Big Ten: John Beilein
"We all make the investments necessary in football," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said at the spring meetings.
Smith cited the higher salaries Big Ten programs like Ohio State and Michigan are now paying top assistant coaches, a push that accelerated at Ohio State when head coach Urban Meyer arrived. Still, the Big Ten on average pays assistants less than SEC programs. Many of the nation's highest-paid assistants are also in the ACC and Big 12.
But according to Smith, who oversees 36 varsity sports at Ohio State, money isn't holding back Big Ten football. He instead looks to the league's other major sport, men's basketball, as a road map for greater success on the gridiron.
While Big Ten football took a beating on the field and in public perception last fall, Big Ten basketball enjoyed the label of "nation's best conference" during the 2012-13 season.
"What we need in our football programs is really what we endured this past year in basketball," Smith said. "We had huge stability among our basketball coaches."
Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo just completed his 18th year at the helm in East Lansing, while Wisconsin's Bo Ryan just finished his 12th campaign. Other coaches like Ohio State's Thad Matta, Purdue's Matt Painter, Michigan's John Beilein and Indiana's Tom Crean are no longer newbies at their schools.
Big Ten football, meanwhile, has only one coach -- Iowa's Kirk Ferentz -- who has been in his post longer than six seasons.
The second part of the football equation, according to Smith, is "strategic, high-level recruiting."
It's undeniable that more Big Ten basketball programs consistently recruit at a nationally elite level than Big Ten football programs. In basketball, it's not just the usual suspects -- Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State -- but others (Illinois, Purdue) that can rise up.
"Part of that is recruiting in geographies where, frankly, the people are," Smith said. "We do not enjoy the environment that we had in the '70s and the '80s in Michigan and even some parts of Ohio or Pennsylvania or Illinois. Families aren't there. We've got to go to where they are."
College football and college basketball are different sports with different challenges in recruiting, but comparisons are always made, as Smith did this week. If Big Ten football can regain greater coaching stability and spread out its recruiting reach, more success should come.
Have a great weekend, everybody.
Mike from Denver writes: Read your article on the new 4 team playoff and it not being a total loss for B1G. I think you hit it correctly and some of the national media has this pegged wrong. This isn't B1G vs SEC on a playoff model (as you've said all along). The SEC is not the big winner, the big 4 conferences are. The B1G, PAC12, SEC, and Big 12 all but assured themselves a spot at the table (assuming the conference champ from the league has less than 2 losses). What Delany didn't want was his conf. champ to be left out in favor of a 1 loss team from another conference who in the court of public opinion is a ?stronger? conference. By making conference championships and strength of schedule criteria, he has a leg up on his friends down south due to the schedule partnership with the PAC12 and the SEC?s reluctance to aggressively schedule. Seems everyone is looking at this from a frame that the SEC is now, and will always be, the best conference. I'm not sure that is the case, and the system put forth allows for preferential treatment to the major 4 conferences. And THAT was the point all along.
Adam Rittenberg: Some excellent thoughts, Mike, and not just because you agreed with me! It's good to see fans seeing through some of the lazy narrative put out there and understand that every league had to compromise a bit, but the result is a win for pretty much everybody. As I wrote Thursday, the areas where the Big Ten "lost" -- campus sites, plus-one, Rose Bowl access -- were unpopular and/or unrealistic. The Big Ten could have fought harder for campus sites, but there was no chance, given the opposition, for them to be approved. The selection committee is a big plus for the Big Ten, and, as you point out, the strength of schedule component is huge. An SEC team can't expect to be highly regarded simply because it's in the SEC. It needs to go out and schedule tough opponents, like more Big Ten and Pac-12 teams are doing. As Jim Delany has said, a truly elite SEC or Big Ten or Pac-12 team that doesn't win the league won't be left out of a playoff. But if there are comparable teams at the 4/5 spots, the conference champ will get preference. And it should.
Steve from Meridian, Miss., writes: Adam, Help me put my bias in check. Give me your top AD/Football Coach/Basketball Coach tri-fectas in the nation. Please take into consideration national impact, winning record and championships. I think you'll find it hard to find a better winning team than Hollis, Dantonio and Izzo.
