How to Succeed in Football By Actually Trying

By Johnny Ginter on January 10, 2014 at 2:00p
Even got the colors down early

Despite its reputation in terms of playcalling, the Big Ten has not been notable for any of its power moves as of late. The conference as a whole has seemed to be a lackadaisical Eeyore of made up of Ambien and Rust Belt apathy, and a lot of that can be traced to the attitude that a lot of B1G schools seem to have to change.

One of the clearest indicators of that was when Urban Meyer first stepped in to the recruiting scene; the outcry at the violation of a nonexistent gentleman's agreement in regards to coaches not contacting kids with verbal commitments to other schools said a whole hell of a lot more about the other coaches of the Big Ten than it said about Urban Meyer.

And it goes beyond that. In the past decade, Big Ten schools, have shown a marked unwillingness to sully themselves by making the same kind of efforts in terms of attracting (and keeping) bigger names in terms of coaching talent that other universities have. Ron Zook got seven years at Illinois. Tim Brewster somehow got four at Minnesota. It's as if we've cherished this beige badge of boring consistency as jealously as Archie Bunker guarding his crappy recliner. We've got standards, dammit! Low, low standards!

But this offseason has been different. For the first time in a long, long time, there's blood in the water.

I'm still at a loss to explain how the Michigan hire of Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier actually worked. It's a lateral move at best for Nussmeier, a dude who has claimed that he wants to be a head coach at some point, and as far as Saban goes, it looks like his solution to him leaving is to call up Lane Kiffin? Whatever voodoo hex that Dave Brandon put on these guys seems to be working, but in any case Michigan made a serious power move that was pretty unexpected, especially in light of this:

"I anticipate (this) staff (will be back)," Hoke said after attending a UAW/Ford Child Identity Program event at Ford Field.

Asked again, if he does not anticipate any staff changes for the 2014 season, Hoke responded with the following: "Correct."

Welp! Sorry Al Borges, may flights of errant Devin Gardner passes sing thee to thy rest.

Look, as bad as Borges was this year in virtually every game against teams not rhyming with Shmohio Shmate, it probably wasn't easy for Hoke or Brandon or the literal Devil or whoever is in charge of making those decisions to pull the trigger on Borges. But the point is that they did. They made the right call, and then immediately went out and pilfered a coach from the Smaug of coaching talent. Even if it's a money thing, Michigan is still paying Nussmeier to do the same job. I'm legitimately impressed.

The second kind of news item maybe sort of is the potential hiring of James Franklin by Penn State.

PensiveA Happy Valley forever

I'm of the firm belief that this would be a terrific hire on their part; not just because he's an excellent coach that not only made Vanderbilt successful overall, but also because he coached them to winning record in the SEC on a consistent basis. He took a team with little fan and booster support and made them into a bowl winning success, and if he can navigate the quicksand filled viper's nest that is Happy Valley, he's going to lock down that job for a long time.

So if Penn State manages to hire the dude, and all indications as of this writing are that they will, it'll be the second time in less than a week that the B1G has tripped on some serious Wolf of Wall Street business by making themselves stronger and their biggest bane weaker. That shows a hell of a lot of creativity by a conference not known for it.

As a result of that, Urban Meyer now finds himself in the position of playing catch up. I don't think it's a secret that he's looking for a defensive coordinator rather than a co-defensive coordinator, and with Vrabel's departure, you suddenly need to replace the one coach on the defense we actually still had faith in.

Urban Meyer will likely go for the big splash, and Ohio State will eventually end up shelling out big dollars for a fairly big name. Not just because Meyer demands the best, but because the rest of the Big Ten (or at least some of his chief rivals) are finally starting to pick up on what he had realized a long time ago: if you want to be the best, you've got to hire the best.

Of course, there's always another option. You could be Louisville, a program staring blankly into the abyss after the loss of their ace head coach and deciding to just jump right back into it.

Bobby Petrino and Louisville represents everything that the Big Ten can't allow itself to be. Not just because Petrino is a raging douchebag and every time you look at his weird face you can only imagine it in one of those goofy neck braces, but because it shows a startling lack of thought and creativity on the part of Louisville to think outside the box and make a hire that has a higher chance of success than driving a motorcycle with a 25 year old volleyball on your back.

The Big Ten was once that unimaginative. It seems like that's starting to change.


Comments Show All Comments

kcbrez's picture

It's long been said that a rising tide raises all boats. I believe Coach Meyer is the B1G's rising tide.

