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Mailbag! Coaching Quandaries, Costumes, and Being Too Old for Girlfriends

In which we finally! answer your questions.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Hey everyone! Yours truly forgot to select questions and put them into the editor for people to answer last week, and so... no mailbag. However, I’m not sorry - I had fall break which I spent working almost non-stop, though I did manage to do much of that work at a monastery that was at peak fall beauty, which helped a tiny bit.

Also, I was officially awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor! It’s still a crazy time to be in higher ed, and who knows what the future holds as far as all of that is concerned... but it was a personal goal of mine, and an exciting professional milestone. While in Croatia this summer, I got to celebrate a good friend of mine’s tenure with a fancy dinner in Dubrovnik. Last week was so crazy, I didn’t get a celebration anywhere near that fancy or delicious. I still don’t feel I’ve properly celebrated anything yet, but will probably spend the next couple of months justifying all kinds of purchases and decisions with “I deserve to celebrate!” so it’ll all come out in the wash.

Anyway, now you can call me Ass. Prof BRT. Wait. No. Don’t ever do that, please. But now you can call me A Lot Harder to Fire Prof BRT. Woohoo!

Here’s your jumbo mailbag - enjoy!

“With multiple B1G programs almost certainly looking for a new HC,
not wanting to delve into which P-5 programs they can poach,
or dig into assistant coach candidates,

What G-5 or FCS HCs should these programs interview, and why consider them (list up to 3 max)?”


Kind of...: If he wants to come north, you gotta call Jamey Chadwell, don’t you? Somebody in the comments mentioned running the triple option, and I noted my preference for something similar a while back, so let’s take a flyer on Troy Calhoun (Air Force is going to win double-digit games for the fourth straight year, not counting 2020). And sure, an obligatory Jason Candle mention to round things out.

BoilerUp89: I’m not sure he would leave the state of Texas, but Jeff Traylor at UTSA has done a lot of good things there. Jason Candle has never had a losing season in his 8 years at Toledo and probably has enough experience now that he’s ready to make the jump. I’ll throw out Curt Cignetti at James Madison as my third option. He’s getting old (62 years young), but would be a great option for Northwestern if they wanted to keep Braun on as DC but give him a few years of seasoning before giving him the head coaching job.

misdreavus79: Why chase after a G5 or FCS coach when Mike Elko and Mark Stoops are right there?

RU in VA: Sean Lewis at Kent State (NW?). Monken at Army (Iowa). Chris Creighton (MSU).

HWAHSQB: Lewis is the OC at Colorado now. I know it is hard to notice since Colorado is such a low profile football school.

I just really want someone to hire Ron Zook- because with Mike Leach gone, he is now my favorite coach to see interviewed.

WSR: I think teams looking for a new coach should consider guys like Brady Hoke and Butch Jones. They’ve even already got P2 coaching experience!

“Has NW inadvertently found their next HC in interim Braun?
- If not yet likely, what would Braun need to do to ice the job?
- If likely, is it a good move by NW?”

Kind of...: I would think he’s already close. A bowl bid and maybe the question becomes what does NW need to do to keep him?

BRT: I’m not sure if he’s got it locked down yet, but he’s putting together a decent case. I don’t think he’ll take them to the top, but I don’t know that anyone is going to do that. Coming in to a tough situation and getting players to respond to him and to put together some decently coached games is not nothing though, and if he can get them to a bowl, I could see him getting the offer.

BoilerUp89: From a football only perspective, I think he’s one win away from locking it down but has a decent chance at it even if they lose out. However, he’s young, inexperienced when it comes to recruiting at this level, and there’s got to be some desire within the Northwestern athletic department to purge the entire coaching staff after this past offseason and start over. I think Braun can win the decisionmakers over, but I don’t think there’s anything he could do this year that would make me think he has it guaranteed until it’s announced.

misdreavus79: Nothing. He’s already earned it. As others have noted, the issue is no longer whether he’s good enough for the job, he clearly is (or, at the very least, the floor isn’t going to be 1 win for the foreseeable future if he is given the job). The issue is whether the powers that be want anyone who was there before the allegations surfaced to remain there after. Of all the coaches, he has the most plausible deniability, having only been there months before everything came out, but I wouldn’t blame the administration if they want to wash their hands of it.

Either way, Braun has made himself millions with what he’s done this season, whether at Northwestern or somewhere else.

WSR: Of course! What could possibly go wrong from hiring an interim coach that was thrust into the big chair for reasons outside his control at a B1G West program?

