Tag Archives: Joe Paterno

Penn State Can’t Shake Paterno

Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, won the league title in 1994 with an 8-0 conference record, and hasn’t won an outright title ever since. The program has never achieved the dominance of its new conference home that partisans expected two decades ago, but those same fans have to be looking back wistfully now at those interim years of New Year’s Day bowl games and double-digit victory seasons. It’s been a while.

In fact, it’s been seven years since the Nittany Lions went 11-2 and won the Capital One Bowl after the 2009 season. This decade has been a succession of mediocre campaigns, coaching controversies and Pinstripe Bowls. The cause of the recent mediocrity, of course, is not a mystery.

Five years ago Joe Paterno was fired in the aftermath of the sordid Jerry Sandusky criminality, rocking the Happy Valley community’s beloved football program to its foundations. It is certainly not my purpose here to rehash that saga. The perpetrator is behind bars and the coaching legend is six feet under. Still, controversy rages, and the football program staggers on.

What made the Sandusky story and the resulting media orgy so unnerving to college football fans at the time was the way dirty, nasty reality had rudely invaded their Saturday afternoon escapism from dirty, nasty reality. How dare it do that?  They reacted much like Paterno reportedly did when, in 1976, he was confronted by witness JohnDoe150 with the story of an early Sandusky abuse, “I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about”

Then just this past September, the still somewhat deluded Penn State community decided to commemorate Paterno with a halftime ceremony at the Rutgers game, and the media reacted much as they did five years ago…by trying to out-outrage each other. One wonders what the Penn State fan base thought would happen. They’re not over him. Neither is the football team.

Bill O’Brien presided over an 8-4 team in 2012 and a 7-6 team in 2013, both years with a roster severely depleted by NCAA sanctions. O’Brien won nearly universal praise from media types for righting the ship in troubled waters, but over time he grew frustrated with administration politics, and the never-ending battles with the faction he called “the Paterno people”.  He bolted to the NFL’s Houston Texans after 2013, and if my Twitter timeline is a reliable indicator, that has embittered some Nittany Lions fans. As far as I know, his first name does not begin with an “F”.

Franklin does however, and Lions’ 3rd year head coach has not escaped the wrath of a football community impatient for a return to glory. He entered 2016 coming off back-to-back seasons of 7-6. In the eyes of his detractors, the Lions’ non-conference wins over Kent State and Temple this fall aren’t enough to balance out getting drilled 49-10 by Michigan and dropping one to cross-state rival Pitt.

Like the dreaded vote of confidence, the periodic assurances by PSU officials that Franklin “is not on the hot seat” merely reflect the fact that much of the community feels he is right there on it.  

With a 4-2 record going into this weekend’s nationally televised matchup with #2 Ohio State, James Franklin has a chance to back up the predictions of Bill O’Brien and others, who have forecast a return to college football’s elite under his leadership.

After the Buckeyes visit, the remainder of the schedule is not daunting. Penn State avoids the two best teams from the Big Ten West, Wisconsin and Nebraska, and plays Iowa and a flailing Michigan State team at home. The roster is back to a full 85 scholarship players, and a respectable bowl game is well within reach. The administration counsels patience. The coach asks fans to trust the process.

An upset win Saturday could get the program’s fans finally looking forward with optimism rather than back with mixed emotions at the man in the white shirt and the black glasses.  It’s about time.

E-mail Dan at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dwismar.

Photo: Wikipedia

Mark Helfrich Is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis

These days, the only thing more aflame than Oregon’s uniforms is coach Mark Helfrich’s hot seat.

Just two seasons after finishing runners-up in the inaugural College Football Playoff, the Ducks stare down the barrel of extending a three-game losing streak to four in this week’s matchup against the #5 Washington Huskies. They’re allowing 210 rushing yards per game, they’re the sixth-most penalized team in college football, and they’re endangering their shot at earning a bowl invitation.

How have Oregon fans responded? By launching a GoFundMe page to bankroll Helfrich’s massive buyout.

Have faith Oregon fans. At the time of this writing, there’s only $10,999,790 left to go.

To his credit, Helfrich isn’t making any excuses. “Anything that’s bad in this program is my responsibility,” he insisted after a disappointing loss to Nebraska. “Anything you think of that’s bad is my fault.” Don’t get me wrong- that degree of integrity and accountability in a head coach is truly admirable. I like Mark Helfrich. Maybe he doesn’t know a lick about how to play defense (or how to choose a defensive coordinator), but Mark Helfrich is still a quality individual.

Except, quality individuals make awful head coaches. As far as I can tell, that’s the college football reality we live in. Show me a coach with 409 career wins, and I’ll show you someone who reprehensibly covered the tracks of a child rapist. Oh, is it too soon for those questionable Joe Paterno references? Apparently, it isn’t too soon for Penn State to roll out the red carpet in questionably honoring him.

