Author Archives: Marc Ryan

Grading This Year’s Coaching Hires (Part 1)

With the detailed information on the finances of college sports you receive here at, it should come as no surprise that BCS football programs are not “fun and games” or “just sports” to administrators and athletic departments. The difference between a winning and a losing football program on a school’s budget is pronounced. Thus, the difference between making the right or wrong coaching hire is as well.

The SEC is one conference, by and large, that has hired the right coaches and those coaches have succeeded. Among 2011 coaching salaries, six SEC coaches rank among the top 11 in the country in compensation (Saban, Miles, Petrino, Richt, Chizik, Muschamp, with Urban Meyer preceding him in high compensation rank). Those coaches have not only led SEC teams to six straight national titles, but those crystal balls, the television contracts, and national reputation of the conference have in turn led to six SEC mens athletic programs with recruiting budgets in excess of one million dollars annually for the 2010-2011 academic years. Success begets success begets even more success.

Yes, one can easily argue the SEC’s unprecedented run of success began with great hires. Hiring the right man is the challenge that faced 13 BCS conference schools this offseason. The coaching climate today is a harsh one. Patience is a word lost in among an administration’s vernacular. The days of the five-year plan are long gone. Turner Gill lost his desk nameplate after just two seasons in Lawrence, Kansas, and 27 out of 120 FBS schools (22.5%) made coaching changes this offseason.

Therefore, it’s only natural I provide you with my hit and miss predictions for each of the 13 BCS schools who have hired a new coach for 2012. A second opinion is provided by friend and fellow sports media colleague, Brent Beaird.

13. Todd Graham – Arizona State

Analysis: Where or where have our principles ventured off to? Used to be that we valued honor and commitment. Yet when a man (term used loosely) like Todd Graham is able to climb the collegiate ranks, one wonders what has happened to “The Golden Rule.” Yes, I’m fully aware that Graham led Rice, a perennial doormat, Rice, to a 7-6 record in 2006. That his 36-17 mark at Tulsa was a marginal uptick over Steve Kragthorpe’s 29-22 in the four years prior there, and finally that his 6-6 standing at Pitt this past season did little to under or overwhelm. Yet I must wonder aloud about the quality of the message we’re sending the very young people that Graham is supposed to be mentoring. What’s being conveyed is that in life, you win at all costs, that you may break protocol if it suits you, that one can show not an ounce of gratitude and/or loyalty yet still find promotion around every corner. Here’s a coach who left Rice only a few days after being rewarded with an extension and a significant raise, who left Pitt after but one season via a text to an assistant coach, who then had to relay the impersonal communication method to the players. I struggle not to stoop to name calling when discussing Graham. I’ve often been told, “You get what you give.” That said, perhaps the nation’s most notorious party school and Todd Graham are a perfect fit. Grade: F   Rank: 13/13.

Brent’s Second Opinion: Todd Graham of Arizona State-Graham has a lot of trust to build after leaving two schools in a six-year period after only one year Grade: (D+) Rank: 13/13

12. Bill O’Brien – Penn State University

Analysis: A hearty congratulations is in order to Bill O’Brien,  former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, for he has managed to significantly out kick his coverage. To use an all-too common analogy, O’Brien represents the “average joe” who just landed a supermodel. Upon witnessing a couple such as this walk into an establishment, everyone in the place is thinking the same thing – “There goes a guy who owns a plane.” But I’m not here to hate. It could work out for the “We Are Penn State-ers” in Happy Valley. I’m just not sure that it will. Penn State managed to find itself in the tenuous position of a “grass is always greener dumper,” failing to realize what it had until it was gone, then in total desperation, accepting the first smiling face that took a flier. This past season, O’Brien was seen throwing a sideline temper tantrum at “The Franchise,” Tom Brady, one in which Brady took the high road but O’Brien’s reputation never fully recovered from. And while his 14 years as an assistant and an offensive coordinator in the college ranks don’t leave his resume bare, of all offensive coordinators either active or inactive with four plus years of experience dating back to 2001, only three have engineered offenses that averaged fewer than 30 points per game.  Grade: D+   Rank: 13/14

Brent’s Second Opinion: Bill O’Brien of Penn State-Don’t forget he had 14 years of experience at Georgia Tech, Maryland and Duke. Grade:(C)   Rank: 10/13.

11. Tim Beckman – Illinois

Analysis: In the landscape of college football today, seemingly every “have not” football program treks across the desert looking for the next Urban Meyer. And without fail, at introductory press conferences, athletic and PR departments do a yeoman’s job convincing you they’ve found him. For me to offer the full-fledged “Beckman Buy-In,” however, I need a more thorough body of work than what presently appears on Beckman’s resume:

  • All of three years of head coaching experience at Toledo.
  • A record of 21-16, leaving before the bowl game in ’11.
  • Offenses that averaged 33ppg, defenses that gave up 32.

