Big Ten: Duffy Daugherty

Our own March Madness started on Thursday with our Big Ten all-time coaches' tournament. The first game featured a rivalry and one of those No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed games that cause so much drama in the other big dance.

In the end, the favorite won as Michigan's Fielding Yost advanced past Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty. Yost captured 63 percent of your vote, compared to 37 percent for Daugherty.

Yost will go on to face No. 4 seed Joe Paterno in our second round, beginning later this week. Meanwhile, here were some of your responses on this matchup:
Mitch from Massachusetts: "Michigan might not be Michigan without Yost" is an understatement. College football wouldn't be what it is today without Yost. He made the game a thinking man's game and his coaching tree is as impressive as anyone. Never mind his "point a minute" teams. The man is a legend.

Will L. from Warren, Mich.: How is Fielding Yost not the #1 seed? Yost is by far one of the best college football coaches.

Thom W. from Royal Oak, Mich.: To say Michigan wouldn't be Michigan without Yost is correct. Truth is being Michigan means being the best when NOBODY else played. 1901-1923 football was more like a club sport. Compared to back to back national titles in the mid 60's … this might as well have been like winning rugby titles in today's NCAA.

Stephen from East Lansing, Mich: Duffy Daugherty is the better coach than Yost for one reason. The first is his involvement in the civil rights movement and making MSU a place where African-Americans could play ball and have access to higher education. Plus he coached in the Game of the Century in '66.

Neil J. from Big Springs, Neb.: The Fielding Yost/Duffy Daugherty matchup is challenging for we Cornhusker fans. Fielding Yost coached at Nebraska and went 8-3 in 1898. Duffy Daugherty gave us Bob Devaney. Gotta go with the Duff and the historical domino effect for Nebraska. In history, just look at his impressive resume, especially at Michigan, and it's hard to argue that he should lose this "tournament."

B1G coaches' tournament: Game 1

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
On Wednesday, we introduced our own version of March Madness: the all-time Big Ten coaches tournament.

Well, it's time to kick things off. Remember, this is a 12-team tournament in which the top four seeds all received byes. Those top four seeds are:

1. Woody Hayes, Ohio State
2. Bo Schembechler, Michigan
3. Tom Osborne, Nebraska
4. Joe Paterno, Penn State

(Got a problem with our seeding? No surprise there. There are always gripes about the seeds in the men's basketball tourney.)


Which coach wins this first round matchup?


Discuss (Total votes: 5,234)

So today's first game pits the No. 5 seed vs. the No. 12 seed, with the winner advancing to face Paterno in the next round. Your votes will determine the winner, and you have until early Monday morning to weigh in.

No. 12 seeds often beat the No. 5 in the basketball brackets. Will we have another upset in this matchup, which features an old rivalry?

No. 12 Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty vs. No. 5 Michigan's Fielding Yost

Tournament résumés:
  • Daugherty: He coached the Spartans from 1954 to 1972 and led them to back-to-back national titles in 1965 and 1966. However, he had only one more winning season after those two seasons and finished with an overall record of 109-69-5. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
  • Yost: Michigan might not be Michigan without Yost. He led the Wolverines to six national titles (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918 and 1923) while winning 10 Big Ten championships. His career winning percentage of .888 while a Big Ten head coach is the best all-time among those who spent at least a decade in the league.

Which coach advances? Vote now, and drop us a note as to why you voted the way you did. The best responses will run in our results posts
We're a 24/7/365 football blog around here, but it's impossible to not get caught up in the excitement of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

But while football will have its own, smaller version of March Madness with the College Football Playoff this season, we don't want to wait that long. Why let the basketball guys have all the fun when we can hold our own tournament?

In past years, we did this with the top players and championship teams of the past 15 years. This time around, we're going to pit the best coaches in Big Ten history against one another in a winner-take-all bracket.

The Big Ten has an incredible roster of accomplished coaches in its lore. (And, yes, we're including all current Big Ten member schools, regardless of how long they've been in the league. We're inclusive here. Deal with it.). Narrowing the field to our customary eight was difficult, if not downright unthinkable. So we've expanded the bracket to 12 this time, with the top four seeds getting byes and the others trying to play their way in. Be on standby, Dayton.

We're looking for coaches who have won Big Ten titles and national championships, those who stuck around long enough to pile up Hall of Fame résumés and build unmistakable legacies. No current coaches are involved, as we'll let them finish their careers before we start stacking them up against the all-timers.

