In anticipation of 2018 Big Ten Media Day, Jeff Goodman of Stadium released a list of how various coaches and administrators ranked the Big Ten head coaching jobs. You can read the full article here.
As such, our staff got together to discuss the article. Check out the discussion below.
1. Earlier this week, Jeff Goodman of Stadium posted a really interesting pieces about the Big Ten. Within the article, he had a number of Big Ten coaches and administrators vote on how they valued each Big Ten head coaching job. Indiana was the top rated job and Penn State was the lowest. What was your first reaction?
Thomas Beindit: I loved the idea. Maybe that’s a bit of a meta comment, but this was a really fun attempt of trying to quantify something that we all recognize. Every college basketball fan out there knows that certain jobs are better than others, but beyond our feelings, we don’t have clear numbers for evaluating things. Indiana seems like a better job than Penn State, but the Nittany Lions were better last season. It’s not like any of this is mathematical. However, this was a really fun attempt to try and put things in perspective.
Hello Jerry: If you just look at the rankings, it’s pretty basic and straightforward in my opinion. Maybe Ohio State being rated over the likes of Michigan, Maryland and Purdue surprised me a little and Wisconsin being all the way down at 9, but ultimately I understood why.
Gupta: Goodman’s article is interesting if only because it gets us thinking about the everyday issues that college coaches face beyond winning and losing, from budget concerns and admissions standards to ticket sales and recruiting hotbeds. It also brings to the fore some often unexplored questions about what it’s like to coach at a Big Ten program that isn’t Michigan State or Indiana. Is coaching at Nebraska decidedly better or more prestigious than coaching at Penn State or Iowa? Does Maryland’s recruiting base mean a job there is much more desirable than at Wisconsin? We don’t compare jobs at these schools enough, and when we do, it’s not quite clear what the metrics are. Good on you, Goodman.
2. Was there anything that surprised you?
Beindit: The top and bottom teams weren’t very surprising. Indiana and Michigan State seemed like the logical picks at the top and Rutgers and Penn State were always going to be at the bottom. However, Wisconsin at eighth was kind of surprising. When you actually read through the teams, it wasn’t an insane selection, but it seemed weird that arguably the most successful Big Ten team of the last 15 years would be the eighth-best program.
Hello Jerry: Outside of a Big Ten assistant saying West Lafayette is “not very good”?! Then it has to be this little anecdote:
“The knock: “The fan base has no clue – such unrealistic expectations. They are nuts. Plus, Chicago has players – but it might take a little more than a scholarship to get a lot of them.” – Big Ten assistant coach”
With all of the FBI stuff going on right now, throwing that little nugget in there is bananas. Why is this only mentioned for Chicago players? And am I not supposed to connect the dots to current Illini coach who employed Lamont Evans at Oklahoma State? I have so many questions.
Gupta: For starters, I’m not sure Ohio State belongs at the top of this list. It may be the “flagship program” in a state with “a ton of good players,” but nearby Big Ten schools and elite programs from the ACC and Big East have had no problem coming in and poaching some of that talent in the past. It’s possible OSU’s recent success under Thad Matta and the resulting “media exposure” have propelled it up the list, but the school’s brand will always be football and that’s inescapable. Nine tournament appearances in 13 years hasn’t produced a much better game atmosphere or more sustained interest from the fan base. Yet, I shouldn’t be shocked about coaches ranking the Ohio State job high – after all, money talks.
Also, this is splitting hairs, but Penn State is ranked below Rutgers??? New Brunswick is smack in the middle of recruiting heaven, but the Scarlet Knights haven’t been able to exploit that to their advantage in a long, long time. I’ll concede that Penn State may have a hard time filling the space when they rush the court after big wins, but the combination of their brand and football fan base means that there is room to grow and a hungry fan base ready for something to cheer about. Their recent success – knocking on the door of the NCAA tourney and recruiting top Philadelphia talent – should be enough to get coaches take a chance on Happy Valley.
3. Goodman included several categories, such as facilities and national exposure. Is there anything you thought he missed?
Beindit: I would have liked to see a category that incorporated the campus and college town of each respective school. Elite college basketball players are going to be choosing a school on a lot more than a few neatly cut lawns, but the presentation of a school itself certainly can impact decisions. One of the coaches even mentioned Madison as a “great college town” in the article, but this wasn’t even a factor on the evaluation. This might be the one thing I would have liked to see incorporated on the list.
Hello Jerry: Nah. I think Goodman got a well rounded list of categories that allowed him to paint a solid picture of the current Big Ten.
Gupta: I’d like to have seen some specifics on the quality of pre-game meals. Don’t coaches care about locally sourced produce? Is the pizza better in East Lansing or Ann Arbor?
Jokes aside, coaches make decisions based on two things: career prospects and family. It makes sense, therefore, to work quality-of-life considerations into this calculus. Which program in the Big Ten boasts the most comfortable city in terms of cost of living, schools, and raising a family? Which locations are cultural deserts and which have major metropolitan areas nearby? Some coaches will be setting down roots for a couple of decades, so I say they heed the old real estate adage: location, location, location.
Finally, coaches get hired and fired in part because of the expectations of a fan base. It’s a tough metric to quantify and the success of a coach and a program is a big predictor of fan happiness, but I’d like to have seen a more extensive discussion of which fan bases have the highest and most unforgiving expectations. And does an engaged and hopeful fan base make for a happy and fruitful tenure or is it a recipe for constant anxiety and inevitable failure?
4. How do you think this list changes in five years? What about 10 years?
Beindit: Realistically, not much is going to change in five years. Most of the Big Ten coaches will still be at their respective schools. Maybe the FBI scandal spawns something new down the line, but it seems unlikely these rankings would change without something drastic in five years.
But in 10 years, I absolutely think some teams could move. The school I would look at the most is Nebraska. While Tim Miles has only had mixed results in Lincoln, the program is oozing with potential. We hear about the recruiting difficulties there, but the fan support is incredible and the arena is fantastic. Get a little success and that thing could take off.
Hello Jerry: I don’t know about five years if much changes, but in ten years? Tom Izzo, John Beilein, Fran McCaffery, Tim Miles, Pat Chambers and Matt Painter are probably all gone. If this pieces has any truth to it, whoever takes over at Michigan will have the best chances of remaining as or more relevant than their predecessor. Also, if Maryland can’t get it together by 2028, they’ll be out of the Big Ten.
Gupta: With a couple good years and the renewed fan interest that comes with wins, we could see Illinois shoot back up this list. The program has a fiery new coach, an obvious recruiting advantage that can be exploited, and a storied past that could be rediscovered. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan joined Indiana and Michigan State as one of THE reliably elite and respected programs in the Big Ten.
I agree with Jerry about the 10-year outlook. Some of the programs at the top of Goodman’s list belong up there because of the men at the helm right now. When those iconic individuals go, it may not take long for things like media exposure, game environment, and resources to follow.
This is certainly an interesting discussion. Leave your comments below if you agree or disagree with our writers!