Also, I’m almost certain one of the top five coaches in college football spends his Sundays posterizing middle schoolers at the local YMCA. Is that coach Jim Harbaugh? The world may never know.

Enabling sexual assault. Committing blatant recruiting violations. Hiring coaches recovering from alcoholism. That’s the kind of college-football-isn’t-supposed-to-be-fun mentality you need to coach in college football. Mark Helfrich lacks that mentality. Mark Helfrich looks more like Kermit the Frog than somebody willing to drown a litter of puppies to secure a five-star recruit. When I see Jimbo Fisher, I see a man who would trample a sea of helpless baby orangutans just to re-polish the encased ACC Championship trophies perched so prominently atop his mantle.

Helfrich is clearly more understated than his mentor and predecessor, and while that can have its benefits, it doesn’t help him in either recruiting or developing players and assistant coaches. Helfrich earned his reputation under Chip Kelly by tutoring a number of high-skill quarterbacks, including, most notably, Marcus Mariota. Truth be told, Chip Kelly and Scott Frost (currently at UCF) deserve an enormous amount of the credit assigned to Helfrich. As luck would have it, both men have surfaced in coaching carousel discussions surrounding a potential Helfrich departure.

Helfrich is the Larry Coker to Chip Kelly’s Butch Davis. The latter halves of the comparison each continued onto questionable coaching careers in the NFL. The former half failed to fill the shoes of their coaching mentors. The University of Miami has finally left a downward spiral triggered by inept coaching. If the Ducks don’t act fast, now may be only the beginning of that spiral.

Chip Kelly and Mike Bellotti built the Oregon program to stardom in the previous two decades, yet a decision to stand pat with an average coach in Helfrich threatens every last ounce of that stardom. The Ducks are currently trending away from a winning season and trending away from the offensive firepower that led them to a national championship. A handful of graduate transfers at quarterback have kept the program momentarily afloat, but in a matter of years, the full incompetence of the Helfrich regime will become fully exposed.

And by then, it’ll be too late.

Oregon tried and failed to maintain operations in-house. It’s time for the athletic department to expand the coaching search beyond the boundaries of Eugene- and whatever the hell they call that offense- to bring in an regularly-credentialed asshole with some know-how. If the Ducks waste the 2017 season with a proven lost cause at the helm, who knows whether the former glory of the Oregon program can ever be fully salvaged.

Then again, at least they’ll always have those jerseys.

Email Cole Hankins at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Cole_Hankins.

Photo courtesy – Wikipedia

Penn State Honoring Joe Paterno Will be Rightfully Scrutinized

You know, it’s ok to value your history. You can celebrate those that came before you and did great things but there is a line that you need to be careful not to cross.

Penn State held a press conference today to announce their promotional calendar. That’s not the part that’s the issue. What they announced is that on September 17 before the kickoff to the Temple game the Nittany Lions will be honoring the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game as head coach.

Wow.

Is Penn State living in some kind of vacuum or something? Are they completely unaware of the current climate of the nation? Do they not know about the mess at Baylor? This was their chance to not be held up as the biggest scandal in college football and they basically said, “Hey, excuse me! Excuse me! Remember this dumpster fire?”

Ohio State pushed the boundaries of good taste a few years ago when they honored Jim Tressel and his championship team. Tressel had been ousted after it was revealed that his players were getting free stuff and selling game trinkets for tattoos. As weird as it seems to honor a coach that was relieved of his duties during a scandal that got sanctions levied against your program but that’s the worst that he did.

I wrote an article a few months ago asking whether or not it actually mattered now if Joe Paterno knew about what Jerry Sandusky did. Even that little piece garnered some strong responses and all it was asking was whether it mattered if a dead person knew about something terrible. If he was alive to be punished, it absolutely mattered. Now, maybe not so much.

But to celebrate this man?

To celebrate a man that may have stood by and done nothing while young boys were raped in his locker room?

There was actually a good couple minutes before I could write this sentence because I was literally at a loss for words. Maybe he knew and maybe he didn’t but as a major institution in a Power Five conference that’s not a chance you can take.

Are the people at Penn State really that out of touch with our society? It really doesn’t take much to set people off and ignite a fire under a massive group in these days of social media. It might not seem like much but people are the internet can be powerful.

The Cincinnati Zoo is still under assault for their handling of the Harambe incident. Read some of their reviews on Google.

The guy who shot Cecil the Lion had to close his dentist practice.

What’s that you say? Those were animals so it’s different?

You’re Goddamn right it is.

These were small children who will grow up tortured souls with memories that will never fade. Imagine what those same angry mobs might do when they get wind of this. That a school of the Big Ten is allowing a coach who might’ve protected a child molester will drive these people into a frenzy. These are people that get absolutely incensed over small things, not only big things so there’s no way they’ll miss this.

If Penn State really needs something to celebrate, celebrate Paterno’s team that won the national title. Notice that I said celebrate the team and not him. Celebrate those athletes that are not related to the scandal.

