Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Michigan, Nebraska, and Florida. Calling all head coaches

It's interesting that before conference championship games are played, much less the bowls, three very high profile universities are looking for a new head football coach. So assuming any new coach will be paid in the 5 million per year range with at least a 5 year contract at all of the above -- which is the best job? Let's look at each.

Michigan. Though often referred to as a "storied" program, their history suggests otherwise. Yes they've won more games than anybody else, because they've been playing football longer than anybody else, save the Ivies. Good grief, everything west of the Rockies was pretty much still wilderness when UM started playing football. No doubt, Brady Hoke had to go. Even his initial success was tainted, because it was done with former coach Rich Rodriguez's recruits. (And don't look now, but after RichRod's tenure at Michigan was labeled "disastrous", he lately has turned Arizona into a Top 10 program, while the Wolverines continue to flounder). As Hoke phased in his own, the results got worse and worse. However, the Michigan job has its upsides. A huge fan base of rabid Maize and Blue students, alumni, boosters with deep pockets, and a few million others that continue to root for UM for various reasons. Plus there's the name factor when it comes to recruiting blue-chip prep stars. Though Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and even, gasp, Minnesota have passed Michigan in football competitiveness, Notre Dame's off their schedule and the Big "10" is potentially fertile ground for a new head coach at Michigan. Brady Hoke's not exactly a tough act to follow.

Nebraska is completely different. There has never been a tougher act to follow than the legendaryTom Osborne. Frank Solich, Bill Callahan, and the recently fired Bo Pelini found that out the hard way. All had respectable records during their tenures at Nebraska, but Osborne set the bar so high (three national championships) that just being good isn't good enough. Consider the state of Nebraska itself. They have no professional teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL, or major league baseball. Perhaps by default, Cornhusker football is a REALLY big deal. The pressure to win, and win big, is enormous. So besides the money, why would a coach want to go there? Other than football, it's not like Lincoln is party-town USA with a million different things to do. And the burbs? Their top 5 moneymakers are corn, soybeans, hay, sorghum, and wheat. Marijuana came in at number 9 edging out oats. People are smoking more dope than eating Cheerios these days in Nebraska? Wow. Times are changing indeed. Throw in those pesky tornadoes, and the Nebraska job has its downsides.

Florida handled things a bit differently. A couple weeks back they informed head coach Will Muschamp that he would not be returning in 2015, though allowed to stay on for the rest of this season. Let's not forget that not long ago, the Gators were a big deal themselves, winning two national championships in three years. Some guy named Tebow was the quarterback. And when it comes to climate during football season, Gainesville has it all over Lincoln or Ann Arbor. Look at it this way. Where would you rather coach? Where the worst that can happen is maybe 40 degrees with a little rain, or someplace that might be 10 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of 20 below in a blizzard? But unlike Nebraska, which seemingly has no competition within its own state, and even Michigan which only has one other big time college football school, Florida has a ton of competition. Florida State is the current reigning champ and will likely go to the Final Four again this year. They could repeat. But one way or the other, this is likely the last year for quarterback Jameis Winston. Without him, the 'Noles will likely fall back into the pack. One never knows when the 'Canes of Miami might rise again. And even Central Florida has become a semi-power. Competition is tough in Florida. But great prep athletes seem to grow on trees like oranges and grapefruits in the sunshine state. Ripe for the picking. Given the right coach, Florida could easily zoom to prominence on the national stage again in a year or three.

So if you were the hot prospect coach of the day, and had all three schools to pick from, which would you choose?


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