Big Ten: Woody Hayes

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer turns 50 today, and, according to Twitter, he'll be celebrating in Florida before preparing for preseason camp, which kicks off next month. Few college coaches have accomplished more by age 50 than Meyer, who owns two national titles, two undefeated seasons, four conference championships, five division championships, four perfect seasons in regular-season league play, seven bowl wins, no losing seasons and a .837 career winning percentage.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesAt age 50, Urban Meyer has a sparkling 128-25 record as a head coach.
He has a 128-25 career record in 12 seasons at four schools -- Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State -- and has lost more than three games in a season just once (2010, when Florida went 8-5). Meyer is still relatively new to the Big Ten and remains without a Big Ten championship on his résumé, but he's already among the league's most decorated coaches.

Let's look at how Meyer stacks up with the Big Ten's winningest coaches at age 50:

Woody Hayes
50th birthday: Feb. 14, 1963
Record: 111-37-6 at Denison, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State (72-26-6 at Ohio State)
National titles: 3 (1954, 1957, 1961)
League titles: 6 (four Big Ten)
Undefeated seasons: 4
Bowl record: 3-0
10-win seasons: 1
Losing seasons: 2

Amos Alonzo Stagg
50th birthday:
Aug. 16, 1912
Record: 161-57-21 at Springfield and Chicago (161-46-20 at Chicago)
National titles: 1 (1905)
League titles: 4
Undefeated seasons: 3
10-win seasons: 5
Losing seasons: 3

Bo Schembechler
50th birthday:
April 1, 1979
Record: 136-32-8 at Miami (Ohio) and Michigan (96-15-3 at Michigan)
National titles: 0
League titles: 10 (8 in Big Ten)
Undefeated seasons: 1
Bowl record: 0-6
Losing seasons: 0

Fielding Yost
50th birthday:
April 30, 1921
Record: 165-32-10 at Ohio Wesleyan, Nebraska, Stanford, State Normal and Michigan (132-26-8 at Michigan)
National titles: 5 (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1918)
League titles: 6
Undefeated seasons: 7 (not counting 1-0 at State Normal in 1900)
Bowl record: 1-0
Losing seasons: 1

Joe Paterno
50th birthday:
Dec. 21, 1976
Record: 101-22-1 at Penn State
National titles: 0
Undefeated seasons: 3
10-win seasons: 6
Bowl record: 5-2-1
Losing seasons: 0

Hayden Fry
50th birthday: Feb. 28, 1979
Record: 99-89-4 at SMU and North Texas (1979 was first season at Iowa)
National titles: 0
League titles: 2
Undefeated seasons: 0
10-win seasons: 1
Bowl record: 1-2
Losing seasons: 9

Henry Williams
50th birthday: July 26, 1919
Record: 128-22-11 at Army and Minnesota (123-21-10 at Minnesota
National titles: 1 (1904)
League titles: 8
Undefeated seasons: 5
10-win seasons: 3
Losing seasons: 0

Robert Zuppke
50th birthday: July 2, 1929
Record: 84-28-7
National titles: 4 (1914, 1919, 1923, 1927)
League titles: 7
Undefeated seasons: 4
Losing seasons: 2

Barry Alvarez
50th birthday: Dec. 30, 1996
League titles: 1
Undefeated seasons: 0
Bowl record: 3-0
10-win seasons: 1
Losing seasons: 4

It's interesting to see what coaches of different eras had accomplished by age 50. Also be sure and check out how Meyer stacks up with notable non-Big Ten coaches and other Ohio State coaches by age 50.
The NCAA men's tournament is all over, but we've still got the title match in our all-time Big Ten coaches' tournament.

Like that other madness, we had some lower seeds advancing all the way to the championship, though the upsets weren't huge. In our second semifinal matchup, No. 4 seed Penn State's Joe Paterno edged No. 1 seed Ohio State's Woody Hayes by a 53-47 count in your voting, with more than 21,000 votes cast.

So Paterno advanced to face No. 3 seed Nebraska's Tom Osborne. An all-time Big Ten coaches tournament final with no Woody or Bo? It is surprisingly so, though the two finalists are no slouches either.

We'll open the tournament final on Thursday. For now, here are some of your comments on this matchup:
Brian from Smyrna: I voted for Joe Paterno over Woody Hayes. There's no arguing that Hayes has a better Big Ten résumé than JoePa. But Paterno has a better career than any other Division 1 coach ever. No one won more games than he did and even his 2 championships are short changing him (he went undefeated 4 other times without being awarded a championship). He won during all kinds of eras of the game. No one will ever top the greatest coach of all time.

