Tag Archives: Greg Schiano

Tennessee Volunteer Football Fans Have Lost Their Minds

It’s been nine years since the SEC football conference champion came out of the East. It’s for good reason that the division is known as the SEC Least. For that to change, a better collection of coaches have to be assembled in the East and that is beginning to happen. Sort of.

There were two openings created in the East when Tennessee and Florida fired its coaches mid-season. Tennessee fans planned on singing Rocky Top with Jon Gruden. Florida fans planned on doing the Gator chomp with Chip Kelly. Once reality set in, Gruden stayed put with Monday Night Football and Kelly accepted the natural fit at UCLA.

That left Tennessee with Greg Schiano and Florida with Dan Mullen. I was going to write about both of these hires, but after looking into the storylines, I’ve decided to focus on the would-be marriage between Schiano and Tennessee.

Schiano isn’t a hire that will excite Tennessee fans. He may be an underwhelming hire, but the reaction from those fans, both influential and Average Joe, is downright scary. Some fans want Currie’s plane to crash while a local coffee shop, Remedy Coffee, says that Schiano isn’t allowed in the establishment.

The reason why some fans are hoping for Currie’s death and coffee shops won’t sell Schiano a dirty chai is because he coached at Penn State during the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Fans and politicians can’t believe that Currie would allow someone who supported child molestation into Neyland Stadium. The outrage is so strong that some believe the offer to be the Tennessee head coach will be pulled. If this is the case, it’s a huge overreaction.


First, let me say this; Schiano doesn’t support or condone child molestation. I don’t know the man and I’ve never spoken to him. But I’m confident in making that statement. Jerry Sandusky and Penn State were both prosecuted. What happened in Happy Valley was awful but it’s been dealt with. I’m sure that isn’t a popular opinion but it’s the truth. Schiano is innocent.

Now for the hammer to be dropped.

The problem is with the Tennessee fanbase. You’re all off of your rockers. Many college football fanbases are rabid, volatile, emotion-filled groups of people. But this group of fans perched upon Rocky Top is really something special.

This group of Tennessee fans, comprised of no-names, politicians, and business owners, are so upset that they didn’t get Gruden that they’re trying to run off a coach before he’s stepped foot on campus. Schiano has coached at Penn State is just a convenient excuse. Not getting Gruden, or even Dan Mullen was a huge blow to the over-inflated egos that root for Tennessee football. It’s just a bad look for any fanbase.

Remember this; there’s no room for Schiano in Knoxville but Peyton Manning remains a living deity. Accusations and assumptions are only damning when the target isn’t a member of the Tennessee’s Mount Rushmore.

Comment on this story in our free forum.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

Five Reasons Ohio State Wins Big Ten in 2016

There are many questions that surround Ohio State football as the Buckeyes prepare for the 2016 campaign. Obviously, the loss of 16 combined starters on both sides of the ball has something to do with it. If there is anything that we’ve learned throughout the Urban Meyer era, it’s that the Buckeyes know a thing or two about winning ahead of “schedule.” Here are five reasons why Ohio State will claim another Big Ten championship en route to a second college football playoff appearance in three years.

The Schedule

While the 2016 schedule features road contests at Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State, this young and talented group of Buckeyes won’t be thrown into the fire like last year, with the two biggest games at the end of the regular season. Who knows? The Buckeyes may roll into Norman on Sept. 17 and get their doors blown off by the Sooners. But I think a stiff test away from the Horseshoe is exactly what this team needs prior to the Big Ten slate. We all know an early to mid-season loss doesn’t necessarily impact a team’s playoff chances, just ask Oklahoma.

Following the Oklahoma game, Ohio State has a week off before they open Big Ten play with two confidence-building wins against Rutgers and Indiana at home. The Buckeyes hit the road to Camp Randall and Happy Valley the next two weeks, but are we really buying these teams and the Big Ten in general, will be that good? Michigan should be quite a challenge to the Buckeyes’ quest for conference supremacy with their returning starters and incoming top-five recruiting class. However, even Jim Harbaugh doesn’t know who Michigan’s starting quarterback will be. Oh, by the way, the Wolverines will be traveling to Columbus this year, a place Michigan has failed to earn a victory since 2000 when Drew Henson was under center.

And then there is Michigan State in East Lansing a week prior to The Game. Last year in Columbus, the Spartans possibly cost Ohio State the national title for the third time in 17 years. Don’t think Meyer won’t have revenge on his mind following last year’s debacle. Landing a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game is going to be no cakewalk, but the schedule will have the Buckeyes prepared to do damage in meaningful games.