Otherwise the Big Ten needs to step in and put a stop to this. Whether they mean it to or not, a celebration of Joe Paterno will be a black mark on the whole conference.

E-mail Tim at tim

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Picture courtesy Wikipedia

For Some, the Sandusky Case is All About Joe Paterno

It’s always unfortunate when a site dedicated to sports has to talk about something other than what’s happening on the field. Sometimes off the field incidents can be ignored when they only have a minor effect like a suspension of a player. The Penn State University scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and his molesting of young boys is not one of those incidents though. It’s a horrible crime and has a lasting effect on a once proud, powerful and stoic program.

Although Sandusky was arrested in 2011, the trial is still ongoing. A bombshell was unleashed on May 5, 2016 when it was indicated that legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was told by a child in 1976 that he had been molested by Sandusky. It’s a vague statement but combined with everything else that’s been said, it can’t be dismissed.  Another of Sandusky’s victims told CNN a day later that Paterno had ordered him to drop abuse allegations in 1971.

Now, there’s no way to diminish the horror of what Sandusky did and the fact that he hasn’t been put to death yet is a shame, but it seems like a lot of the rage is being misdirected right now. Jerry Sandusky is the man who raped children, but everyone is mad at Joe Paterno. Paterno is the one person in this whole case that can’t defend himself since he died in 2012. Right now a dead man’s name is being dragged through the mud and he literally cannot defend himself.

Now did Joe Paterno do wrong? More and more it’s looking like yes, but he can’t be the only one held responsible. Hollywood has taught us that there’s always one big bad enemy to be vanquished, however real life isn’t so simple.

Joe Paterno was not the only coach on the Penn State staff since the 70’s. Many other coaches have come and gone in the almost 50 years that Paterno was head coach and the 30 years that Jerry Sandusky was an assistant coach there. As a matter of fact, NBC is reporting that possibly six other coaches saw Sandusky abusing boys in the 1990’s. So why are we not outraged at them as well? It’s getting relatively little press compared to the Paterno story but that’s six people who could have saved many other boys from the trauma they endured. That’s a minimum of six people besides Paterno that could’ve ended this whole thing 20 years sooner. With the amount of people on the team and employed by the team, they couldn’t have been the only ones either.

Don’t even bother pitching a defense like “Well, Paterno told them not to tell,” because that’s a load of crap. You really think that all six of these men were so afraid of being fired that they would cover up something this heinous? If you’re good at your job, you’re going to find another coaching position somewhere else and that new job probably won’t have a coach that rapes kids. I’d say that’s a win-win for everyone involved.

The real question here is, does it really matter anymore if Joe Paterno knew? Officially being able to place blame on the deceased coach isn’t going to heal those kids that Sandusky raped. All their pain and embarrassment and trauma isn’t going to disappear in a snap once they find out whether or not Paterno knew. It might actually become worse because then they’d just know it could have been avoided and they could’ve lived their lives as normal kids. Not to mention the innocent members of the Paterno family. They already have to live with what Joe Paterno may or may not have done so just let them be too.

Anyone that thinks Paterno is innocent is never going to change their minds either. Unless an actual recording surfaces of Paterno admitting his knowledge of these events, his supporters will always have his back. It’s pretty much a moot point at this stage.

Right now all we’re doing is dragging people into the spotlight to continue to talk about how they were abused. Let’s just let them try to live their lives. If you believe in the afterlife then Joe Paterno is getting whatever he deserves there.

E-mail Tim at or follow him on Twitter @TBach84.

Photo credit Wikipedia Creative Commons

Big Ten Links: We all hit Rock Bottom When Steve Spurrier is Wrong

I’m on vacation, but all that means is you’ll get more words out of me. I hope you like my words. Here are a few of the happenings in the Big Ten along with a few podcasts I listened to this week. Have a great weekend. Is it September yet?

Cornhuskers riding on Armstrong’s shoulder. Let’s get right to it. In order for Nebraska to improve from 2015’s 6-7, 2016 Tommy Armstrong has to be better. Setting career records for touchown passes and passing yardage will be for naught if he has another season of 16 interceptions. Half of that in the Big Ten won’t net many more than the six wins of last season and being lackluster at the end of the spring game doesn’t exactly instill confidence heading into the summer. Armstrong was 8-of-15 for 80 yards, while backup Ryker Fyfe 15-of-21. So, Armstrong will have to carry the Cornhuskers on his arm, and I guess his legs. He’ll have to work on ‘easy’ draw plays and be more precise. His timing will have to be better and he’ll have to grow up on and off the field. In January, Armstrong proposed to his longtime girlfriend and former Nebraska soccer star Jaylyn Odermann. Many in the Cornhusker fan base probably hope this among many other off-field moves will help settle his social life so he can focus on football. Armstrong’s goal is to have a marriage ring and also a Big Ten championship ring. Good luck with the latter.