The tournament will kick off Thursday with the first couple of matchups. But first, here is a look at the entire field, in alphabetical order:
  • Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin: Alvarez revived the Badgers program during his 16 years at the helm in Madison, compiling 118 wins. He also earned three Rose Bowl victories and is the only league coach to ever win back-to-back Rose Bowls. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Bernie Bierman, Minnesota: The Gophers claimed five national titles under Bierman (1934, 1935, 1936, 1940 and 1941) and won seven Big Ten championships from 1932-41. He went 93-35-6 at Minnesota and also won a national title as a player with the Gophers.
  • Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State: Daugherty coached the Spartans from 1954 to 1972 and led them to back-to-back national titles in 1965 and 1966. The rest of his tenure didn't go as well, but Daugherty is tied for the sixth-most Big Ten wins ever.
  • Hayden Fry, Iowa: The Hawkeyes hadn't had a winning season in 17 years before Fry arrived before the 1979 season. He proceeded to go 143-89-6 in Iowa City, claiming three Big Ten titles. His 98 Big Ten wins are fourth-most ever.
  • Woody Hayes, Ohio State: Few coaches are as synonymous with a school as Hayes is with Ohio State. He won 205 games, the most of any coach while a member of the Big Ten, and a record 152 league games. Hayes also won 13 Big Ten championships, tying him for the most all time, and five national titles (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970).
  • Tom Osborne, Nebraska: There aren't many coaches more beloved and universally respected than Osborne, who went 255-49-3 while leading the Huskers to three national titles in a four-year span (1994, 1995 and 1997). How about this: His teams never won fewer than nine games in a season, and this was before 12-, 13- and even 14-game seasons became the norm.
  • Joe Paterno, Penn State: JoePa won a record 409 games, plus two national championships (1982, 1986) and four other undefeated seasons. He won all four major bowl games -- the Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar -- and was the AFCA national coach of the year five times. His career ended in scandal and a huge chunk of his wins were vacated by the NCAA.
  • Bo Schembechler, Michigan: Bo and Woody. Woody and Bo. Two coaches really defined the Big Ten for decades, and Schembechler was one of them. He is tied with Hayes for the most Big Ten titles ever (13) and his 143 Big Ten victories are the second-most all time. Schembechler has the highest conference winning percentage (.850) of any coach who competed in the Big Ten for at least 10 years. But he never won a national title.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg, Chicago: Listen up, youngsters. The University of Chicago was a charter member of the Big Ten, and Stagg was its sports titan. He won 199 games, including 116 Big Ten victories, as well as two national championships (1905, 1913). Stagg is credited with innovating many plays and formations used in modern football, and he was also named to the Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to that sport.
  • Jim Tressel, Ohio State: Tressel coached exactly 10 years in the Big Ten before he was forced to resign, but what a decade it was. He has the second-highest winning percentage both overall and in league play for coaches who spent at least 10 years inside the conference, and he won or shared seven league titles (though the 2010 co-championship was later vacated). Tressel is the last Big Ten coach to win a national title, in 2002.
  • Fielding Yost, Michigan: The Wolverines won six national titles under Yost (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918 and 1923) and his 10 Big Ten titles trails only Hayes and Schembechler. His career winning percentage of .888 while a Big Ten head coach is the best all time among those who coached at least a decade in the league.
  • Bob Zuppke, Illinois: He was the Illini head coach from 1913 to 1941 and won four national titles (1914, 1919, 1923, and 1927). Zuppke is credited for inventing the huddle, which is kind of a big deal, and he also coached the legendary Red Grange. He is tied with Daugherty for the sixth-most Big Ten wins of all time, and he captured seven Big Ten titles.

As you can see, this is an impressive field. We couldn't even include all the amazing coaches from history, including Michigan's Fritz Crisler, Nebraska's Bob Devaney or Minnesota's Henry Williams, to name just a few. (Sorry, Huskers fans, but while Osborne has a tenuous connection to the Big Ten as the athletic director who ushered the school into the league, Devaney's great career had no Big Ten ties. Don't worry. You can simply throw all your considerable voting power behind Osborne if you desire.)

Stay tuned for the opening matchups. "The ball is tipped ..."

Big Ten lunch links

April, 18, 2013
If you haven't done so already, check out the Michigan State spring practice live blog as the spring bus tour rolls through East Lansing.

To the links ...
As part of ESPN's Black History Month celebration, I took a look back at Michigan State's national championship teams of the 1960s, which blended white, black, North and South at a time when the country itself was changing.

Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty provided a landing spot for black players from the South who couldn't play closer to home because of segregation. Many of the Southerners -- Bubba Smith (Texas), George Webster (South Carolina), Gene Washington (Texas), Charles Thornhill (Virginia), Jimmy Raye (North Carolina) -- helped the Spartans reach the top of the college football ladder in 1965 and 1966. They achieved many historical milestones, although they didn't fully realize them until years later.
They came to Michigan State's lush campus in the early 1960s from places like Beaumont, Texas; Fayetteville, N.C.; Anderson, S.C.; and Roanoke, Va. Michigan State provided an opportunity -- to play college football at the highest level -- not afforded to them in their home states because of their skin color.