Urban Meyer

Meyer is a championship-caliber coach with a masterful 50-4 record since he arrived at Ohio State in 2012. Meyer has coached a team that has at least played for a conference championship following a “down” year since 2005. In 2012, the Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play after a 12-0 season. Last year hardly qualifies as a “down” season, just really bad timing for their lone loss of 2015. I’m not sure coach Meyer is aware of this streak, but I am sure that he’s not ready to have it come to an end.

Talent

This isn’t anything new. Ohio State is usually accustomed to having more talent than the opposition. With Meyer entering his fifth season with the Buckeyes, the roster is fully comprised of his own recruits and Ohio State is simply the most talented team in the conference, at least on paper. Obviously, this doesn’t always translate into championships or even consistent success on the field, but in this case and with Meyer’s track record, I’ll take my chances. Another top-five recruiting class doesn’t hurt, either.

J.T. Barrett

What do all championship-caliber teams have in common? Good quarterback play. Many argue that the unpopular 2015 quarterback controversy between Barrett and Cardale Jones significantly hindered Ohio State’s chances of repeating as national champions. One thing that is certain in 2016 is that Barrett is the unquestioned starting quarterback and leader of the Buckeyes. With four road games in hostile environments and facing what will most likely be the best Michigan team we’ve seen in years, it will be pivotal to have someone like Barrett at the quarterback position, leading such an inexperienced group. As long as Barrett can avoid the news for negative reasons, Ohio State is a conference title contender, no doubt.

Greg Schiano

With the departure of former co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash to Rutgers, Schiano was quickly brought in to team with co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and that should result in anything but a drop-off from the Silver Bullets. The former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach hasn’t worked as an assistant since 2000, but that shows you the pedigree of a coach like Schiano. Schiano isn’t your ordinary college defensive coordinator and Meyer isn’t going to bring in an assistant coach that isn’t one of the best at his craft. His hard-nosed mentality will be a nice addition to a defense returning just three starters.

When September rolls around, Ohio State may be young and inexperienced, but don’t expect a plunge in the product we see from the Buckeyes on the field. This is Urban Meyer and Ohio State we’re talking about.

E-mail Mark at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @msilverman25.

Willie Fritz is the Man for Illinois Football

With just a week before the season begins, most teams are in the fine tuning stage of their game plans. This is not the case at Illinois, where they fired Tim Beckman. As Mitch Gatzke wrote earlier in the weekend, Beckman was fired over allegations that he mistreated players during his time in Champaign.

Bill Cubit will assume the title of Interim Head Coach while Illinois embarks on a national coaching search to hire Beckman’s permanent replacement. I’ve seen numerous lists of possible replacements and many of the candidates being presented just don’t make sense to me.

Dennis Dodd presented a list that included P.J. Fleck and Greg Schiano. P.J Fleck is currently the head coach at Western Michigan and Greg Schiano has been out of football for the past 2 seasons.

I understand why Fleck would appear on everyone’s prospective coaching list. Fleck is young, runs an exciting offense and has had success at Western Michigan. His relative youth at 34 years old is precisely why the Illinois job does not make sense for him.

Fleck has his entire career ahead of him and can arguably have his pick of future head coaching positions. Why would this prodigy take a job at a school that has proven to be near impossible to win at? Stewart Mandel tweeted this statistic that speaks directly to the overall futility of the Illinois football program:

Fleck can do better and will do better.

As for Schiano, isn’t he basically Tim Beckman with an even bigger ego? Considering the reasons he was fired from the Miami Dolphins, why would Illinois hire him to replace Beckman?

Like Beckman, Schiano is a reported control freak who thinks he only answers to himself. Aren’t those the personality characteristics that ultimately spelled the end of the Beckman era?

In my opinion, the type of coach that Illinois needs is someone who is old enough to consider the Illinois job the pinnacle of their career. The next Illinois coach needs to be someone who knows how to win but hasn’t ruffled the feathers of his bosses.

There are plenty of coaches who fit those characteristics, but one coach stands above the rest to me: Georgia Southern’s Willie Fritz.

Coach Fritz is 55 years old and has a collegiate record of 146-65. Fritz has been the head coach at Blinn (1993-1996), Central Missouri (1997-2000), Sam Houston State (2010-2013) and is currently at Georgia Southern.

His resume indicates that he has been happy to work his way up the ladder, with each new job being at a slightly higher level than the one he was leaving. And most importantly, he has won every step of the way. As schools took chances on him, he never let them down.

When he arrived at Blinn College, the school program had a record of 5-24-1 prior to Fritz arriving at the school. When Fritz moved on to Central Missouri, he left behind a record of 39-5-1 and placed two national junior college championship trophies in the trophy case.

