You, sir, deserve more than one up vote for this dissertation.
The problem with the NCAA is not exploitation of student-athletes receiving a free education. It is not the amateur model. The problem with the NCAA is buffoon president Mark Emmert botching everything he has touched and then claiming victory in the media while the whole world face palms, chuckles, and shakes it's collective head at his incompetence.
One of the biggest frustrations the past two years has been the lack or rotation among all positions except QB. Playing starters basically the whole game is short-sighted in college. These younger non-starting players are the future of the program. They need game reps, preferably some of which occur early rather than garbage time.
Jim Tressel used to play his entire second string offensive line the third series of every game. In an interview prior to the 2006 Texas game, he talked about trying to get as many players as possible in the game early. This was both to keep players fresh and to develop talent that would be needed in case of injury or the following season.
The types of players Ohio State recruits could contribute enough to play 20-30 snaps/game as freshmen an non-starting sophomores without hurting the team. Then, the following season, we are not starting at square one to replace graduating seniors. As it stands, many rising juniors are basically third-year freshmen with no meaningful game experience.
Winning games now and building for the future do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Please do not take this as arguing with you, because what you said is correct.
But, who gives a crap what is more "likely," or "realistic?" Quit trying to get a get an easily attainable coach at a discount. Go for the guy who has taken a power conference doormat and pulled them up to middle/upper pack or the guy tearing up a mid-major. Don't settle for the guy who had one winning record in the MAC or the unproven coordinator looking for a shot unless you are sure you have a diamond in the rough. The easily attainable girlfriend is rarely the complete package. Ask said big time coach what he needs to compete for championships and then actually give it to him. Recruit the whole family (wife, schools, etc) and have a plan to get the resources in place.
In short, try harder, administrators at Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. Stop shortchanging your schools, your fan bases, and yourselves. You are better than that. Raise your expectations. Try harder!
These schools need to look in the mirror and think bigger than halfway decent MAC coaches like Beckman. This had been discussed several times but programs like Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin need to go after big time coaches and offer whatever resources are necessary (not just money) for success. Facilities, support staff, use of a private jet, etc? No problem. Basically, follow the Penn State model with James Franklin.
Minnesota doesn't need to be as bad as they were in the Tim Brewster era. With their budget, location in a major city with a major airport, and new stadium, being a top-25 program with occasional top-10 seasons is not unrealistic. A team facility upgrade would be very helpful.
Kevin Wilson is doing well at Indiana and firing him seems ill advised, to say the least.
Illinois is usually not this bad. Their recruiting had not been as bad as Tim Beckman's 6-18 record would have you believe. It's okay to admit you made a mistake and decide to try again. Mike Leach would have done a great job coaching talent from Chicago, St Louis, and west Texas. If Beckman doesn't have a breakthrough season like Ron Zook to the Rose Bowl in 2007, Illinois needs to quit putting good money after bad and try again.
Based on budget, proximity to recruits, facilities, campus culture, fan base, program tradition, and school leadership, Wisconsin is about a mid-tier Big Ten school. Ohio State, TTUN, Penn State, and Nebraska are unquestionably better positioned for success. All four of these schools have everything needed to be top 10-15 programs most years with runs at national championships every 2-3 years.
Wisconsin is in that next tier with Michigan State, Maryland (seriously), Iowa, and Illinois (they have no excuse for being this bad). Minnesota is on the cusp of mid-tier with improved team facilities. These schools have the potential to be perennial top-25 programs with occasional breakthrough seasons, a la the Mark Dantonio era at Michigan State.
Northwestern, Indiana, Purdue, and Rutgers have significant barriers to success. They have all been able to achieve periods of success given the right conditions, but only Pat Fitzgerald and Kevin Wilson appear to be maximizing (or moving in the right direction toward) that potential.
Tim Beckman was a terrible hire. He was adequate at a MAC school and played the worst OSU team in a century tough. He was never a Big Ten caliber coach. He inherited a cupboard that was not bare and turned a bowl-caliber team with decent returning talent into a 2-10 team, getting waxed often. This article after his first couple games pretty much sums it up: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/09/25/wisch-the-truth-about-illinois-football/
So, who would be a good hire for Illinois after this season? Mike Leach running his air raid with talent from Chicago, St Louis, and Texas would have been an inspired hire two years ago. Think you could pluck him out of Pullman WA? If Ball State's Pete Lembo can replace QB Keith Wenning and WR Willie Snead (both now in the NFL) and win 9+ games for a third straight year, he may be your guy. How about a Butch Davis kind of guy with proven recruiting and program building success? He could do well with the talent in Chicago, St Louis, Florida, and the mid-Atlantic region. I'm sure there is a big time NFL guy with Illinois ties I am forgetting about.