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

A rising tide doesn't raise boats that have sunk and are growing seaweed at the bottom of the ocean, which is what most of the B1G is these days.

Oyster's picture

Blame the Big Ten Network and Coach Tressel.   Why you ask?  The money that each provided to the other schools with absolutely no effort required on their part.   It creates apathy when there is no incentive to put forth an effort in order to receive your share of the pie.  

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

scarletblood's picture

How did Tress got dragged into this?

ScoobyKnows's picture

I believe Oyster means that because of Tressel's success in the BCS (while the other teams were watching on their couches eating cheetos and licking their orange-stained fingers), the rest of the BIG ten just collected monies and mooched off the Buckeyes.   Does that sound right Oyster? 

Oyster's picture

Ohhhhh,    THAT'S A BINGO!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

OfficerRabbit's picture

I'm pretty sure you just say Bingo.
(was that an intentional Inglorious Bastards reference?)



45has2's picture

Then why does USC, TA&M, UGA, UT & Ark spend money for coaches to try improve when only Bama, Auburn, LSU & UF have won NC's? Same distribution model.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Wesleyburgess1's picture

I believe that the Sec does not profit share like the B1G. TH hats why they are so cutthroat and ruthless down there. There actually competing against each other and not mooching off of Alabama.

ABrown07's picture

I loved this article. Urban definitely stirred the pot when he showed up grabbing up all the recruits. SCREW BLUE, GO BUCKS!!!!

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

-Woody Hayes

xrox's picture

I liked those two things, too. I just hope there are some traditions of integrity that are kept, like B1G teams refusing to oversign. It's BS that other conferences do it.

The Butler's picture

Great article. Made me laugh (which I like to do on Fridays) and think (which I try to avoid on Fridays).

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


Buckeye in Illini country's picture

And now according to Jimmy V, all you need to do is cry, and you will have a great day.
"If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special."

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

buckz4evr's picture

The only tears I want to shed are the ones of joy.  Just because something is 'special' doesn't always make it good.  Either way, tears are overrated.  jk

BamaBuckeye144's picture

Excellent article. I've been saying for a while, as most have, I imagine, that with the hire of Urban Meyer, change was coming to all schools in the B1G. Whether they went politely or screaming and kicking. Meyer was going to force their hands.
Couple that with maybe a general tiredness of being laughed at by the rednecks in the south and maybe the "Big" in Big Ten is finally awake and ready to start a Rocky like training montage!


gm3jones's picture

I am hoping for Dick Bumpas as our D coordinator. He has led the NCAA in total defense like 7 out of 10 years he has been there at TCU. Thoughts?

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

bedheadjc's picture

Not sure a good, god fearing state program like OSU would hire a man with a name like that.

Buckeye Beast's picture

Yes please. If he turns any of our db's into Jason Verrett i would love that hire.

Even Squirrels hate Michigan

mc22's picture

The new playoff system will make this even more relevant and more pressurized.
Instead of bowl games as a benchmark to having a good program or season - fan bases and AD's will be asking coaches this question:
When was the last time we made the playoffs?
I trust Urb has seen the need for a big time Defensive Coordinator who can also adjust-recruit-and scheme - so we can answer that question simply........every year!

OSUBias's picture

Of the key staff hires at OSU, Meyer needs to knock one out of the park on defense. Let's take a look at what we've got for hires since his arrival at OSU:
Bill Sheridan lasted one week. F
Withers. Whether it was just a different philosophy than Fickell had, inability to mesh secondary calls with front 7 calls, or whatever, the results on the field have been pretty bad. He was a good to great recruiter, though, which saves him a bit. B-
Coombs: everyone loves the energy, and our special teams have been much improved since he took the reigns. Our corner play has been mediocre at best, and the player development hasn't matched some of the other positional units. Tackling in space has been god awful. Jury still out, but B-
Warriner: A++++, no commentary needed
Herman: Our offense has been vastly better under Herman, but struggled a bit on the biggest stage this season. I'm not sure if it was play calling or execution (likely a bit of both), but I think there's more room for improvement. Thought he did very well with Braxton mechanically this season, but the inability to routinely hit a WR in stride was evident all season, especially late in the year. Crossing patterns in particular. A-
Zach Smith: our WR corp was markedly better this year, but also exposed against MSU as not being elite. He finally landed a couple of recruits that he was the lead recruiter on during this cycle, and the cupboard is far from bare. Jury out pending the on field improvement next year, but a solid B at this point.
Fickell and Vrabel were already here so they don't count. All of Myers strong hires have been on offense. We need a defensive staff to match.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

