Athlon Disses Bo Pelini

As is often the practice during a long offseason, Athlon decided to compile a ranking of the coaches in the Big Ten and opted to place Bo Pelini ninth on that list.  The ranking defies logic and common sense, but perhaps these lists are intended just to make the blood boil.  Let's review:


The top spot in the rankings goes to Urban Meyer.  No qualms with that.  With two national championships and just two losses in the last two seasons, hard to argue with him there.  

Mark Dantonio is second.  Coming off of a 13-1 season and conference championship, this is probably a flavor-of-the-moment kind of ranking.  He certainly wouldn't have gotten this kind of esteem after his first 6 seasons as a head coach in college.  His team went 6-7 in year six and he'd won just two more games than he'd lost in conference games in a half dozen years at Cincinnati and Michigan State.  But given that three of his last four seasons have gone very well, this is a tolerable ranking.

There is no greater testament to the hype surrounding the SEC than James Franklin's spot on this list.  In three years at Vanderbilt he had a losing conference record but a winning overall record and finished fourth in his division every year.  Admittedly, Vandy was awful before he arrived.  But he's basically built his reputation on beating Kentucky and Ole Miss.  He has yet to coach a game in the Big Ten or at Penn State.   

An even greater testament to the mindset of the "it's-better-to-be-almost-successful-at-an-awful-program-than-win-at-a-good-one" school of coaching rankings is Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern.  His teams are ten games below .500 in the Big Ten, with losing conference records in three of the last four years.  Time and again, we've seen Fitzgerald's teams snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  How he's near the top of such a list boggles the mind.  His ability to connect with young people has them seeking to unionize.

Gary Andersen began with the Franklin/Fitzgerald formula.  His resume starts with three four-win seasons, followed by a 7-win season before an 11-win campaign at Utah State that delivered him a Potato Bowl victory and the head gig at Wisconsin.  In his debut for the Badgers, he saw his team lose a great chance at victory to poor end of game management at Arizona State.  Then he lost at home on Senior Day to a limited-by-sanction Penn State squad.  That's two games a standout coach shouldn't lose.  

Kirk Ferentz only belongs near the top of this list if it's a lifetime achievement award.  He has a losing conference record over the last four seasons.  But maybe he gets a bump for having a winning conference record last year after letting his program gravitate below mediocrity.

Jerry Kill deserves some respect for winning most everywhere he's been in a long coaching career.  So far as a Big Ten coach, he's still got a lot of work ahead of him.  He had his first winning season in three tries (though just .500 in the Big Ten) this past year.  Technically, shouldn't much of the credit for getting 8 wins go to acting head coach Tracy Claeys, who stepped in when Jerry Kill was on leave for more than half of the season?  Claeys presided over all four conference victories.  

Brady Hoke has both a winning overall record and winning conference record in his three years at Michigan.  After a strong debut in 2011, his team moved backwards in the win column each year, and won only 2 conference games this past season despite a roster that's the envy of most of the conference.  

You had to get through all of those names to get to Bo Pelini.  Pelini is the only coach with a Big Ten division title after the first two names on the list.  He has a winning record against the five coaches on the list that he's faced more than once.  He has a far better record over the last six seasons (conference and overall) than everyone but Meyer and Dantonio.  He's the only coach on this list with a winning conference record in every season he's been a head coach.  Reread that last sentence.  It seems almost personal that he would sit so low on this list.  His standing here is probably a statement about the power of public relations.  If he was a bit chummier with the press he might sit third or even second on the list.  

Among the rest of the coaches, you could certainly argue that Randy Edsall and Kevin Wilson have equal or better credentials that some of the aforementioned lovable losers.  Seeing as how actual performance doesn't seem to be the main criteria, why not? 

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Comments 12 comments so far

PFFFFTTT on Athlon.

My responses are usually more thoughtful, but that’s all the effort I can give on this one.

When did Realista get a job at Athlon?

He’s back!!!  It may surprise many of you to know I would not rank BOP as low as Athlon.  However, it does show that those coaches who demonstrate enough saavy to know how to play the PR game, as BOP is attempting to do this season, does impact on favorability rankings.  Millions of dollars are paid by NU for a HC.  In return the HC should be able to “play the game” in more ways than one.