The Central Missouri program Fritz took over hadn’t had much success in the 32 years prior to Fritz. Fritz led the Mules to their first post-season berth in 32 years. When he left to take the Sam Houston St job, he had amassed an overall record of 97-47. No coach has won more games at Central Missouri.

And what about his tenure at Sam Houston St? In 2011 he coached the Bearkats to the only undefeated regular season in FCS history. Fritz only coached the Bearkats for three seasons but that was enough time to appear in back-to-back championship games.

Entering his second season at Georgia Southern, expectations are high for the team. 2014 was not only Fritz’s first season at Georgia Southern but was also Georgia Southern’s first year in the Sun Belt Conference. How did Fritz’s team perform? They went 8-0 in conference play and 9-3 overall. Of those three losses, two were against NC State and Georgia Tech. Georgia St lost those two games by a COMBINED five points.

Fritz just makes sense for Illinois. His career choices follow a well thought out trajectory and he is now old enough that Illinois could be considered his destination job. The best part for Illinois is that they would be hiring a coach who has a long tradition of winning.

If Illinois is going to hire a coach who has the potential to be the third coach in eleven years to finish above .500, it’s Willie Fritz.

And you know who else Dennis Dodd thinks makes sense for Illinois? That’s right, Willie Fritz.

Leave a comment below, follow Seth on Twitter @SMerenbloom or e-mail him at [email protected].

Pay to Play: Wisconsin’s Recent History of Not Paying Coaches

One is an anomaly, two is a trend. After a legendary coaching run by Barry Alvarez, two Wisconsin coaches, Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen, have left Wisconsin for head coaching positions for less successful teams, Arkansas and Oregon State, respectively. Although the stories surrounding the departures of the head coaches were mainly about who the next coach of Wisconsin would be and how the departed coach would fit into his position with a new school, one of the overlooked aspects of the story is the reason why Bielema and Andersen left. Both cited, to some degree, the inability to pay assistant coaches.

At first, the lack of funding given to Wisconsin’s head coach seemed to come from an obvious source: the school didn’t bring in a lot of money. However, the USA Today published this report. Based on the USA Today report, Wisconsin is not hurting for athletic revenue as it brought in over $149 million, second only to Texas. They have money from a variety of obvious sources that seem to be pretty significant: Big Ten Network money, bowl game money, and ticket sale money. Like many other schools, football, and to a lesser degree, basketball, bring in the bulk of the money and probably help to fund other sports that are not as revenue generating. Continuing to use the USA today report, Wisconsin seems to have an issue with expenses. The Badgers generated $149 million in revenue, but spent $146 million in the process. In comparison, Michigan had a total revenue of approximately $143 million and had expenses of approximately $131 million. The solution to Wisconsin’s apparent lack of money seems obvious: cut down on expenses.

However, another variable may be in play that has nothing to do with cutting down on expenses (although taking this step is probably a good idea, regardless). Having attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I experienced a strong, but often not discussed, undercurrent of students and adults who had a genuine dislike of the fact that the head football coach was one of the highest paid employees in the state. While I understand that football coaches can receive money from both the state and the university, the philosophy behind the resentment is still troubling. The arguments against having a highly paid football coach were almost something along the lines of he just coaches football or football isn’t that important. While there is an argument to be made for some individuals who deserve to get paid more than Wisconsin’s head football coach, the money that these coaches and their staffs bring in doesn’t lie. According to this article, Wisconsin’s football program brought in $50 million for the 2012-13 season. While this Forbes article is about Nick Saban, the same concept applies at Wisconsin and many other top football programs: football coaches of premiere teams, or in Wisconsin’s case, an almost-kinda-sorta premiere team, are a bargain.

In Wisconsin, there is a tool that provides the public with access to the salaries of Wisconsin state employees. For fun, I entered in running back coach Thomas Brown’s name and found the salary paid to him by the state was $175,336.00. His state salary is not small, but considering he is the coach behind Heisman contender Melvin Gordon and has a significant role in maintaining and improving Wisconsin’s reputation as a place where running backs have incredible success, it seems low. While there may be an argument that a football coach is not as important as say, an English professor, the work of a football coach will bring far more renown, recognition, and money to a school and the surrounding community than an English professor’s research paper on Shakespeare ever will.

To put things in perspective, Gary Andersen was paid $2.2 million for his efforts in 2014. The man in charge of orchestrating Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship beat down on the Badgers, Urban Meyer, was paid approximately $4.5 million for the 2014 season. Ohio State pays its staff approximately $3.6 million while Wisconsin pays its coaches a relatively paltry $2.4 million (stats from here). How Wisconsin manages to have a winning season at all, much less get to the Big Ten championship, is a miracle considering that it pays its coaching staff so little compared to Big Ten teams with comparable records.