Adam Rittenberg: Steve, I was thinking the same thing when Michigan State awarded Hollis his new contract. Not only does Michigan State have elite figures in all three positions, but it has stability. I remember talking with Tom Izzo a few summers ago about the lack of stability at both the athletic director and football coach positions during the early part of his time at Michigan State. He gave a lot of credit to Hollis for fostering a culture of success and stability. The Michigan State trifecta is a great one, but there are others in the Big Ten worth noting. Michigan's is very impressive (Brady Hoke, John Beilein, Dave Brandon). Same holds true for Wisconsin (Bret Bielema, Bo Ryan, Barry Alvarez). While Gene Smith received some deserved criticism last year, he's still regarded as a strong athletic director, and Ohio State's group (Smith, Urban Meyer, Thad Matta) is strong. Some schools have two-thirds of the equation but are a little unproven with the third position.
Tom from Menlo Park, Calif., writes: Hey Adam,I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned before, but as I see it, a selection committee has a very valuable asset: the ability to choose the matchups of the playoff games. In other words, using last year as an example, pretend Alabama is in the SEC East and they played and lost to LSU in the SEC title game (rather than the regular season) and finished 4th in the rankings. Would people really want to see LSU play Bama again in their very next game? No, nor do I think it's very fair to the team that just won the first game. Given a marginal difference between the third and fourth best teams I can imagine a selection committee using their discretion to pick traditional matchups (e.g. a Big10-PAC12 champions semifinal) and avoid repeat matchups (e.g. the LSU-Bama scenario above, or the Florida-FSU title game way back when) in situations where negligible objective competitive imbalances result.That's something that couldn't be done if a strict formula/ranking system was mandated.
Adam Rittenberg: Tom, some good points here. The selection committee would need to explain why a team is the No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed, but with these games being played at bowl sites that aren't linked to regions necessarily, it wouldn't really matter. You're right, no one would want to see a conference championship game rematch in the national semifinal. This is another reason why bowl sites are preferred over campus sites. If you had campus sites, there's a HUGE difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 seed (home-field advantage for the No. 2). With bowl sites, you can be a bit more liberal with seeds and try to create attractive matchups, but only when the teams are comparable. If there are clear gaps between a No. 2 and a No. 4, those should be reflected with the seeding.
Steve from Lafayette, Ind., writes: Hi Adam, I have a question about the new playoff (Surprise!!!). I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere, and there's a good chance it hasn't been discussed yet, but how will tickets for the championship game work? I imagine the semi-final games will be pretty similar to the current system, with schools getting their allotments, plus some tickets the bowl sells itself. But that can't work for a game where the participants are known only a week in advance. Sure, the schools may get a meager number of tickets to sell to their biggest boosters, but the majority of the tickets will have to be sold well in advance - the way I see it, mostly to locals/corporations. How will I, a regular fan/season ticket holder be able to get a ticket? My guess is through the secondary market at a huge markup. (Not to mention the cost of traveling on one week's notice.) Hurray for playoffs! Can we just go back to the old days with regular bowl games?
Adam Rittenberg: Steve, you're thinking way down the road, but you bring up a good question and one that resonates with many fans. I agree that most of the championship game tickets will be sold in advance and likely scooped up by the corporate folks paying the big bucks. There will be some ultra-confident fans -- or ones with disposable income -- who will buy tickets in advance, but it'll be tough to do a mass ticket sale to each school with so little time between the semifinal and the championship. The counter-argument is if your team makes the national title game, it's worth digging deep into your pockets to see it. You never know when your team would be back. We're not going back to the old days, but your concern is very real, especially in this economy.
Misplaced Gopher from Fargo, N.D., writes: Adam, every team throws surprises at us every season. Some are good surprises and some are bad. Examples? My Gophers got thrashed 45-17 by Purdue (bad surprise) and they came back to beat Iowa 22-21 in the fourth quarter (good surprise). Unless there's a big surprise, Minnesota will win between 4 and 6 games in 2012. What shocker will Jerry Kill's squad come up with this season that will get them to 7 wins?