It is the opinion of the author that the MAC and their intra-conference competition provides a level playing field among the 13 member institutions. Therefore, an average coach should win as many as he loses in this league. Beckman’s three-year mark does little to move the proverbial needle, although if one can look past the small sample size, 16-9 in the final two campaigns does offer some hope. Whether Beckman can achieve success in a conference with the history and prestige of the Big 10 is an entirely different and unanswered question. Grade: C   Rank: 11/14

Brent’s Second Opinion: Tim Beckman of Illinois-Beckman has valuable coaching experience as the head man at Toledo and from working with Meyer at Bowling Green Grade:  (B-)   Rank:8/13.

Marc Ryan is a sports talk radio personality in the Florida Panhandle. You can follow him on Twitter: @marcryanonair.

Recruiting Success Has a Last Name: M-E-Y-E-R

What began as a run of the mill class for Ohio State has evolved into one of the top five classes in the country under the direction of new coach Urban Meyer. The facts speak for themselves:

Before Meyer? 13 commits prior to 11/22/11, a period of 17 months.

After Meyer? 12, in a period of nine weeks. This is as many commitments on 11/22 or later as Ohio State has had in the last three years (’09-’11) combined.

Before Meyer? An average of 3.39 stars per player.

After Meyer? 4.0 stars per player.

Before Meyer? A class ranked in the 20’s nationally, according to ESPNU’s Quint Kessenich.

After Meyer? A class ranked 3rd by, 4th by, 5th by, and 6th by

Even more impressive is the fact that in college football, an abbreviated first recruiting period often lends itself to a lower recruiting class ranking in year one. Meyer’s first class in Gainesville was ranked 15th, followed by 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 11th, and 2nd, respectively, according to’s year-by-year team recruiting rankings. If that pattern retains its shape in Columbus, expect “Titletown, USA” to have a new home.

And how about the fact that Meyer is credited this season with “flipping” six players who were previously committed elsewhere?

While historical “fringe stats” such as this are not kept on file, that has to be some sort of “irritate your competition” record, no? Steve Wiltfong, national recruiting reporter covering the Big 10 for, says it’s no fluke. “Urban works as hard or harder than any coach in college football. Some coaches say they’re the closer. Meyer is the starter, the middle-relief ace, and the closer.”

How does Meyer compare to recent other big name faces in new places?

Butch Davis at North Carolina opened with the #31 class in his first class of 2006 before climbing to #9 in ’09. Bill Snyder, the only coach who has won consistently in Manhattan, Kansas in this generation, capitalized on the excitement of his return with a class ranked #27 in 2008, but has managed to win with some sub-top 50 classes since. Steve Spurrier opened with less fanfare, with a class ranked #35 in 2004, yet over time has improved the reputation of Gamecock football and today the typical South Carolina class is between #15-20.

Urban Meyer has been called the best recruiter in the nation. To serve as an assistant to him, one must be willing to spend countless hours, days, and months travelling around the midwest and the country in search of the nation’s top talent. Nine hour car trips. Overnights in towns you’ve never heard of. Red-eye flights that even Visine can’t correct.

That is the expectation for employment and performance at The Ohio State University under new head coach Urban Meyer. It’s an internal drive that’s led Meyer on a journey to a 104-23 career record, including 7-1 in bowl games and two national championships. It’s also one that’s brought him to a virtual collapse, chest pains, near blackouts, hospital visits, and a resignation for health and family reasons at an uncommon age (46).

But Meyer is now refreshed and reinvigorated. He knows to challenge the present SEC domination in college football, the SEC athletes must be matched by those in Columbus. After all, “If you’re not a good recruiter, you have no value on our staff,” Meyer said.

Meyer was officially introduced as the next coach of Ohio St. on 11/28, and online reports confirming Meyer’s decision began to be leaked on 11/22. Adolphus Washington, who committed to the Buckeyes on 11/22/11, went so far as to mention Meyer in his announcement.

Meyer, seemingly, is in a class accompanied by he, Nick Saban, and nobody else. Certainly, Ohio State and its football program has recovered about as nicely from the indiscretions of Terrelle Pryor, Jim Tressel and company as possible. An interesting dichotomy is forming among college football fans. Those who can’t stand when the same powerhouse teams win big every year (this author raises hand), and those who love the traditional powers returning to their rightful perch on the top of the college football landscape, believing that it truly is in the best interest of the sport.

