Big Ten Football Q&A: The Coach/Recruit Dichotomy, New Helmets and Jello

Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterAugust 23, 2012

And then there's Urban Meyer: the complete package.
And then there's Urban Meyer: the complete package.Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

On Thursdays on The Big Ten Blog, we will feature questions from the B/R inbox, Twitter and email. Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send them to Big Ten lead blogger Adam Jacobi via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @Adam_Jacobi or at


@adam_jacobi what's more important: being a good football coach or being a good recruiter?

— Erik Johnson(@ErikJohnson50) August 23, 2012


Ah yes, the old dichotomy: to be a better developer or selector of talent. I'm glad you asked. 

The immediate, knee-jerk response is that you would want to be a good football coach first and foremost, because badly-coached teams are no fun to watch—unless you don't like them, in which case they're pure, unadulterated comedy.

But think of the "haves" in college football, the perennial powerhouses: Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and (to a declining extent) Penn State in the Big Ten, then USC, Texas, Oklahoma and roughly half of the SEC. Their ability to win football games by sheer muscle and talent is something that the "have-nots" can rarely replicate, especially on a multi-year basis. And they're almost always right up there at the top of the recruiting rankings to boot.

Heck, Notre Dame gets recruits like Jimmy Clausen, Manti Te'o and Gunner Kiel, and the Irish haven't done anything of merit on a football field since before this latest recruiting class was even born.

Here's the thing, though: We're naming programs there—not coaches. And that's because, by and large, the quality of the football program determines the quality of the recruit.

That's not to say that there isn't a significant amount of variation in different coaches' ability to recruit. That is undoubtedly true. Jim Tressel never recruited to Ohio State as well as Urban Meyer's doing—and the argument could be made that John Cooper was a better recruiter too.

But Brady Hoke's tearing it up on the recruiting trail right now because he's at Michigan, not because he's Brady Hoke. He wasn't putting San Diego State in the Top 25 of recruiting classes, to say nothing of Ball State. And even with his BCS-conference bona fides now in place, if you ship him off to Illinois or Purdue, he's not stocking the place with 4-star talent anymore.

Moreover, there's nothing fans hate worse than seeing underutilized talent. Look at Urban Meyer's first championship at Florida. He did it in his second year there, which means he did it mostly with Ron Zook's recruits. That's right: Put him in the right school, and Ron Zook can recruit national championship-caliber players. In related news, Ron Zook was just fired by Illinois for having a crappy, dysfunctional team.

So be a good coach first and foremost. The talent will eventually take care of itself, whether it's at your school or the next place that offers you.


@adam_jacobi What Big Ten team is most in need of a new logo or a new helmet design?

— Craig D. Barker (@cdbarker) August 23, 2012


I'm probably going to burn a few bridges on this one, but I'm glad you asked.

I have a confession to make: I don't like Michigan's helmets. Never have. I get that they're traditional mainstays and that if they change, Ann Arbor will burn to the ground within an hour, but they're really not attractive helmets.

And I've never understood why they're called "winged" helmets. Do those look like wings you've ever seen on any animal in your life? Moreover, did wolverines start growing wings all of a sudden?

I like the Michigan color scheme: It is iconically and uniquely Michigan's own, and that should never change. And I get that the helmets are rooted in tradition. It's just that "ugly" is not really the best tradition to keep, guys.


@adam_jacobi Which B1G stadium do you think could hold the most Jello?

— Homeless Mark (@MarktheNomad) August 16, 2012


Finally, a serious question. I'm glad you asked.

First off, I assume we're allowing for sealing off gates and gaps in the stadium, so the Jello doesn't just go pouring out before the place is anywhere near full. We're wanting to pack these things full of Jell-O, right? Right.

So the two main things we're looking for here are seating capacity, as few variations in stadium height are possible, and overall area. Illinois' Memorial Stadium's capacity isn't anywhere near, say, Beaver Stadium, so instinctively we know it's not going to be the champion on this one. Similarly, Ohio Stadium holds a ton of people, but the end zones are low and even if they weren't, the double-decker layout limits the overall volume (and therefore Jell-O capacity) of the place.

Ah, but Michigan Stadium. The Big House. The Big Jell-O Bowl. Capacity? Check: over 107,000 seats, just waiting to be filled with fruit-flavored gelatin snacks. Overall area? Check: The stadium expands outward in a bowl, to the point where seats in the top rows in each end zone are—and we measured this—4,000 miles apart. Uniform height of the stadium? Check: As mentioned before, it's in the iconic bowl shape. How convenient is that?

Now fortunately, Mr. Nomad did not ask how much Jell-O the stadium could hold. We are not math majors. Suffice it to say, however, Bill Cosby would die of mirth when he sees the Big House overflowing with Jell-O Gelatin Jigglers, just as God always intended it.

Good old Jell-O.