Adam Rittenberg: While I expect to see improvement from the Gophers in Year 2 under Jerry Kill, keep in mind a six-win season would equal Minnesota's victories total from the past two years. Could the Gophers win six games or more? Sure. But they have to address several issues this offseason -- offensive skill, defensive line, secondary. Minnesota has been better at the end of the season the past few years, and there are some upset opportunities in November, including home games against Legends division favorites Michigan (Nov. 3) and Michigan State (Nov. 24). Don't think the Gophers can get Iowa three years in a row, especially at Kinnick Stadium, but they might surprise the Wolverines or the Spartans, and Purdue could be a good team that will need to be on its game Oct. 27 at TCF Bank Stadium. There's not an obvious surprise win that jumps out to me, MG, but some teams could rise up and then turn into upset opportunities for Jerry Kill's crew.
Jonathan from Westerville, Ohio, writes: The NFL is hosting a Super Bowl outdoors in New York/New Jersey. Since the NFL is more popular in the U.S. (both financially and literally), would college football turn its nose to hosting a championship game outdoors in Chicago, New York, Boston or the like? Are Southern/Western teams afraid or are college presidents not likely to move outdoors?
Adam Rittenberg: Jonathan, I think the college football commissioners will be keeping a close eye on the Super Bowl event in NY/NJ and how smoothly the operation runs there. For these massive events, it all comes down to the bid -- not just the financial portion, but the organizing committee earning the trust and admiration of those making the decisions. A plus for a group like Indiana Sports Corp, aside from having a terrific indoor venue in Lucas Oil Stadium, is that Indy has put on numerous major sporting events, including the most recent Super Bowl and several Final Fours. Next to the Super Bowl and the Final Four, the college football title game will be the biggest single-day event on the American sporting calendar. So you had better know what you're doing.
I got to witness this last spring when the groups from Indianapolis and Chicago bid for the Big Ten championship game. Indy made a stronger, more comprehensive bid -- bringing in big guns like Gov. Mitch Daniels (now Purdue's president) -- and outlined its track record of hosting major events. From what I've been told, Chicago had a nice bid, but its lack of experience in hosting these events showed. Bottom line: a lot depends on how the outdoor Super Bowl goes, but I think the commissioners will be more inclined to keep these games indoors in Midwest venues, at least early on in the process.
Patrick from Plano, Texas, writes: Hi Adam, I am a lifelong Husker fan and have been an avid reader of both your's and Brian's blogs for the better part of a year. The playoff is here and IMHO it will change the CF world as we know it. In order to maximize a conferences' stake in the playoff format and payout why is it in the B1G's and other power conferences interest to keep a conference championship game? If a Leader and Legend undefeated or one loss team were to play that would risk the huge playoff spot and resulting payout. The SEC I am sure is contemplating this same thing.So I would think it makes sense that there will be a conference realignment and regression instead of expansion in leagues.
Adam Rittenberg: Patrick, this is an interesting question and a discussion all conferences need to have. The SEC championship has been a marquee event, and the Big Ten championship certainly has the same potential. Many presume the Big 12 will reinstate a championship game if and when it expands to 12 teams (only a matter of time). Some of these games are big money-makers. But the drawback, as you point out, is that the championship game could limit the number of teams leagues have in the national playoff. A potential wild-card team could lose and drop out of contention. There also could be an upset, creating a league champion not worthy of inclusion in a four-team playoff. It's hard for these leagues to part with the money their championship games generate, but these are questions that must be discussed. I don't know if I agree about regression in conferences to avoid playing championships. I still think we'll see the bigger leagues get bigger, not the other way around.
Kevin from Chicago writes: I feel Mick McCall is probably one of the most underrated coaches in the game. He's been responsible for Northwestern's dominating offense over the past few years creating mediocre quarterbacks and making them great in the college game. How close is he with Pat Fitzgerald because I feel like there are bigger teams such as some SEC schools who would want him and his playbook. Can you see him leaving NU and Pat for bigger and better things or is he loyal to NU? Once Northwestern gets a defense or defensive coordinator that is above average Northwestern can be one of the best teams in the Big Ten.
