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The Weekly Mailbag is waking up after a wild one.

Oh, there’s news today.

Guess who’s back.
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

GOOD MORNING! It’s going to be an interesting one today, which is why I’m glad I lived through the past week somehow and got a good night’s sleep. What better way to celebrate AXE DAY!!! than welcoming back an old Axe Game villain?

Thank you for your patience, get ready for our hot & spicy Illinois coach takes here coming along shortly.

I’ll get this party started I guess. Give a coach to Illinois, Auburn, and Arizona. - LL Sota


  • Illinois Fighting Illini: Jay Norvell
  • Auburn Tigers: Matt Campbell?
  • Arizona Wildcats: Kalani Sitake

We detailed this at some length earlier this week, but I think Norvell’s a good idea for Illinois — Midwestern cred (he’s an Iowa alumnus!), spread offense, program-builder.


  • Illinois: Tim Brewster. Or maybe Jeff Monken if you can’t afford Brew.
  • Auburn: Billy Napier. Fucking hire Billy Napier goddamnit you loveable idiots.
  • Arizona: Jay Norvell.


  • Illinois: Lance Leipold has proven success at multiple levels. He also seems to not chase money. If Illinois can land him, they just may have a 15 year coach.
  • Auburn: Rust Belt coach comes south to usher in a new era of dominance. Sound familiar? Matt Campbell is the next coach at Auburn, we’ll see if he develops into another hall of fame worthy coach.
  • Arizona: Jay Norvell hasn’t coached at a school east of the Mississippi since 1997, the Wildcats seems a better fit than the Illini.


  • Illinois: As much as I want Gus Mazahn, I feel like he wouldn’t be as resistant to Fighting Illini Brain Worms as we’d want a coach to be. I’d take a swing at Dave Clawson, and failing that, Lance Leipold and Jeff Monken would be wonderful. Honestly? Wouldn’t be unhappy with Jay Norvell either. There’s a lot of options that are not Bret Bielema.
  • Billy Napier has been on my watchlist for a while. He’s gonna be a superstar, but I’m worried that Auburn might feel they need to go bigger (rather than better). Rumor has it that Mario Cristobal has been a top target.
  • An Arizona exile for Gus Malzahn? Maybe. Norvel does feel more at home here though.


I think Bielema is the perfect candidate for all those schools. Maybe all at once? Or one per season on a rotating basis?


  • Illinois: Brian Ferentz
  • Auburn: Brian Ferentz
  • Arizona: Brain Ferentz

Who’s Next? Lovie’s the first coach to go in the Big Ten this year. Who’s next on the chopping block? - NU84

MNW: I assume you mean after Jim Harbaugh?

This year was an anomaly, but I’m wondering if Paul Chryst doesn’t get called into Barry’s office at some point. He’s not, like, NEXT to go, but that’s more exciting than saying Scott Frost and I want to speculate recklessly on something.

WSR: So there are currently about 3 coaches that deserve to get fired next Sunday morning, assuming they didn’t get fired at the airport: Jim Harbaugh, Scott Frost, and Jeff Brohm. And have you looked at Purdue’s recruiting right now? Ye Gods is he in trouble. And that was Purdue’s home run swing at relevance, too. Hooo buddy, I hope y’all enjoyed the win over Ohio State that one time.

pkloa: I want to say the other coaches are safe, maybe. There will be no firings or mutual partings this year based on performance. There could always be a scandal based firing for cause, of course.

Thumpasaurus: Michigan needs to shit or get off the pot. Purdue is in too deep financially and Nebarkas is in too deep emotionally, although BOTH ARE ALSO TRUE OF MICHIGAN. This was a great time for Illinois to fire a coach.

Beez: Brohm. Or Harbaugh if Michigan’s awfulness includes a hangover to the start of 2021. Or Frost? Not sure he’s been there long enough, and he’s got ALL KINDS of boogeymen and scapegoats from outside the program he can point to.

Stew: The way the question is worded implies firing, not leaving of their own accord. So I think we can rule out Ferentz or Harbaugh, as I think Harbaugh is gonna leave for the NFL. So let’s just go with the obvious, Scott Frost.

What is Nebraska’s next conference? - NUMBSpiritLeader

MNW: Unless, as we stumble toward the next round of TV deals and, perhaps, realignment, we get those 16-team superconferences without pirating the Big XII, Nebraska’s never going anywhere.

Wouldn’t mind seeing them make their way back, but Texas will make its way west or southeast eventually, and Nebraska will be stuck.

