Friday, January 11, 2008

If You Can't Beat Them, Fire Them.

That's the new Big Ten mandate, problem is only Ohio State is 'beating them', oh, and this doesn't apply to Penn State.

Purdue is set to announce Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope as Joe Tiller's successor. This isn't a Bobby Bowden-Jimbo Fisher successor plan, or even a Barry Alvarez-Bret Bielema deal. No, this is much more like "you're out old man, and since we like you we'll allow you to hang on for one more year."

This story has been totally overlooked by the major media outlets, mostly do to the MNC and other, more soap opera like coaching searches. That and the fact that no one ever really bought into the whole "Basketball on Grass" thing. Anyway, I started following it Tuesday over at Boiled Sports. For most of the week the lead candidate was Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst...which lead to a series of predictable yet hilarious Christ Jokes.

By most accounts Chryst was nervous about "not being a Purdue guy" the way Hope is. There was also concern that his whimpy girly mustach wouldn't hold up at a place like Purdue. The people printing the "You may have God, but we have Chryst!" Notre Dame game t-shirts took a huge hit when the announcement was made (credit on the t-shirt joke must of course go to Boiled Sports).

But this leads to a bigger issue, or trend I suppose I should say, that is taking hold around the Big Ten: everyone seems to be getting a new coach:

Illinois: Coach Ron Zook, hired 2005
Indiana: Coach Bill Lynch, hired 2007*
Iowa: Coach Kirk Ferentz, hired 1998
Michigan: Coach Rich Rodriguez, hired 2008
Michigan State: Coach Mark Dantonio, hired 2007
Minnesota: Coach Tim Brewster, hired 2007
Northwestern: Coach Pat Fitzgerald, hired 2006*
Ohio State: Coach Jim Tressel, hired 2001
Penn State: Coach Joe Paterno, hired 1966
Purdue: Coach Joe Tiller, out in 2009
Wisconsin: Coach Bret Bielema, hired 2006

This is really amazing when you sit down and look at it. Excluding JoePa, that is an average stay of 2.7 years. By most accounts, you really aren't even coaching you own team until after the third season. There are exactly four coaches** (Paterno, Tressel, Ferentz, and just now Zook) who are coaching Juniors and Seniors they recruited.

So what does this all mean? Well, for one thing, its not that surprising that the bottom half of the Big Ten sucks right now. It is filled with schools right in the shitty middle part of a coaching change. You have players recruited for one style forced to play another. The heart of the squad is made up of the always weak 'tweener' class that was recruited during the change.

Secondly, the Big Ten isn't in that much trouble if they can stay more competitive than the ACC, Big East and probably the Big XII with seven brand new coaches.

Finally, there is something a little more subtle that I worry about. Once these guys gain their footing, establish their recruiting lines and solidify their systems...well that will be right about the time Penn State goes through what will probably be the biggest circus of a coaching change in the history of sports. If we learned anything this year it's that neither Paterno nor the Penn State admins have a fucking clue how to handle it. Things might not be ugly, but they aren't going to be neat and clean. We are setting the successor up against some lofty odds. The "I want to play for Paterno thing" disappears. The stability of the other 10 programs will be used as a tool against us. I don't want to say I'm worried, but I am ready for it to be over with.

*I do understand it was tragity and now a decision to get new coaches for these schools.
**Yes, Tiller is still the coach, but he's a lame duck and that team kind of sucks right now anyway.


SweepTheLeg said...

Great break down, really enjot this site. I added this and tangled up in white/blue to daily reads.

Paterno Lives! said...

Thanks man.

The coaching thing is something not well documented because the switches have, other than at UM, been hardly mentioned programs.

I don't know I've heard it once mentioned when any MSM guy is doing a conference review.