Adam Rittenberg: Completely agree with your thoughts on Mick McCall, Kevin. He has been masterful in his development of quarterbacks at Northwestern, creating quite the pipeline in Evanston since arriving in 2008. If I were assembling my ideal Big Ten coaching staff, Mick would be my quarterbacks coach, hands down. I know McCall and his wife are very happy in Evanston, but it could be a challenge to keep him long-term. Pat Fitzgerald made sure Northwestern allocated more money for his assistants during his last contract agreement, and Pat clearly values having a guy like McCall on his staff. McCall has ties to Colorado, not SEC country. While I wouldn't expect him to leave any time soon, if a lucrative offer comes his way, he could bolt, much like previous Northwestern offensive coordinators (Garrick McGee, Mike Dunbar, Kevin Wilson).
Now he'll do double duty. Sort of.
Grady, who started eight games at point guard for Michigan in the 2008-09 season, is back with the basketball squad in a scout-team capacity. Head coach John Beilein doesn't expect Grady to play in games this year, though his role in preparing the regulars for upcoming opponents will be important.
Grady practiced Sunday on the scout team as Michigan prepares for Tuesday's game against No. 5 Michigan State, which boasts its own two-sport player in tight end/forward Dion Sims.
Football remains Grady's top priority and he'll be ready for spring practice in March. Grady and Beilein will decide after the basketball season whether a permanent return to the hoops squad will take place.
"Basketball is a flow sport and there isn’t the huddles in between, but I think that they've kept him in very good shape with football and there were some flashes yesterday, very good ones," Beilein told reporters. "And then there were some times where he was grabbing his knees a little bit, but overall I thought for the limited amount we did [Sunday] he did well learning the scout team and learning some of the actions he needs to do to imitate what Michigan State does."Grady had 10 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in nine games last fall.
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin announced Wednesday that he will retire on Sept. 4, 2010, after running the department for a decade.
Martin made things official earlier Wednesday when he sent a letter to university president Mary Sue Coleman and informed the athletic department of his intentions at an all-staff meeting. He has been Michigan's athletic director since Aug. 1, 2000, after serving in an interim role for four months.
In a statement, Coleman said that Martin has been interested in retiring for some time but will stay on through the completion of the Michigan Stadium renovation, which he has overseen. Martin will remain athletic director until his successor is named and then serve as a special adviser to Coleman until his retirement.
"For nearly a decade, Bill has shown truly outstanding leadership as athletic director at the University of Michigan," Coleman's statement reads. "He has not only done a superb job of attracting top coaches for the full range of Michigan sports, but he has also assembled an excellent management team to oversee all aspects of athletics operations. At the same time, he has firmly established athletics as a financially strong and self-supporting department while guiding the renovation and expansion of most of our major sports facilities."
Martin will retire on the same day Michigan opens the 2010 season against Connecticut in the renovated stadium.
Martin made strides in fundraising and facilities improvement, culminating with the Michigan Stadium makeover. He struggled to stabilize the men's basketball program until bringing in John Beilein from West Virginia, and many blamed him for bungling a possible Les Miles hire after football coach Lloyd Carr retired after the 2007 season. Martin eventually hired Rich Rodriguez, who has drawn mixed reviews after making several key changes to the program culture.
It will be interesting to see which direction Coleman goes for Martin's successor. There are enough high-level athletic administrators out there with ties to Michigan, including Arkansas AD Jeff Long, Buffalo AD Warde Manuel and Oregon State AD Bob De Carolis. One name sure to come up and generate tons of attention is Carr. Michigan also could go the lawyer-alum route like Notre Dame and Indiana recently did.
I'm very interested to hear what Rodriguez has to say about the announcement.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
While watching Ohio State and Northwestern combine to score a whopping 40 points in the first half of Sunday's basketball game, one of my friends gave me the idea to do a blog post examining the relationship between each Big Ten member's football team and men's basketball team.
It's an interesting topic, especially since the leaguewide football and basketball identities seem to be growing closer.
For starters, both sports are constantly fighting for national respect. Even the Big Ten's mini renaissance in hoops this season hasn't increased the league's profile as much as it could have.
Both sports generally play styles that aren't sexy and seem dull at times, but defense and discipline are emphasized. Most casual college football fans would rather watch a Big 12 game than a Big Ten battle. The same can be said for college hoops aficionados who prefer the ACC and the Big East to the Big Ten. But many die-hard Big Ten fans don't mind 17-14 football scores or even 17-14 halftime hoops scores (or 38-33 finals, ugh).