Sean J. from Philadelphia: Yes, many coaches have won a plethora of games, fund-raised for their universities, and built the brand of their schools. However, none have had the same impact that Joe Paterno had both on and off the field. Not many fans can attribute their coach for the success of the team and their own personal success. Whether it's the national recognition your degree gets, the time spent in the library with his name on it, or the visit he made to your tent in Paternoville the night before a big game, Joe Pa impacted many of our lives. Despite accusations from the scandal, generations of alumni know they owe Joe a debt gratitude for the education they received at Penn State. That is why he deserves to win this tournament.

David S. from Virginia Beach: Quite simply, Joe Paterno coached and won 409 games regardless of the dumbest part of the NCAA sanctions Penn State had... NO ONE BETTER

Brian B. from Atlanta: I voted for Joe Paterno for two reasons: 1. Joe Pa was the greatest coach of all time. 2. I hate Ohio State and would vote for anything opposite them. Obviously a no-brainer.

Dave from Columbus: Great matchup here. Two towering figures of the B1G. Okay, so JoePa wasn't part of the B1G until the last 20 years of his career, but still. Both coaches' legacies were ended in disgusting tarnish. My favorite team being tOSU, Woody gets my vote. But it's deeper than that. Woody's been immortalized throughout campus, the B1G and beyond. I just don't see JoePa's legacy ever recovering from what happened there. I have a feeling a lot of folks are voting for JoePa out of their disdain for Woody.

James from Nashville: Many people are overlooking the fact that Paterno had the benefit and being independent and setting up a lot of cupcakes. Hayes was the better coach, and would have won more titles if not for facing off against Bo for a decade, and playing Rose Bowls against several exceptional USC teams. Even so, he still won more titles, more conference titles, and indeed a higher percentage of Big Ten games that Paterno. Anyone who votes Paterno is clearly someone who does not know much about the history of the Big Ten.

Larry P. from Mansfield, Ohio: Woody Hayes won 13 Big Ten titles and 5 national championships. Joe Paterno won 2 Big Ten titles and 2 national championships. Not a tough call.

Tom from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio: The Big Ten term 3 yards and a cloud of dust came because of Woody. Yes, when you think of Penn State, you think of Joe Pa. When you think of Ohio State, you think of Woody. The difference is when you think of the Big Ten, you also think of Woody. My vote goes to Woody Hayes.
Who is the greatest Big Ten coach of all time?

Our all-time Big Ten coaches tournament is attempting to answer that question, and we're down to our final four candidates. Our first semifinal opened yesterday with No. 3 seed Nebraska's Tom Osborne taking on No. 2 seed Michigan's Bo Schembechler.

Now it's time to take a look at our other Final Four showdown ...

No. 4 Penn State's Joe Paterno vs. No. 1 Ohio State's Woody Hayes

Tournament résumés:
  • SportsNation

    Which coach wins this semifinal matchup?


    Discuss (Total votes: 22,118)

    Paterno: For nearly half a century, JoePa was Penn State football. He won a record 409 games, plus two national championships (1982, 1986) and had 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. Yes, his career ended in scandal and a huge chunk of his wins were vacated by the NCAA. You have to decide for yourself how much that affects his legacy.
  • Hayes: He's the No. 1 seed in the tournament for a reason. Hayes won 205 games, the most of any coach while a member of the Big Ten, and a record 152 league games. He also captured 13 Big Ten championships, tying him for the most all time, and five national titles (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970). He was irascible, unyielding and one of a kind, and some of those qualities led to his downfall. But he is virtually synonymous with Ohio State and the Big Ten.

Which coach moves on to the title game? Voting will be open through the weekend, and make sure to drop us a note saying why you voted the way you did. The best responses will run in our results posts.
The Final Four of our all-time Big Ten coaches tournament is all set.

On Monday, we announced that Penn State's Joe Paterno and Nebraska's Tom Osborne both advanced to the semifinals. Now it's time to find out the rest of our field.

Our seventh game pitted No. 2 seed Michigan's Bo Schembechler against No. 10 seed Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin. Alvarez made this closer than expected for a while, but Schembechler finished as the victor, earning 61 percent of your vote to 39 percent for the Badgers' Hall of Famer.

Game 8 was an all-Buckeyes affair between No. 1 overall seed Woody Hayes and No. 9 seed Jim Tressel. Hayes won that one going away, by a count of 82 percent to 18.

So our Final Four matchups will look like this:

No. 4 Joe Paterno vs. No. 1 Woody Hayes

No. 3 Tom Osborne vs. No. 2 Bo Schembechler

We'll open up the voting for these semifinals on Thursday. This should be a lot of fun.

