Yankee Come Home

By Johnny Ginter on January 17, 2014 at 2:00p

Last week, Ohio and the rest of the Midwest dealt with temperatures in the negative 30s and 40s. It's been one of the snowier winters in recent years. Hiring has become stagnant, the overall working environment has deteriorated, and at this point I'm fairly sure that the men's basketball team isn't going to win another game ever again. People are sad, angry husks of themselves, and it doesn't look like things will improve anytime soon.

The South, meanwhile, is the land of milk and honey. Hot babes, good food, an exploding population, endemic racism that generations of social change just hasn't been able to shake; yep, the South has got it all. It boggles the mind as to why anyone, especially someone who escaped from the hellhole that is the North, would come back home to what is fast becoming exactly what Robocop predicted.

But Chris Ash did. So did James Franklin, and Doug Nussmeier is in Michigan somehow. Larry Johnson left the only collegiate workplace he'd ever been in to do the same job a few hundred miles to the west. What the hell is going on?

It's not THE money, It's THE opportunity

One of the biggest selling points of any job is the chance for advancement. Which is why on paper, Ash, Nussmeier, and even Franklin have all made lateral career moves. Sure, working for Urban Meyer probably looks slightly better on a resume than the 24/7 Hooters birthday hot wings bash that is working for Bret Bielema, but all of these guys went to jobs that were on paper the same as their previous careers. Nussmeier was supposedly forced out of Alabama in favor of Lane Kiffin, but I feel like that says more about Saban's judgment than Nussmeier's abilities.

Two major things are working in the Big Ten's favor right now in terms of personnel and programs, in terms of hiring. First is the opportunity for younger coaches to network through established coaching trees. The Urban Meyer coaching tree in particular is impressive, but so is Mark Dantonio's and Jerry Kill's, among other Big Ten coaches. Secondly, it's probably time for us to admit that the Big Ten is a stepping stone conference. It isn't the WAC or the Sun Belt, but the truth of the matter is that the Big Ten is no longer a marquee name in college sports.

James Franklin is at Penn State now, but if Saban explodes in a ball of rage one day, Franklin is going to have his resume ready.

Everything is cyclical


With that said, though the Big Ten is down right now, it's hard to tell if that's a result of the talent level in the Big Ten (and Big Ten states) being genuinely deficient, or that coaches and programs in Midwestern states simply haven't done what's necessary to maximize what's already here.

And this also draws coaches to the Big Ten. Chris Ash is no doubt salivating at the opportunity to coach players on the level of most Ohio State starters, given what he generally had to work with in Arkansas. It's hard to believe that that didn't play a factor in his decision to move given that he's going to be doing roughly the same job. By that same token, James Franklin is also pretty excited about the chance to coach for a fanbase that actually attends games and boosters that give a crap. Be careful what you wish for and all of that, but he's going to get far more support now than he ever has.

If the Big Ten is down right now (and it totally is), there are a number of people who look at an overall population that nears 70 million and look at the untapped potential in the region as a challenge.

Home field advantage

Part of the reason why people have been eulogizing the football programs of Rutgers and Maryland is because they will now have to face off in their own backyards against a guy who not only is a tough and energetic recruiter at one of the most storied programs in the country, but also was born in said backyard and probably knows it better than you do.

A lot of these hirings are made on the simple calculus of geography. Kerry Coombs might, MIGHT, be a decent coach, but it's pretty obvious that his real talent and value to Ohio State lies in his Cincinnati connections. Tom Herman is one of the smartest young offensive minds in football, but his roots in Texas certainly doesn't hurt when trying to convince kids from Austin to move up north. Chris Ash is an Iowan, and if there's a way to keep Nebraska from rebuilding from their heartland, it's by stealing it from underneath their noses.

And truth be told, the scrutiny that these new coaches will face, even at Ohio State, pales in comparison to what they'd have to deal with in the larger schools in the SEC. Sometimes it's nice to make money doing what you love to do without people up your ass 24/7.

Okay yeah, it's the money

Despite Gene Smith's claim that Ohio State won't be dropping huge amounts of money for assistant coaches, it's hard to believe that the ridiculous amount of dough that the Big Ten is bringing in doesn't impact the calculus that schools are making when hiring coaches.

