Big Ten Coaches Must Be Immortalized For All Time

By Johnny Ginter on July 31, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Once, way back in the heady days of Fruit Stripe gum and Trapper Keepers, an artsy friend of mine drew a picture of me. It was pretty good, which is to say that it made me feel pretty bad. And let me tell you, if you've never had someone draw your picture or sculpt your face or collage your visage, I highly recommend it. Nothing throws your sense of self-worth into sharp perspective than looking at your weird gross facial features through someone else's eyes.

Urban Meyer now has the fantastic opportunity to experience this through the medium of butter, thanks to the Ohio State fair. It's something that only your average milk-producing bovine has had the pleasure of in the past, and frankly I'm a little jealous. Sure, it's a thrill for someone to reproduce what you look like using a pen or a pencil or a crayon, but only truly talented artists work in the edible arts.

It'd be very easy for us to simply bask in the glory of Butter Urban Meyer, especially as an Ohio State sports website, but that's not fair to the other hardworking individuals coaching in the Big Ten alongside our own highly successful football coach. Also not fair is that during this, the state fair season for many locales (not just Ohio), it seems that other states in the Big Ten footprint haven't deemed it necessary to make similar pieces of art for the coaches of the Big Ten programs in their states. But there's still time!

See, I believe in the power of Midwest art. I know that if the great states of Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, or Minnesota put their minds to it, they too can come up with ridiculous statues made from animal byproducts. Let's give them a little push with a template to work from.


Symbolism is important. I learned that through many, many re-readings of Maniac Magee (Maniac's many exploits are a metaphor for racial tensions in post-Civil Rights America), and any great work of art bashes you over the head with its meaning like a cudgel. An overly verbose and condescending artist statement also helps, but really what art is about in the 2010s is making your point as ridiculously apparent as possible.

Coincidentally, I'm a big fan of Chinese artist and social critic Ai Weiwei. One of his most famous works is "Sunflower Seeds," in which he commissioned the creation of 8 million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds, a powerful statement about China's mass industrialization and homogenization of their own unique cultural history.

So what I'm saying is that the state of Iowa needs to do is have every man, woman, and child spend the next few weeks making 13 million tiny Kirk Ferentz heads (one for each dollar of his current buyout), and display them in a dilapidated warehouse somewhere in Des Moines. The heads should be carved from the husks of deformed corncobs that did not meet the exacting standards of the Monsanto corporation.


Jim Harbaugh is postmodern as all hell. He's also a big fan of milk, which he credits for allowing him to grow several inches taller than he might've otherwise. Milk, being a form of proto-butter, is befitting of a man who aspires to be the proto-Meyer for the Michigan Wolverines.

But milk is also boring, and Jim Harbaugh is not. So taking a page from the truly awful Damien Hirst, I propose that the Michigan State Fair preserve a wolverine in a large tank filled with whole milk, kept in direct sunlight until it curdles, and then give everyone at the fair a glass of it while they comment on how delicious it tastes. This has the appeal of both sickening Michigan fans while also being a pretty good preview of how I expect their 2015 season to go.


Tim Beckman is a coach not long for this world. Not that anyone is ever really going to be mega-successful at Illinois, but it says a lot when you're on the hot seat at a school that has managed to win 10 games exactly once in the last 25 years or so.

I like Tim Beckman though. He isn't a good coach by any measure, but he once bought Vico a sandwich and seems genuine in his love for football. It's pretty clear that after another mediocre season he's going to be unceremoniously canned, but I would like to memorialize Beckman in a way that at least honors his enthusiasm (however weird and misplaced) to be a college football coach.


The above image is an example of what's called "Color Field" painting, a school of abstract art developed in the early 1950s that focused on bold, emotional paintings involving giant canvases and only a few colors to convey their ideas. In this way, Color Field would be a perfect way to illustrate the core of Tim Beckman's being; as a bad coach at an overlooked college, it's appropriate that the public finally understand who Tim Beckman truly is. Rather than a bad coach at a pitiable sideshow, he's a larger than life personality unencumbered by his surroundings. Behold!

My God...

It's... beautiful.


Mike Riley is supposed to be a nice guy, so I think that some kind of Norman Rockwell thing might work for him. But you know, the cutesy soda fountain BS that he did, not the overtly political anti-racism stuff. That makes people uncomfortable, which as we all know just doesn't play well as a Saturday morning promo on ESPN.


In my angrier, edgier days, I used to crap all over performance art. I thought it was just uncreative people throwing stuff at a wall and then justifying what stuck after the fact. It turns out that's exactly what a lot of it is, but not all performance art is bad. Sometimes is involves real thought and sacrifice by both the creator and the observer.

Any piece of Mark Dantonio artwork should invite the viewer to experience the aggravation and discomfort in which he lives every second of his life. It begins with the public walking through a long hallway, where viewers cringe as seated in a folding chair, under a harsh spotlight, a clearly lying man is forced to say nice things about Jim Bollman. After five minutes of this, the man in the chair tasers himself and then the audience, one by one, and forcing them to answer a question about the quarters defense before they're allowed to leave the hallway. This should simulate what it's like the have a job where people implicitly expect you to work through a heart attack, and ideally the viewing public will have a Hans Moleman outlook on life afterwards.

This is just a start. Guys like Jerry Kill and Pat Fitzgerald also deserve their own tributes, and it is my fervent hope that the rest of the Midwest steps up their art game. We're a part of the country with a lot to offer culturally, but the world will never know this unless we continue to throw our artistic efforts toward letting people know that we really, really, really, really like football.

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