Going to the Rose Bowl ins’t cheap, especially when you lose. Iowa lost in Pasadena not only on the field but in the bank account in January when the Hawkeyes played Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The Hawkeyes are claiming a $228,000 deficit in spending that will make people wonder how a university in the Big Ten can lose money in a bowl game. The university received $2.5 million from its share of revenue for the bowl, but that wasn’t enough to cover these related costs:

  • About $1.9 million for expenses for the football team and athletics department staff.
  • About $663,500 for expenses related to the marching band.
  • About $166,000 for expenses related to Iowa officials and administrators.
  • UI is reporting total expenses of $2,728,445, leaving a deficit of $228,445.

Due to this and probably other unforeseen expenses throughout the athletic department, UI athletics will close out its fiscal year with a deficit. Iowa does not take student subsidies and is self-supporting, but its revenue is smaller than normal because its football season ticket sales are down despite how well the team performed last season. I guess, the fans want to see if last year was lightening in a bottle.

Small potatoes add up, and I’m sure none of these people could afford to pay their own way, but administrative officials accounted for $165,815 in costs related to tickets, transportation, meals and lodging, and ‘other transportation.’ You can assume ‘other transportation’ is the motorcade from the hotel to the stadium. Can’t have the president of the university or the sexual misconduct coordinator sitting at traffic lights like peons.

When the defensive backs coach compares his unit to being an alcoholic. “It’s kind of like being an alcoholic: You have to figure out where you are. If you’re rock bottom, then OK, now I’ve got a chance,” said Rutgers defensive backs coach Bill Busch. (I’m sure he isn’t related to Adolphus Busch, but it would be appropriate). Rutgers’ pass defense was not good last year, and yeah, if that secondary wasn’t at rock bottom it was obvious they can see it from where they stand. The unit could get worse, and playing in the Big Ten East certainly doesn’t make their recovery any easier, but newly hired coach Busch seems like a man on a mission. He mentions Michigan State and Ohio State as the two toughest opponents the Scarlet Knights will face this season, and yeah…that’s probably accurate, but what’s more important is the building process. Making practice harder than the games and getting players to understand the decisions making process in practice is supposed to be harder than it is during the game is the ultimate goal.

The telling number: 118. Rutgers’ defensive secondary ranked 118th of 127 nationally in passing yards allowed. 118th.

More Busch:

“I talk to them all the time about how we stress them out here,” Busch said. “We stress with the pace, how we go from drill-to-drill — everything is stress. Then I ask them, ‘How hard is it on Saturday night when you’re playing against Ohio State or Michigan?’ The guys that played are like, ‘It’s really hard.’ So you see our method and they get it. They understand that we’re trying to prepare them for this fight they’re going to be in.”

Did I mention the Scarlet Knights were 118th in passing yards allowed in 2015?

When retired Spurrier says something he probably shouldn’t. I’m the biggest Steve Spurrier guy there is. I think he’s a national treasure and definitely one of the funniest guys in college football – retired or not – but sometimes it’s better to not speak on certain things. In many ways though, I think I’m a lot like Spurrier, if someone asks me something I’ll probably just say whatever and then realize after I’m halfway through my answer that I probably should have said, ‘no comment.’ Spurrier appeared on Paul Finebaum’s radio show earlier this week and was asked about the treatment of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno. His response:

“[Paterno] was treated the most unfairly of any coach ever,” Spurrier said. “He had nothing to do with that scandal. Nothing at all, and amazingly, what they did to him was completely wrong. I’ve heard they’re having talk of putting the statute back, and they should do that. They really should.”

Well. I agree with some of this, and I agree that Paterno in the court of public opinion may have received a slightly raw deal, but Paterno did nothing to bring anyone to his side of the argument. Paterno was hung out to dry by the Penn State administration, but I still have an hard time believing he had no idea what Jerry Sandusky was doing. I’m not suggestion he had complete knowledge, but at some point you have to think to yourself, something about Sandusky and this situation doesn’t seem right. And I think this is where Spurrier and some of the Penn State fans and alumni jump the shark.

Joe Paterno was a great coach and probably a better man, but like all men (and women) everyone makes mistakes. It is not ill to talk of someone after they die if you’re simply pointing out obvious flaws and facts. It would have been better to point these flaws out while he were alive so he could respond to them, but when you’re in the inner circle I get that it’s hard to be honest with the icon in the middle. But what are friends for?

If Paterno and Spurrier were close friends, then Spurrier should have asked Paterno what the hell was going on with Sandusky, and why hadn’t Paterno done something meaningful about it when he found out about it?

And for this reason alone, I cannot support the replacement of Paterno’s statue at Penn State. I don’t mind restoring records or wins because those are reflective of the student-athletes that won those games, but until I’m convinced Paterno had zero knowledge of what Sandusky was doing, then in my eyes, Paterno let a lot of people down.

