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Mailbag and Weekend Open Thread: Who’s the best coach in the Big Ten?

Plus, why the SEC will always be in the College Football Playoff, whether Iowa can break 48 over two games, and the prospect of Minnesota finally hosting Gameday.

Wisconsin v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Welcome to the Week Six Mailbag and Weekend Open Thread! We’re trying something new and putting this out on Friday to give you a place to talk all things football, life, and otherwise going into the weekend!

If you need a football schedule for Friday and beyond, MNW has you covered.

In the meantime, we’re talking whether Minnesota can go 8-0, who the best coach in the Big Ten is, and the best cities in Canada, for some reason.

Minnesota’s upcoming schedule is Illinois, Nebraska, @ rutger, and Maryland Terrapins. Penn State has Purdue , @ Iowa, Michigan, and @ MSU. Will either team be 8-0 when they meet for the Governor’s Victory Bell Trophy? - pkloa

BRT: Minnesota really should emerge from that schedule unscathed, but I feel their luck runs out before then. The most obvious choices are Nebraska or Maryland, and of course, I hope it’s against Nebraska (CHAIR) I think PSU drops a game to either Iowa or MSU, possibly both.

Boilerman: That’s a tough one. Minnesota’s unwillingness to keep opponents at arm’s length makes me think they have to trip up. Franklin is still Franklin, so he’s going to choke one away.

LPW: nope!

Jesse: I kind of hope so because look, Minnesota is the going to be the most absurd 8-0 team we’ve had, which is amazing considering Iowa. In theory, Minnesota can also lose to almost every one of those teams save rutger, but they will not. PSU? Well, they’re probably going 2-2 over that stretch so whatever.

WSR: Honestly, I’d be about as surprised as either team being 6-2 as I would they be 8-0. And for the record, we’re going to be 8-0 so Penn State needs to hold serve so we can have the most miserable, poorly attended GameDay ever.

Wisconsin apparently took Harbaugh’s khaki pants as trophies from the W over Michigan, and wore them this past week against Northwestern. What trophies can you “take” from some other B1G coaches and use in your own team’s look the week following a win? (For example, beat Minnesota and you wear 3/4 zip jerseys.) - StewartRL

BRT: Acknowledging up front that all of these wins are hypothetical… :(

  • Northwestern--the NU, of course!
  • MSU--shoulder chips
  • Minnesota--wrap-around sunglasses to wear when we are losing

Boilerman: Yeah, I’m not speaking for my team either.

  • Minnesota - Life Jackets
  • MSU - Dantonio’s scowl
  • Wisconsin - Walk around saying, “Turnover chain, my ass:


  1. aOSU ~ Sole usage of the word “THE”
  2. Michigan ~ The power of SMUG
  3. MSU ~ The knowledge that your basketball team will be really really good this year
  4. Nebraska ~ Lil Red (shudders)
  5. PSU ~ Your campus has the legitimate claim for best ice cream in the conference

MC ClapYoHandz:

  1. Minnesota - High-end running shoes, so you can show people you run like the wind and the game is definitely about you
  2. Rutgers- Now? I’m guessing anything they wore in The Godfather is fair game
  3. Wisconsin- Whatever your current look would be if it were tailored for a Kohl’s clearance rack

Hawks play two real teams next. Can they get to 48 points between those two games? - AlltheIowanamesaretaken

Boilerman: Ahh, the Everlasting Iowa Question, “Can they beat someone with a pulse?”

/Shakes Magic 8 Ball

”Signs point to no.”

LPW: Kirk Ferenta doesn’t believe in being mean, so no.

Jesse: I struggle to believe that Michigan’s defense actually knows what it is doing, so give me Iowa with 24 in that game. Penn State - despite still not really knowing much - probably holds them to 17. So uh, no? I don’t have a witty funny answer to this.

pkloa: nope!