Curiously, we didn't really get a lot of responses on the Alvarez-Schembechler match. Don't forget to send in your comments (especially you Bo backers). Here are a couple of your thoughts on the Hayes-Tressel showdown:
Matt from Cape Coral, Fla.: I grew up a huge Tress fan and the 2002 national title game is what finally sold me on football as a kid, but when it comes down to it, Woody is Ohio State football and you cannot argue with five national championships. I voted for Woody.

Robert B. from Logan, Ohio: Brian, in 1964, I was 14. We were in Canton for the North-South game. Woody was recruiting the son of my parents' best friends and we were at a local restaurant for lunch. My father had died less than a month before. Now I don't know if Stein, the boy's father, asked him to, or not, but Woody came over to the table and sat down and talked to me for about 15 minutes. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of stories just like mine that prove that Woody Hayes was more of a hero off the field than on. His record speaks for itself, but I am one speaking to his compassion. To me, he was a soft-spoken, kind man. I bleed scarlet and gray, as my father did, my children do, and my grandchildren do. Woody Hayes was a complete person and that's why I vote for him, even over Tressel.
Our Big Ten coaches tournament is down to eight legends, and only four of them will be marching on next week to the semifinals.

We come now to the last of our four second-round games. And it's an all-Buckeyes battle.

No. 1 Ohio State's Woody Hayes vs. No. 9 Ohio State's Jim Tressel

Tournament résumés:
  • SportsNation

    Which coach wins this second-round matchup?


    Discuss (Total votes: 6,137)

    Tressel: He coached exactly 10 years in the Big Ten before he left under a cloud of scandal, but few coaches have had better 10-year runs. Ohio State dominated the league under The Vest, winning or sharing seven Big Ten titles (though the last one was vacated) and the 2002 BCS championship. Tressel owns the second-highest winning percentage, both overall and in league play, for coaches who spent at least 10 years inside the conference.
  • Hayes: He's the No. 1 seed in the tournament for a reason. Hayes won 205 games, the most of any coach while a member of the Big Ten, and a record 152 league games. He also captured 13 Big Ten championships, tying him for the most all time, and five national titles (1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970). He was irascible, unyielding and one of a kind, and some of those qualities led to his downfall. But he is virtually synonymous with Ohio State and the Big Ten.

Which coach advances? Voting is open through Monday morning, 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 bowl lineup set

December, 8, 2013
The Big Ten bowl lineup is all set. Here it is:

Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO, Jan. 1: Michigan State vs. Stanford

Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Ohio State vs. Clemson

Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina

Outback Bowl, Jan. 1: Iowa vs. LSU

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 28: Michigan vs. Kansas State Gator Bowl, Jan. 1: Nebraska vs. Georgia

Texas Bowl, Dec. 27: Minnesota vs. Syracuse

Here's a complete schedule for all the bowls, along with kickoff times and TV information.

Rapid reaction:

The Big Ten lineup is never easy and will be challenging again this time around. Wisconsin and Iowa in particular will have to play at their best against talented SEC teams.

Nebraska fans can't be too pleased about a rematch with Georgia, the Huskers' opponent in the 2013 Capital One Bowl. Both teams are playing without their quarterbacks and the game represents a chance for Bo Pelini to quiet his critics momentarily. We likely won't see such rematches next year, as the Big Ten takes more control in the bowl pairings. Nebraska goes bowling in Florida for the third consecutive season.

The league matches up well in its two BCS games, although Stanford and Clemson are both outstanding when they bring their 'A' games. Ohio State faces Clemson for the first time since the infamous Woody Hayes punch in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

Minnesota will be favored to beat Syracuse and finish with nine wins as it returns to Houston, and Michigan also could end its season on a positive note if it builds on its performance in The Game against Ohio State.

We'll have much more to come on these bowls.
Sixteen years after Joe Tiller introduced the spread offense to the Big Ten at Purdue, the system still looks out of place on the hallowed grounds of historic stadiums throughout the league.

The spread remains, at its core, quite un-Big Ten. The Big Ten's image is still power football, 22 personnel, large groups of large men lined up close together, creating dust clouds after relatively short gains. It's not about five-wide sets and first-to-40 games.

In the celebrated "Ten-Year War" featuring Big Ten icons Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, neither Ohio State nor Michigan eclipsed 24 points. Michigan averaged 13.8 points, while Ohio State averaged a scant 10.5, scoring nine total points in the final three contests. Those games are part of Big Ten lore.

I value Big Ten history as much as anyone, but I also realize the glory days have long since passed. College football has changed. The game is played in space, especially by teams hoping to offset a talent gap.

