BTN’s Tom Dienhart detailed a clear trend in college football coaching this morning: it pays to have an offensive background.
According to Dienhart, 41 of the 64 Power Five coaches come from the offensive side of the ball, nearly double the number of those that come from the defensive side. In the Big Ten, the ratio is eight to six in favor of offense, including Nebraska’s Mike Riley. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio is the only defensive-minded head coach in the Big Ten that has won a conference title.
The only defensive-minded coaches who have won national titles since 2000 are Nick Saban, Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll and Gene Chizik. To be fair, Saban has won five titles during that span, but Alabama is a whole different beast than the rest of college football right now.
Dienhart stops a bit short of offering his analysis for this disparity. Perhaps offensive coaches in general have a better feel for the big picture? Nebraska fans saw first-hand how the program was run under the defensive-minded Bo Pelini. It’s no surprise that Nebraska went in a completely different direction both personality-wise and background-wise when they moved on from Pelini.
In addition to Riley, offensive coaches to take Big Ten jobs in recent years include James Franklin, P.J. Fleck and Jeff Brohm. On the other side of the ball, Tom Allen, Chris Ash, D.J. Durkin and Lovie Smith have all gotten jobs in the Big Ten in the last few years.
The old football adage is that defense wins championships, but outside of Nick Saban that statement doesn’t necessarily hold true based on who is running the team. Having a great defense is certainly preferable to the alternative, but it seems more important to have a great defensive mind as the coordinator than the head man, and that’s certainly what Nebraska has with Mike Riley and Bob Diaco.
Moving on, the coaching change Nebraska made a few years ago appears to be paying off on the recruiting trail.
Nebraska's 6 ESPN 300 commitments is the most ever for the Huskers since ESPN 300 started in 2013. Next most was 5 in 2016.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 6, 2017
Six of Nebraska’s 10 2018 commits (Joshua Moore, Mario Goodrich, Chase Williams, Manuel Allen, Brendan Radley-Hiles, Cameron Jurgens) fall inside the top 235, and the Huskers are hot on the trail of several more.
On Wednesday, in-state defensive tackle Bryson Williams committed to Wisconsin. Nebraska never offered him, in part because of scheme fit and in part because of the size of the 2018 class. There are only so many scholarships available and that leads to some difficult decisions. Fans always want to see Nebraska keep talented local recruits in-state, but when they are recruiting at the level they seem to be currently there isn’t always going to be room. Riley and company are shooting for the stars in recruiting and have found great success in doing so. It’s unfortunate to see a player from Lincoln end up at a Big ten foe, but that was the best move for him and it does not necessarily have to reflect poorly on Nebraska (who, by the way, does have two in-state commits already in Jurgens of Beatrice and York defensive tackle Masry Mapieu).
And speaking of recruiting, who wants more Bookie? Here’s a quick highlight video of Radley-Hiles at The Opening Finals last weekend.
The Grab Bag
- We have a new set of coach rankings, this time from the Sporting News, and Mike Riley moved up from 48 to 43, good for ninth in the Big Ten just behind P.J. Fleck.
- Former Nebraska women’s basketball star Kelsey Griffin has made the Australian National team for the FIBA Asia Cup coming up later this month.
- SB Nation’s Jason Kirk named Penn State at Ohio State on Oct. 28 as the best conference game in the Big Ten for 2017.
- Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen listed the top 10 defenders in college football, and one Big Ten player made the cut. The list included four players from the ACC.
- In the wake of Texas forging a partnership with Corona, SI’s Andy Staples took a stab at pairing a number of college football teams with a fitting brand of alcohol.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.