MNW: I think the biggest concern I have in all of this: I don’t trust the current leadership at Northwestern to make the right, or even the decent, or even the defensible decision. Derrick Gragg and Michael Schill should have been shown the door this summer, and I hope that they are in some way legally restricted from offering someone else the job. I would take Braun over whatever those two bozos cook up.

“Other than your hated rival, what B1G team do you root against the hardest, and why is it Michigan?”


Kind of...: I acknowledge last mailbag that my deep dark secret is that I’m not that much of a hater. But, sure, Michigan because Harbz is weird and a cheater, and because Juwan Howard is unstable.

BRT: As a member of the Quadrangle of Hate, I technically have three hated rivals, though of course Iowa is Most Hated, because I’m a good American. But counting the QoH as one, I think that up until this year, it was probably OSU. Smug and successful is a pretty hateable combination. I actually didn’t have particularly strong feelings about Michigan, though I didn’t secretly like them or anything. But boy... Harbz’ lying and “wefense,” the whiny QB press conference, and CONNOR STALIONS FFS... Michigan has made some big moves in the hateability standings.

BoilerUp89: Always and forever Ohio State.

misdreavus79: Within the Big Ten? Probably Michigan, especially in the past two years. I’ve had enough interactions with their fans who talked about Penn State “not being at that level,” as if Michigan wasn’t a staple at 3rd, to the point where it was a meme, until two years ago. All that said, I need them to lose once, and only once this regular season, on November 11th.

I used to have an irrational hatred for Northwestern, but turns out it was more a Pat Fitzgerald thing, and now that he’s gone, Northwestern is back to being just a team.

HWAHSQB: All of the original teams from 1950s-1980s. I hate everyone of you assholes and your fucking teams.

RockyMtnBlue: Ok, so we have known hated rivals Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame (in that order, and congrats on the promotion, MSU). Historically my go-to for alternative rootin’-against has been Nebraska because I’m old and I remember that program in the Osborne years (plus Frosty made it easy). The thing is, Nebby fans here are pretty decent, and their fans in general are really nice, so I’ve found myself actually rooting for Nebraska most of this season, which feels extremely weird. I’ve always been ambivalent about Penn State and Iowa. So Wisconsin I guess? Sure. Let’s say it’s Wisconsin.

AlmaOtter: I grew up in northwestern Illinois, so I didn’t much care about beating Indiana or Purdue. For me, it was always about Wisconsin and Iowa. But even still, I’m always delighted to see Michigan lose.

WSR: Everybody added after 1990 because none of you squatters belong in our club. Y’all suck and shouldn’t be allowed in so I hope you lose every week.

MNW: If wisconsin lost every game between now and the heat death of the universe, I’d still be pissed they won any games ever.

“And my mailbag question is: What’s the best/worst esoteric call of your sports fandom lifetime? I’m not talking about a missed PI or a bad spot. Sometime similar to what happened with Iowa, the Bush Push, I don’t know. Bonus points if it decided the game, but even more bonus points if it decided nothing and you’re just still inexorably salty about it years later. Feel free to go outside of college football for this one!”


Kind of...: The ending to the Arizona State game in 2013 is still just the most #Pac12 refs moment ever.

BRT: Texas getting an extra second on the clock apparently just because they asked for it in the CCG. So much bullshit. I will be salty about it forever.

misdreavus79: The two in the 2014 Ohio State game. The “no delay of game penalty even though the play clock was at 0 for a full three seconds” and “bruh that was clearly not an interception.” One of them directly led to points, the other led to an Ohio State touchdown off the interception that wasn’t.

HWAHSQB: Fucking Bill Lemmonier and two, yes 2! blown fumble calls in the last minutes of Michigan-Illinois in 2000. Sold out Memorial Stadium (yes kids, over 72,000 people came to an Illinois game) and we beat Michigan two years in a row, but it was stolen with two horribly blown calls. We did get a nice apology letter from the Big Ten for the fucking over though. JpePa led the charge to install replay after the season saying that Turner was robbed by four blown calls in that game.

Of course, this is just one of the three rule changes instituted because Illinois got royally fucked over by officials. In 1983, Illinois was robbed by the refs in an NCAA tourney game in Lexington against Kentucky. After that hosing, teams were no longer allowed to play tournament games on their home court. After the refs cost Illinois a chance to win a tournament game against Colorado with a blown out of bounds call, the NCAA instituted replay on those calls in the last two minutes of games. Both times the change was referred to informally as the “Illinois rule”

AlmaOtter: The goddamn out of bounds call at the end of the Illinois-Miami (FL) tourney game in 2013. That team should have made the S16.