[+] EnlargeBill Cubit
AP Photo/Al GoldisIllinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit believes the spread is an equalizer in the Big Ten.
The talent gap remains for Big Ten offenses. There's a shortage of dynamic skill players and even elite linemen throughout much of the league. We've detailed the Big Ten's dearth of star wide receivers, but there are other positions that lack difference-makers.

The Big Ten needs to catch up. It needs to become, with a few exceptions, a spread league.

"It's a bit of an equalizer," Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said of the spread, which he ran at Western Michigan and now with the Illini. "It’s just hard to drive the ball 80 yards. You better have some big plays. Well, where do you get those big plays? There's some teams that say, 'OK, we'll run the power for three-and-a-half [yards], three-and-a-half, three-and-a-half.' But eventually, you're going to break down.

"You've got to get the ball out in space, and the simplest thing is to spread your guys out, too, unless you're Alabama or Stanford."

Here's the thing people need to realize about the pro-style offense. It demands nationally elite recruits to excel. Teams such as Alabama, Stanford, LSU and, even now, USC can run the system because of their recruiting clout.

Most Big Ten teams don't recruit at a nationally elite level. Ohio State and Michigan do, and Penn State, despite its postseason sanctions and scholarship restrictions, has managed to bring in top prospects suited to Bill O'Brien's offense. But the majority of the league simply isn't there, especially on offense, and can even the playing field by injecting spread elements.

Some Big Ten teams -- Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska -- already do it. But there are others -- Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue -- that continue to run pro-style offenses without elite talent.

In an opening weekend when Big Ten teams averaged 39.5 points, three of the four lowest-scoring totals came from Iowa (27), Michigan State (26) and Purdue (7). When you factor in that Michigan State had two defensive touchdowns and Iowa had one, the offensive numbers are worse.

Coaches Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State) and Darrell Hazell (Purdue) all believe in pro-style offense. Ferentz, the dean of Big Ten coaches, has remained steadfast even as the spread popularized around college football.

"We've had two Big Ten championship games, and an anti-spread team [Wisconsin] has come out victorious in both of those," Ferentz said. "Any coach is trying to do what they do best with their personnel. The teams that are successful are the teams that execute the best, whether it's spread or conventional."

Ferentz's personnel at Iowa is geared toward a pro-style offense. But is the talent level good enough to execute at the highest levels? Not lately.

Would Iowa's offense be much better with spread elements? It could attract different types of players and stress defenses in different ways. Then again, a bubble screen on third-and-9 stresses defenses, too.

If you watch the Big Ten Network, you've probably heard analyst Gerry DiNardo say that he doesn't think a team can win the national title running the spread. But DiNardo notes that the spread can help teams with less talent compete consistently with tougher competition.

"Iowa and Purdue could continue on the offensive path they're on because I think they can meet expectations," DiNardo told me. "They can be competitive in 2014 and beyond in the West with that offense. Michigan State, because they have [freshman quarterback] Damion Terry on their roster, because they've struggled offensively since Kirk Cousins left, and because they're going to be in the much more difficult division in the East, I could very well see them making a shift to a spread offense."

[+] EnlargeMichigan State's Mark Dantonio
Mike Carter/US PRESSWIREAs they enter the new, rugged East Division of the Big Ten, Mark Dantonio might want to think about incorporating spread elements in the Michigan State offense.
Throughout the offseason, Dantonio talked about the need for quarterbacks to make plays.

"You have a better chance of doing that in the spread than you do in the pro formation," DiNardo said.

When Kevin Wilson followed Randy Walker from Miami (Ohio) to Northwestern in 1999, he installed the same I-formation, power run-based offense they had run at Miami. Northwestern ran more plays and had the ball more than its opponents ... and averaged a meager 12.8 points a game.

"We didn't have any playmakers," said Wilson, now Indiana's head coach, who has run different versions of the spread since 2000. "We died a slow death. We needed to make some changes."

Northwestern went to the Rich Rodriguez-style spread the following year and finished third nationally in total offense and ninth in scoring.

Some Big Ten teams can survive outside of the spread. DiNardo sees Michigan forming a similar offensive blueprint to Alabama and Stanford, largely because of its recruiting success. O'Brien's offense originates from a pro formation but incorporates an explosive, NFL-style passing attack and an efficient run game -- "Very unique," DiNardo said.

Wisconsin provides hope for teams like Michigan State and Iowa. The Badgers aren't a recruiting force, but they've built their program around the power run, elite backs and massive linemen for more than two decades.

At Wisconsin's level, a system change isn't in order.

"They never wanted to get into the elite recruiting battles, and they have to," DiNardo said. "Schematically, they're fine. They're not much different than Michigan, but Michigan recruits the elite athletes."

Not enough Big Ten teams are in Michigan's position. More teams should incorporate spread elements to start evening things out.