How does each school compare on the gridiron and the hardwood? Here's a closer look.
Current flagship program: Basketball
Both programs have tasted success, but only basketball has been able to sustain it over time. Football seems to be the flashier program right now, largely because of Ron Zook's and Mike Locksley's recruiting efforts, but basketball has produced more than its share of superstars, most recently guards Dee Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head in 2004-05. Both coaches (Zook and Bruce Weber) have backgrounds in defense, but the Illini hoops squad seems to reflect it more often, while the gridders can light up a scoreboard behind quarterback Juice Williams.
Current flagship program: Basketball
The Hoosiers probably have the league's largest gap between football and men's basketball. One program has been largely considered an afterthought, while the other retains the mystique of a national powerhouse despite some hard times in recent years. Bob Knight coached Indiana basketball from 1971-2000. In that same span, the football team had five head coaches (football has had four coaches since 2001). Defense was a hallmark of Knight's teams, but it has been a bugaboo on the gridiron, particularly during this decade.
Current flagship program: Football
Coaching continuity has been a theme for both programs, as men like Hayden Fry (football), Tom Davis (basketball) and Kirk Ferentz (football) have held their posts for more than a decade. Football has been the better and more likable program during the 2000s, reaching four New Year's Day bowls. Despite those incessant NFL rumors and a recent string of player transgressions, Ferentz remains popular among Hawkeyes fans, most of whom couldn't wait to see hoops coach Steve Alford leave town after several troublesome seasons. Though the basketball team hasn't broken through yet under Todd Lickliter, its style of play -- defense-oriented, focused on fundamentals -- falls in line with that of the football team.
Current flagship program: Football
It takes more than one lousy season to take football off the marquee at Michigan, but the basketball team seems to be gaining ground behind head coach John Beilein. Both programs have recruited extremely well and won national championships, but basketball has been a major underachiever this decade. Both Beilein and football coach Rich Rodriguez brought in proven systems from West Virginia, and Beilein's has caught on in Year 2. Who knows, maybe the same will hold true for Rodriguez. Football employed a more conservative style under Lloyd Carr and will appear more chic if Rodriguez's dynamic spread system clicks. Basketball seems a bit more blue collar behind Beilein.
Current flagship program: Basketball
The identities of these two programs seemed miles apart years ago, but Mark Dantonio is gradually restoring respectability to the football team. Tom Izzo's hoops squad has been a consistent winner with cream-of-the-crop recruits, while football was known as a perennial underachiever, prone to midseason collapses and off-field problems, until Dantonio arrived. Both coaches stress defense and physical play, and Dantonio has upgraded recruiting for football, though it's not quite to Izzo's level in hoops.
Current flagship program: Push
Minnesota is one of few Big Ten schools without a clear flagship program, as both football and basketball have fluctuated in recent years. Formerly a football powerhouse, Minnesota hasn't won a Big Ten title since 1967. The hoops squad reached the Final Four in 1997 but then endured a crippling academic fraud scandal. Basketball got a major boost by hiring coach Tubby Smith and hopes to reach the NCAA tournament on Sunday. Football rebounded from a 1-11 season in 2007 to win seven games last fall behind energetic coach Tim Brewster. Both progams have upgraded their in-state recruiting, which should signal better days ahead.
Current flagship program: Football
For decades, no Big Ten program had more parallels in football and basketball than Northwestern, which wasn't a good thing. The Wildcats took losing to new lows, dropping 34 consecutive games in football and continuing to carry the label as the only major-conference team never to reach the NCAA tournament. But football broke through in 1995 and has been competitive ever since, and basketball could be getting there as well this season. Recruiting is a challenge for both programs, and Northwestern has used innovative schemes (the spread offense in football, the Princeton offense in basketball) to combat the gaps in talent. Resiliency has been a hallmark for Northwestern in football and, this season, basketball, but the oft-overlooked Wildcats generally struggle when the national spotlight is on them.