"All the Southern players, we were outcasts from our own states," said former Michigan State wide receiver Gene Washington, a native of La Porte, Texas. "All of the states where we were from, they would not take black athletes. We bonded at Michigan State because we all had similar stories. We could make a contribution. That was very important to us. We didn't talk about that all the time, but we knew we had something to prove, and this is our opportunity.

"We wanted to be the best in the country."

And they were. Led by coach Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State won national championships in 1965 (UPI) and 1966 (National Football Foundation) with some of the most racially and geographically integrated teams in all of college football. The 1965 roster included 18 black players, nine from Southern states (Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina). The 1966 roster featured 17 black players, 10 from the South.

In contrast, the team that earned national championship honors in 1964 -- Alabama -- came from the Southeastern Conference, which didn't integrate until 1966.

"Duffy used to always tell us that if you play with enthusiasm and you play as a team, our names would be printed in indelible ink and would last for a lifetime," Raye said. "But at the time, when you're 18 or 19 years old, you're just playing. We didn't think about the history that was being made. We were just winning."

Check out the full story here.

In talking with some of the former Spartans, I was struck how the Big Ten -- especially teams like Michigan State, Minnesota and Iowa -- truly became the league of opportunity for top black players from the South.

"We didn’t have newspapers writing about us," Washington told me. "We were not on television. The only black players I remember on TV were [from] the Big Ten. We would watch Texas and Rice and the University of Houston, and it was all white players. I just wanted to have an opportunity, and I'm so glad I got that opportunity playing with Michigan State.

"I'm so grateful that the Big Ten was so up front with receiving black athletes."

Added Raye: "At the time, the only opportunity the blacks in the South had was to go to the Big Ten."

It's a part of Big Ten history that should make all Big Ten fans very proud.
Joe Paterno has become a polarizing figure in recent months, but all parties would agree that he defines Penn State football.

Paterno was affiliated with the Nittany Lions program for 62 years of its 125-year existence. He served as Nittany Lions coach for nearly 46 seasons before being fired in November. And his impact is particularly significant in the program's victories total.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno
Michael Hickey/US PresswireAccounting for nearly 50 percent of the program's wins, Joe Paterno was the face of Penn State.
Of Penn State's 827 all-time victories in football, Paterno coached the team for 409, the most of any coach in Division I history. Other than former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who accounts for an astounding 64 percent of the Seminoles' all-time wins (304 of 475), Paterno's percentage of Penn State's wins (49.4) places him in select company. Only Air Force's Fisher DeBerry (49.1 percent) and BYU's LaVell Edwards (49.2 percent) have accounted for a similar chunk of program wins -- among FBS programs that have been around for more than 30 years -- as Paterno has at Penn State. is taking a closer look at coaches this week, and today's topic examines which programs are defined by one coach. Penn State fits the description because of Paterno's long and successful career. Penn State also is unique because its program has been around so long, and while there was success before JoePa -- eight undefeated seasons between 1894-1947, a Rose Bowl appearance in 1923 -- almost all of the program's significant achievements (two national titles, 24 bowl wins) occurred on Paterno's watch.

What about the other Big Ten teams?

In terms of winningest coaches, here's how they look:

Illinois: Robert Zuppke, 131 of program's 580 wins (22.6 percent)
Indiana: Bill Mallory, 69 of 449 (15.3 percent)
Iowa: Hayden Fry, 143 of 593 (24.1 percent)
Michigan: Bo Schembechler, 194 of 895 (21.7 percent)
Michigan State: Duffy Daugherty, 109 of 638 (17.1 percent)
Minnesota: Henry Williams, 136 of 646 (21.1 percent)
Nebraska: Tom Osborne, 255 of 846 (30.1 percent)
Northwestern: Lynn Waldorf, 49 of 488 (10.04 percent)
Ohio State: Woody Hayes, 205 of 837 (24.5 percent)
Purdue: Joe Tiller, 87 of 586 (14.8 percent)
Wisconsin: Barry Alvarez, 118 of 635 (18.6 percent)

As you can see, no coach comes close to Paterno in terms of percentage of his program's wins. But this ratio is just one gauge of a program-defining coach.

Another important factor is a team's history both before and after a coach took the job. Look at Wisconsin before Alvarez arrived in 1990. The program had endured five consecutive losing seasons and had just six winning seasons since 1963. Wisconsin's previous two coaches, Don Morton and Jim Hilles, had gone a combined 9-36 at the helm.