Hazell is on board, noting that Purdue's offensive struggles at Cincinnati -- the Boilers ran only 29 first-half plays -- reduced the playbook.

"Whether you're doing spread, a little bit of zone read, option, quick game, play-action pass, you have to have the whole package," Hazell said. "You probably would have seen more of that had we been able to run more plays."

Here's hoping Purdue and other teams showcase spread elements more in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, they'll be headed for a slow death.
There's hardly ever a perfect time to part ways with a coach, especially one who has had success. Some programs opt to nudge out long-tenured, mostly successful coaches only to pay the price later for their decisions. Others that part ways with a veteran coach end up seeing improvement. is taking a closer look at this topic today, and we're putting it under the Big Ten microscope.

Here are some notable Big Ten (and Nebraska) coaching forceouts:

LLOYD CARR, Michigan (1995-2007)

What happened: A longtime Michigan assistant for Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller, Carr moved into the top job in 1995 and two years later guided Michigan to a national title. He led the Wolverines to at least a share of five Big Ten championships and six bowl victories, including the 1998 Rose and 2000 Orange bowls. Carr had the Wolverines positioned for another national title run in 2006 as they faced archrival Ohio State in an epic matchup of undefeated teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 nationally. But Carr's squad fell to Jim Tressel's Buckeyes, a theme during the later part of Carr's tenure. The 2007 season began with a humiliating loss to Football Championship Subdivision team Appalachian State. Although Carr officially retired in November 2007, there certainly was some pressure for the school to go in a new direction.

[+] EnlargeLloyd Carr
Chris Livingston/Icon SMILloyd Carr is carried off the field following Michigan's win over the Gators in the Capital One Bowl, which was Carr's final game.
What happened next: Michigan went away from its coaching tree and plucked Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia to succeed Carr. It was a rocky situation from the start that never truly smoothed out. Rodriguez's first Michigan team in 2008 might have been the worst ever, tumbling to 3-9 and ending the school's streak of consecutive bowl appearances at 33. The following summer, Michigan admitted to committing major violations for the first time in its history -- relating to practice time -- and self-imposed probation. The Wolverines once again missed a bowl game in 2009 and struggled to make one in Rodriguez's third season. After a blowout loss in the 2011 Gator Bowl, Michigan fired Rodriguez, who went just 15-22 at Michigan (6-18 Big Ten, 0-3 against Ohio State). Michigan might have slipped a bit from the ranks of the elite under Carr, but the program plummeted to historic depths under Rodriguez. Michigan replaced Rodriguez with former Carr assistant Brady Hoke.

JOHN COOPER, Ohio State (1988-2000)

What happened: After a rocky start (4-6-1 in 1988), Cooper went on a nice run at Ohio State in the mid- to late 1990s, averaging 10.3 victories between 1993 and 1998. He guided Ohio State to its first Rose Bowl appearance in 13 years during the 1996 season and emerged with a victory against Arizona State. He also won the Sugar Bowl after the 1998 season and coached Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. But Cooper had two problems: an inability to beat archrival Michigan (2-10-1) and struggles in bowl games (3-8). Three times the Buckeyes entered The Game with a perfect record -- 1993, 1995 and 1996 -- and fell to the Wolverines. After a 6-6 clunker in 1999 and another loss to Michigan in 2000, Ohio State fired Cooper, who finished second on the school's all-time coaching wins list, behind Woody Hayes, with 111.

What happened next: Ohio State made an unorthodox move in bringing in Youngstown State's Tressel to succeed Cooper. It paid off as Tressel guided the Buckeyes to a national title in his second season. Ohio State remains the only Big Ten team to win a crystal football during the BCS era. Tressel ended up dominating the Big Ten (six titles) and Michigan (8-1) during his tenure, leading Ohio State to five BCS bowl wins (one vacated) and three appearances in the national title game. Although Tressel's tenure ended in scandal, he certainly boosted Ohio State's program after the Cooper era.

BILL MALLORY, Indiana (1984-1996)

What happened: After mostly successful runs at Miami (Ohio), Colorado and Northern Illinois, Mallory came to Indiana and put together an impressive run, reaching six bowl games between 1986 and 1993. He became the first man to win back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1986 and 1987. Indiana had three top-four finishes in the Big Ten (1987, 1991, 1993), but after Mallory went just 5-17 (1-15 Big Ten) in 1995 and 1996, Indiana fired him. Mallory remains Indiana's all-time coaching wins leader (69) and is responsible for six of the Hoosiers' nine bowl teams.

