends Wisconsin. While Badgers fans do love their game-day festivities, they also can be critical. Ask Bret Bielema what it was like for him after the 2008 season. The bigger point, however, is that fan expectations, while important, aren't the overriding factor in determining the quality of a coaching job. Fan expectations don't matter much if you have subpar facilities and are located in an isolated region with few elite prospects. This sport is largely about recruiting, and it's why I played such a great emphasis on facilities and location along with recent success. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, for example, has done very good work for the most part in a job that has some pluses and minuses. Iowa and Wisconsin are similar jobs with similar challenges, but Wisconsin's track record and ability to attract recruits because of its blossoming brand make it a slightly better job in my view.
Luke from Jessup, Iowa, writes: Adam, I was surprised that you didn't include pay when ranking your B1G coaching jobs. Was that simply an oversight, or do you really feel it's not about the money with these guys? I was looking back at 2011 B1G salaries and, at the time, Ferentz topped the B1G chart. While I'd like to believe he stays for all the right reasons, nearly $4M is better than a poke in the eye, isn't it? Outside of the big 2 (OSU & UM), which, in my humble opinion, are the only 2 true "dream jobs" in the conference, I think any one of those other coaches would at least take a hard look at moving for $4M. No? By the way, I'm not trying to be a homer here; I'm using Iowa as an example only because of Ferentz hefty salary.
Adam Rittenberg: Luke, fair question. Coaching candidates certainly want to be well-compensated, and Iowa has shown Ferentz the money over the years while the NFL continues to lurk. Head coaches also want to be able to retain and attract top assistants. But to me, salary is just one piece of the equation, and if I'm a coach, I want to be in a place where I can recruit at the highest levels and compete for national championships. Is Iowa that place? A coach has to be one heck of a recruiter to overcome some inherent obstacles (weak in-state talent pool, so-so facilities). Besides Ferentz's salary and the passion of Iowa fans, there aren't many elements of the program that scream "big-time" to me. Iowa will be a more attractive job when its facilities upgrades are completed and it can offer very competitive salaries, not just for the head coach but to his assistants.
Ben from Milwaukee writes: Adam, I know I am a biased source (Penn State alum) but how are the Nittany Lions not getting more buzz in the preseason by many so called "experts." They won 9 games last year with one of the worst offenses in college football that was based out of the 1960s. O'Brien's offense fits great for McGloin who is a 3rd year starter, one of the few in the B1G, and Silas Redd is a dark horse Heisman candidate. Penn State's front seven boasts a few All-American candidates in Gerald Hodges, Jordan Hill and Michael Mauti. I know the secondary is thin, and there is always transition with a new staff. But with OSU and Wisconsin at home this year is 10 or 11 wins that unreasonable?
Adam Rittenberg: Ben, you bring up some good points about Redd and the defense, but Penn State isn't getting more buzz because it went through a historic coaching transition, which typically brings about some speed bumps. The sense is Penn State will have some struggles with all the newness around the program. Although the offense can't get much worse, it could make more mistakes as it gets comfortable with a complex new scheme. Matthew McGloin could be a much better player this year, but most people will remain skeptical after watching him flounder for most of 2011. While the defensive front seven should be strong, Penn State loses Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Devon Still as well as several experienced defensive backs. You mention the schedule, and that's where Penn State could make some major noise. If the Lions can take advantage of a fairly easy start, limit mistakes and build confidence for the bigger games -- Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin -- they could sniff the 10-win mark.
KJ from Ferndale, Mich., writes: I am guessing that you being the Michigan fan will rank Michigan Stadium #1? With that said, what do you think about my ranking, and I have been to every Big Ten Stadium sans Minnesota who didn't have one until recently.1. Beaver Stadium - You have to drive to Knoxville to find an equivalent.2. Camp Randall3. Spartan Stadium - When Sparty is winning, there is no better place to go for a game in the entire country. 4. Memorial Stadium5. The Shoe. 6. Kinnick Stadium. Vastly under-rated. 7. Michigan Stadium - Penn State pulled off a partial white out in 2009 so this ranking might be a little high. Nuff said. 8. Do the rest really matter?
Adam Rittenberg: Me being the Michigan fan? That's a good one. Without giving away too much, Michigan Stadium won't be occupying the No. 1 spot. While the recent renovations have helped, the Big House remains overrated in my book, especially when compared to other Big Ten stadiums. While your rankings seem borderline insane -- Memorial Stadium at No. 4? -- you'll probably be pleased to see where we have Michigan Stadium. Wolverines fans, not so much.
Mochila from Grand Rapids, Mich., writes: It was suggested that I submit this to you, which I wrote in one of the posts: "AR and BB don't have enviable jobs. No matter what they write, somebody is going to take exception to it. You said Meyer is a good coach? Fawnfestival. You mentioned Ohio State's recent issues? Hate carnival. You think Michigan's stadium is too quiet? lol, troll. Michigan State has to rebuild at QB? Ignoramus. 1 + 1 = 2? Go to skool, noob. ACC-Transfer-U? Adam is the anthropomorphism of the trivia game "You don't know Jack." Taylor Martinez is working on his throwing motion? You're just in love with the other schools. Didn't mention Iowa until now? No respect."So, my question is: do you enjoy being one of the B1G's bloggers?