What to listen to:

  • BuckAround episode 130 with Rich and Maxwell. They preview the Badger’s spring game tomorrow and Dylan from Pennsylvania wants to know if Wisconsin is a football or basketball school. Obviously worth your time.
  • What’s it like to be a Northwestern fan as an NU student, parts 1 and 2. The gang at Inside NU podcast a two-part series asking the tough questions surrounding Northwestern’s student fandom. Part 1 and part 2.
E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Corn Farmer/Flickr.

Legacy Lines – 11/20/15: Battle of the Rebuilds

The winter season is fast approaching, and college football winding down makes us realize that what we hold so dear will only be on for another couple of months. It seems just yesterday we were thumbing through the preseason lists and rankings trying to find a reason to believe in our team. Well, here we are a few months later and things are just heating up, despite the weather.

Thus far this season, we have seen a great deal of good football and bad football. Even though season’s end is near, we have the best football of the year yet to come. Now is the time when every team gets a little more hype and a little more anxious to make the postseason. Whether you are Virginia Tech trying to keep a bowl streak alive and send an historic coach riding off into the sunset, Tennessee hoping for some progress in what has become a disappointing season or the dominating Alabama team with a chip on their shoulder itching to get a rematch from last year, it is our favorite time of year.

Specifically, conference races are starting to end some seasons, while others’ dreams are just being realized. No matter where your team stands, it has come time to just sit back and enjoy the rest of the season. This starts with a great game on the slate this weekend, Michigan vs. Penn State. This is our Legacy Line game of the week, which will be played at noon eastern time on ABC. Even though this game isn’t being picked up in a primetime slot, it means a lot for college football in general.

First off, we are talking about 2 of the 10 greatest college football programs in history. They forged a name for themselves in the days where spread offenses weren’t even something anyone could fathom, much less design an offense around. Yet, through all the football seasons that these great teams played, they have only matched up a mere 18 times. The reason for this low amount of games is because Penn State didn’t join the Big 10 until 1993. Since then, there have been a multitude of thrilling games between these two teams, and this weekend is shaping up to be another barnburner.

Most of you know how massive these two powerhouses were in the 90s and early 2000s, they couldn’t be beaten. But, after two storied coaches left, there hasn’t been much to be excited about recently. Gone are the days when Joe Paterno or Lloyd Carr would walk the sidelines during this game, but instead, James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh are pacing them. Part of the reason this game is so important is because the winner will most likely be named ‘farthest ahead in their rebuild’.

At first glance, it would seem that Jim Harbaugh has the edge so far in the rebuild, but James Franklin is no chump. Franklin can recruit the lights out. While I would argue that Harbaugh is the better coach, they are both extremely strong motivators. Even though the players shouldn’t need help getting up for this game, their coaches will have them ready to go. This matchup could have serious conference and bowl implications, as Michigan and Penn State’s records are (8-2) & (7-3), respectively. You don’t want to miss out on this game.

In order to understand what to expect on Saturday, we need to get down to some x’s and o’s. In my opinion, this game is going to come down to who plays offense (& quarterback) most efficiently. Will it be Jake Rudock or Christian Hackenberg that makes a name for himself? Well, in short, I think Christian Hackenberg wins the quarterback battle, especially at home. While Michigan’s defense is no joke and Harbaugh will be coaching them up, I believe that Christian Hackenberg is ready to go out with a bang.

This will be his last game in Beaver Stadium as he will most likely enter the NFL draft after this year. That being said, he will come out ready to play. But, can the Michigan defense stop him? The short answer is yes, but only through pressure early. If the Nittany Lions can get a running game early and put Hackenberg in a good position to win, I am confident he will play well enough to come out on top. However, if the offense isn’t productive early, then they are in for a long day. Jim Harbaugh will have the Michigan defense extremely prepared for the matchup. Of course, I would be selling you short if I didn’t mention Penn State’s defense. It has the ability to grab some quick negative plays, especially on the defensive line. Carl Nassib is a big reason the Nittany Lions can win tomorrow. He is not only leading the nation in sacks, but he has over 100 yards lost on his sacks. That is simply amazing. The Michigan offensive line will be put to the test this weekend.

In the end, I think James Franklin’s team will be better and come out on top. However, it will be a close game, and most likely come down to the last few possessions.

34 – 27 Penn State Nittany Lions

 

(Photo Courtesy of Michael/Flickr)

The 10-year Rule, Explained

I’ve often talked about the 10-year rule I think all college head coaches should abide by, but I’ve never written it, so here we go. In college sports and specifically at the FBS level, I think coaches should leave their institutions after 10 years. No matter how successful they are, because I think it gives the chance for the program to appreciate the accomplishments of the exiting coach and a chance for schools to reboot.