What happened next: Indiana has yet to come close to achieving the type of moderate success it enjoyed in the Mallory era. The program struggled under Cam Cameron and Gerry DiNardo before surging a bit for the late Terry Hoeppner. Still, it took 11 seasons after Mallory's dismissal for Indiana to return to the postseason under Bill Lynch in 2007. Although the Hoosiers are making strides under Kevin Wilson, the program has a ways to go to match where it was under Mallory.

GLEN MASON, Minnesota (1997-2006)

What happened: Mason never got Minnesota to the promised land -- its first Big Ten championship since 1967 -- but he made the Gophers a consistent bowl team. He won six to eight games in six of his final eight seasons, slumping to a 4-7 finish in 2001 but breaking through with 10 victories in 2003. Minnesota reached bowls seven times under Mason, but his middling Big Ten record (32-48) and inability to challenge for league titles eventually stirred the administration into action. The school fired Mason two days after Minnesota squandered a 31-point third-quarter lead against Texas Tech in the 2006 Insight Bowl.

What happened next: The program backslid with the overmatched Tim Brewster at the helm, going 1-11 in 2007. Brewster made some splashes in recruiting but couldn't get enough talent to translate to the field. After a 7-1 start in 2008, the Gophers dropped their final five games, including a 55-0 decision to archrival Iowa at the Metrodome. A 6-7 season followed in 2009, and Minnesota fired Brewster after a 1-6 start in 2010. Brewster went 15-30 at the school and 6-21 in the Big Ten, which included an 0-10 mark in trophy games. His tumultuous tenure had many questioning why Minnesota ever got rid of Mason.

FRANK SOLICH, Nebraska (1998-2003)

What happened: A former Huskers fullback, Solich had the nearly impossible task of following coaching legend Tom Osborne, who won national titles in three of his final four seasons at the school. Solich won 42 games in his first four seasons, a Big 12 championship in 1999 and Big 12 North titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001. He guided the Huskers to the 2000 Fiesta Bowl championship, and the 2001 team, led by Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, played Miami for the national title at the Rose Bowl but fell 37-14. Nebraska then went 7-7 in 2002, its first nonwinning season since 1961. Solich rebounded with a 9-3 mark in 2003 but was fired despite a 58-19 record in Lincoln.

What happened next: Much like Michigan, Nebraska went away from its coaching tree and hired Bill Callahan, who had led the Oakland Raiders for two seasons. And much like Michigan, Nebraska paid a price as the program went downhill. The Huskers went 5-6 in Callahan's first year, their first losing campaign since 1961. They won eight games the following year and the Big 12 North in 2006, but a highly anticipated 2007 season fell apart, particularly for the celebrated Blackshirts defense. Nebraska surrendered 40 points or more in six games and went 5-7, leading to Callahan's dismissal. Although Nebraska has rebounded under Bo Pelini, its last conference championship came under Solich's watch, 14 long years ago.

A look at the rivalries: Big Ten

August, 12, 2013
The Big Ten has its share of rivalries, but not all are created equal. Here's a closer look at the best, the worst and the rivalries on the rise:

Top rivalry: Ohio State versus Michigan. We didn't have to think too hard on this one. Few rivalry games currently have the cheapest nosebleeds going for $175 when the stadium seats more than 100,000. Fewer rivalries have their own hour-long HBO-produced documentaries. And of course, only one rivalry earned the top spot when it came to ESPN ranking the century's overall best. (Ali-Frazier finished No. 2, behind OSU-UM.)

Tradition, quality and history makes this rivalry one of the greatest in all of sports. The two teams first met in 1897, have combined for more than 70 conference titles and are both ranked in the top six when it comes to overall program wins. Usually, the only thing stopping one of these teams from heading to the Rose Bowl or another major bowl is just the other team.

Of course, what really makes this rivalry special is how much these teams have historically hated each other. And yes, we do mean hate. The series heated up in 1969 when Bo Schembechler's Wolverines upset Woody Hayes' undefeated Buckeyes -- and Hayes' hatred of all things Michigan wasn't exactly a secret. According to one anecdote, while in Michigan, the coach once refused to fill up his sputtering car with gas because he hated the idea of giving any money to the Wolverine State.

That tradition still continues. Michigan added to the back-and-forth this spring by stamping its footballs with the words "Made in USA/Not in Ohio." So it's pretty clear: This isn't just the best rivalry in the Big Ten; it's one of the best in all of sports.

Rivalry on the rise: There are quite a few worthy selections to choose from, but two immediately spring to mind: Michigan versus Michigan State and Wisconsin versus Nebraska.

