And now, for the very last of our B1G 2016 features, I would be remiss if I didn’t give proper due to the brightest stars in Michigan’s beverage constellation today: Bell’s Brewery and Founders Brewing Company. These cornerstones of the flourishing West Michigan beverage industry in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids have garnered a well-deserved national following since the turn of the century, and have pushed their distribution well beyond Michigan’s borders.
All that success notwithstanding, there are always clouds on the horizon in such a hypercompetitive industry. Whether it’s the fickleness of consumer tastes or the accelerating consolidation of leviathan macrobrewers with disproportionate control over shelf space, nothing is certain for these companies, even with the well-deserved success both currently enjoy.
Let’s look into the future. Mark Dantonio has been a godsend for the MSU football program, but no one coaches forever. The hope would be that when he retires, the job is desirable enough to attract a worthy successor who can at least sustain Dantonio’s success, if not break through to the very top of the sport if Dantonio never gets there himself.
How do you regard your program’s future? Are you an invincible superpower like, say, Florida used to be and thus certain you will always be in your current position? Feeling stable enough to be confident of decent success going forward? Or are you more of, just to turn a phrase, a slumbering behemoth of sorts, and if so, how do you wake up (generic answers about Coach X ‘totally changing everything since he got here’ will result in an automatic zero)?
Candystripes: Indiana’s future depends heavily on how long Kevin Wilson stays at the helm. If he decides that this is his job and he’s gonna make this team work, then there’s hope that Indiana might someday challenge for the second best team in the division sometime this century. If we’re going along, and then “BAH GAWD KING, THAT’S OKLAHOMA’S MUSIC!” happens, then we probably fall back into the same old pattern that IU football has always been in, and nothing will ever change.
Brian: Michigan's future is bright.
Al NamiasIV: Following 2004, I had dreams of Iowa getting over that hump, being a heavyweight that could go toe-to-toe with Ohio State, Michigan, etc. Not anymore. Iowa is what it is: potentially one bad coach away from being Purdue; and potentially one good coach away from challenging for a conference title every 3-4 years and a national championship once a decade. Right now, and for the past 45-plus years, Iowa has been in the latter category, but I know it’s fleeting.
MNW: I have declared once before that Northwestern has “arrived.” I will never do that again, because it’s not The Year. It’s never The Year.
good friend noted troll at InsideNU/Sippin’ on Purple always liked to remind me, I accept mediocrity every day that I support the retention of Pat Fitzgerald as head football coach at Northwestern University. And I do! I support going an average of 6-6/7-5 or something, with maybe a couple non-bowl seasons a decade, and continuing to uphold the same academic standards Northwestern always has. I like that. It sets my alma mater apart and makes me proud to be an alumnus.
The one thing I don’t support is when the stability that breeds that success (Fitz has gotten the team to bowl eligibility 7 times in his first 10 years as a coach) also leads to institutional laziness and fear of change. The retention of Mick McCall as OC has many ‘Cats fans concerned that has, indeed, happened.
Creighton: I’m optimistic about the post-Ferentz era in Iowa City. At this time last year, the worst-case scenario for the 2015 season that was bouncing around in my brain was that Iowa would finish under .500 again, Ferentz would be let go and Gary Barta would hire some middling up-and-coming M.A.C. nobody (Like I don’t know Matt Campbell or whoever) and we would enter a dark age of Iowa football that hasn’t been seen since long before I was born. Now with Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz reportedly working on his final contract before retirement, I’m much more up on Iowa’s future. Rather than choosing from whatever pool of candidates is available that year, Iowa will have time to do their homework and have a coach in waiting that’s a good fit for the program. In general, more assistant coaches are retained when a head coach retires than they are one one is fired and they clean house. Iowa is a program that will thrive if given that kind of consistency.