Attention Athletic Directors: Need a Coach? Look Here...
Alright, we all know that if you are a coach at a top program you have to go three places to recruit (outside of your normal area; now you don't have to get all of your players from these three spots, but you had better get some):
- 1) California
- 2) Texas
- 3) FloriGa (Florida+Georgia)
(NOTE: Big Ten teams traditionally had the Big Ten states locked up; PA, OH, MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA)
But, what if you are an athletic director and you need a new coach? Where do you go?
There are only two main stops on your recruiting trip:
- 1) California
- 2) The Ohio Valley
Now, I did not look at all 119 Division I programs, I looked at:
The top FIVE conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10, SEC)
Plus the teams not in those conferences that are in the AP top 35 (Utah, TCU, Cincinnati, BYU, Pittsburgh, Ball State, Boise State, Ball State, East Carolina, West Virginia, Rice, Tulsa, Rutgers).
And I threw in Notre Dame (although I don't know why).
This list is by place of birth and where the coach was raised.
On those 69 teams:
California has 10 head coaches, or 14.5 percent.
(Dan Hawkins, Rich Brooks, Jeff Tedford, Mike Bellotti, Pete Carroll, Kyle Whittingham, Mike Leach, Steve Sarkisian, Chris Petersen, Paul Wulff)The Ohio Valley (Ohio, Western West Virgina, Western Pennsylvania, Kentucky) has 19 head coaches, or 27.5 percent.
(OHIO: Gary Pinkel, Urban Meyer, Stan Parrish, Tom O'Brien, Les Miles, Ron Zook, Jim Tressel, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Tiller, Mike Stoops, Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini, & Mark Dantonio*; PA: Dave Wannstedt & Mark Mangino; WV: Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Jim Grobe, & Bill Stewart)
The state of Ohio alone has 13 (18.8 percent)!
What is in the water in the Ohio area that is putting out all of these top coaches? (I would have to give a lot of the credit to the secondary schools and coaching staffs.)
Now, lets just look at the AP top 35:
Ohio Valley has: 10 (28.6 percent; OHIO: Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressell, Mark Dantonio*, Stan Parrish, Gary Pinkel, & Bo Pelini; WV: Nick Saban & Bill Stewart; PA: Dave Wannstedt)
California: 6 (17.1 percent; Pete Carroll, Kyle Whittingham, Mike Leach, Chris Petersen, Mike Bellotti, & Jim Tedford)
North Carolina: 2 (5.7 percent; Paul Johnson & Frank Beamer)
No other state has two!
Now the names on the Ohio Valley and California lists are considered pretty good coaches too.
One quarter of the Division I coaches come from a small area on the western slopes of the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio-Indiana border.
Of the coaches born in other places a good number of them either coached in the Ohio Valley area (Ohio, Western West Virgina, Western Pennsylvania, Kentucky), or they mentored under another coach who came to their area from the Valley.
Next, if you start looking at the top assistants at these same schools, you see the same thing, Ohio Valley, California, and North Carolina (Of course a coach like Meyer or Stoops is going to bring in people that they know and have worked with before, or that know another assistant or mentor). Guess we need a new board game: "The Seven Degrees of Separation of Bo Schembechler"...
So, if you are an AD at a top college football program, be sure to vacation in the Ohio Valley soon. Christmas in Cincinnati anyone?
- *Mark Dantonio was born in El Paso but grew up in Zanesville, Ohio
- (DISCLAIMER: I have never lived in the Ohio Valley and have no ties to it, just saw a pattern in the top D-1 coaches. A lot of them are either from there, passed through there, or got major guidance from someone from there.)
Troy Trojans Football 1969-1971
The 1969 Troy (Ohio) Trojans were a high school team in the rebuilding stage. Lead by undersized sophomores, they were having a terrible season (2-7-1). This was their fourth straight losing season in the Western Ohio League (WOL).
On the last play, of the last game of the season, with the game tied 22-22 against powerful rival Dayton Wayne, a pass was received by 165-pound Randy Walker. He was tackled 18 inches from the end zone.
After the game coach, James "Jim" Conard, ordered the entire team to walk around with a piece of cloth that was 18 inches long, until the start of the 1970 season.
After the season, Walker gave up his first love baseball. He joined the track team to build up his speed and stamina, and started lifting weights-gaining 30 pounds. He reported to fall practice at 195 pounds.
The 18-inch strip of cloth motivated the team, as Conard and Walker did not lose another game the remaining two seasons, going 20-0, and winning back-to-back WOL titles.
In 1971 they outscored opponents, 406-54, out-gained opponents 3,711 yards to 1,267, and punting only 19 times all season. The team and the defense dominated opponents, forcing 31 turnovers, and posting five shutouts (including a 35-0 victory over Wayne).
Three backs would be selected to the All-Western Ohio League team, Gordon Bell, Walker, and Joe Allen. Bell, who rushed for 3,707 yards in three seasons, ran for 1,447 yards (on 198 carries) and scored 19 touchdowns in 1971. He was named first team All-Ohio back-to-back in 1970 and 1971.
Bell could have also been named "Ohio Back of the Year," had he not finish second, to Archie Griffin (
Walker, whose main assignment was to block, rushed for 724 yards, and averaged 14.9 yards per carry. Allen rushed for 544 yards on 67 carries (8.1 YPC).
David Starkey, the heart of the defense was honored as an All-Ohio defensive lineman. Elmo Boyd, a track star who played football in his senior season (1971), finished with 12 catches for 374 yards (31.2 yards-per-catch average) and seven touchdowns.
In 2001, the 1971 team was selected by a panel of Dayton Daily News sports writers as the best Miami Valley prep football team in the last 50 years. Coach Conard retired after the 1971 season to become a principal at Troy Junior High.
Walker started at full back for three seasons for the Miami RedHawks. His team went 32-1-1, winning the Mid-American Conference title all three years. Walker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals (1976; 13th round).
However, instead of becoming an NFL player he chose to become an assistant football coach (later head coach of both the Miami RedHawks and the Northwestern Wildcats).
Boyd went on to play football at Eastern Kentucky and with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Starkey and fullback Allen played for the Florida Gators. In addition, quarterback Al Mayer, played at Marshall.
- Begley, Bill. - "Troy of '71 Set Standard for Area Gridiron Greatness - 20 players from that squad went on to play college football". - Dayton Daily News. - August 24, 2001.
- Myslenski, Skip. - "As a High School Player, Randy Walker Once Cost His Team A Victory When He Missed Scoring a Touchdown by 18 Inches". - Chicago Tribune. - December 24, 2000.
- Jacoby, Steve. - "Coach Gets 'Quite An Honor' - Sidney resident Jim Conard recognized by Marshall University alumni for efforts". - Dayton Daily News. - October 17, 2002.