The first answer is Urban Meyer, because the first answer is always Urban Meyer. But say a ship full of war-like creatures from, oh, let’s say Mars, decides to land in the Midwest and demand a football game to determine the fate of the Earth. With a caveat: We get to pick one coach from the Big Ten to represent our side in the battle to preserve our civilization, as long as that Big Ten coach isn’t Urban. Which coach would you take, and why? Former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard and Land of 10 writer-columnist Sean Keeler racked their respective brains before the aliens could start probing them and offered up a couple of potential solutions …
Q: IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE BIG TEN COACH OTHER THAN URBAN MEYER TO LEAD YOUR TEAM IN A WINNER-TAKE-ALL CONTEST WITH THE FATE OF THE EARTH AT STAKE, WHO WOULD YOU WANT … AND WHY?
CHRIS HOWARD: PAUL CHRYST, WISCONSIN
I feel at times like the Michigan football program has been snake-bitten, or maybe someone under the cover of night sneaked into the Big House and buried under the turf a wolverine-like doll with pins pressed through its body. It’s the only rational thing I can come up with to explain the last decade. From Rich Rod to Brady Hoke to fumbled snaps, I just can’t, in good conscience, risk the fate of the planet by picking Jim Harbaugh at this juncture. I’m most certainly not going to pick one of our most hated rivals, so instead I’m going to go with Mr. Consistent: Paul Chryst.
Paul Chryst, in my opinion, is the most unassuming coach in the Big Ten. He just goes about his business, racking up victories with very little to say. In a league that’s dominated by soundbites, flash and bigger-than-life personalities, Chryst seems like he’s a man that’s fine with skating under the radar. He lets his body of work speak for itself.
I think it’s because of that demeanor Chryst and his Badgers are constantly overlooked and, coincidentally, why they’ve been so successful.
I’m a big Luke Cage fan and in the second season of the show there is a character called Piranha. Now this character is loud and blustery, the total opposite of Chryst. But when Luke Cage asks, “Why do they call you Piranha?” His reply: “Wall Street is full of great white sharks, so no one sees a piranha coming. They’re small, tenacious. So sometimes you want to stay small and other times you want to play it large.”
Spoiler Alert: Piranha dies on the show, but I stand by my analogy.
The Big Ten, from a coaching-personality perspective, is full of great whites and while they take jabs at each other in the media, no one sees Chryst coming. Chryst has tenacious side to him. Need proof? Well look no further than when No. 6 Wisconsin had its way with No. 10 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin fumbled on its first possession and out came the notorious, blinged-out turnover chain. Wisconsin protected the ball the rest of the game. Miami’s turnover chain got some early shine, but lost its luster down the stretch, a fact certainly not lost on Badgers coach Paul Chryst.
If you pull up the video, Chryst savagely rips Miami and its turnover chain by dropping a few expletives. Even though he covers his mouth, it doesn’t take a lip-reading expert to decipher what he said.
Chryst can play it small with his demeanor, but he plays it large on the big stage with a proven track record of success. He’s methodical, smart and understands how to attack, when to attack, and he can get the most out of his players. With the world on the line, I’m going with the guy no one sees coming until it’s too late.