MNW: Even if they don’t, it can still be enough to win them both games. That’s the mark of a real Iowa team--this isn’t some Neukirk v3.0 bullshit, it’s just that their defense could be stout enough and their offense keep-away enough to win those games 24-17 and 17-13.

WSR: Nope.

Best Canadian city name? I’m having a hard time deciding on a winner in Guelph vs. Flin Flon. - Broated Nutcrackle

Dead Read: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

BRT: I know there are funnier ones, but Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is supremely satisfying.

Jesse: I’m really partial to Halifax because it just feels good. When consulting um… readers digest It appears there is a ‘Blow Me Down’ city, so let’s go with that.

pkloa: I’m old fashioned, give me the one that rhymes with fun: Regina

MNW: Whatever the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump one is. But I also like Flin Flon (it’s so whimsical!) and have made it a personal goal to drive there at some point in life. I camped at Lundar on the shore of Lake Manitoba a couple years back (just me, a tent, some whiskey, and a book on the history of Midwestern regionalism), and driving up to Flin Flon in mid-June to do something similar sounds fun.

MC: I just really like that someone out there, with so many words at their disposal, decided that the best name for their town is Punkeydoodles Corners.

WSR: Brooks Brook, Yukon Territory.

If you are #1 most-desired coach on the market and both jobs are open… which one would is objectively more desirable—Michigan or Notre Dame—and why? I’ll be back next week to ask again… - OctoDawg

BRT: Notre Dame. Plum TV exposure, bigger fanbase, no Ohio State, and no conference to deal with. A media darling all on their own, they will always get the nod for the playoff when they’re reasonably good without having to account for anyone else in the conference that happens to be good, which is not the case with Michigan.

Boilerman: Fuck Notre Dame. Fuck Michigan. My answer will not change even if you keep asking.

LPW: can a meteor hit South Bend and Ann Arbor, asking for a friend?

Jesse: Notre Dame. While the Big Ten is more overall exposure, money, etc., BRT hits the nail on the head as far as path to a CFP berth. Add in the NBC thing, the reality that you get to do whatever the hell you want and it’s more or less hidden because lol private university, and you’ve got the makings of a great situation. Michigan is a good job, but it’s also an almost impossible job.

WSR: Notre Dame. While their ACC schedule is set through 2030, they do have more flexibility with the rest of their games. Don’t want to play the equivalent of a month with Penn State, Northwestern, Iowa, and wisconsin? DON’T! Get Navy in there now that they’re crap again and have no worries. Or Air Force! The possibilities are limitless for a schedule with huge names surrounded by the Northwesterns of the world to make you look like a better coach than your 11-1 record implies. And just think about all the other things that you get with Notre Dame: Original helmets! NBC contracts! A school willing to ignore the fact that you’ve caused deaths with your actions (or inactions)! An actual national title since the Russians got atomic weapons! Notre Dame is such an easy choice here it’s not even funny.

What are the proper alchemical incantations to perform to ensure that college gameday doesn’t roll up to your campus for a certain blowout? - HistoriCat

BRT: Well obviously I sure as hell don’t know.

LPW: the fuck if I know. If I knew I’ve gone to Hogwarts.

pkloa: Don’t try to fight nature’s course, just use Obliviate on yourself and forget it ever happened

MNW: The last time I obliviated the shit outta my mind whilst College Gameday was present, I (1) was complimented on my tailgate by Jim Phillips, (2) put my face into a birthday cake that had been provided for me, (3) drank so much beer that I played “Hey Baby” on a “borrowed” sousaphone in the rain, (4) fought a bush, (5) had my ticket dissolve in the rain, and (6) snuck into Ryan Field--rather than going to Will Call--by marching in amidst the NUMBalums.

That answer your question?

MC: Fortunately we have case studies on this. In reviewing the variables tied to programs that have successfully avoided hosting their own Gameday hammerfucking, it is clear that the alchemy is sophisticated. However, there are a select few programs that have drastically simplified the process. You see, if your program is not the least bit relevant or interesting, Gameday will never even consider your campus as an option, and your blowout will be safely confined to regional eyes! So if you need an incantation for this feat, I recommend a proven success: “row the boat.”