The in-state Spartans-Wolverines rivalry is on the upswing because the teams have been more evenly matched in the 2000s -- and it doesn't hurt that the two schools are just about an hour's drive from one another. Since 1999, the Wolverines have only a slight 8-6 edge. Of those 14 contests, eight were decided by one score and at least six could be considered upsets (i.e., unranked MSU beats No. 6 UM 26-24 in 2001, unranked UM beats No. 11 MSU 34-31 in 2005). Also, last year's 12-10 Wolverines victory was decided on a last-second field goal and is a series classic. Michigan won after losing to the Spartans four straight years.

As far as Wisconsin-Nebraska, Cornhuskers fans would love to see the Badgers as their season-ending foe instead of Iowa. These will be the best teams in the 2014 season's West Division, so this new rivalry should soon become an intense one. Wisconsin dominated Nebraska 48-17 in 2011 -- but the Huskers rubbed Wisconsin fans the wrong way when the offense called a timeout with 12 seconds left on the 1-yard line. Nebraska responded in 2012 with a 30-27 win. This rivalry is just getting started and has a lot of potential.

Rivalry fading: Wisconsin-Minnesota. The game for Paul Bunyan's Axe has become less a battle and more a certainty as of late. The Golden Gophers last won in November 2003, two months after current quarterback Philip Nelson celebrated his 10th birthday.

The Badgers have won the last nine meetings by an average margin of 17 points and, put simply, this "rivalry" just isn't very fun to watch. What's left to say? Wisconsin rushed for 620 yards in the last two meetings, Minnesota made just one third-down conversation in the game last season, and Wisconsin has scored on every red zone opportunity in the last four meetings. Minnesota needs to bounce back in a big way to renew interest in a rivalry that traces its roots to 1890 and has had a trophy in place since 1948.
Last week, we asked you to pick the nonconference opponent you'd most like to see your favorite team play in the near future. You could pick a team already on the upcoming schedule or one that inexplicably hasn't been added.

The response, not surprisingly, has been strong. If you haven't done so already, please send us your picks here and here, and be sure to identify your Big Ten allegiance and why you're picking a certain nonconference foe.

Ohio State fans responded en masse, and here's a sampling of their non-league picks.

Matt from Columbus, Ohio: Adam, you indicated the correct Ohio State non-conference pick in your original post -- it's most definitely Texas. The last home and home was a split, where the winning team of each game went on to play for the National Championship and its quarterback to New York for the Heisman Ceremony. Couple those actual results with the ancillary factors that Ohio State and Texas are two of the largest universities in the country, have the most comprehensively powerful athletic departments, and are the flagship schools in two of the most talent-laden states, and there's no doubt that Buckeyes, Longhorns, and everyone else should be rooting for as many match-ups between these two as possible.

Dale from Santa Cruz, Bolivia: Buckeye fan for life here. Let's get right to it. Three blockbuster games. I wanna see my Buckeyes take on the Crimson Tide. To be the best (Whoooooo), you gotta beat the best. Everyone is speculating on the greatness of these Urban Meyer Buckeyes ... I want them to earn it! A neutral-field at night; who could resist that? Up next; Notre Dame. In the mid 90's we swept a home and home with the Irish and haven't seen hide nor hair of them since. Now that they seem to be back in the race; bring 'em on again! Third ... The U baby! Once considered the greatest championship game of all time. Let's do it again and keep the penalty flags stuffed deep down in those pockets.

Dan from Scottsdale, Ariz.: Regarding nonconference for the Buckeyes, it's got to be USC. Last series was awful. Wells was out in the LA blowout and Tressel got outcoached (which was rare) by Carroll a year later in C-bus. Like USC, it's gotta be about recruiting. I think OSU has to play big games either in CA, TX, FLA or Georgia every other year ...

Junky from Cincinnati: I would love to see Ohio State take on Florida, Georgia, Stanford and Arkansas. (Wouldn't mind another set of games with Texas). (I was angry the Buckeyes backed out of games against Georgia and Tennessee). To pick one, I would say I want an Ohio State/Florida rematch where Ohio State is at its best. (The Gator Bowl when OSU went 6-6 wasn't much of a matchup against an 8-4 Florida team)I think Urban Meyer at Ohio State coaching against his former team would be absolutely amazing!

Steve from Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State alum and fan here. 3 words. 1 acronym. I want the SEC. I want Bama, I want Florida, I want Georgia, I want SoCar, I want LSU...any of them. Let's go.OSU vs. SEC. So tired of hearing about the bowl record and those two NCGs... Bring them on.

Jon from Augusta, Ga.: OSU alum here. I would love to see a home-and-away series between OSU and Clemson. Both have great programs and gameday traditions, and there is some... history...that could be resolved.