And with Meyer at the helm, the typically cloudy climate of Columbus seems poised for some sunshine. Pressed in an “on-the-spot” question as to whether Ohio State has a crystal ball in its future under Meyer, Wiltfong didn’t hesitate. “I do think they will (win a national title). Absolutely.”

Marc Ryan is a sports talk radio personality in Pensacola, Florida. You can follow him on Twitter: @marcryanonair.

New Writer: Marc Ryan

EDITOR’S NOTE: would like to welcome a new writer to the team: sports radio personality Marc Ryan!

When the following is said of someone else, “He/She was born to do this,” it’s generally viewed as a compliment of a person’s skill or talent in a given area. When someone says that about him/herself, hubris is often suspected. I will spend the rest of this introduction attempting to disprove that, because in my case, sports has always been not only my passion, but what I was destined to do.

Born in Syracuse, New York, my family moved to Houston Texas when I was four, Fort Collins, Colorado when I was 13, Florida at the age of 15, and while in Florida, I’ve moved around from Lakeland, where my family resides, to Gainesville for school, to Orlando to begin my sports radio career, and finally to the Florida Panhandle, where I presently reside.

I host a morning drive sports radio program, “The Morning Wrap,” for 100.3 FM and “The Ticket Sports Network.” The show airs daily from 6am until 9am central time. You may stream the show live at I’ve been in the panhandle, home of the world’s most gorgeous beaches (see attached picture) since mid-2009, and experienced my first national hosting experience here, as a fill-in on Sporting News Radio, now Yahoo Sports Radio. Prior to this stop and during my time in Orlando, I hosted of “Marc Ryan’s Sports Section,” on ESPN 1080 – “The Team,”, where I was fortunate enough to have been named “Best Sports Host” by Orlando Magazine.

I carry with me sports memories from each of the places I’ve lived, and I’m frequently called a sports polygamist because of the multitude of teams I pull for – one or more from every stop. I remember rooting for the Syracuse Orangemen (now “Orange”) and the New York Yankees with my father as a toddler. In Houston, the Astros became my favorite hometown team, we were a regular at the games, but I retained my love for the Yankees as well. In Colorado, I fell in love with college football, and how’s this for luck? During my two years there, the Buffs played in the national championship both years and won once, if you’ll remember, on a Rocket Ismail kickoff return touchdown for Notre Dame that was called back on a clip. I also loved seeing the Rams of CSU play in and win their first bowl game in 35 years, a win over Oregon.

For as long as I can remember, I would lower the volume of the games I was watching, and I’d call them myself. I’m sure my parents were wondering if their child had issues, “talking to myself” in my room as much as I did.

Here in Florida, my sports team selections got off to a rocky start. You see, the most obnoxious neighbors on my street were Gators fans, so naturally, I gravitated toward FSU. They had this over-the-top RV decked out in total orange and blue annoyance, or so I thought at the time. It was only upon visiting colleges during my junior year of high school that I realized I had a very difficult decision to make. I played trombone in the band in high school, and temporarily was torn over which direction I wanted my career to take. The dean of Florida State’s college of Journalism and Communications told me their program was in a transition phase. I was lucky enough to gain acceptance to Florida State’s music program, which was and still is world renowned. On the other side of the fence, Florida was pretty mediocre in music but offered me a trombone scholarship, and more importantly had a communications program that was top five in the country. So it came down to this – music and the team I loved? Or sports media and the team I, up until that time loathed?

I’m proud to have made the right choice, and I’m a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications – Go Gators! While my rivalry with the Noles runs deep, know that you can expect fair and honest coverage of Free Shoes U – kidding – Florida State University here, as well.

I’ve loved being a sports radio host, and plan to stick with this career path as far as it will take me. But something’s been missing. I’ve always been a bit of a stats geek. As a kid, I had a huge baseball card collection, and would memorize the stats on the back of the cards and dare my parents to see if they could stump me on a player’s numbers without looking. As far as I can remember, they never did. I was mesmerized by Don Mattingly’s .352 batting average in 1986, and Wade Boggs leading the AL with a .357 that same season. To this day, I’m still ranking, analyzing, tabulating, creating any stat I can get my hands on. Just this fall, I invented a new way to evaluate quarterbacks, a system I call QBV (Quarterback Value). What can I say? I’m a nerd for numbers.

But until now, I hadn’t found a proper outlet to satisfy the sports numbers nerd in me. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to get started here on a site that does all of the number digging and dirty work for you.

Having admired Kristi’s and Alicia’s work from afar for quite some time, it truly is a privilege to be able to contribute on a site that’s the only one of its kind. I look forward to hearing from all of you, our valued readers, on Twitter.  You can find me at my personal account @MarcRyanOnAir and via email at, but since you now know my age, please be kind.