Ranking Big Ten Coaches By Their Suitability As Buddy Cop Duos

By RossWB on August 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm
"We'll get him, captain. Jim and John always get their man."
© Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

We may be less than two weeks away from the start of college football's regular season, but that still means we have to deal with a few more weeks of trudging through the offseason. Which means looking for distractions to pass the time. Distractions like this: 

That's the good stuff. I think West Virginia is an unimpeachable choice here -- Huggy Bear and Holgo? I would definitely watch that show -- but it got me thinking. How would the coaches of our beloved Big Ten conference stack up in such a scenario? So I decided to rank them. 

1) MICHIGAN: Jim Harbaugh (football) and John Beilein (men's basketball)

One of the great dynamics in any buddy cop partnership is the odd couple dynamic. He's messy, while he's a neat freak! She's by-the-book, but he's a rule-breaking rebel! Michigan ranks highly here because, honestly, anyone is going to be a good contrast with Harbaugh. Harbaugh is such an incredibly unique individual, with all his weird intensity and his litany of unique tics (I mean, the milk and steak thing alone...). Beilein has a genial, thoughtful quality that ought to contrast well with Harbaugh's obsessive weirdness. 

2) NEBRASKA: Scott Frost (football) and Tim Miles (men's basketball)

Y'all know how I feel about Nebraska so it pains me to put them this high, it really does. But they just have such a perfect dynamic with Frost and Miles. In Frost you've got the arrogant (sorry, "supremely self-confident") former jock and in Miles you've got the slightly goofy nerd-type. That sort of odd couple dynamic is tough to beat here. The only way it could be better is if they still had Bo Pelini. 

3) MICHIGAN STATE: Mark Dantonio (football) and Tom Izzo (men's basketball)

Good cop-bad cop is a quintessential dynamic for this scenario and it's tough to find a better example than these two. Dantonio can do "bad cop" in his sleep and while in reality Izzo's "good cop" bona fides are a little sketchy, it's definitely a role he plays extremely well. 

4) MINNESOTA: PJ Fleck (football) and Richard Pitino (men's basketball)

Again, odd couple dynamics play well here and Fleck and Pitino make for a good odd couple. Fleck has the barely-contained energy of an 8-year old who just downed a bag of pixie sticks, while Pitino just exudes weariness (and sneakiness). You can already picture Pitino's exasperated sigh while Fleck just keeps yammering about rowing at a suspect, can't you? Also, they would definitely be boat cops. 

5) IOWA: Kirk Ferentz (football) and Fran McCaffery (men's basketball)

I initially thought Iowa would rank much lower on this list, but in putting it together I realized how many dull-as-paste coaches the league has at the moment. And then I also remembered the Wrath of Fran, and all of a sudden the good cop/bad cop dynamic clicked into place (hell, Fran contains an excellent good cop/bad cop dynamic just within himself). I really need someone to ask Ferentz at an Iowa presser this year if he's more of a Starsky or a Hutch. 

6) PENN STATE: James Franklin (football) and Pat Chambers (men's basketball)

With his gleaming dome and ubiquitous shades, James Franklin already looks the part. He would be the snarky and brash lead cop partnered with Chambers' more earnest, by-the-book cop. 

7) NORTHWESTERN: Pat Fitzgerald (football) and Chris Collins (men's basketball)

Look, we live in a world where NBC had CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO P.D., CHICAGO MED, and CHICAGO JUSTICE all on the air last year (seriously). I think the biggest surprise is that they haven't greenlit CHICAGO CAT-COPS yet, you know? 

8) MARYLAND: DJ Durkin (football) and Mark Turgeon (men's basketball)

On the plus side, "Durkin and Turgeon" just sounds like a good buddy cop duo -- they could go by Durk and Turg! On the minus side, neither guy is all that in the personality sweepstakes. Also, Durkin appears to be living on borrowed time as the Terps' football coach at the moment.

9) ILLINOIS: Lovie Smith (football) and Brad Underwood (men's basketball)

These two might rank higher if I had a better grasp on Underwood, but he's so new to the Big Ten we really don't know a lot about him. He seems like a fairly intense dude, though, which could make a good contrast to Lovie's more laid-back vibe. 

10) OHIO STATE: Urban Meyer (football) and Chris Holtmann (men's basketball)

Like Underwood, Holtmann is a guy we don't know too much about yet. Meyer's personality seems to revolve between bland geniality, exasperation, and snark and he just seems generally off-putting most of the time. 

11) PURDUE: Jeff Brohm (football) and Matt Painter (men's basketball)

Painter just seems badly miscast as a lead detective in this scenario. I mean, he's definitely the put-upon sergeant who's had it up to here with these two ridiculous detectives. Brohm is yet another new-ish B1G coach we're getting to know at the moment. 

12) INDIANA: Tom Allen (football) and Archie Miller (men's basketball)

Saved from the bottom two by the presence of Archie Miller, who seems like a fairly boisterous sort. Tom Allen is definitely the guy who would get cut and recast in the buddy cop show for having no screen presence. 

13) WISCONSIN: Paul Chryst (football) and Greg Gard (men's basketball) 

They're only saved from the bottom because of the existence of Rutgers, but this would be the most boring cop duo ever. These two have all the zest of Wonder Bread slathered with mayonnaise.  

14) RUTGERS: Chris Ash (football) and Steve Pikiell (men's basketball)

Again, Rutgers is contractually-obligated to rank last in any sort of all-Big Ten rankings -- it's in the rules and everything. (Trust me, check the fine print.) Also, there's a 0% chance that you could pick Ash or Pikiell out of a lineup if asked. 

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