Alvarez transformed Wisconsin into an upper-tier Big Ten program, leading the Badgers to three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowl championships. His hand-picked successor, Bret Bielema, has carried on Wisconsin's momentum, but Alvarez fostered the change. He is Wisconsin football, period.

Two iconic coaches regarded by many the faces of their respective programs are Ohio State's Hayes and Michigan's Schembechler. They tied for the most Big Ten championships with 13. Hayes won the most Big Ten games (152 to Schembechler's 143), while Schembechler owns the record for best winning percentage in conference games (.850).

But both men led programs that had success under other coaches. Michigan was a national superpower under the likes of Fielding Yost (.888 career win percentage), Harry Kipke, Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan, while Schembechler never won a consensus national title. The Wolverines boast six coaches who have served 10 or more years, most recently Lloyd Carr (1995-2007).

Ohio State carved a place among the nation's elite under shorter-tenured coaches like Francis Schmidt and Paul Brown, while Jim Tressel won a national title and more than 81 percent of his games during his 10 years in Columbus.

Are Michigan and Ohio State defined by Schembechler and Hayes, respectively? Depends on your perspective. My take: both are iconic, but Hayes is more defining.

Iowa's Fry fills a similar role to Alvarez. He took over a program on the downturn for several decades and put it in the Big Ten's top half. Fry is the coach people think of when Iowa comes to mind, although his successor, Kirk Ferentz, has put his own stamp with a solid run since 1999.

Other Big Ten programs seem to fit into different categories.

Programs with two great coaches:

  • Nebraska -- Osborne (255-49-3) and Bob Devaney (101-20-2)
  • Purdue -- Tiller (87-62) and Jack Mollenkopf (84-39-9)
Programs that had its most successful coaches many years ago

  • Illinois -- Zuppke (131-81-13 from 1913-41); Arthur Hall (27-10-3 from 1907-12)
  • Minnesota -- Williams (136-33-11 from 1900-21; Bernie Bierman (93-35-6 from 1932-41 and 1945-50)
  • Michigan State -- Daugherty (109-69-5 from 1954-72); Biggie Munn (54-9-2 from 1947-53); Charles Bachman (70-34-10 from 1933-46); Chester Brewer (58-23-7 from 1903-10, 1917, 1919)
Historically weak programs with a lot of coaching turnover

  • Indiana -- No coach with career winning record since Bo McMillin (1934-47), no coach with 70 or more wins at school
  • Northwestern -- No coach with 50 or more wins at school, only one coach with tenure longer than 10 years

You could argue Zuppke remains Illinois' defining coach, even though he hasn't coached in more than 70 years. Osborne is undoubtedly the face of Nebraska's program, but is he the Huskers' defining coach? Tough to say that after looking at what Devaney did (two national titles, eight Big Eight titles).

Could any current Big Ten coach end up being a program-defining figure? None will occupy his job as long as Paterno did at Penn State. Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is just nine wins shy of Waldorf's victories mark, and he turned 37 in December. Fitzgerald's strong ties to the program, plus Northwestern's poor history and absence of coaching greats, create an opportunity should Fitzgerald have success for a long period.

What are your thoughts? Which Big Ten programs are defined by a coach, and which are not? Share them here.

Big Ten Friday mailblog

December, 30, 2011
Some questions and answers before a big bowl weekend in the Big Ten. Enjoy.

Gary from Denver writes: With the B1G and Pac-12 partnership, could that mean a renewed annual rivalry between the Huskers and CU?

Adam Rittenberg: It's unlikely, Gary. The idea is to have flexibility with the matchups and have different teams facing one another. So to lock in Nebraska-Colorado wouldn't really go along with that plan. Plus, the Big Ten will want to feature Nebraska, one of its brand-name programs, against more marquee Pac-12 teams (USC, Oregon, etc.).

Bryan from Omaha writes: Has there been anyword on if the matchups in football with the pac 12 are going to be home and homes (where you would play the same team 2 years in a row) or are they going to just go random every year like the b1g/acc challenge? Because I can see with the way Delaney has set schedules that Nebraska would have to travel to USC one season and then have to travel to Oregon the next. I hope they have figured out a way to make sure the teams that were away 1 year get home games the following season.

Adam Rittenberg: Bryan, the idea is to have teams play home-and-homes, but they may or may not take place in consecutive years. One idea I heard is to have three pods of eight teams (four Big Ten, four Pac-12). The four Big Ten teams would play the four Pac-12 teams during a four-year span before rotating to a different pod. But Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany emphasized that competitive balance will be chief in determining the matchups. TV will have a decreased role in these vs. the ACC-Big Ten challenge games, so it will be interesting to see what the two league offices decide.