Out of the current Head Football Coaches in the B1G, who is the best TODAY? With one exclusion (if you think it is applicable), you are not allowed to pick Ryan Day. - PSU_Rocket_Scientist

Boilerman: They all suck as none of them have figured out the CFP question.

LPW: what Bman said

Jesse: I’m pretty sure that I pick Ryan Day. It annoys the shit out of me that he might be that good. I’m hoping he sucks at recruiting but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

pkloa: James Franklin. Well, at least until he loses. Or has a closer than comfortable lead going into the 4th quarter. #fiurfranklin

MNW: Kirk Ferentz.

Dear God. What have I done.

MC: Homerism aside, typically I’d throw some love to Fitzgerald for this question, but I just watched that guy go for two down by 21 so I’m struggling here.

WSR: So I’ve done the offseason coach rankings a few times, and the once who have usually been Ferentz, Dantonio, and Fitzgerald. But while Dantonio has done a good job while Michigan and Penn State wandered the wasteland, he’s got the ethics of an older Scott Frost without the hypocrisy. And Fitzgerald is actually a whinging gasbag who does a good job at a program that nobody cares about and isn’t really that good. But Ferentz? Yeah, that guy has been good for a very very long time. His kid is an insufferable penis, but he’s all right and has been the best coach in the west for quite a while.

Rutgers has hired YOU as their new coach! Who do you hire for your staff? - BRT


LLSota= OC, because he asked

CarolinaHawk = DC, because no one here is more defensive than him

MNW = Team historian, on game days, the guy who holds me back on the sideline

Vaudevillian and HHH = Team Morale and jokes (this will remain an important role for Rutgers)

Bagels = Dir of Operations, so we will at least have bagels I guess

WSR = Envoy to the West

Beez = Legal counsel

Boilerman = Procurer of bratwurst, kraut, and beer

Zuzu = media stuff

MC ClapYoHandz = RB coach, as he is the only “writer” who runs

DeadRead = team psychologist

Bellanca = Liason for Pentagon Affairs

The Iowa poster with a mustache in his profile pic = Special Teams and grooming

GTom = Director of Maps

Badgers & Bruins = 2-point conversion card reader

HoyaGoon = not on staff

LPW: it doesn’t matter if you hire guys from Paramus Catholic, Don Bosco Prep, Princeton, or Guidos who you saw trying to pick up Guidettes on the Jersey shore: buttgers is still trasch

Jesse: So uh… this is NEW YORK’S BIG TEN TEAM, right? So we’re going to lean into this.

DC - DMX because X gonna give it to you

OC - Method Man “The master of the plan, rappin’ shit like Saran Wrap, with some of this and some of that”

STC - Jay Z because somethingsomething about New York

MC: Let’s be real, as awesome as I am, this would still be a sinking ship if my name was Lombardi Belichick Saban Jr. So I’m just trying to get butts in seats and eyes on the screen, you know? DC: Gary Busey. A touchdown allowed is probably enough to trigger an outburst, so that gives us like nine seconds before the game is must-see TV. Plus he gets a headset with a microphone, we’re golden. OC: Dave Chappelle. Same general logic, but for vibes he brings the yin to Busey’s yang. ST: Georgia’s mascot, Uga, because he is SUCH A GOOD BOY. Let’s go 0-12 with great ratings.

WSR: All right, here we. The plan here is pretty simple: we’ve got shit offensive coaches who will recruit their asses off and get out of the way of the OC. Is that a bit problematic? Sure, but not as problematic as the OC. And for defensive coaches we’re getting the saltiest, grumpiest assholes to walk the earth. You know, defensive coaches.