WSR: Join up with Colorado in the Pac 12! DO IT DO IT DO IT!

pkloa: Nebraska is going nowhere. The griping will continue, so everyone remembers how important they are, but the administration knows they’re in the best situation already.

Beez: What Mr. Kloa said.

Stew: Does their administration really know that? I’m not so sure.

What are you naming the Cleveland baseball team? And why is it Spiders? - Atinat

MNW: What’s the other dumbass name they’re considering — the Rocks? Just call yourself the Spiders and be thankful you’re not being focus-grouped into Wildcats hell. Sadly, all the fun minor league-esque names just won’t cut it in modern MLB.


pkloa: MNW, the other proposed name is the Cleveland Rockers. Like the Tennessee Titans, the Rockers is an okay name, in that it plays on one of the famous aspects of the city, but it’s not good enough for anyone to care about.

General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. spent five formative years in Cleveland when his father served in the Ohio National Guard. There is already a high school in the city named after the commander of the Tuskegee Airmen. I propose naming the baseball team the Red Tails after Davis and the others who helped break barriers. Cincinnati Reds can piss off, very few people care about them anyway.

Assume the Buckeyes don’t exist/leave the B1G out of spite. Who, right now, is your prediction for 2021 B1G champion? [Assuming coronavirus exhausts its eligibility.] - Kind of...but not really

WSR: All right, here’s the qualifier I’ve got: this is working off the trajectory of this year. I’m not taking into account the fact that Penn State will get markedly better on offense after an offseason with Roc (I DONE TOLD YOU IT WAS GOING TO BE A STRUGGLE!). Indiana. That offense is hopefully bringing everyone back, and the defense will continue to be serviceable to good.

MNW: And I’ll take Penn State, because we’re seeing the outcome of that exact struggle right now.

Oh, wait, we’re talking Big Ten as a whole? Probably wisconsin or something similarly dumb. This sucks. My team is playing in the Big Ten Championship Game in a few days and I’m just bummed about the world, because this is a lost season and the College Football Playoff new Top 25 means Northwestern won’t make an NY6 and everything sucks.

Anywho go ‘Cats, beat the spread.

pkloa: Everyone knows Penn State is going 15-0 next year, with or without the Buckeyes in the conference.

Candystripes: Probably Iowa, because as MNW said, if the Buckeyes are out of the equation, the B1G gets pretty dumb on the football field. And what’s dumber than Ferentz-ball? (Please don’t actually answer that.)

Beez: Indiana if they’re healthy, Wisconsin if they aren’t. Maybe PSU but that seems boring.

Stew: Because Ferentz-ball is so dumb, it would probably cost them the B1G title in this silly world made by the question. I think it’s likely Penn State, which is also not fun.

Is anybody getting anything cool for Christmas? - He was a high school quarterback

MNW: The wife and I actually took one of the Buzzfeed “What Iceland does for Christmas will give you ALL THE FEELS” articles and turned it into Christmas Eve — we bought each other a book for Christmas Eve and a small gift for Christmas Day. Christmas Eve we make a nice dinner, open the books, then celebrate Jólabókaflóðið by eating chocolate and reading until she passes out on the couch at 7pm.

I’m rather excited, because I either get the new Perlstein book on Reagan or a Parks and Rec book.

WSR: I hope so. My favorite silly gift is for my girls. They’ve been stealing my XL Minnesota hooded sweatshirts frequently, even though they’re nowhere near XL hoodie size. So I got them each an adult medium in a color of their choice that will hopefully last them until there’s a few atoms of sweatshirt left and they’re getting ready to apply to the U of M. And maybe a puppy or kitten.

pkloa: We did a small gift exchange while I was home, I got a harmonica. I have six months living alone to learn how to play this thing, so if you know how I can get PSU sheet music for free/reasonable price, hook me up in the comments!

Candystripes: Surprisingly, I don’t really know most of what I’m getting as gifts this year. Technically, my dad got me a set of winter tires for my car, but that was also supposed to be last year’s Christmas present, so I don’t know if it counts. I’ve also got a nice box sitting next to me from a Secret Santa exchange that I’m not allowed to open until the 21st, but it’ll probably be something cool.

Thumpasaurus: New coach.

Beez: If I knew it wouldn’t be a surprise!

Stew: I already got mine! My old Ugly Drum Smoker that I built got a rust spot and developed a hole in the bottom (it was getting old, anyway, and these types never really last all that long). So I got a fancy new pellet smoker that’s got excellent temp control, smoke level control, built in digital thermometers, connects to an app on my phone via bluetooth/wifi, so I can check temp of food, adjust grill temp, and smoke control, and it’s very efficient with the pellet usage.