Adam Rittenberg: Mochila, I do enjoy the job and feel very honored to be in this position. I realize how many folks would love to have this job, and understand that it's a lot more enjoyable than what most people do for work. That said, it's not nearly as glamorous as some believe it to be, and a lot of the behind-the-scenes responsibilities/tasks make it challenging. Dealing with criticism is part of the deal, and I learned that from the blog's infancy. If you can't take the heat, you can't do this job, period. You'll drown.
The comments section cracks me up most of the time. It's what you get with the anonymity of the Web. Do I really care what LivesWithHisMother thinks about my receding hairline or supposed biases toward one team or another? Not really. I enjoy dealing with the intelligent Big Ten fans out there -- of which there are many -- and try to limit my interactions with everyone else.
Sean from East Lansing, Mich., writes: In terms of my team, the Michigan State Spartans, I think that Dantonio has the potential to become a defining coach in Michigan State football history. He already has accomplished the rare feat of beating the hated Wolverines 4 times in a row and has put us back on the national map. I foresee buildings named after him in the future to stand alongside Duffy's football center and Munn arena. I can see it now... the Izzo Center next to Spartan Stadium and Dantonio field.
Adam from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Hey Adam,I think Dantonio has a chance to become a coach that defines MSU football. It's interesting to me that the coaches that have had success in the modern era (post WWII) at MSU all came from one coaching tree (Munn-Daugherty-Perles-Saban-Dantonio) with a former assistant under a successful MSU head coach becoming MSU head coach years later (except for Daugherty), and all of them had or have similar coaching styles (smash-mouth football). It could be argued that MSU is defined more by its most successful style of play, rather than by one particular coach, since again, its most successful coaches are all linked back to Munn. Also, Dantonio still has expectations yet to fulfill, and he has his age working against him, as he has already mentioned that he doesn't intend to coach into his 70s (I personally give him until he's 65 at the latest unfortunately, though I hope I'm wrong). He will ultimately be beloved, but he continued the styles that made the rest successful, so its more the style than one particular coach. And you know what? I think us at MSU are pretty happy and content with that.
Adam Rittenberg: Sean and Adam, I was thinking about this when finishing up Monday's post. Dantonio certainly is on his way toward being a defining coach for Michigan State. Perhaps the only thing that could hurt him, as Adam correctly points out, is longevity. He has accomplished a lot in his five seasons in East Lansing, but how long will he coach? He turned 56 in March, and he had his health scare a few years ago. It doesn't look like Coach D is slowing down or thinking of stepping aside any time soon, and his recent contract essentially keeps him at Michigan State as long as he wants to be there. How long would he need to coach to reach "defining" status? Another 7-10 years? More? Dantonio needs to keep winning and get Michigan State back to the Rose Bowl, but he's definitely building momentum toward it. My sense with Dantonio is it will come down to longevity. Adam's point about style of playing defining a program makes sense, and it's applicable to several Big Ten programs (i.e. Wisconsin).
Jon from Dublin, Ohio, writes: It's impossible to watch 18-22-year-olds 24/7. Should Urban Meyer and staff be applauded for its direct discipline or criticized that players are in trouble in the first place? This seems drastically different than at Florida.
Adam Rittenberg: Jon, I think Meyer deserves credit for setting a hard-line tone on how he'll handle off-field issues so far. But the real answer to your question won't be known for some time. The key for Meyer -- and all coaches -- is to limit player conduct issues as much as possible. The hope is his approach toward discipline will deter players from making bad choices off of the field, because believe me, people are already counting the number of arrests under Meyer's watch at Ohio State. Every coach has to be aware of the arrest counter.
Nic from Vermillion, S.D., writes: I find Nebraska's defining coach to not as black and white and some see it. Obviously Osbourne is king with his 255 wins, and 3 national titles, but none of that may have never happened without Devaney paving the way. Nebraska was a nobody in football until Devaney's tenure the led to to titles and 100+ wins and when he retired he handed the reigns to Osbourne who carried the momentum, while taking the AD job with Neb. You can almost argue Devaney is as defining in big red football as Osbourne. Its also like a past version of what Alveraz and Bilema are today.
Scott from Omaha writes: I think in most Nebraska fans' minds, Osborne and Devaney are tightly linked together, given that Devaney picked Osborne as his successor. Regarding either being the face of the program, most recent fans would probably pick Osborne, while the older ones would pick Devaney, since he was the one who really got things started. I don't think Osborne gets enough credit for keeping the program at a high level. Just think - the seniors at the end of his tenure as coach weren't even born when he assumed the head coach position. That's more than a caretaker role.
Adam Rittenberg: Good thoughts here, guys. As I stated in the post, Osborne is the face of Nebraska's program and always will be. But Devaney's accomplishments in getting the program back to a nationally elite level cannot be overlooked here at all. I mentioned longevity earlier and that's really the difference as Osborne's affiliation with Nebraska has lasted so many years.