Friday, May 28, 2010

Is Brewster's Coaching Seat the Hottest in the BIg Ten?

Earlier in the week Jermo touched on what Tim Brewster will have to do to keep his job as Minnesota's football coach beyond 2010. While I wish I could argue against Jermo's beliefs that another six win regular season and a win in a crappy bowl game is all Brew will have to do to be here in 2011, I simply can't, especially with Joel Maturi in charge.

So while Brew's coaching hot seat is pretty warm heading into 2010, it's by no means the warmest in the conference. Just for fun (like a man wearing stretchy pants in his room), let's rank the coaching hot seats around the Big Ten in reverse order and see where Brewster shakes out:

A Cool, Comfortable Easy Chair

Tough to rank these five in any order, as all of their jobs are extremely safe. Still...

11. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Fitz's job is the most secure in all of the Big Ten because he's been the most successful coach in Wildcats' history at a school with little support and even less expectations. Honestly, he could miss a bowl game for the next five years and no one at the school would even fathom getting rid of him.

10. Danny Hope, Purdue
While Purdue has a larger fan base and expectations than Northwestern, they still don't compare to some other schools in the conference. Despite missing a bowl game in his first season, Hope's team was competitive and even exciting, and therefore he's going to get a few more years to get the Boilermakers "back on track" if you will (and I will).

9. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Hawkeye fans LOVE Ferentz, but because of the expectations at Iowa, it wouldn't take more than two "down" seasons for Kirk's seat to start getting toasty. Heck, with the expectations going into this season, if they finish anywhere but first or second you might hear a few grumbles.

8. Joe Paterno, Penn State
Whenever JoePa decides to finally retire, he'll leave as the winningest coach in Division 1 history. With the way the past few seasons have gone, Nittany Lion fans will be thrilled to let him stay as long as he wants. The team is back to competing for conference titles every year, and while everyone knows Paterno long ago started delegating most of his coaching duties to his fine staff, it's working well and everyone's on-board. The only reason I put JoePa here is because if you remember back only five or six years ago when Penn State wasn't winning, the folks in Happy Valley weren't so happy and were ready to push Paterno out the door to retirement as fast as they could. A down year this season (possible with all the losses on defense and QB) and next would be enough for the fans to start clamoring for him to step down.

7. Jim Tressel, Ohio State
All the mighty Sweater Vest has done this century at OSU is win a national title, win or share the last six Big Ten titles, and continually beat the bejeesus out of arch-rival Michigan. At 99% of the schools in the country, they'd be naming streets after Tressel and handing him a blank check. But of course OSU expects more. After losing three straight BCS Bowl games (including two national title game drubbings in 2006 and 2007) and another regular season loss to USC AND a shocking upset to Purdue last year, a sizeable amount of Buckeye fans were lighting up message boards and websites wondering if Tressel was the right guy for the job. Of course the Bucks then ripped off a big winning streak to once again win the conference title and then avenged their previous BCS bowl game losses by handling Oregon in impressive fashion.

For now the folks in Columbus are satisfied, but with a loaded 2010 team that will be ranked in the top 3 in the country to start the season, anything less than another Big Ten title and AT LEAST another BCS bowl game win (if not the BCS National Championship), the questioning will begin again. As a Gopher fan it seems insane to me, as I would take any ONE of Tressel's Big Ten title seasons and take him as our coach for life. But Ohio State is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to expectations.

We're Getting Warmer

6. Bret Bielma, Wisconsin
Heading into 2009 most Badger fans seemed less than thrilled with Bielma's tenure. Considering he played at Iowa I'm not sure what they expected (zing!), but Bielma quieted his critics with 10 wins, including a bowl victory over Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. Bucky Badger enters this season in just everybody preseason top 10, and if Wisconsin doesn't finish the season there- or at least close to it- his critics in Madison will start up again.

5. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Dantonio has done a pretty good job of rebuilding the Spartans in his short time there, but with a disappointing 2009 season coupled with so many player suspensions for the "frat boy fights", he really needs a top 5 finish in the Big Ten in 2010. Not saying he's going to get canned if he doesn't, but his seat will start getting awfully warm heading into 2011.

Is it Me, or Is It Hot in Here?

4. Tim Brewster, Minnesota
If it were me as AD, Brew would need 7 wins this season to keep his job. He's entering his fourth season with a roster full of his own recruits, and all he has to show for it is a string of players running afoul of the law, an 0-3 bowl record, 0-9 in trophy games, and he's yet to beat a team ranked in the top 25. But as long as Joel Maturi continues to run the U's athletic department, well, Brewster could win four games and still keep his job. Or maybe get another contract extension. Who knows?

3. Bill Lynch, Indiana
It's looking like bowl game or bust for Lynch, who with a returning QB and some offensive talent around him, has a pretty good shot at remaining in Bloomington. Still, it's Indiana so you never know.

2. Ron Zook, Illinois
If Zook were at a lot of other schools he wouldn't even have a job, but for some reason, the Illini wanted to give him one more shot at it. The Zooker definitely needs to go bowling to keep his job, but I wonder if HOW they qualify for a bowl doesn't matter too? Like if they go limping into a bowl game, would he still get canned? We're about to find out.

1. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
We finish the list with the man on the hottest seat not just in the Big Ten but in the country. Things have not gone as planned on or off the field for Rodriguez or fans and alumni of the Maize and Blue as he enters his third season. I'm still of the belief that if he would get four years he would win there and start winning big, but he's not getting a fourth year unless he wins big in 2010. What does "winning big" mean? I have no idea, and considering how many differing opinions you read out there, I'm not sure anyone else does either. In my opinion to keep his job he needs to beat Notre Dame, win at least eight regular season games and get them back to a New Year's Day Bowl. But considering how much he's disliked in Ann Arbor right now, even that might not be enough.

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