One of three things has happened here: A) Tim Beckman and his staff are not trying hard enough to recruit/coach a championship team, B) Illinois administration did not try hard enough to attract a coach likely to build such a winning program, or C) Something about Illinois as an institution (lack of funds, proximity to talent, facilities, campus atmosphere) makes fielding a winner nearly impossible. Until Illinois solves the problem, they will continue to screw the conference, which has a direct impact on Ohio State's likelihood of winning a national title.
There was a rumor going around with the Browns trading the #26 pick for Cousins. I think that is a bit steep. Personally, I like Cousins and think he could be solid behind the right line and with weapons like Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, and Marquis Lee. Is a pair of third round picks too much for Cousins? Maybe. Personally, I'm dubious about the level of impact the players available at that point will have on the field. And I value the #26 pick more than the pair of third rounders combined. If you can get your QB (Cousins or otherwise) with a 4th round pick instead of a pair of third rounders, obviously do it.
Personally, I would prefer Matthews for the Browns at #4. But Robinson is a very close second. I feel their games directly translate to the NFL, which moves Schwartz inside to guard where he can play to his strength (straight line run blocking) and not worry about the outside pass rush. Put him in a position where he at least has a chance for success, like the 49ers did with Alex Boone.
An offensive line is the ultimate example of "only as strong as it's weakest link." One stud linemen by himself doesn't fix an offense. Not even two. But when you can draft that fifth good-great one, moving Schwartz and McQuistan to guard where they can excel, now you make a profound impact on your entire offense. Now running backs have somewhere to run. QBs have time to throw to receivers who have time to get open. Everyone performs better. Matthews or Robinson.
We had the #3, #22, and #37 picks of the 2012 draft and botched it. We took the exciting skill player who relied too heavily on a dominant line in college, the franchise QB who couldn't read a defense, and a tackle who's not agile enough to block anyone on the edge. Shockinly, our offense still sucked.
Our line has consisted of a stud left tackle (Thomas), and good center (Mack), a slow right tackle (Schwartz), and two guards who are basically orange cones sitting on the field. The right side of the line consistently collapsed before receivers could get off the line and running backs had nowhere to run. The exciting skill player we took at #3 ran for just over 3.0 ypc until we realized he wasn't the answer. Meanwhile, tackle Matt Kalil (who was available at #3 in 2012) went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
Now we are in almost the exact same position with a second chance to fix the problem. If we learn anything from past mistakes, we take Matthews or Robinson at #4. Don't take exciting Sammy Watkins or you will have the same sputtering offense as before as he's diving at rushed passes from a three step drop against press coverage. This is a great year for receivers with Watkins, Evans, Odell Beckham, Marquise Lee, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, Cody Latimer, and Jordan Matthews. Take your favorite at #26 to compliment Josh Gordon. If you don't trust Hoyer, trade a couple third round picks for Kirk Cousins.
Robinson or Matthews at #4 (moving Schwartz to guard) and maybe the most important unit on an NFL offense is set for 5-10 years. Anything else and we've botched it twice in three years.
We only have two good linemen, Thomas and Mack. We have only drafted two linemen in the first round in the last decade. Thomas (#3 in 2007) and Mack (#21 in 2001). Putting offensive line off till later because they are "routinely" developed from mid-round picks isn't working.
I am a Browns fan #1 and a 49ers fan second. Watching those two teams play back to back every weekend the past couple years has really made it clear. Our offensive line stinks and it completely sabotages everyone on the offense, many of whom do have some talent. Gore is not a great running back because he is so talented. His line almost always get a push a few yards downfield and consistently creates holes. The receivers are not individually that great, but the have time to get open. It's incredible.
Then I turn on the Browns. It looks like I went from watching the varsity to the JV squad. Trent Richardson or McGahee is getting hit the instant they take the handoff from whichever QB is temporarily healthy. Receivers diving at rushed throws while still tightly covered. If you draft Watkins #4 (or Evans at #6) and any QB at #26, Watkins/Evans will not be given time to get open. He will be labeled a bust, a lot of people will be stunned and then complain, the Browns will either release him or trade him and then we will draft another exciting skill player to jump start the offense.
One of those was heading into the 2013 season and all seem to have the Browns higher based on how awesome Thomas is (and he really is), Mack as a solid center (he is), and maybe the rest of the guys can step up (they didn't). This is the unit holding the Browns back. Fix it!
Thank you, Bedhead
I do know some who thought he would be a bust solely because the Browns line wouldn't give him anywhere to run. Put him behind Seattle's line and who knows, he could be a 1,000 yard back.
Collegiate highlight film skill players almost universally bust in the NFL. There are few exceptions and most of them have solid to great NFL offensive lines. Most of Watkins' highlights were against some really bad ACC defenses. His longest catch against Florida State? Just 18 yards.
It seems like we've rotated enough QBs and receivers through there. Don't you think it's time for a different approach?
"Well then draft a good one and stop picking bad ones." Browns management thought they were taking good ones. None of them have worked out. The constant has been terrible offensive line play.