Michael from St. Louis writes: So far the MAC's only bowl loss was to the B1G (Western School Up North vs. Purdue). Does the strength of the MAC this year reflect well on the B1G? Or is that analysis too nuanced for the mainstream media? Does the MAC's poor performance in the last several years reflect the negative perception of the B1G during that time? Are you revising your bowl predictions for the B1G based on the MAC's bowl performances?

Adam Rittenberg: Michael, before the bowls, the games against the MAC didn't help the Big Ten, particularly with the BCS computers, where Big Ten teams received historically low ratings. Not sure if the MAC's bowl performance will help Big Ten perception that much, although Toledo, Temple and Ohio are solid teams. The MAC's struggles as a league in recent years haven't helped the Big Ten given how much the two leagues play. I covered the MAC in 2003-04 and the league had a much stronger national presence that it does now. But bowl wins always play a large role in shaping a league's perception, so this year's results are good for the MAC's rep.

Aaron from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: Hey Adam. There was a certain Iowa State coach that was fired a few years back that coached under Hayden Fry and along side Ferentz. Would he be a viable D/C candidate?

Adam Rittenberg: Aaron, I highly doubt Dan McCarney would leave a head-coaching job at North Texas after only one year to become a coordinator again. North Texas went 5-7 in McCarney's first season. McCarney waited five years for another head-coaching opportunity, and I can't see him stepping away from one to come back to his alma mater. Just doesn't make much sense from his end. Iowa likely will promote Phil Parker or look for someone not serving as a head coach.

Mike from Allentown, Pa., writes: Hi Adam,With Mike Munchak denying he's even been in contact with Penn State, at what point are all these "rumors" and "inside information" just an attempt for someone to be the first person to crack the Penn State case on who the new coach is? To me, it seems like the length of the process is more to rebuild the lost trust with the fans, and also because it's the first time in almost 50 years we've needed a new coach. I'm perfectly fine with them taking their time, and if it ruins the recruiting class so be it, as long as they make a great decision on who should be coach. Just because other schools are filling their positions in 8 days, doesn't mean they're better off. I think it's now become a "I want it to be known I was the first to report the new coach" competition, and they'll name a new "flavor of the day" tomorrow just to get some recognition. Your thoughts?

Adam Rittenberg: Mike, you definitely hit on a problem with today's reporting environment. The race to be first causes some problems for sure, and most of us are guilty of it at one time or another. That said, I think Mike Munchak seriously considered the Penn State job and opted to remain with the Titans pretty much at the last moment. There was mutual interest and it just didn't come to fruition. I agree with much of what you say about the length of the search. Penn State shouldn't rush this hire just to save a recruiting class. Then again, the longer it goes and the more denials we see, the more angst will build among some Penn State fans. They want a coach and they want a name. It's hard to wait so long, although it's nice to see your patience with the process.

Rich from Denver writes: I have to issue with you (and other writers who make the same mistake). Dantonio has in fact posted more wins in his first five season than any other MSU coach has in their first five seasons. However, his winning percentage is only fifth-best. When citing these kinds of statistics, writers never mention winning percentage. I guess it's not as sexy or doesn't serve their purpose. But it fails to place the accomplishments in proper perspective. For those that don't know better or don't bother to look it up, this type of writing makes it look like Dantonio must be the best coach MSU has ever had. That may end up being the case. However, he does not have the best start to an MSU coaching career and I strongly urge you to make the proper distinctions in this regard. Thank you.

Adam Rittenberg: Rich, you bring up a good point. I'll try to cite winning percentage more in the future when listing statistics like this one. I don't think most fans with knowledge of college football history would consider Mark Dantonio the greatest coach in Michigan State history, but the start to his tenure has been pretty impressive. Some pretty good coaches, Duffy Daugherty among them, didn't start off this well in East Lansing.

Parker from Grand Blanc, Mich., writes: Hey Adam , Happy New Year to you!I would just like to know what you think the chances are of Denard Robinson being replaced at starting quarterback next season by Devin Gardner. I think they might try to step up their passing game next season and maybe just do the same as this year.

Adam Rittenberg: Parker, I don't see it happening. From talking with Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges last week, he thinks Robinson can be better next year and build off of what has been a nice finish to this season. The offense will change in 2013, when Robinson departs, but Borges has seen growth from "Shoelace" and the numbers at the end of this year back it up. Michigan needs to pass the ball more efficiently in 2012, and Robinson should be more comfortable with the pro-style elements of the passing attack.
[+] EnlargeJim Tressel
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesJim Tressel will be honored for outstanding contributions to college football.
Jim Tressel is still waiting for his first Big Ten Coach of the Year award, but the Ohio State boss has earned another significant honor.

