It's the beginning of May and while the sun is finally shining in Minnesota (I'm assuming that's the sun. Haven't seen it in so long I can't be sure), we're in the middle of the "College Football Winter", that long, dark and cold off-season of the sport we all know and love. As bloggers it's always a challenge to come up with something to talk about this time of year, so I guess I should thank Matt Hayes of
Bleacher Report what used to look like The Sporting News for his, um... column... story ... article ... post ...slideshow? Sure, I guess TSN is now BR, so we'll thank him for his slideshow that ranks every college football coach in Division 1.
I will save you the trouble of clicking through a whole bunch of slides and just give you the link to 21-50 where you will find Minnesota coach Jerry Kill ranked...49th. There's also a very annoying Big Ten coaches slide show and on slide #8 you will find the Gopher head coach:
Here’s hoping Kill gets his seizure disorder under control, because when healthy, he’s a terrific coach. He won big in the NCAA lower divisions (Saginaw Valley State, Southern Illinois), then won big at Northern Illinois (and set up Dave Doeren) before arriving at Minnesota and rebuilding the mess he inherited.
Here's his full B1G rankings, and just for fun, I added each coach's career head coaching record along with his record at BCS-school(s):
1. Urban Meyer, Ohio St, 128-25 (89-17 at Florida and OSU)(#3 overall behind Saban and Spurrier)
2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 82-46 (all at Cincy and MSU) (#9)
3. Pat Fitzgerald, Chicago's Big Ten Team apparently, 55-46 (#22)
4. James Franklin, Penn State, 24-15 at Vandy (24)
5. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin, 39-35 (9-4 at Sconnie) (27)
6. Bo PeLLLLini's Cat, Nebraska, 58-24 (34)
7. Brady Hoke, Michigan, 73-63 (26-13) (46)
8. Jerry Kill, Minnesota, 144-94 (17-21 at The U) (49)
9. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 120-100 (108-79 at Iowa) (51)
10. Randy Edsall, Maryland, 87-94 at UConn and Maryland (63)
11. Kevin Wilson, Indiana, 10-26 (76)
12. Kyle Flood, Rutgers, 15-11 (88)
13. Tim Beckman, Illinois, 27-34 (6-18 at IU) (112)
14. Darrell Hazell, Purdue, 17-21 (1-11 at Purdue) (113)
First things first- Brady Hoke is not a better football coach than Jerry Kill by any measure you want to use except for "who coaches at Michigan" or "who attended Michigan". But that's it. Sure, a lot of Kill's wins came at the lower level, but he's had to work his way up the head coaching ladder much longer and farther than Hoke and that shouldn't be held against him, but, of course, it is. In his 12 seasons as a head coach Hoke has had three good ones. Seriously. Three, and even that's probably being generous. It took him four years at Ball-freaking-State before he got a winning record at 7-6, then pulled off a 12-1 season against a cupcake schedule that would make Glen Mason blush, with the one loss coming to Buffalo in the MAC Championship game. He was then out the door to San Diego State, where he went 4-8 before pulling off his second "good" coaching season in 2010 with a 9-4 record, with the only quality win vs. #23 Air Force. He somehow parlayed that into the Michigan job simply because he played there and was therefore obviously "A Michigan Man", and after an 11 win season in 2011 with Rich Rod's recruits, Hoke has gone 8-5 and 7-6 the past two years.
Again, tell me how that makes him a better coach than Jerry Kill? Oh that's right, you can't. Kill has gone into tough situations and had to completely rebuild programs including- as Hayes admits- "a mess he inherited" here at Minnesota. Like Hoke, Kill didn't win the MAC in his time there when he was at NIU, and sure, he hasn't taken the Gophers to a New Year's Day game- but neither has anyone else at The U since 1960. Comparing what Hoke enherited to what Kill walked into, as well as what they've done in previous stops? It's really not even a comparison, but hey, since Hoke is at Michigan he must be a better coach apparently.
Looking further up the list, I was going to express outrage at Pelini being ahead of Kill too, but then you look at his numbers- sure, PeLLLLini might lose four games every year at Nebraska, but that's still a .707 win percentage, and he's also 4-3 in bowl games. Kill has had tougher situations, certainly, and you could argue you SHOULD win at Nebraska, but then again that program hasn't been elite since the late 90's, so maybe Pelini is doing a good job after all? Plus the bringing a cat to the spring game.