As Wisconsin looks for a new coach, possibly Greg Schiano or former Badger assistant Paul Chryst, according to rumors, fans can only hope that Wisconsin increases its pay to assistants so that the cycle of finding and promptly losing a head coach can end. Consistency is key for all sports, but is especially important in college athletics where a bad year or a bad recruiting class can have a ripple effect that sends a team to the bottom of a conference. Top recruits choose to play for a specific coach. If that coach leaves or is fired (see Michigan), recruits often decommit and go elsewhere. Wisconsin has done a remarkable job in recent years of doing more with less. Overall, the caliber of athlete who takes the field for Wisconsin is not at the same level as the athlete putting on an Ohio State or Michigan uniform. Yet, despite a community that resents the salaries of its coaches, possibly to the point of trying to reduce what coaches are paid, Wisconsin has consistently put out a quality product, makes it to bowl games every year, and even finds itself in Rose Bowl contention when everything clicks. At some point, either Badger coaches will get paid more, the revolving door at head coach will be extinguished, and Wisconsin will continue to find success or the poor coach pay will catch up to the Badgers, Wisconsin will begin to struggle, and appearances in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl will be the best the team can muster. If the latter happens, maybe the critics will change their tune. The fun and games associated with hating on the football team when its winning will come to an abrupt halt if the Badgers start to lose, Football Saturdays become just another day, and the restaurants and businesses on State Street close because no one comes to Camp Randall. Badger football drives the Madison community; unfortunately, there are many who just don’t get it.

Next Steps for Michigan Football

The Michigan Wolverines finished under .500 for the first time since their second season under Rich Rodriguez in 2009. Fall of 2014 will be remembered in Ann Arbor for some time to come as a new beginning of sorts due to the forced resignation of the athletic director midseason and the head coach being fired at the end of it.

Still, I can’t help but think this is the best case scenario.

We don’t have to watch this team play in a bowl game and the disliked duo of Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke are finally out of town. Both had worn out their welcome and having them stick around any longer would’ve been counter-intuitive. To be fair to Hoke, many players had very nice things to say about him after they were informed he had been let go.

sad hoke

Michigan now has a blank canvas with which to work. And while uncertainty can be a scary thought, at the same time few things are more exciting. It all depends on your outlook. The Wolverines have been blessed with another chance at a fresh start, an opportunity that many programs would love to have. It’s time to get to work.

Going into this offseason the University of Michigan has three tasks to accomplish in order to avoid risking irrelevance next season. Figuring out the AD situation should be the first step. Since interim AD Jim Hackett is heading up the coaching search I think he should and will ultimately be chosen to run the show. I’m not sure why that hasn’t already happened.

635503808912932621-hackettsub

Hiring a head coach is the next step and I can’t stress enough how important it is to make the right pick. We’ve seen what can quickly happen to a prestigious program that makes a questionable hire. The past two coaching searches have not ended ideally for Michigan. This time around, they need to get their man, whoever that may be.

There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of rumored names flying around. I’ve heard Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles and Greg Schiano like everyone else has.  I’ve also heard farfetched ideas like Jim Tressel and Pat Narduzzi.  Of course, these are merely speculation and we’ll likely not find out who is being seriously considered until the hire has been made.

Though he has repeatedly said he will not be coming north, I believe Miles is the man for the job. He’s the kind of crazy you want whereas Harbaugh’s just absolutely nuts.

Harbaugh

Step three, and possibly the most difficult of all, is finding a quarterback. Mercifully, Devin Gardner is gone too. It’s a relief he’s such a good student and overall person because his play this season often made me feel ill. As a general rule, if you throw more picks than touchdowns, you had a bad year. I can’t confidently say Shane Morris is the answer, judging by his brief appearances this fall.

We were forced to witness what happens when a quarterback’s abilities and an offensive strategy don’t align. I’d prefer not to have to go through it again next season. Whether the new guy’s a stud recruit, an unhappy transfer, or a guy currently buried on their own depth chart, the Wolverines need an adequate quarterback and a matching offensive scheme quite badly.

devin-gardner-1

Ceasing to schedule cupcakes as non-conference opponents is an additional step that would help tremendously. I know this won’t happen because games are scheduled about a decade in advance, but it should. Bringing in higher quality opponents would boost attendance and therefore revenue. Playing in those games would provide players with valuable experience they could use later in the season. Win or lose, those games are resume builders you can point to at the end of a season.

You’re probably feeling uneasy not knowing what’s to come for Michigan. That’s completely normal. Just relax, await the announcement of the new head coach, and prepare for an overdue rebuild. If the future is making you more nervous than excited, look back on the past and ask yourself: Could things be that much worse than they have been lately?