The truth is that there's no real such thing as brand loyalty, unless you're one of the few people in a highly competitive job that are genuinely content with staying put for years on end. Even Larry Johnson, who people thought was that guy, finds himself at another school in 2014. And maybe that's the real lesson here. As long as the Big Ten can keep up with the Joneses in the only real category that matters, it can continue to attract top flight talent and continue the process of rebuilding its image.


Comments Show All Comments

Nashville Buckeye's picture

I think what you are seeing is the light at the end of the "Dark Ages" for the B1G.
The B1G will be back to being a prominent conference in college football sooner rather than later.
Penn State will undoubtedly improve in the coming years under Franklin.
Michigan State isn't going away anytime soon.
Even TTUN will improve.
Give the B1G 3 years and I think we will be nationally regarded as the 2nd best football conference to everyone not affiliated with the Worldwide Leader.

FROMTHE18's picture

like the opening line of this comment +1

Jeeves's picture

Why settle for second best? 

Nashville Buckeye's picture

I wasn't saying that we were or should be settling for second.  We WILL return to the top, but realistically, I think it will take longer than 3 years!

The Butler's picture

The South, meanwhile, is the land of milk and honey. Hot babes, good food, an exploding population, endemic racism that generations of social change just hasn't been able to shake; yep, the South has got it all


I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


Seattle Linga's picture

This sums up why my wife is a cat person.

fanfarris's picture

why is the delay in Ash hiring?? not official yet...


Mortc15's picture

According to reports, Ohio law requires a job opening to be posted for 1 week before a hire can be made. Sometime this weekend signals the 1 week end, and should result in the official hiring. 


PhillyBuckeye27's picture

Demographics are working against ALL big ten teams.  People are moving south, jobs, weather, etc etc etc....The Big Ten will remain relevant b/c we have more money then God and we have more alumni then any other conference.....but the talent has moved south.  Ohio is still strong which greatly helps us - and that's a good thing - but the best football is played down south. 
And don't get me started about Rutgers and The Turtles joining the Big 10.  That is about TV's and the money associated with fees of carrying the BTN on Comcast and every other cable company out this way.  They bring ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the conference - except an easy win.  And the people in this part of the world, from DC to NYC, could care less about college football - this is a pro sports mecca.  MAYBE Rutgers can start to keep their kids in state but they have a long long way to go since most blue chippers bolt annually to other pastures (including Ohio State).  I actually feel bad for Rut and the Turtles cause Franklin is gonna steal all those decent kids from NJ and MD and make em Lions.....

ScoobyKnows's picture

Now I'm hungry for Hooters!  (But then again who isn't?)

CALPOPPY's picture

Don't know if hungry is the right word.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

doodah_man's picture

Ash, Nussmeier, Franklin, Meyer, Tuberville, and Bowden to the north and Bielema to the south? I'm seeing conspiracy here that will work in the B1Gs favor...just sayin

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

kcbrez's picture

The racism comment wasn't necessary and, in fact, detracts from the point the author is trying to make unless he's saying that "endemic racism that generations of social change just hasn't been able to shake" is a good thing, which I'm certain he wasn't. That was the type of attempt at humor I hope would be caught in the editorial process next time because Eleven Warriors is better than that.

Nashville Buckeye's picture

I don't yet get a vote, but if I did I would erase the downvote with an upvote.  I actually agree that the comment was unnecessary.

JKH1232's picture

I've got your back, Nashville.

Oyster's picture

As do I.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

southbuc's picture

Having lived in both the north and south I can say that just as racists come in all colors, they also come in all places...

swainpm's picture

I have lived in OH, FL, TX, NY, & MA. Sure racism is all over the country but some parts of the south are way worse than anything we see up north. I don't think racism plays much of a role in recruiting though. If you grow up around something, then its all you know, so why care? Just an opinion though.

3cent's picture

I have lived or visited almost  every state in this Union and the most racist place I have been is unfortunately where I am from which is southwest Ohio. But most people from there are actually originals from Kentucky. They even talk with a southern accent. 

VestedInterest's picture

I've lived in the north and now living in the south, there exists racism everywhere. Sometimes in the "traditional" direction in which most assume, but there is an equal amount in the direction we don't always think of or are accused of. At any rate, I agree about it not being worthy of a passing mention. Much like politics, it has no place for discussion on this board in my humble opinion.

kcbrez's picture

Agreed. I grew up in Cleveland and Youngstown, and I've lived in Virginia and North Carolina for the last fifteen years. It's virtually the same everywhere you go. Most importantly, I agree that such a comment would have been moderated out of the comments section and therefore not allowed into an article.

