With primary season in full swing for 2016, I'm sure everyone is even more amped than usual to hear about politics. We've officially passed the period of time once every four years when people go on national television and act like Iowa matters, which means that many campaigns have already packed it in.
It's remarkable how much a presidential campaign is like a coach's tenure when it comes to how the public remembers them. Every failed coach, just like every failed presidential candidate, had some hype at one point that was justified at the time. Yet it's easy to look back and wonder what the people running the show were thinking when they gave these people any support.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Here's the failed Presidential campaign that best relates to each Big Ten coach.
In three cases, I'm using the former coach because I just don't know enough about the new coach to do this exercise.
Mike Riley: John Kerry, 2004
John Kerry was such a nice guy! This was the praise very frequently given to the face of this mostly forgettable campaign that won the Democratic nomination before losing convincingly to George W. Bush. Mike Riley is also a pretty nice guy, but actually, he forgot Poland.
Jerry Kill: Ross Perot, 1992
Ross "The Boss" Perot was going to change everything. He ran by far the most successful independent campaign of the modern era, going toe-to-toe with the established powers and actually leading them in the opinion polls at one point. However, a tragic and inexplicable breakdown occurred that caused Perot to withdraw from the campaign for several weeks, and by the time he re-entered he no longer stood any chance of winning. Those sick of the status quo would have to hope his spiritual successors could carry on the fight against the machine.
Ohio State and Michigan fans secretly high-fived each other though.
Fight the Power, Jerry Kill
Kirk Ferentz: John McCain, 2008
When he announced he was running in the primaries in 2008, I thought "this guy again? Didn't we go through nearly anointing him 8 years ago?" No, not at all! Despite his longevity and his previous proximity to winning the Republican nomination in 2000, the 2008 version was a reinvented McCain. A McCain 2.0! Kind of...indistinguishable from the previous version, but this one's a MAVERICK!
This time, he got even farther than he did 8 years ago before inevitably losing his shot at the national title.
Bill Cubit: Gerald Ford, 1976
A scandal created by his predecessor created a vacuum of power through which he assumed control of the country. (Interim) President Ford ended up getting the job by being in the right place at the right time. However, when he campaigned for his next term, he was not quite as successful. Apparently the American public saw him as having won roughly 1 of his last 6 games and was not willing to settle for "stability." Unfortunately, this is where the presidential thing diverges from the coach thing, because StaBillity Cubit is back in town for 2016.
At least Gerald Ford didn't give his son a 400% raise.
Pat Fitzgerald: Rick Perry, 2012
Quite smug in his own right, Rick Perry got some early victories as his small but vocal group of supporters shouted his glories from the highest mountains. Then the spotlight hit him.
Pat Fitzgerald seems to save his most spectacular failures for the most anticipated games, doesn't he?
Despite all that early success, there were the highly-touted Northwestern Wildcats looking like deer in the headlights down 38-0 against Michigan.
"The three phases of the game, all three of which we do excellently, are defense, special teams and...uh......."
It was pretty difficult to take them seriously after that. Perry hasn't managed to get all of his smug back; can Fitzgerald?
Darrell Hazell: Herman Cain, 2012
Success in the MAC doesn't always translate to success in the Big Ten, but it also usually doesn't translate to failure this spectacular. If only Purdue were as fun-bad as the pizza magnate's ill-fated 2012 run for the Republican nomination. Rock me like a Herman Cain!
This entire article may have been a flimsy premise for that photoshopped image.
Kevin Wilson: Ron Paul, 2008
Ron Paul's 2008 campaign did a highly unlikely thing: engaged a lot of young people in the Republican primaries through unconventional means. Almost as unlikely as, say, Indiana football in a bowl game. Nevertheless, Kevin Wilson has managed to find a niche in a cutthroat arena.
Also, like Ron Paul, Wilson does not believe in making defense spending a high priority.
Jim Harbaugh: Al Gore, 2000
WHAT DO YOU MEAN I DIDN'T WIN FLORIDA?
I DEMAND A RECOUNT! I'M SUPER CEREAL!
Urban Meyer: George H.W. Bush, 1992
The incumbent President, champion of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush was also the sitting President during the fall of the USSR. He had plenty of talent returning for '92 as well and was the consensus preseason #1. But then a perfect storm of economic woes, third-party disruption and Bill Clinton's charisma created a monsoon in which any upset might be possible. Also noteworthy that Tim Beckman was at one point on Urban Meyer's staff, making him kind of like the Dan Quayle of this equation.
Kyle Flood: John Edwards, 2008
A reasonably likeable, suspiciously Fallonesque Senator, John Edwards was ultimately done in by getting caught cheating. The affair that came out during his 2008 campaign damaged his credibility irreparably after that, and he just wasn't going to be a hot ticket from that point on.
Kyle Flood could have won a lot of games and still not have been able to outrun this stampede of embarrassment in which he got caught.
Randy Edsall: John Ewards, 2004
In 2004, an electoral college voter in Minnesota, committed to the Kerry/Edwards ticket, wrote in John Ewards instead. Therefore, in perpetuity, John Ewards will be credited with receiving an electoral vote in the 2004 general election.
A bizarre and deeply disturbing footnote in history. But enough about Randy Edsall.
James Franklin: Howard Dean, 2004
LET'S GET HYPED! YEEEEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!
Mark Dantonio: Richard Nixon, 1960
You know why.
Paul Chryst: Martin O'Malley