No. 52 - Home of the Spread
I know what you're thinking. What are you talking about? It's true that when I think Big Ten, my thoughts don't immediately turn to intrepid innovation. But consider this: the spread offense -- the powerful potion sweeping college football, owes a considerable portion of its success to the Midwest.
As Wikipedia confirms:
"[W]hile Steve Nuss is commonly referred to as the father of the spread offense, former Middletown (Ohio) High School football coach Glenn "Tiger" Ellison is the real father."
Who are the patriarchs? Guys like Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), Joe Tiller (Purdue), Jerry Moore (Appalachian State), Mike Leach (Texas Tech), Rich Rodriguez (Michigan), Mike Bellotti (Oregon) and (of course) Urban Meyer (Florida).
But before you protest that only one of these mavericks played petri dish in the conference, consider that Urban Meyer cut his teeth coaching at Ohio State and Bowling Green, where he attended clinics led by Joe Tiller, and Northwestern's Randy Walker.
In fact, in Walker's first season coaching the Wildcats, "[he] overhauled the offense and introduced the spread formation. Unlike most other spread offenses, Walker's featured a very strong running game. His run game was so strong, in fact, that only one season in Walker's entire time at Northwestern did he fail to coach a 1000-yard rusher. This offense helped the Wildcats share the Big Ten title in his second year."
When thunder meets lightening, you get electric results.