Tressel was named the 2010 recipient of the Duffy Daugherty Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to college football. Previous winners of the award include Paul "Bear" Bryant, Bo Schembechler, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Hayden Fry, Ara Parseghian, Tom Osborne and Woody Hayes. Former Houston coach Bill Yeoman and former Michigan State coach George Perles won the award last year.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, an assistant under Tressel at both Ohio State and Youngstown State, will present Tressel with the award April 29 in Bath, Mich.

"What a tremendous thrill it is to accept an award named for the great Duffy Daugherty," Tressel said of winning the award. "He was a childhood idol of mine and a coaching peer of my dad, Lee Tressel. Sharing the day with the Michigan State staff will be something that I will always cherish."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

After somewhat of a slow start, Michigan State's recruiting has really picked up in recent days.

Still buzzing from William Gholston's pledge last week, the Spartans reportedly have added quarterback Joe Boisture to their 2010 recruiting class. According to, Boisture switched his commitment from Boston College to Michigan State, giving head coach Mark Dantonio another solid in-state prospect.

Boisture grew up in Saline, Mich., and his grandfather, Dan, coached at Michigan State under Duffy Daugherty.

An ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect, Boisture has excellent size (6-foot-6, 200) and polished mechanics. He joins a quarterback mix that includes Kirk Cousins, Keith Nichol and Andrew Maxwell.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Love and hate are the themes of the day around these parts, so I figured I'd chime in about the Big Ten. There are many reasons why I love covering football in this conference, and a few things I'm not so crazy about.

Let's begin with five good things. 

Big stadiums -- Size matters in the Big Ten, which boasts three of the nation's four largest stadiums at Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State. Ohio Stadium, Beaver Stadium and Camp Randall Stadium are on the short list of toughest places to play, and other Big Ten venues (Kinnick Stadium, Spartan Stadium) add their own charm. The game-day experience is truly captured where Big Ten teams call home.

The Game (and other rivalries) -- The Big Ten lays claim to quite possibly the greatest rivalry in all of sports, between Ohio State and Michigan. No series has produced more colorful figures and memorable moments. The league also features exciting annual matchups like Michigan-Michigan State, Penn State-Ohio State and Minnesota-Wisconsin. At stake are coveted items like a bronzed pig, a giant ax, a brown jug and an ancient bucket.

Regent Street and the Beaver Stadium grounds -- They are two of the nation's prime tailgating spots, and they both belong to the Big Ten. Tailgating at Wisconsin or Penn State is an experience every college football fan should enjoy. You get beer and brats in Madison, and elaborate set-ups and daylong debauchery in State College. As a college football fan, you can't go wrong at either place. 

Legendary coaches -- The Big Ten has produced legendary coaches through the decades. From Fielding Yost and Bob Zuppke to Bernie Bierman and Fritz Crisler to Woody and Bo to Hayden Fry and Duffy Daugherty to Barry Alvarez and Jim Tressel, the Big Ten has been at the top of the coaching ranks. The arrival of Penn State's Joe Paterno in 1993 has only added to the league's rich coaching tradition. 

Night games in Columbus, Madison and State College -- Noon kickoffs are generally the norm in the Big Ten, which sort of blows but makes the rare night game all the more special. Ohio State will host only the ninth night game in team history this fall against USC, and the atmosphere will undoubtedly be electric. Same goes for any game under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium -- there were two last year -- and at Penn State, which thankfully welcomes night football more than any other Big Ten team. 

Big Ten's Mount Rushmore

February, 24, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I'm putting a bow on the Big Ten's Mount Rushmore series with the league-wide version. Before getting to the final four choices, here are the links to each football team's Rushmore.

In many ways, the Big Ten's Rushmore was the easiest list to compile. The league has so much history that it's really hard to go wrong. At least that's what I'm telling myself before I see your e-mails.

You can quibble all you want about guys like Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, Nile Kinnick, Fielding Yost, Archie Griffin and Dick Butkus, but all those guys are legends in this league. And trust me, there were a few very tough choices here. 

I wanted to find a mix of players and coaches that truly represented the Big Ten's rich history, so I tended to look more at players and coaches from the distant past. I also wanted to have representatives from four different schools, even though Michigan and Ohio State had multiple candidates for selection. I realize that might not be the popular approach, but I think it's good to get a broad representation of the league.

You won't find any Penn State players or coaches on the list, but that's solely because the football team fully joined the league only 16 years ago. 

OK, enough babbling. The envelope, please ... 