Current flagship program: Football
Football will always drive the bus in C-Bus, though the basketball team has raised its profile significantly under Thad Matta after violations by the previous coaching staff. The Buckeyes have been the dominant football team in the Big Ten this decade, much like Michigan State in hoops, and employ a style rooted in defense, special teams, rushing the ball and limiting turnovers. Matta's teams
seem a little more dynamic on offense while placing a premium on defense as well. The biggest similarity in recent years has been the ability to land top-level recruits, whether it's Terrelle Pryor in football or Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. in basketball.
Current flagship program: Football
Here's all you need to know: Penn State's hoops team has reached three NCAA tournaments since 1965, the year before Joe Paterno took over as head football coach. Paterno is the face of not only the athletic department, but the university, and his football teams have overshadowed their mates on the hardcourt. While Paterno is an icon, most casual hoops fans couldn't point Lions coach Ed DeChellis out of a lineup. But DeChellis has his best team this year, and perhaps Penn State can turn the corner in basketball (a reasonable expectation). Paterno has won 23 bowl games and two national titles and coached Penn State to five undefeated seasons, so hoops has a lot of catching up to do.
Current flagship program: Basketball
Football and basketball have traded off top billing at Purdue, as Gene Keady's hoops teams held the distinction before Joe Tiller got things rolling with basketball on grass. Matt Painter has Boilers hoops back among the Big Ten elite, and his coaching and recruiting ability signals good things ahead. Purdue sells itself as a blue-collar, unflashy program in both football and basketball, which made Tiller's high-powered spread offense all the more eye-catching. New football coach Danny Hope wants to keep a similar offensive system in place, so it's hard to say whether football will move closer to basketball or further away.
Current flagship program: Push
It's a close call between Badgers football and basketball, as football dominated the 1990s and part of this decade, while basketball made the Final Four in 2000 and has surged behind coach Bo Ryan. Arguably no Big Ten school has more similarities between its two programs than Wisconsin, which overcomes a smallish recruiting pool to produce competitive teams that emphasize defense, fundamentals and physical play. Few basketball coaches consistently get as much out of their talent as Ryan does every year, and Alvarez built Wisconsin from a loser into a powerhouse.
The RichRod racket seems to have quieted down a bit. Here's a look around the league this morning:
- Ohio State's new ticket lottery policy isn't going over well with many alums. Seniority is out and fairness might be in, but the moaning and groaning can be heard in C-Bus.
- Former Ohio State recruit Devon Torrence is hoping to land a roster spot elsewhere after being cleared of juvenile rape charges. Ohio State pulled its scholarship offer to Torrence in January.
- Missed this one from a few days ago. Purdue coach-in-waiting Danny Hope is putting his Florida roots to good use on the recruiting trail. Hope looks the part in West Lafayette -- he even sports the 'stache practically required by each member of Joe Tiller's staff -- but he was born in Gainesville and attended high school in Miami.
- OK, I lied. We're not completely finished with Rodriguez and West Virginia. An interesting question was broached after Wednesday's settlement: What about John Beilein? The Michigan basketball coach didn't get any help from his new employer to pay his $1.5 million buyout for leaving West Virginia. Wonder what he thought of Michigan shelling out for RichRod? Interestingly enough, Bob Fitzsimmons, the attorney who helped Beilein reduce his buyout by $1 million, was on West Virginia's side in the dispute with RichRod. Here's what he had to say: "They are two separate contracts, with different provisions and different language. I can't talk specifically about Coach Beilein's situation, but it worked out very amicably. We agreed upon the results and everybody moved on. That's the way these things should be handled."
- Former Patriots All-Pro tight end Marv Cook, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and a consensus All-American in 1988, has been named to Iowa's Hall of Fame.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
12:00 PM ET Iowa Pittsburgh 12:00 PM ET Eastern Michigan 11 Michigan State 12:00 PM ET Western Illinois Northwestern 12:00 PM ET Southern Illinois Purdue 12:00 PM ET Bowling Green 19 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET Maryland Syracuse 3:30 PM ET Utah Michigan 3:30 PM ET Rutgers Navy 4:00 PM ET Massachusetts Penn State 4:00 PM ET San Jose State Minnesota 4:00 PM ET Texas State Illinois 4:00 PM ET Indiana 18 Missouri 8:00 PM ET Miami (FL) 24 Nebraska