Bad news, sports fans.
After a one-year hiatus in 2016, I was quite excited to resume the Big Ten Power Tie Power Rankings, which I like to think has become something of a media-days tradition. The premise is right there in the title: Rank the neckwear choices of guys who probably don’t like wearing ties very often.
I won’t say those choices tell you everything, but it’s not like they don’t tell you anything either. Does a coach stick to team colors? If the answer is yes, it might mean a coach isn’t fully aware of the actual power of a power tie. (The truly powerful need not be limited by a two-color palette.) If the answer is no, however, some might wonder if a coach is truly committed or if his agent is already working behind the scenes to get the next job. There’s a delicate balance to strike and requires a careful reading of what’s happening beneath the collar and the entire enterprise of power tie power ranking is dependent upon choice, upon a coach’s free will to make a statement or not make a statement via about 60 inches of silk.
At least I thought those were the rules of the game, but I am sad to report, in this era of unlimited alternate uniforms (peacocking for the gridiron set) and enormous coaching salaries buoyed by an influx of TV money, that some Big Ten coaches may only have one tie. How else to explain the encore appearance of Mark Dantonio’s green regimental stripe from last year or Paul Chryst running back a red foulard from 2015?
Perhaps this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Football has always been a game of imitation. But don’t think repeat offenders won’t take a hit in the Power Tie Power Rankings.
Without further ado:
7. Tom Allen – Indiana
Solid color silk is almost never a good idea. The Regis Philbin era of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” taught us this. Considering some previously mentioned coaches are dealing with a repeat-performance penalty, Allen’s finish here is telling.
6. Paul Chryst – Wisconsin
Something of an everyman selection, Chryst’s tie is somewhat like Wisconsin football itself — simple but effective. It paired well with the black Under Armour socks I noticed Chryst was wearing with his suit. This is a man who prizes practicality and if you’ve got drawers and drawers of Under Armour socks at your disposal, why not use them? Who cares if they’re not “dress socks.”
5. Mark Dantonio (pictured above) – Michigan State
Points for boldness — the green is sort of bright and it comes with some blue and red accents — but demerits for familiarity.
4. Urban Meyer – Ohio State
As the coach who occupies the Big Ten’s corner office, so to speak, I always think Meyer’s neckwear should be a little bit bolder, a little more Gordon Gekko-esque. But this year’s simple scarlet-and-silver check is one of Meyer’s better selections in recent years.
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3. Kirk Ferentz – Iowa
Much like the football team he coaches, Ferentz has a blueprint and sticks to it. For the third consecutive year he showed up in a black-and-gold regimental stripe with a little bit of texture. But they have all been slightly different and you’ll never go wrong with a classic stripe. There’s understated power here and the color scheme does help.
2. D.J. Durkin – Maryland
Simple almost always wins. Polka dots win a lot, too, which is what Durkin’s foulard looks like from afar. So what makes his different from Chryst’s? One, it’s not a repeat, and, two, he paired it with a blue shirt. Venturing outside the team’s color scheme always earns points . . .
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1. Lovie Smith – Illinois
. . . And that’s why Smith won the day. His bold, yellow tie with some sort of seal- or crest-inspired design says, “You already know I’m the coach at Illinois and I don’t need to communicate that via an orange or blue strip of silk.” I’m not even sure I like the tie — it looks like it’s from an Italian fashion house — but it was undoubtedly the most powerful.