What works in 2005, probably won’t work in 2015. This isn’t to say that some coaches can’t be successful for 15 or 20 years, but it’s super rare. Coaches who could coach for decades, well, decades ago, couldn’t do it in the current landscape. Bear Bryant couldn’t survive 25 years in the modern era and there isn’t a chance in hell Joe Paterno survives 45 years either.

As of November 3, 2015 this is the list of active coaches with 10 or more years at their current job:

Coach School First Season (years)
Frank Beamer Virginia Tech 1987 (28)
Bob Stoops Oklahoma 1999 (16)
Kirk Ferentz Iowa 1999 (16)
Gary Patterson TCU 2000 (15)
Mark Richt Georgia 2001 (14)
Gary Pinkel Missouri 2001 (14)
Mike Gundy Oklahoma State 2005 (10)
Bronco Mendenhall BYU 2005 (10)
Frank Solich Ohio 2005 (10)
Kyle Whittingham Utah 2005 (10)
Les Miles LSU 2005 (10)

 

That list is impressive. Of those coaches with 10 or more years of experience only two (Bob Stoops – 2000, and Les Miles – 2007) have national championships. If national championships were the only thing in which I based success the rate of turnover would be much lower than 10 years. It would probably be closer to 5.

As of September 2014 the average length of employment with same company is 4.6 years. I personally would have guessed that number to be closer to seven years, but I guess it makes sense. I haven’t been with my big named company for more than three years both times I’ve been employed by them.

It goes to reason that most coaches, and here we can use the national championship as the barometer, are the most successful in their first 4.6 years. Stoops won a national title in his first season and Miles in his second. Stoops’ last championship appearance was in 2008 season in his ninth year. Miles last appeared in a title game in the 2011 season; his sixth with the Tigers.

While Miles is only four seasons removed from his last title appearance but en route to a possible playoff appearance, keep in mind he is in his 10th season in Baton Rouge. Bob Stoops on the other hand has accomplished very little since his last title appearance.

As Dennis Dodd mentioned in his column about Mark Richt, “If you aren’t going to win league titles, you at least have to beat your rival.” Stoops is 10-7 versus rival Texas. Side note (fair or unfair), former Texas coach Mack Brown led the Longhorns for 15 years, or seven years longer than he should have.

Many will say that coaches who’ve won national championships or have built solid programs should be allowed to leave on their own terms. That’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Those people are also the people who say athletic departments should be run like a business.

[Merenbloom: “Being ‘all business’ is not a bad thing”]

I’ll ask you this, when Microsoft basically ousted Steve Ballmer, did they do so because he wasn’t making money for the corporation or because he’d overstayed his welcome? Right, Ballmer’s Microsoft was a money-making machine but it couldn’t make headway into new areas of growth and couldn’t compete with Apple.

Bob Stoops continued Oklahoma’s winning tradition for many years, but in the past five or so the program has been listless. His nickname of ‘Big Game Bob’ has become a joke, one I refer to as ‘No Game Bob’.

Les Miles, who is at exactly the 10 year mark is now better known for being the luckiest coach in America who eats grass than for the consistent success he’s maintained. Full disclosure – in 2015, I think LSU is one of four best teams in America and I still believe Les Miles has a lot of years left in him, but in three years he will have overstayed his welcome.

And yes, in 2017, I will have said the same think about Nick Saban. Universities need to think about what’s best for their programs, not what’s best for coaches who are entrenched.

As Bird (@Autull) and I discussed in this week’s SEC 411, I believe Mark Richt would be an excellent fit at Miami. One, because he’s from there and two, is one of the most grounded and honest people in college football. He’s exactly what Miami needs and he leaving after 15 years is exactly what Georgia needs.

Despite the successful 2015 campaign, Kirk Ferentz should have been forced out of Iowa at least three years ago, but because of an exorbitant buyout he’s still there. I won’t knock Iowa’s 2015 schedule because they can’t control how poor their division is, but it’s fair to say that if one other team played consistently and Iowa had to face one of the three Big Ten East powers, they might be in a completely different position.

What do you think? Should entrenched coaches be allowed to stay as long as they want? What if their most successful season was a while ago, are you still inclined to keep them no matter what?

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

College Football Needs Charlie Strong To Succeed At Texas

The Charlie Strong era at the University of Texas hasn’t gotten off to the start he had hoped for, but the rest of college football should be hoping that he rights the ship soon.

With many of the traditional football powerhouses down in recent years (I’m talking about you Florida, Michigan, USC and Texas), college football just hasn’t been the same. Is it just a coincidence that when those power programs have been down, there has really only been one single dominant conference?

There has been a little more parity in the sport over the past couple of seasons, but I’ll explain why Texas is the team that must get back on track soon.

Texas is the richest and most influential college program in the country. Fans either love them or hate them. There aren’t many people that don’t have an opinion on them. When Texas was good, you had Mack Brown at the helm and he was just as good at politicking as he was at coaching. He created an empire at Texas, which eventually led to the creation of the Longhorn Network. Since Texas lost the 2009 BCS National Championship to Alabama, Texas has been on a downward spiral.

