When did college athletic conferences cease to be unifying bodies within a larger organization? Long before Monday, when Wake Forest and North Carolina, both ACC schools, agreed to play nonconference games against each other in 2019 and 2021. It was just another reminder that realignment is sending college sports down the toilet and we’re all screwed.
“The NFL, after three [college] games, was really out of the question for me.”
–Cardale Jones at his press conference earlier today
Or was it? At first or even second glance, a quarterback declaring for the NFL draft after just three starts seems absurd. And for someone with two years of college eligibility remaining, as Jones has, it would be unprecedented. But quarterbacks with little playing time have been drafted and succeeded at the next level.
Matt Cassel had no choice but to leave USC in 2004; he had exhausted his four years of eligibility. Even though he’d spent his college career as a back-up, the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round. For all they knew at the time, Cassel could have been among the top quarterbacks in the country — after all, he backed up Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. A strong pre-draft showing was enough for New England to take a chance on a player who hadn’t started a game since high school. While far from a star, Cassel has proved to be a solid NFL quarterback.
Urban Meyer has led his team to another national championship. His school, Ohio State, employs a men’s basketball coach who has been to the Final Four. Does this give Ohio State the best coaching combination in college sports?
There are 29 active basketball coaches who have reached the Final Four, 23 of whom coach at schools with a Football Bowl Subdivision program. Of those 23, seven schools employ a head football coach who has won a BCS game:
Notes: Not all coaches appeared in BCS game or Final Four with current school. Number in parentheses after BCS wins represents BCS appearances. Urban Meyer’s playoff win this season counts towards these totals; Mark Dantonio’s Cotton Bowl win this season does not.
Now that I’ve used an objective measure to narrow down the list, allow me to get subjective on you fools: The Big Ten has the three best coaching combos in the country. I’m giving the edge to Ohio State: to say that anyone other than maybe Nick Saban is a better college football coach right now than Meyer would be silly, and Thad Matta’s résumé is drenched in first-place finishes and deep Tournament runs. Michigan State has a claim for the best basketball coach on that chart, and Mark Dantonio has done wonders at the school. Michigan comes in third on my list. John Beilein is a mastermind, and while Jim Harbaugh has not won a game at the school, his coaching prowess is undeniable.