Wanted: coaches for football lightweights. It looks like former Miami Hurricane head coach Randy Shannon is interested in heading to another U of M: the University of Minnesota, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN writes. With Mike Leach also a possibility, it's looking like the Gophers are ready to seriously upgrade the overall caliber of coaching within the Big Ten. Shannon's ties to South Florida might make him the more attractive candidate for a program as desperately in need of a BCS talent influx as Minnesota. Meanwhile, in another post, Rittenberg stresses the importance of defensive know-how in the Hoosiers' next coaching hire, and I'm sorta there with him until this name comes up in his list of candidates:
Toledo coach Tim Beckman: Beckman led Toledo to an 8-4 mark in his second season at the school. He previously served as defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, cornerbacks coach at Ohio State and defensive coordinator at Bowling Green. Beckman coached six All-Big Ten defensive backs in Columbus, including Donte Whitner.
Toledo did, in fact, finish with a solid record in 2010, but it wasn't necessarily because of their defense, which finished 62nd in the country in yards allowed. That's a sizable improvement over last year where they finished 95th, which is similar to where his defenses at Oklahoma State finished in 2008 and 2007 (95th and 101st, respectively).
Don't get me wrong, it'd be cool to see another Ohio State assistant become a head coach in the Big Ten, but I'm not sure this is where Indiana's priorities should be. If it wants to go the defensive route, it might be battling uphill. So much of defense comes down to simply having playmakers with talent, speed and athleticism. Offensively, small schools like Indiana - and any WAC team one cares to name - have plenty of success with below average talent. It's difficult to imagine a defensive-minded coach succeeding there.
And we thought our adjustments/lack thereof are frustrating. Back in the olden days, when Ohio State clubbed Iowa 38-17 in Iowa City in 2006, one of the oddities of the game was Iowa's stubborn insistence on defending the Buckeyes' three and four receiver sets with their base 4-3. Fast forward to 2010, and uh....
Let’s talk about a game in which Iowa stubbornly refused to play a traditional nickel defense and when the opponent went to three wide – with one of its best receivers in the slot – the Hawkeyes insisted on covering that guy with a linebacker? And even after getting burned repeatedly, they still left linebackers in coverage? I’m actually talking about two games – the 2006 OSU-Iowa game, when Anthony Gonzalez burned the Hawkeyes against that coverage, catching 5 passes for 77 yards and 2 TDs. And I’m talking about this year’s game, when Sanzenbacher went for 6 and 102. And on the 24-yard leaping catch at Iowa’s 2 on the game-winning drive, who’s in coverage? Troy Johnson, a 6-2, 235-pound outside linebacker. Iowa got what it deserved.
In 2006, Michigan's vaunted defense attempted to do something similar when it put hopelessly overmatched linebacker Chris Graham on Anthony Gonzales and Ted Ginn at different points in the game, usually resulting in the linebacker getting torched.
I would be interested to see how the league's other defenses tried to defend teams like Michigan, who essentially never operate with fewer than three wide receivers on the field. The Big Ten loves its 4-3 defenses, after all. We know Ohio State makes multiple adjustments of personnel and scheme when playing teams that like to spread them out, so I'm wondering, is this an Iowa thing, or a rest-of-the-Big-Ten thing?