As the Big Ten football season approaches, we here at BTP are doing some fun comparisons and discussions about how the conference's two biggest sports compare. Today, we look at how some of the coaches from the Big Ten compare to some of the Big Ten football coaches.
Tom Izzo - Urban Meyer
Widely regarded as the best coaches in their respective sports, both Izzo and Meyer have several things in common. Most importantly, they both kept the B1G relevant by making multiple appearances on the national stage in times where the rest of the B1G was not as competitive. While teams like Michigan State in football and Wisconsin/Michigan in basketball have recently been good, Ohio State and Michigan State in football and basketball respectively, have been the gold standard in B1G competition for the the past decade. Izzo had his "Izzo Guarantee" that players that stayed for four years would make a Final Four in place until last year's Elite Eight finish, and under Meyer, OSU has not lost a regular season conference game yet.
John Beilein - Mark Dantonio
While Beilein and Dantonio differ greatly in personality, their programs have similar structure. Both coaches built formidable programs from teams that were bottom-of-the-barrel before they arrived. They built foundations by recruiting players that fit the system they envisioned for rebuilding, and both coaches are masters at maximizing the talent in their system, especially in players that spend 3-4 years in the program. Both programs are recently starting to pay the dividends of investments made in years prior with MSU Football earning a share of the B1G Championship in 2010, winning it outright in 2013, and winning the Rose Bowl in 2014 - their first since 1988. Meanwhile, Michigan made an appearance in in the National Championship game in 2013, and made the Elite Eight in 2014 and won at least a share of the B1G Championship in 2012 and 2014.
Chris Collins - Pat Fitzgerald
Kinda feels of like cheating to compare coaches from the same school, but it makes sense. Both of these coaches are young and run fundamental sets that make up for other deficiencies their teams may have. Also, both have drastically improved recruiting over their predecessors, bringing talent to Evansville that Northwestern has never seen before. Both of these coaches make their team tough outs, which is remarkable when you think only a handful of starters on either team would start on top teams in the Big Ten.
Tim Miles - James Franklin
Both coaches are in tough positions with Nebraska perennially struggling in basketball and Penn State still feeling the effects of the Jerry Sandusky, but what impresses me the most about these two guys is their ability to build. Franklin was able to take a Vanderbilt team that had never been to consecutive bowl games and had back to back nine win seasons and three bowl games in a row in the class of college football, the SEC. Tim Miles in the toughest conference in basketball, the Big Ten, improved six wins from his first to second year and lead Nebraska to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998.
On an unrelated note, Tim Miles is probably my favorite coach to cover in the Big Ten. Sitting in his post game press conference after Michigan just annihilated his Huskers, Miles had the media laughing and relaxed. It was clear he was upset at his team's performance, but he knew it was a learning moment for a young team going through the gauntlet that is the B1G regular season. Click the link to hear part of the press conference here.
It's hard to hear the laughter, but trust we all had smiles on our faces.
Plus, what coach gets a blessing like this from the Godfather of the Big Ten?
(Editor's Note: Original piece contained errors regarding dates under Michigan. Dates have been corrected.)