Enter Charlie Strong. Strong made a statement when he was hired in 2014, by releasing multiple players from scholarships and suspending a handful of other players. He wasn’t shy about whom he cut, either. Many of them were starters the previous year.

His actions caused shockwaves throughout the program and through the national media. It was, and still is, clear that Strong will not sacrifice integrity in order to win. The trend continued through the season as we saw other players get released due to violations of team rules. Again, Strong was not afraid of distractions to his team. He was more focused on getting rid of the cancer rather than overlook it.

Texas finished the season 6-7 with an embarrassing bowl game loss to Arkansas. The Longhorns were sitting at 1-4 heading into the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma this season. They didn’t stand a chance.

When the players realized that their coach’s job was on the line, we saw how talented they really are. We saw players play out of respect for their coach, even though many of them lost their friends from the team when they got released. Texas dominated Oklahoma. This says a lot about a coach when there are typically a lot of shady things that go on in many programs.

Texas being in the national championship discussion is not only good for the state, but it’s good for college football as well. Charlie Strong is building his program with a foundation of ethics, which is rare nowadays. In fact, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell even met with Strong about his program last year to get a sense of his five core values that he bases his program on. Love or hate the Longhorns, you have to appreciate what Strong is doing as a college football fan.

Scandals can mar a program. Many coaches will overlook or brush off accusations, especially if they are against their star players. The Joe Paterno saga is a perfect example. Not Strong and not Texas.

If Strong is able to turn the Texas program around and contend for championships again, there needs to be an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary written about it. It is the ultimate story of a relatively unknown coach to the state, being the first African American head coach at the school, not being admired by some big-name donors and still able to make it happen.

On the field, Texas being back to prominence will likely make others rise to the top. We’ve seen Michigan and Florida start trending upward. Once it happens with Texas, we could see a lot more power programs start to rise.

Off the field, there probably wouldn’t be a better story of building a championship team with a bare cupboard. The trickle-down effect could go all the way to the high school ranks because of the respect that the coaches have for Strong.

If Texas cuts ties with Strong too soon, it will send a wrong message to the fans of the program and the sport in general. Strong is more concerned with building a team of character before he can win. Texas fans and boosters will get antsy if their team finishes with another losing record this season, but they have to give him time.

Once Texas starts winning again, so will the rest of college football.

Legacy Lines – 10/16/15: Powerhouse Rivalry Gets Facelift

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here , and get your latest news when you need it.

Fall has begun to set in across most of the football nation, especially if you live near the East Coast. As the wind picks up and the leaves fall down, college football is just heating up, and it won’t cool down until the January snow crowns a national champion. Now, at this point in the season, we still know very little about the current football landscape.

Stanford stomping UCLA and Auburn winning in Commonwealth have changed the way we look at these four teams, just like our opinions would change after a normal game. But things seemed different last night, on Thursday. What used to be mediocre football on Thursday night has turned into shootouts or at least exciting football for most of the season. That may just be the scheduling, but it was refreshing to have two entertaining games to watch.

Moving away from some general notes, our legacy programs will continue to fight through their conference schedules, but it seems like the chances of one of our teams winning their conference slims with every game that’s played. College football fans all across the world have a treat in store for them Saturday night at 8 p.m. on ABC when the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in an historical matchup of football powerhouses, in our Legacy Line Game of the Week. Notice there are links throughout this story to help paint the picture I am trying to get across.

This first link touches on some of the history that I didn’t.

LINK – http://www.scout.com/college/ohio-state/story/310625-the-new-border-war-ohio-state-vs-penn-state?s=145

Before we jump into a preview of this weekend’s game, I chose to look at this series as a whole, like we usually do here at Legacy Lines. At first glance, I noticed that the series record is at 16-13 in OSU’s favor. While there have been some vacated wins on both sides of this rivalry, some of the games were recently reinstated as wins. The first meeting between these two teams was in 1912 and the Nittany Lions ended up winning that game. After this game, these two teams only played each other four more times until Penn State joined the Big 10 in 1993, with the Lions wining all four. In retrospect, this wasn’t much of a rivalry until they began playing every year in conference play.

In this link, former Penn State players were asked about wha the rivalry means to them.

LINK – http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2015/10/16/9528575/we-asked-former-penn-state-players-what-the-ohio-state-game-means-to-them-nittany-lions-buckeyes

Once Penn State joined the Big 10, the rivalry caught fire. While OSU ended up winning the majority of the games in the 1990’s, one in particular caught my ire. In 1994, Penn State came into the game ranked number 1 in the country. They gutted Ohio State 63-14, but it was what one sportswriter did after the game that made me share this story. An Ohio State sportswriter famously dropped the Nittany Lions from #1 to #2 in the AP poll after the devastating loss. I guess that sportswriter wasn’t too ecstatic about the Buckeyes embarrassing loss.