The only thing more laugable to me than Gary Andersen's one 9-4 season at Wisconsin being good enough to have him ranked as the 5th best coach in the conference (and the 27th in the entire nation!?!) is Bert #KARMA Bielema being ranked just ahead of him at 25th. Yep, a super 3-9 start at Arkansas, along with his perenially underachieving Badger squads (none better than the 2011 Russell Wilson team that was easily one of the best B1G teams of the past decade yet somehow lost three games) sure earns him that ranking. Not to say Andersen is a bad coach- he may very well keep the Badgers in contention for B1G titles, but to give him such a lofty ranking after just one nine win season, and a very short head coaching career that includes one season at Southern Utah where he went 4-7, and a 26-24 record in five seasons at Utah State? Forgive me if I'd like to see more. Like, for instance, what happens this season when the Badgers have an unstable QB situation, zero guys for whoever the QB is to throw to, and a defense that has to replace just about every starter? Now if he gets nine wins with this team...checks ridiculously soft 2014 schedule that somehow doesn't include Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan OR Penn State!?!?!?...um, never mind.
Can't argue much with the top four- Meyer's incredible record speaks for itself, Dantonio is proving to be one of the best coaches in the country, and what Fitzgerald's done at Northwestern-sorry CHICAGO'S BIG TEN TEAM is incredible. Franklin has a very short track record, but back-to-back nine win seasons at Vandy in today's SEC is definitely an accomplishment.
Ranked below Coach Kill? Let us all take a moment to laugh at Iowa's coach being ranked lower than Minnesota's. HAHAHA! There, didn't that feel good? I hope it did, because now comes the part where I have to admit Ferentz isn't such a bad coach. Would I rather have Kill than Ferentz at Minnesota? Absolutely, 100 times out of 100. But as much flack as Ferentz gets for his ridiculous contract that Iowa voluntarily gave him, he is coming off another eight win season and has a .578 winning percentage at Iowa. 2013 was the seventh time in 15 seasons there they've won at least eight games, he's taken them to two BCS bowls, and five New Year's Day appearances. Having said all that, there's also this from Hayes:
...since the Orange Bowl season of 2009 (where he cashed in with a 10-year deal), Ferentz’s teams are 27-24, 15-17 in the Big Ten and 4-11 vs ranked teams.
You know what, who am I to argue with Hayes here? And it'll only cost them $3.8 million per year through 2020. You may now go back to laughing at Iowa.
After that, my goodness there are some terrible coaches in this league, and while those are the right five to have at the bottom, I disagree with the order. Darrell Hazzell has a short track record as an HC and yes, last year at Purdue was a- wait for it- TRAINWRECK (see what I did there? Fine it was lame) but it's only one season and he was very good at Kent State. How is that worse than Tim Beckman's two eight win seasons at Toledo followed by two awful seasons at Illinois? If Purdue goes oh-fer in the B1G again this year, then yes Hazzell deserves the bottom spot, but heading into the season the title of Worst Coach in the B1G should belong to good ol' Tim.
Kevin Wilson may be a good head coach and certainly knows how to coach offense, but we may never know for sure because he's only coached at Indiana and nobody wins there. Randy Edsall though? Seriously? A sub .500 record at UConn and Maryland gets him the 10th spot? Yes, he technically won two conference titles, but it was in the terrible Big East and did it with records or 9-4 and 8-5. Yep, eight and nine wins won the conference. What an accomplishment. Otherwise, he had a few more eight win seasons in the terrible Big East and has done very little in College Park, MD. Please tell me what I'm missing here- the folks at Maryland would like to know too.
Kyle Flood? It's Rutgers, so who cares.
So to recap, the top four are correct, the next five could go in pretty much any order as long as Pelini's at the top and Hoke the bottom, and the last five are all terrible so as long as Beckham's last I guess I won't quibble with it too much. What this exercise in complaining about trivial and meaningless rankings shows is that perhaps Matt Hayes' opinion isn't that wrong compared to my obviously correct opinion, and that Hayes either hates the Big Ten, or there's a lot of bad coaches in this league. Of the Big 5 power conferences only one other (Virginia of the ACC) had a coach ranked below 100 while the Big Ten had TWO of them! The Big Ten also had almost as many coaches ranked below 75 (4) than the other four power leagues combined (5).
We hear a lot about how the Big Ten needs to get better recruits, but what about better head coaches? Jerry Kill excluded, of course.