It’s the off season. College sports are in a holding pattern until the fall. Those that make a living writing about it have to do something, so they come up with lists. I get it, and even though I don’t make a living doing it, I do the same. The struggle for content is real. Generally, I wont call out a particular person. If I flame something, it’s a concept, or a system. Tonight is going to be a little different. This list by The Sporting News is complete trash. It attempts to rank 130 FBS college football coaches.
I like The Sporting News. Back in the caveman days when we got a lot of our information from print media, they were my favorite. I also understand just how difficult it is to know everything about 130 teams. I struggle to cover the MAC and the Big Ten. So I just want to be clear. I am not attacking The Sporting News or the guy that wrote the list. I am just attacking the pathetic list.
The list starts off at the bottom, and Tim Lester at Western Michigan was the first name I noticed, 1 from the bottom. Understandable, new coach and all. Then Kent State’s Paul Haynes was next at 123. I understand, they have sucked. Then Lance Leipold of Buffalo came off the list at 122, Ball State’s Mike Neu was 121 and Mike Jenks of Bowling Green was 120. Right then, I knew what I was looking at. A guy that follows power 5 college football, and is looking at lists of teams from “lesser” schools and just throwing names out there. Why else would so many MAC schools be clustered?
I get it. The author doesn’t have the time or the inclination to watch MAC sports. My request is simple. Then don’t bother to rank coaches from the lesser schools.
The part that infuriated me the most was that the author put Chuck Martin at 96 and then he put Dan Mullen at MSU at 19. His reasoning for having Mullen at 19, “he does more with less.” Meanwhile, Martin took Mullen’s team to the wire. If we are rewarding people for doing more with less, certainly MAC coaches should be ranked much higher.
Another blood boiler was that he had Jason Candle ranked 95. In his first head coaching gig, that he received at the ripe old age of 36, Candle went 9-4. This guy screams, “Up and coming coach that is coming soon to a power 5 school near you”.
8 out of the 12 MAC coaches have a triple digit ranking, while 2 others are in the 90s. The highest rated MAC coach is 61, Frank Solich. I am inclined to believe he has that ranking more because of what he did at Nebraska than the fantastic job he has done at Ohio.
This just proves to me that we, as fans of MACtion, have a lot of work to do. The parity in college football is at unprecedented levels, but the national media recognition of this is lacking. While group of 5 teams continue to compete with, and sometimes beat their power 5 brethren, the national media fails to recognize the accomplishments of the lower level guys, both players and coaches. This list is one of the most glaring examples.
What’s most telling is that when a power 5 destination program needs a new coach, and comes calling, who are they going to call? The 6th or 7th best coach in their conference, which they most certainly could hire away (unless they have a Kirk Ferentz contract), or are they beating path to the PJ Flecks of the world? It’s the little guy. That tells me that the best coach in the MAC is better than the guy at the 7-5 power 5 school.
Want another example? The MAC had 11 players drafted this season out of their 12 teams. The Big Ten, who has 14 teams had 35. Big difference between the two, right? Well, let’s dig a little deeper. We need to knock off 2 teams from the Big Ten to make it even. Let’s take the top team, since we are talking overall conference strength, and not comparing the top teams. Michigan had 11 guys drafted, which takes the Big Ten down to 24. Take off Ohio State, and their 7 picks, and we are down to 17. Go ahead and throw in and their 4, and the Big Ten is at 13. 11 of the Big Ten teams verse 12 of the MAC teams, and it’s 13-11. The talent level, except at the highest levels in the power 5, really isn’t that different.
Bottom line is that I want to live in a world where we accept reality, and understand that talent can come from anywhere. Just because someone has a power 5 coaching job they aren’t better than the guy that doesn’t. That goes for both coaches and players. It mostly works out with the individual, because if a guy can coach in the MAC, and he is young enough, he’ll get a big time job. This list isn’t going to stop Jason Candle from coaching Nebraska in a few years when Mike Riley retires. A month or so back, I wrote the article that proclaimed Akron’s Jason Taylor as a pro football Hall of Famer. In the years to come I’ll add Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and others to that list. It doesn’t stop the kids from living their NFL dream.
It’s the team that gets shafted. While we will make a big deal about the undefeated MAC team needing a shot at the title, it goes much farther than that. It’s the 10-2 MAC team that is much better than the 8-4 power 5 school that doesn’t get the recognition they deserve. So while I will be standing on my soap box screaming to anyone that will listen, I hope more fans of MACtion will join me sticking up for the really good MAC teams, and not just the great ones. The key is that it can’t just be the fans of that particular 10-2 team that particular season. It has to be all of us, whenever one of us climbs to the near top.