RockyMtnBlue: Worst call was the no-call on DPI in the two-point try at the end of the 1990 Michigan/MSU game. Michigan was a national title contender and there was no OT back then, so they went for the win after scoring a very late touchdown. Howard (in his Heisman year) was fully tackled in the endzone on the play. It was a good play. The DB was beat clean and a penalty is better than a loss. But there was no penalty. Even the DB was amazed.
Most esoteric call, though was Chris Weber’s time out technical foul in the ‘93 NCAA finals. Like the improper fair catch signal against Iowa, it was a good call, but that’s maybe the dumbest fucking rule in sports, and it decided a national championship game.

WSR: Minnesota was up 14-3 and had matriculated the ball to the badger 7 right before halftime in the 2014 game when the refs decided to camp randall things a bit and make up an illegal hands to the face call on Tommy Olson. Just absolutely stunning and changed the whole course of the game.

MNW: Kain Colter got that first down.

OH! It’s Zach Collins not getting called for goaltending when Northwestern scared Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament, and it’s not particularly close. It also gave us some great Chris Collins gifs in the aftermath.

“Are there any East coaches who could, upon taking the reigns of a West program, take it to the heights of the East schools (at least on offense)? Or are the institutional disadvantages of being in the West (e.g., recruiting proximity, relative paucity of billionaires who like to throw NIL $ around, etc.) too much for even a top-5 coach to overcome?”


Kind of...: Probably not. Maybe Harbz could turn UW into pro style smashmouth if he could recruit. But it took him several years at Michigan, so, again, probably not.

BoilerUp89: Can they steal signs? If yes, Harbaugh can. If no, the answer is no. Day has never had to build a program from scratch. Franklin did well for Vanderbilt, but that was for Vanderbilt. He wasn’t competing at the top of the SEC.

misdreavus79: I’d say everyone except for Ryan Day could replicate their relative success at the East counterpart, so:

  • Mel Tucker (R.I.P.) could use the portal to get one player to give him a massive contract.
  • Jim Harbaugh could finish third in his division for the majority of his time, then start cheating and dominate.
  • James Franklin could win the conference that one time then top out at 10-2.
  • Mike Locksley could go undefeated in September and winless the rest of the way.
  • Tom Allen could summon a global pandemic, misuse a heisman worthy quarterback, then fall off a cliff.
  • And, of course, Greg Schiano can chop his way into one bowl appearance in however many years he’s been there in this second stint.
  • Ryan Day, for as well as he’s done at Ohio State, has never been in a position where his team didn’t have the clear talent advantage over their opponent. So he gets an incomplete (and, also, “replicating his success” means an insanely good record that would be basically impossible to attain when it’s the other team who has the ability to throw it up to the best player on the field and score a 50 yard touchdown like it’s nothing).

WSR: Probably not, unless we got Michigan or Ohio State’s back of house operations (“scouting” and finance) to go with the coach.

MNW: I think we’re low-key seeing an attempt at it right now with Luke Fickell at wisconsin.

“Who is Michigan’s coach in 2024? You are allowed to choose Harbaugh.”


Kind of...: Kalen DeBoer.

BRT: Brian Ferentz

BoilerUp89: Brian Hartline. I don’t care that he’s an Ohio State alum, this is the funniest option.

misdreavus79: Ask me again on December 4th.

HWAHSQB: In the OTE equivalent of bidding $1 on the Price is Right, I’m going with Harbz.

AlmaOtter: Seems like the contract extension is going full-speed ahead, damn the investigation, so yeah. We’re stuck with Khakipants until he leaves for the NFL.

RockyMtnBlue: Ironically, I think it’s Harbaugh now after thinking it wouldn’t be before the cheating thing came out. The contract extension talks, plus what I’m hearing about the investigation, plus I don’t think the NFL particularly wants him anymore has me optimistic. I hope I’m right because I have absolutely zero faith in Manuel’s ability to hire a remotely competent coach.

WSR: Les Miles.

MC ClapYoHandz: As the legend of him grows with each passing week and there is still a lot of time to sneak his way up before next season...Connor Stalions.

“What were you doing in the fall of 1999, the last time (before Saturday) that Minnesota won Floyd of Rosedale in Iowa City?”


Kind of...: Watching Wisconsin win the B1G outright, Ron Dayne set the rushing record, and UW win their last Rose Bowl.

BRT: Navigating 9th grade, God help me. Probably pretty excited to sway awkwardly at a Homecoming Dance in a pair of khaki pants and knock-off Doc Martens, still very excited about “...Baby One More Time” and “Living La Vida Loca.” Wondering if Y2K would actually be a big deal.

