Thursday, January 12, 2012
Take Two: UW-MSU personnel issues
By Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett
Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
Today's Take Two topic is inspired by Justin from Baltimore, who writes: Would you rather lose assistant coaches or star players? If you are Wisconsin, would you rather lose five assistant coaches and have Montee Ball return for his senior season or would rather have kept the staff intact and seen Ball go to the NFL? If you are MSU, would you rather lose Jerel Worthy to the NFL and keep Pat Narduzzi as defensive coordinator or would you rather have seen Worthy stay for his senior season but lose Narduzzi to Texas A&M?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
As a general rule, I'd rather have the Jimmys and the Joes rather than the guys doing the X's and the O's. For example, Oklahoma State lost a star offensive coordinator last year when Dana Holgorsen went to West Virginia (you know, the guy who rang up 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl). What did the Cowboys do? They hired Todd Monken from the NFL and went on to win the Fiesta Bowl, mostly because they still had Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Great players make coaches look good. I think the situation may be a little different with Wisconsin, which is losing a whole lot on the offensive staff and a tremendous playcaller in Paul Chryst. There is almost certainly going to be an adjustment period there. Having Ball will ease that transition, though maybe not as much as having Russell Wilson at quarterback another year would have helped. While I really like Narduzzi and think he is ready to be a head coach, I think another defensive coordinator could step in and succeed with that talented Spartans group, especially if Worthy were still around. There are a lot of good coaches out there who haven't had the chance to work with great players. That's because great players are harder to find.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
Some excellent points, BB. I definitely agree that the players often make the coaches. But in Michigan State's case, I actually think it was more important to retain Narduzzi than Worthy. Although he likely will soon depart for a head-coaching job, Michigan State showed by retaining him that it's willing to pay top dollar and retain a top assistant coach. Ohio State is paying more for assistant coaches. Michigan is paying more for assistant coaches. Michigan State needs to keep up and, in my mind, passed an important test by retaining Narduzzi. The Spartans also have recruited extremely well on the defensive side and should have enough depth to survive the loss of Worthy. The difference between Narduzzi and Chryst was Chryst left for a head-coaching position, while Narduzzi would have made essentially a lateral move for more money. So I think Michigan State had the better situation in the end. Regarding Wisconsin, while it's never easy to replace so many assistants, especially guys like Chryst and offensive line coach Bob Bostad, you don't often get to have a Heisman Trophy finalist back in the fold. Wilson was gone no matter what, and the offensive line would have had some turnover no matter what, but losing Ball could have really set back the unit with the quarterback situation so cloudy. Although Chryst and the others do great work, Wisconsin is so entrenched in what it does offensively and how it develops certainly position groups, namely offensive line. Bret Bielema has made good assistant coach hires in the past, and Wisconsin fans need to have some faith his track record will continue this time.