Ohio State coach Woody Hayes -- A Big Ten and college football icon, Hayes won five national titles and 13 league championships in 28 years at Ohio State. His battles against archrival Michigan and Bo Schembechler in the "Ten Year War" will always remain a huge part of the sport's fabric. Hayes won more Big Ten games (152) than any other coach. 

Michigan coach Bo Schembechler -- If Woody's on Mount Rushmore, Bo should be, too. I'll tell the engraver to put them at opposite ends of the mountain. Schembechler coached Michigan to 13 Big Ten titles and ranks second to Hayes in all-time conference victories (143). He won 194 games at Michigan and later served as the school's athletic director. Though Fielding Yost made a greater impact on the national stage with six championships, Schembechler has a deeper connection to the Big Ten. 

Illinois halfback Red Grange -- ESPN's pick as the greatest player in college football history certainly deserves a spot in this esteemed group. Grange put the Big Ten and college football on the sporting map with a dominant career in the early 1920s. He was the first recipient of the Big Ten MVP award and earned All-America honors in each of his three seasons at Illinois. 

Minnesota fullback and defensive lineman Bronko Nagurski -- Considered one of the greatest football players of all-time, Nagurski was the first player to earn consensus All-America honors at two different positions in the same year. He helped build Minnesota into a national powerhouse and has his name on the trophy given annually to college football's top defensive player. He was a charter member of both the college and pro football Halls of Fame.  

Others considered for the Big Ten's Rushmore: Fielding Yost, Archie Griffin, Nile Kinnick, Duffy Daugherty, Dick Butkus, Charles Woodson, Hayden Fry, Joe Paterno, Bubba Smith and Barry Alvarez. 

Michigan State's Mount Rushmore

February, 20, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Without the faintest idea that ESPN would do this Mount Rushmore project, I got a head start on Michigan State's list in August when I took a tour of the school's new Skandalaris Football Center. The lobby might as well be a museum of Spartans football history, with tributes to national award winners and All-Americans. 

There was some deliberation with Michigan State's Rushmore, and much like Minnesota, the Spartans force you to look back quite a few years. Aside from dominant stretches in the 1910s, 1930s and 1950s and Rose Bowl appearances in 1966 and 1988, Michigan State has been solid but not spectacular. The program underachieved for most of this decade until head coach Mark Dantonio arrived.

Here's the Spartans' fab four:

  • Duffy Daugherty -- Daugherty guided Michigan State to two Rose Bowls and back-to-back Big Ten championships in 1965 and 1966. He coached in "The Game of the Century" against Notre Dame and was named National Coach of the Year in 1965. The College Football Hall of Famer coached 29 first-team All-Americans. 
  • Bubba Smith -- An athletic marvel at 6-foot-7, Smith was a two-time All-American defensive lineman who starred for the Spartans league title-winning teams in 1965 and 1966. Named UPI's Lineman of the Year in 1966, the immensely popular Smith led Michigan State to two unbeaten seasons before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft.
  • John Hannah -- Any university president who has a number retired for him deserves a place on the team's Rushmore. In 1969, Daugherty had the No. 46 retired as a tribute to Hannah's 46 years of service to the school, 28 as president. He lobbied for Michigan State to get into the Big Ten, which took place in 1950, and raised the profile for both the university and the football program.
  • Brad Van Pelt -- The countless tributes this week after Van Pelt's sudden death underscore what the multisport star meant to the Michigan State program. An oversized safety, Van Pelt was a two-time All-American for the Spartans and became the first defensive back to win the Maxwell Award in 1972. Van Pelt had 14 career interceptions and is one of only five Spartans players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 
Other candidates considered included: Clarence Munn, George Webster, Don Coleman, Lorenzo White, Percy Snow and Art Brandstatter.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I had hoped to post this earlier in the week during my trek through the state of Michigan but got bogged down with practices, interviews, tours and the like.

E-mailer Steven from Phoenix brings up an interesting note about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry.

Steven writes: 

Hi Adam: I read your predictions on the Big Ten Rival football games this fall. As a Wolverine fan, I hope you're right on the Michigan/Michigan State game because there's an interesting historical note to this series. First year coaches don't typically win in this series. The last coach to win in his first try was Nick Saban for MSU in 1995. But something had to give because he was going up against first year coach Lloyd Carr in the game. Saban is the first coach to win in his first try in at least the last ten MSU coaches. At Michigan, the last coach to win in his first try against MSU was Bennie Oosterbaan in 1948. Bump Elliott, Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr all failed in their first attempt at beating Michigan State. On another note, first year Michigan coaches are nearly perfect against Ohio State in their first try. Just a couple of notes I thought I'd pass along for future use in case you're interested. You can check out the records to see what I mean. Keep up the good work. Steve  