Kevin from Iowa: Since Oregon, Texas and Oklahoma are already on the books, here are my OOC dream match-ups for Ohio State: Alabama, LSU, SCar, Georgia, and TAMU. They're the lead dogs on the sled. I'll take Tennessee, too--I think Butch Jones will be a big success and the Vols have a great stadium. The Florida/old Urban/new Urban connection is just too obvious for me. That storyline quickly became a trite cliche during the 2011 Gator Bowl. While you're at it, wake up the echoes and give me Notre Dame, too.

Zach from Cincinnati: Hey Adam - in response to your question on who fans would like to see their teams play in non-conference, I'd love to see Ohio State take on Florida State or Clemson. I'd really prefer to see any of the top tier Big Ten teams take on those guys just to put the unjustified hype both schools get every year to rest early on. Also looking forward to the Ohio State/Oklahoma and Ohio State/Oregon matchups coming up.

TraschMan from Columbus, Ohio: I'd love to see the Buckeyes in a rotating series with Oklahoma State and Oregon State because who wouldn't love to see the battle to be known as the real OSU? If you remember the 2004 Alamo Bowl, the Pokes made a big deal about being OSU and Ohio State made a big deal about beating them into the ground. Add Oregon State to that fun and how could you go wrong? It could be a rotating, 3-year series where each school plays each other once for all the marbles, tie goes to Ohio State because I said so.

Scott K. from Bridgeport, Ohio: Being a huge Buckeye fan i would love to meet up with the Gators again, especially since we lost to them in the Gator Bowl and now have their extremely successful ex-head coach calling the shots for us. (also some payback for the national championship game is in order). Needless to say, I think the outcome would be a little different if we met up with them at the end of this upcoming season.

So many good choices here for the Buckeyes. I agree with Steve from Columbus and would welcome almost any Ohio State-SEC matchup, although Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and now Arkansas -- with Buckeye fave Bret Bielema on the sideline -- would be especially delicious. Dale brings up a good point: these games might need to take place at a neutral site because neither side likes giving up home games. We saw Ohio State and Miami renew their series in 2010 and 2011, but I wouldn't mind seeing more of those games in the future. Jon from August brings up an interesting suggestion in Clemson, a nod to the 1978 Gator Bowl and Woody Hayes' final game as Buckeyes coach. The two teams haven't met since.

Notre Dame is an intriguing matchup because of Meyer's connection to the school and the fact the two national brands have played only five times before. It seems like Notre Dame is going in a different direction with its scheduling, but both fan bases would welcome a series. USC doesn't excite me as much because of the Trojans' recent downturn, but I love the fact Ohio State added Oregon and would be thrilled with a Stanford series.

More fan non-league picks

Penn State
Michigan State

Big Ten lunch links

February, 14, 2013
You are obligated to love these links and send them flowers.

Big Ten lunchtime links

February, 13, 2013
Happy hump day.
The legend of Woody Hayes needs no further embellishment at this point. Stories about the iconic Ohio State coach and his approach to the game and life abound.

But there might not be another story quite like the one Urban Meyer recently shared about Hayes.

The current Buckeyes coach attended the Ohio coaches convention over the weekend, and's Chris Vannini transcribed this tale that Meyer spun for the crowd.
"So I guess Ohio State had lost the bowl game, so Earl Bruce brings in Woody Hayes. I had been there just a week and I'm thinking, 'Holy, this is Coach Hayes.' I'm sitting in the back. Coach Hayes was not healthy at the time, but stands up and starts laying into the coaching staff about toughness. That we have no toughness in the program. That's why we lost the game. On and on and screaming, this old guy pounding the table. He says, 'We have no toughness, and the reason is because you're not tough. No one on this staff is tough enough, and that's a problem.'

"He reaches down and grabs this box, slides the top and there was something in the box moving around. He reaches in and he pulls out this turtle. He reaches down, this turtle's snapping and he says, 'I'm going to show you toughness.' He unzips his pants and takes out whatever he takes out. The turtle reaches up and snaps at him. You see the veins and the sweat [on Hayes]. He screams at the coaches, 'That's toughness! That's eff'n toughness!' He reaches down, pokes the turtle right in the eye and it falls off. He wipes the sweat off his forehead and says, 'That's the problem. We don't have anybody in this room tough enough to do that right there.

"[One assistant] raises his hand and says, 'Coach, I'd do this. Just promise not to poke me in the eye.'"

Click on the link above for video proof of Meyer telling the story. It's around the 3:00 mark.

UPDATE: Meyer told the same story at the same event last year, only it was Bruce who, uh, used the turtle as a prop (you can view it around the 10:40 mark here). Is there any truth in this tale? Well, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.



Big Ten lunch links

February, 12, 2013
Blackhawks return to the United Center tonight, and I'll be there to welcome them. Foghorn? Yes, please.