ibuck's picture

OSUBias, methinks you're an Easy grader. And getting high-star recruits who fail on the field is not good recruiting. I'd rather have 3 star recruits who perform well, like MSU's D locking down opponents, and pass on 5-star prima donnas. You have to coach 'em up regardless of rating.
Withers:  We don't know what went on, and he's gone, but the D was not good.  D
Coombs: Mediocre corner play. Is high-energy & trash talking more valuable than PBUs and solid tackling?  D
Herman:  Just look at OSU's 3rd down conversion rate last 3 games: 5/15 vs MSU , 2/13 vs Clemson, and only 3/8 vs TTUN. That's not just poor execution, but play-calling too. And that includes running the QB into the ground, and Miller's passing ability suffered as a direct result. And Carlos Hyde might well have saved both games.  C
Warriner: The QB complains about getting hit, and not all from runs. B
Zach Smith: Why can only one guy get open?  C-
Fickell: UFM kept him, so that's a hire. Again we don't know what went on, but the D was not good. Will he be back in 2014?  D
Vrabel: Again, UFM kept him, and we saw good to great performances from the DL.  A

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

sharks's picture

25 yr old volleyball? Is that what you kids call golddiggers nowadays?

A man got to have a code...

Liening's picture

I believed that everything happens for a reason.  But Vrabel leaves the Buckeyes, Petrino goes back to Louisville, and Lane Kiffen maybe to Alabama?  My world is spinning, and I feel like I no longer understand anything about college football coach decisions.  


TilstheHun3's picture

Had to...

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?

DNARCO's picture

kindred spirits. 


97Buckeye's picture

Wow. This is just perfect. Well done.

jccesner's picture

Johnny, Eeyore would not appreciate you comparing him to the B1G. No question he is the most elite Pooh Sticks player in the Hundred Acre Wood and dominates with quiet confidence. 

"Nothing cleanses your soul like getting the shit kicked out of you."

Woody Hayes

tennbuckeye19's picture

Dang. PSU is fixing to pay James Franklin a reported 4.5 million a year, making him the 2nd highest paid coach in the conference behind Urban. Not sure he's worth that amount of coin, but inflated salaries are pretty common these days.

45has2's picture

Ped State likes coaches that need time off to testify at sex crime  trials. He told one of his players to delete the video from his phone. Well done, sir.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I believe those claims turned out to be completely unfounded.

osuxrow07's picture

I don't think it's too hard to understand why Nussmeier made the lateral move. Hoke gets one more year, proves he's the problem, and bada-bing, Nussmeier's the new head coach. Saban's clearly not going anywhere, so he's putting himself in position to take over at scUM.

Set the Earth Reverberating

kholmes's picture

I just dont see how that scenario plays out...
-If Nussmeier's offense does well, Hoke's job is secure for a long time as the media will hail him as a leader that made the necessary changes.
-If Nussmeier's offense does not produce to the extent that Hoke actually does get fired, then I cant see Nussmeier being in any position to get the job.

BoFuquel's picture

It's 8: 10 PM 1-10-2014 and TSUN and their defense sucks. Gave up 42 points at home toTOSU.Then they fire the wrong guy.Yes sir things are lookin' up in Whoreville alright.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Page Turner's picture

I am reminded of the late 90's when Volunteer favorite Johnny Majors was backdoored by his OC and politely and unceremoniously shown the door.  As a former CEO Dave Brandon has probably smoked a cigar in more than one back room.  Hence I must agree with OSUXROW

If you can't be a Buckeye, it's good to know one - Carpe Diem

andretolstoy's picture

I don't know. I personally believe that Brady Hoke isn't going to take Michigan where they need to be. I'm not sure why they haven't worked harder to pick Miles up or to. Or to reconcile with Harbaugh

Poison nuts's picture

Well, Harbaugh isn't happening in the college game again, so people can just go ahead & give up on that one now...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

andretolstoy's picture

H'Why? I'm not sure I'm buyin' it.

theDuke's picture

Umm Johnny... You don't "drive" a motorcycle, you "ride" it.  Derp smh


216ToThe614's picture

I think Franklin is a good hire because he is insane, just like the State Penn fan base

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!