Fast-forward a handful of years, and the plot thickens. Long time head coach Joe Paterno would now have to play recently hired OSU coach Jim Tressel. The Paterno vs. Tressel rivalry would go on for about a decade, with Tressel & Ohio State going 6-3 during this era. Also, happening in the middle of all this was Paterno becoming the winningest coach in football. So much history was made between these two schools, whether it is in the media, actual game results, or by way of coaching pedigree.

Joe Paterno was able to get back some of his wins that had been vacated, allowing him to hold onto his own legacy.

LINK – http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/12179571/joe-paterno-111-wins-were-vacated-restored

Towards the end of the Tressel vs. Paterno games, scandal began erupting in the midst of both programs. Tressel and Ohio State were vacating wins because of improper benefits while Paterno and Penn State were losing wins because of their scandal. Since we all know what happened, there is no need to rehash old news, but suffice it to say these two teams have had clouds over their heads for a decade. These two programs just want to leave everything else behind and play football, and with the Lions’ NCAA problems no longer a problem, both teams can go out and play without any outside negativity about their respective issues.

Now to the actual game being played on Saturday. Both of these two teams come in with a strong record, but something to prove as well. The Nittany Lions’ best chance to win this game is with their offense. It is going to be difficult for James Franklin’s defense to hold the Buckeyes down, I mean, they have 3 of the best players in college football right now on their offense. So, in order for this one to stay a close game, Christian Hackenburg must have a big game coming out party. He has to keep the safeties honest so that the Lions can get a ground game going. On the other sideline, if Urban Meyer can make sure his secondary doesn’t get beat downfield, they will have a solid chance of winning the ball game. Despite all the playmakers Ohio State has, I believe that Hackenburg will have a good enough game to challenge the OSU defense deep and be in the game towards the end. This game could go any which way, but I see special teams playing a large role and being the deciding factor late, whether it be a return touchdown, field goal or fumble.

This game goes down to the wire, but Ohio State somehow pulls out the win 34-28 Buckeyes.

A Second Rewrite To History

So as we’re all aware, two days ago Ohio State won the National Championship and good for them. They were the best team in the land and it wasn’t even close. Much was made of the return of the Big Ten to prominence and the conference no longer being a joke. The match-up and fallout of the Buckeyes versus the Oregon Ducks obviously dominated all the headlines and it deserved to.

However another news story emerged on that same day. It was understandably mostly ignored in the hubbub of the National Championship but it might be equally as important. Saying it could alter college football is completely true.

The NCAA is in talks to potentially restore the wins of Penn State University coach Joe Paterno.

Why is that so earth shattering? Because Joe Paterno had 112 wins stripped during the investigation of Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of sex abuse. Add those wins back to what he still has and Joe Paterno is once again the all-time winningest coach in college football with 409 wins.

It seems likely that they will too.

This previous September the NCAA Executive Committee restored Penn State’s full allotment of scholarships which it had reduced in 2012 after the Sandusky scandal. The committee also lifted the ban on the school’s postseason eligibility. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the NCAA is realizing that it may have overstepped its bounds when issuing these punishments.

Documents came to light this fall that indicated that the NCAA wasn’t sure that it even had the authority to punish Penn State. As a legal case looms, it’s almost as if the NCAA is trying to make right the wrongs that it cast down upon Penn State in hopes that the case will be dropped.

Honestly though, did Penn State really deserve to have those wins stripped?

Whether or not Joe Paterno had knowledge of what was going on with Jerry Sandusky, did it really make the football team better? Any other school that had wins stripped was usually because the players had received improper benefits. Reggie Bush and his family got cars and cash so USC lost wins and a national championship. Ohio State had players trade championship rings and trinkets for tattoos when they got wins vacated. Those schools got something in return. All Penn State got in return was a horrible black mark that will never be forgotten and being the butt of a lot of jokes.

Joe Paterno passed away in 2012 shortly after being fired by the only school he had ever coached at so he will never know if he gets those wins back but his family will. They’ll get a little something back that the NCAA tried to take away from their father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

It will also help with the memory of Joe Paterno.

By reinstating those 112 wins, the NCAA is basically saying they were wrong about Joe Paterno. Paterno was vilified by many when the Sandusky report was issued. The stripping of those wins by the NCAA basically confirmed what they thought about Paterno. If the agency that runs college football was punishing him then he must be the bad guy.

Now… now the NCAA seems like they’re getting ready to say “Oops, our bad.”

There is such a thing as too little, too late. That’s not quite right in this situation. At the time, the NCAA needed to do something otherwise it risked a public outrage of a level never seen before. Did it go too far? Yeah, maybe but I think they and everyone else know that now. Now they can restore what they took from Penn State and no one will blink twice.

Whether they do restore those wins or not, everyone will always remember Joe Paterno as the winningest coach. He will always be brought up in the all-time wins conversation just because he has to be.