The Big Ten coaches pose for a portrait every year at Media Days and, well, we have a few thoughts.
From left-to-right: (top) P.J. Fleck (Minnesota), Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), Scott Frost (Nebraska), Lovie Smith (Illinois), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Jeff Brohm (Purdue); (bottom) James Franklin (Penn State), Tom Allen (Indiana), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), D.J. Durkin (Maryland), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Chris Ash (Rutgers), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State)
1. All of the Big Ten East coaches are seated, while the Big Ten West coaches are standing. Maybe this is just the privilege they get for continuing to take the Big Ten West's lunch money. (Except for one fateful afternoon in November, that is...)
2. Speaking of... I like to think that Ferentz's big, goofy smile is because he's thinking about Iowa manhandling Ohio State and mentally trying to transmit those highlights to Meyer.
3. Of course Captain Khakipants is wearing a tan suit. Of course.
4. Of course James Franklin is wearing a bright blue suit. Of course.
5. The Big Ten East has entirely too many anonymous-looking middle-aged white dudes in gray suits and red ties. But there's really not much point in working to remember what Allen, Durkin, or Ash look like (we had to look them up) because the odds of any of them still having those jobs 2-3 years from now is, ah, slim and non-existent. And "slim" just got beat 52-3 by Ohio State.
6. Chris Ash does look an awful lot like Clark Kent in this picture. And that would be a pretty foolproof secret identity if you think about it: who would ever suspect Superman of being the hapless football coach of Rutgers?
7. Allen does either look like he's asleep (dreaming of Old Oaken Buckets, no doubt) or suffering a vicious wedgie at the hands of Paul Chryst.
8. Who wins in a Big Ten coaches battle royale? Chryst and Fitz have the size advantage, while Fitz and Frost have the ex-jock credentials. My money's on Dantonio, who's older but still looks like a psychopath (that facial skin is just getting pulled ever-tighter across his skull) and a straight killer.
9. "Tell me about the good old days, Grandpa Lovie, back when Illinois won six games and went to the Car Lube Bowl." Seriously, though: Lovie is starting to bear an increasing resemblance to Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince and I am 100% down with that.
10. The hated rivals -- Ohio State-Michigan, Michigan-Michigan State, Penn State-Michigan, etc. -- are carefully separated among the Big Ten East coaches, with Allen, Durkin, or Ash acting as a buffer. Hell, Franklin and Dantonio are at opposite ends of the row; Land-Grant hate don't play around.
Meanwhile, up top, you've got Minnesota (Fleck) and Wisconsin (Chryst) right next to each other, as well as Illinois (Lovie) and Northwestern (Fitz) and Iowa (Ferentz) and Purdue (Brohm). Doesn't the Big Ten care about the violence that could ensue with Most Hated Rivals in such close proximity? Apparently not.
11. Then again, part of the problem is that the Big Ten West is such an incestuous tangle of hatred and rivalries that it's basically impossible to separate them like the Big Ten East coaches are in the bottom row. Iowa alone has the Quadrangle of Hate with Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, but we've also got old (kinda spoiled at this point, frankly) beef with Illinois as well as some animosity with Northwestern. (And, Purdue, of course, is Our Most Hated Rival.) None of the big dogs in the Big Ten East care one iota about Maryland, or Rutgers, or Indiana.
12. Scott Frost is the only coach not wearing a tie, either because he's too cool for ties or because he knows Nebraska fans have been opposed to ties ever since Tom Osborne went for two and the win in the 1984 Orange Bowl.
13. Fleck is short and his head looks very shiny with his buzzed-off hair. He almost looks like a... golden gopher. I'm just saying: Goldie might want to keep his head on a swivel (which he can definitely handle). Of course, he wouldn't be the first Minnesota coach to resemble their mascot, either.
14. I hope all of the Big Ten West coaches cropdusted the Big Ten East coaches immediately after this photo was taken.