Let's check out the history of first-year coaches in the series since the first rookie coach faced the opposing team in 1911:

First-year coaches in the UM-MSU series
YearNew coachTeamGame result
2007Mark DantonioMichigan StateMichigan 28, Michigan State 24
2003John L. SmithMichigan State Michigan 27, Michigan State 20
2000Bobby WilliamsMichigan StateMichigan 14, Michigan State 0
1995Nick SabanMichigan StateMichigan State 28, Michigan 25
 Lloyd CarrMichigan 
1990Gary MoellerMichiganMichigan State 28, Michigan 27
1983George PerlesMichigan State Michigan 42, Michigan State 0
1980Frank WatersMichigan StateMichigan 27, Michigan State 23
1976Darryl RogersMichigan StateMichigan 42, Michigan State 10
1973Denny StolzMichigan StateMichigan 31, Michigan State 0
1969Bo SchembechlerMichiganMichigan State 23, Michigan 12
1959Bump ElliottMichiganMichigan State 34, Michigan 8
1954Duffy DaughertyMichigan StateMichigan 33, Michigan State 7
1948Bennie OosterbaanMichiganMichigan 13, Michigan State 7
1947Clarence MunnMichigan StateMichigan 55, Michigan State 0
1938Fritz CrislerMichiganMichigan 14, Michigan State 0
1933Charlie BachmanMichigan StateMichigan 20, Michigan State 6
1929Harry KipkeMichiganMichigan 17, Michigan State 0
 Jim CrowleyMichigan State 
1928Harry KipkeMichigan StateMichigan 3, Michigan State 0
1927Tad WiemanMichiganMichigan 21, Michigan State 0
1923Ralph YoungMichigan StateMichigan 37, Michigan State 0
1921Albert BarronMichigan StateMichigan 30, Michigan State 0
1920George ClarkMichigan StateMichigan 35, Michigan State 0
1918George GauthierMichigan StateMichigan 21, Michigan State 6
1916Frank SommersMichigan StateMichigan 9, Michigan State 0
1911John MacklinMichigan StateMichigan 15, Michigan State 3

The history obviously doesn't bode well for Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who gets his first taste of the rivalry Oct. 25 at Michigan Stadium. Then again, more first-year Michigan coaches have won their first games in the series than their Michigan State counterparts. And it was interesting to see that even though Schembechler and Moeller lost their first games against State, both coaches guided Michigan to Big Ten championships those seasons.

The best debut? Oosterbaan, whose team beat Michigan State in the season opener before running the table and winning the 1948 national title. A quick note: Michigan coach Fielding Yost didn't face Michigan State in his first season of 1901 even though the series began in 1898. 

As for first-year coaches in the Michigan-Ohio State series, the last six Wolverines first-year coaches have won their initial matchup with the Buckeyes. In contrast, four of the last six Ohio State first-year coaches dropped their first game against Michigan. 

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg 

Not a whole lot going on around the league today, but you'll check out these links, if you know what's good for you:

  • The Lansing State Journal continues its interesting State of State series. Football isn't in trouble, but Michigan State soon could cut one of its other varsity sports to reduce overall department spending, Joe Rexrode writes. MSU hasn't cut a sport since 2001 -- men's gymnastics -- and did so to meet Title IX requirements. Continued success on the gridiron could heal the department's finanical woes.
  • Linebacker Navorro Bowman is back with his Penn State teammates and hopes to put a difficult period behind him, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Bowman sat out the Alamo Bowl and spring practice after being involved in an on-campus fight in October. He also recently lost his father to complications from a blood clot.
  • Heisman Pundit takes a look at Beanie Wells' chances to strike a pose in New York this winter. A triple-digit rushing effort against USC could put Wells ahead of the pack.
  • The Web site Vegas Insider lists the national championship odds and projected victory totals for every Division I-A team. As for the Big Ten, Ohio State comes in at 8:1, followed by Wisconsin at 30:1 and both Illinois and Michigan at 40:1. Vegas likes Iowa's chances to turn things around (7.5 wins), while Indiana could fall off a bit (5 wins).
  • Purdue linebacker Anthony Heygood throws teammate Mike Neal under the bus about his fear of needles, Tom Kubat writes in the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal and Courier.
  • Bleacher Report has a list of 15 great coaching quotes. Woody makes the list at No. 14, a few spots behind Michigan State's Duffy Daugherty.
  • Ohio State freshman offensive lineman Mike Adams probably won't be ready for the start of practice Aug. 3 following shoulder surgery, Tim May writes in the Columbus Dispatch.