I find it interesting that my original comment has received 8 upvotes and 8 downvotes, but only comments of support in reply. I'd love to hear the reasoning from some of the downvoters.

Crumb's picture

Well said good sir. Half my family is from the south (Tennessee) and while they are proud Buckeyes now that they're in Ohio they were never racist in any way, and in fact I believe are more anti-racist than your average person because they were stereotyped as racist idiots because of where they came from.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Toilrt Paper's picture

THE difference. 
A salesman friend who used to call on me here in Ohio, moved to Tennessee as manufacturing was moving south. He had been there a couple of months after buying a new home in an upper middle class neighborhood. No neighbors had came to welcome him and his wife. He was out mowing his yard one day, noticed his neighbor was doing the same. He got two beers and went next door to introduce himself. In a southern drawl, his neighbor said. "Look here son, down here carpetbaggers are just one notch above n.....s." YIKES!!

Crumb's picture

Yikes indeed! That sounds like the kinda guy my Grandpa would get in fights with. One day my Grandpa was going 'down home' after having been working in the north (This was the days of Jim Crow laws) and he hitched a ride with a African-American guy and his family and somewhere between Ohio and his home in the east Tennessee Appalachians they had to stop and get gas and some white trash wouldn't let my Grandpa's friend get any snacks at the gas station and they were calling this man all kinds of horrible things and even though they were out numbered my Grandpa wasn't gonna let them talk to his friend like that and Grandpa's friend held him back and said 'Buddy I'm used to this let's just get on down the road' and they left before it got beyond words but it was close, and there was probably more than a dozen of these idiots that were just a moment from tryin to beat my Grandpa and his buddy to death. Grandpa was a coal miner and a strong man and would've taken a few of em with him but I have no doubt that they were close to being killed just because his friend was an African American and wanted to get something to eat.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

swainpm's picture

The thing I have noticed that keeps football down here playing at a higher level in some regards is the 7 on 7 leagues that are heavily uitlized (texas7on7.com). In essence southern skill players in Texas can play football almost year round due to 7 on 7. Why has Ohio been so slow to adopt this practice? Look at all the QB's coming out of Texas recently (Rg3, Luck, Manziel, Foles, Mccarron, Stafford, Tannehill, Flynn, Ponder, Dalton, Keenum and Brees) and tell me the extra practice Playinfg Football doesn't make them better at...(wait for it)....Playing Football. Texas has been using the 7on 7 summer leagues since 1997 & the midwest has ....not. Time to adapt so we don't need to continue hearing SEC praise for the rest of time.

southbuc's picture

It also helps that no one plays soccer down south and if they do, they do so in the spring, not the fall to compete with football.  

NCBuckeye1's picture

I can vouch that, at least in NC, SC, and I believe VA (I could be wrong about VA) that soccer goes head to head with football in the fall, as the club teams take precedent in the spring, as the major ODP level and Premier events occur during this time.

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -- Woody

Toilrt Paper's picture

Ever notice per capita how many 4 and 5 star HS basketball players come out of Texas and Florida? The skilled players are playing football year round instead of playing basketball. A friend was a head HS bball coach in Cape Coral Florida and moved to a head job in West Lafayette Indiana . In Cape Coral they got 5000 for a football game and 500 for a basketball game. In West Lafayette they get 5000 for a basketball game and 500 for a football game.

bcarp87's picture

*windchills in the negative 30s and 40s. Huge difference

BoFuquel's picture

I think with most of the guys making lateral move was not really that much by their own will. Every so often you have to execute someone just to keep the lower rungs in line. Not too many, that tends to kill morale. Just enough to let the little people know who's in charge. I think that's especially the case with Nussmeier and Whithers. Cull the herd once in a while, just to keep things fresh, and everybody on their toes. GO BUCKS! 

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

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Nice picture of Coombs in the Amish buggy planting the flag in Millersburg......

Seattle Linga's picture

Cause - I am still at work - that just made me pee my pants - I laughed out loud - My assistant told me to keep it down!

Seattle Linga's picture

Can't wait until NSD - it's going to be amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Toilrt Paper's picture

All those moving South and their new neighbors will all seek out the largest source of freshwater in the world. When one day they turn on their facets and nothing but rusty salt water comes out.