OC/QB - Art Briles

DC/DL - Bo Pellini

RB - Tee Martin

WR - Trooper Taylor

TE/Recruiting - Tim Brewster

OL - Sarge Saunders

LB - DJ Durkin

DB - Randy Shannon

ST - Bud Foster

What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning their college education? - theguyfromy-wega

Boilerman: It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do but I guarantee you’ll succeed if you do it. Go to class.

LPW: definitely go to class. Also, make a to do list /calendar and follow it religiously. Get things done early so you can get them out of the way and party! I miss college

BRT: Hi, I am a college professor. READ YOUR DANG ASSIGNMENTS. If you missed class, don’t ask your professor if you “missed anything important.” Leave your phone in your bag during class, it’s super rude to be on it the whole time, and it’s good for your brain to learn it can be disconnected from your phone for 50 minutes at a go. *collects self* My main regret from undergrad is that I didn’t study abroad for a semester. If there’s any way to make it work, you should do it. Take advantage of being able to meet new people and learn new things--many schools have an impressive array of cool speakers and events that you simply don’t get to take advantage of once you leave. Use your electives to take things that are interesting to you (again, this is harder to do when you leave school) rather than what you think will be “easy” (you’ll be bored and wasting your time)--try German, glass-blowing, the Literature of Comic Books… whatever sounds fun.

MNW: Hi! Me too! I agree with BRT on everything, especially the “missed anything important” point and the “take cool electives” point.

The way I’ll augment the points above is by adding this: Commit to your academics, but embrace campus life. Whether it’s Minnesota-Crookston or Terre Haute Baptist College or the University of Michigan, you are in such a unique community that you’d be silly not to take advantage of it. Go to the Student Welcome Back Clambake because the clams are free, stick your head out a window and scream for Finals Week Yell, hit up the Homecoming Week bonfire unless you go to Texas A&M. Those memories, stories, and weird things you’ll be able to reminisce on with friends--chugging syrup on Dillo Day, climbing to the top of Swift Hall with your best gal, stealing the prize hog from the farm school just down the road, and so on--as long as they add to the experience and don’t define you entirely? They’re priceless.

What would it take for the SEC to miss the playoffs? If Clemson loses a game or god forbid two the ACC isn’t represented. If Ohio State has two losses and Wisconsin, Iowa, and Penn State have a loss the B1G is probably out. If Oklahoma and Texas have a loss or two they’re out. Notre Dame with two losses misses out. PAC 12 is probably out already. What would it take for the SEC? No teams with fewer than 3 losses? - thunsicker

Boilerman: Mark my words, as long as ESPN has the TV rights, the SEC will be represented in the CFP.

pkloa: It will take a bit of a perfect storm for the SEC to be left out. Four helmet teams would need to have 1 or 0 losses, and the SEC teams would all need 2+. I know we have deep feelings of angst about it, but that SEC decade of champions gave them a lot of benefit of the doubt.

MNW: It’d have to be at least three losses for everyone. Driving this week, I heard Heather Dinich on ESPN Radio explaining how it was just “natural!” that she ranked four SEC teams 1-2-3-4 in her rankings. THINK ABOUT THAT: 1-2-3-4, Alabama-Georgia-LSU-Auburn in her rankings of the best teams in the country, not just the SEC, because this is a self-fulfilling prophecy of shit.

Never mind that Ohio State will have to beat Michigan and wisconsin and whoever shows up in the Big Ten Championship; never mind the reigning Death Star that is Clemson—the SEC is soooo tough because [/reasons], and you’d better just accept it. And go farther to look at the journalists ESPN has removed, look at its responses to particularly spidery statements on national affairs, look at its constant glorification of the SEC and football in the South. That’s not a coincidence. ESPN has “both sides’d” its way into the heart of Southern culture, and they seem determined to take college football with it.

It’s not going anywhere—the narrative of “everyone beats everyone” is out there, the SEC gets the preseason rankings to back it up, you’re just subject to it all and there’s no hopping off that train until ESPN’s skin in the College Football Playoff game is more evenly distributed among broadcast networks.

Get yourself some Arby’s.