Y’all haven’t taken that pig for a drive north for awhile, have you Minny?

BoilerUp89: What would 9 year old me have been doing... Not watching college football.

MNW: Hey, I was also being 9!

misdreavus79: Getting ready to move from New York to Pennsylvania, where I would eventually graduate high school and attend this university with a chipmunk logo by the name of Penn State.

HWAHSQB: Living in eastern New Mexico and moving in with the woman who recently became my ex-wife and wondering if this Kurt Kittner kid would ever win a game at Illinois.

AlmaOtter: Well, I was 8 years old, so probably getting driven to swim practice and wondering if the Cubs and Sammy Sosa would ever return to the heights of the 1998 season.

RockyMtnBlue: I was 28 and living in Austin, Tx, back when it was one of the best places in the world to be in your 20s. Those were the days.

WSR: I was a freshman in college. Since this is a family blog, I won’t be going into any further details.

MC: A preteen with anxiety? Have to imagine buying into all the Y2K doom and gloom if Pokemon on Game Boy couldn’t squash that fear.

“Driving in to work this morning, I was listening to ESPNU radio (don’t judge me!). Chris Childers and Rick Neuheisel were engaged in a discussion of Jim Harbaugh and the situation at Michigan.

Mid-story, I accidentally bumped the controls for the satellite radio, and it switched to the previous channel I’d been listening to—the 1980s pop channel. The song that was playing—and I swear to God I am not making this up—was Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.”

Oh. Need a question here: What should be Michigan’s new theme song for Stalions-gate?”

—Transient Buckeye

Kind of...: Speaking of 1980s, anything by Wyld Stallyns.

BRT: “Secret Agent Man” seems to get the spirit of the thing.

HWAHSQB: Wild Horses.

misdreavus79: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

AlmaOtter: Going old school, but “I Can See For Miles” by The Who?

RockyMtnBlue: Per usual around here, you should all listen to BRT. She has the wisdom.

WSR: How about a little Hank Williams? “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is also kinda nice because it came out just 4 years after Michigan won their last national championship.

MC: “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

“In honor of Halloween, what is the scariest costume that could possibly be worn by any current Big Ten football coach? (coordinators and assistants are fair game here, too)

Honorary Submission: Brian Ferentz dresses up as the Iowa head coach.”

—Transient Buckeye

Kind of...: Bret Bielema dressing up as Grimace.

BoilerUp89: Tom Allen as Olaf. Oh wait, you said scariest not most accurate.


RockyMtnBlue: Dunno, but I’ll share this barely-related anecdote. When I was in high school, the seniors were allowed to dress up on Halloween. One non-descript, blond guy just wore his Sunday suit. When people would ask him what he was supposed to be, he’d just hold out his hand for a handshake and say “Dan Quayle. Damned glad to meet you.” He won scariest costume.

WSR: Matt Rhule should dress up as the cat Bo Pellini brought out for the spring game.

MC: Jim Harbaugh as Mister Rogers. Those eyes don’t fit the persona at all. If you wanted to make a Mister Rogers themed horror film, Jim’s your first casting choice.

MNW: Pat Fitzgerald as Shrek.

“Why is there not a term for people dating above a certain age to refer to their dating partner other than boyfriend/girlfriend? I hate the term ‘significant other.’”


BoilerUp89: There are plenty of terms, it’s just frowned upon using any of them in front of children.

BRT: “Guy I’m kinda seeing” tends to be my most recent go-to. It’s a bit unwieldy, but still less cumbersome than “The Next Guy Who is Going to Break Up With Me, Ghost Me, or Otherwise Disappoint Me,” which is both more accurate and more depressing. It’s pretty cool being a 38-year-old spinster in central Nebraska. But, the divorces seem to keep coming for people, so perhaps someday I’ll find my gently used prince with an acceptable amount of baggage. Maybe that’s the preferred term... “I’d like you to meet my current baggage handler.”

misdreavus79: “Partner” is the term most people who want to be inclusive use nowadays.

WSR: Yeah, “partner” is my go-to when I’m not being lazy (“girlfriend”) or crass.

MC: Not sure we’ve done away with “the ol’ ball-and-chain,” which lets people know you are indeed above a certain age and also adds the context that your relationship kind of stinks.


Who do you hate most besides your Most Hated Rival?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    (49 votes)
  • 22%
    Ohio State
    (44 votes)
  • 10%
    Penn State
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    (13 votes)
  • 13%
    (26 votes)
  • 7%
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Michigan State
    (5 votes)
197 votes total Vote Now