If you can’t kick ass on the field consistently, a HC needs to compensate in other ways.  4 loss seasons is not kicking ass.  Being the leader in negative turn over margin ain’t it either.  Not being in contention for the B10 title doesn’t cut it.  In the B10, he belongs at either 4 or 5.  For the Kool Aide drinkers, OSU, MS, WIS have the edge over NU’s Iowa fiasco HC.  BOP can tweet all he wants this season, but in the end, he has to produce better than he has so far.

If BOP loses to Miami, MS, Wisc, Iowa, he is showing anyone who cares that 4 loss seasons and irrelevancy is the best he can accomplish.

Conversely, of all the teams listed, Bo has beaten them two out of three times or at least once out of two times.  PFFTTT Athlon.

In a related story of disbelief the Obama Administration has stated that it appears that they are on track for 7 million sign ups for Obamacare.  However, no demographics are available at this time stating how many of the enrollees are ages 18 to 35, or elderly, or how many are actually in this country legally.

More news as it happens.  You are watching MSNBC.  When news breaks, we fix it!

Athlon is a p.o.s. rag and that’s been long established.  Can wipe my ass w their ‘list’.  I mean, they are worse than BleacherReport.  Fitzy in the 3 spot?  Well, that just goes to show you Athlon has La La Loopy writing for them.  The guy went 1-7 in the B1G last year.  Unf’ing real.

Kill should also be higher, like #5, for the job he’s done.

“When did Realista get a job at Athlon?”

OregonH, nice, I owe ya one, ^5.

And f’ing Franklin hasn’t even done jack squat yet and he’s #3 or #4, cant tell if they like 1-7 Fitzy better than 7 win Franklin.

Whatever, useless information.

Dogg~ Even Realista (yours truly) places BOP much higher than Athlon, so I am no supporter of Athlon.  I give BOP more credit than that.  I also agree with you Dogg, it’s “useless information”

If BOP this season can lose only 2 games, yet not win the B10 title, I can live with that.  However, looking simply at BOP’s history as HC at NU, one objectively must assume he will coach a team that loses 3-4 games unless he truly is turning things around.  Simply cutting the marginal turnover rate in half would likely produce a 2 loss season.  We shall soon see.

I like Mark Dantonio.  He does more with less. He won the BIG and the Rose Bowl.  Can’t argue with that.  I wonder right now whether he will be able to sustain that success, but right now he is the king of the hill.

Urban Meyer does not have his team stocked yet, but he has done pretty well.  He will be judged over the next few years.

Bo 9th?  Seems quite low.

I heard a definition of a sports fan: someone who is on constant alert for any sign of disrespect.  Bottom line?  Win, especially league, bowl, and national championships, and everyone will bow down - well, almost everyone.

Dan The Man, should be numero uno on everybody’s list.  Muraculous what they did last year, nobody saw that coming.

Plus, he seems like a real good guy.

Athlon probably did us all (NU Fans) a big favor by ranking BO so lowly since he seems to relish the “Poor Me” role of trying to revive a decimated and disappointing football program where any W appears to be nothing short of a coaching miracle, (after all…we did beat Georgia….barely), and any L is completely understandable given the poor quality of his tool kit, as being in a perpetual state of rebuilding.  Besides, It’s much easier to be a loser than a winner and to fulfil a low expectation, than visa-versa.
In fairness, NU does appear to be a much improved team and the excuse factor for the unexplicable losses side of the scale seems to be diminishing to the point that even die-hard BOers seem to be expecting better results in the W L columns (hoping anyway).  As usual, the proof of the pudding will be decided on the field, the decicisiveness of the Ws or Ls will be telling.  I am looking forward as usual to seeing a NU team take the field that I expect to play well and win every game, as opposed to a team that leaves me wondering, ” NU..Who are You?”

I predict a BREAKOUT YEAR, woooHOOOOO!

Uh, not exactly sure what will ‘break out’, but I’m predicting it!

I don’t know…I just root for my team and hope they win. I get just as mad as anyone, but really, Bo is doing the best he can and who knows, maybe in the end he turns out to be a special coach. A program needs a special coach to achieve high levels of success. It starts with the head coach. He already is a very good coach, as witnessed by facts presented in this article. He should be 3rd on the list from his winning percentages since being in the league alone. He’s won more than all those guys except Urban. He played for the league championship in his second year after all.
Maybe things that take longer to build are most long lasting…anyone ever think of that?
I say by the time he’s done, he leaves college football as an extremely respected Head Coach. Think back and we’ve already seen quite excellent examples of what he’s done.

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