Faculty soccer teaching showdown: Is Michigan or Penn State the higher job?


The tough half when evaluating two faculty soccer teaching jobs is to keep away from acquainted pairings. The target is to actually consider jobs that belong on the identical tier.

For instance, Ohio State and Michigan are reflexively grouped due to their storied rivalry, on-field historical past and, amongst different issues, nice coaches akin to Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. However in the case of teaching jobs in 2021, there is no comparability. Ohio State is in a special class. This does not imply Michigan is a nasty job. Michigan is, in reality, an excellent job. However a full breakdown of these two positions is a waste.

A way more attention-grabbing job comparability is Michigan vs. Penn State. Each jobs carry excessive expectations to problem for Huge Ten championships and compete nationally. Each have robust sources, recruiting attain and historical past of success. Each jobs additionally current some obstacles, particularly in making an attempt to maintain tempo with and finally catch Ohio State within the East Division.

Very like the earlier teaching job breakdowns, I’ll assess Michigan and Penn State in 4 main classes: historical past (each latest and long-term), sources and administrative assist, recruiting location and entry to expertise and expectations and local weather across the program. Along with my very own analysis, I surveyed coaches and different sources accustomed to every program to realize a greater understanding from the within.

Is #GoBlue or #WeAre the higher teaching job? Let’s discover out.

Historical past

Previous 10 years: Penn State 84-41; Michigan 80-42

The hole between the groups is not as extensive as I anticipated. Michigan hasn’t captured even a share of the Huge Ten title since 2004, and has but to look within the league championship sport, which launched in 2011. The Wolverines have dropped eight straight video games to Ohio State, 5 of the previous six by 11 factors or extra. Penn State, in the meantime, owns two wins towards the Buckeyes throughout the previous decade, in addition to two one-point losses in 2017 and 2018. Michigan’s decade hasn’t been as unhealthy because it appears, because the Wolverines personal 4 seasons of 10 or extra wins and three extra of eight or extra wins. However Michigan hasn’t received sufficient large video games or met expectations, particularly given the hype round head coach Jim Harbaugh’s arrival.

“Not having the ability to beat Ohio State, it knocks them some extent down as a result of they have that stigma proper now,” a former Michigan assistant stated. “If you happen to hold getting embarrassed by your rival, it is onerous to garner that positivity.”

Penn State’s decade started with the Jerry Sandusky baby intercourse abuse scandal, the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno and unprecedented NCAA sanctions positioned on this system. When Penn State obtained sanctions in July 2012, many predicted this system would not get well till 2020 or later. As a substitute, the Nittany Lions received a Huge Ten title in 2016 and went 42-11 with three AP top-10 finishes and 4 AP top-20 finishes between 2016 and 2019. Final season marked PSU’s solely dropping document (4-5) throughout the decade, however the Nittany Lions averaged solely 7.6 wins from 2011 to 2015.

Michigan and Penn State have break up eight conferences over the previous decade.

Previous 50 years: Penn State 450-169-2; Michigan 447-162-8

Penn State has extra nationwide titles (2) than Michigan (1), and holds a 14-10 edge in video games towards the Wolverines over the span. The Nittany Lions had been an FBS unbiased till 1993, after they joined the Huge Ten. They went undefeated in 1994 with a Huge Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory, however completed second within the closing polls behind Nebraska. However Penn State has received solely three extra league championships since 1994, a decrease quantity than many predicted when the varsity entered the league. Since 1971, Penn State has logged 22 seasons of 10 or extra wins, posted a 25-16 document in bowl video games and boasts 29 consensus All-Individuals and its lone Heisman Trophy winner with John Cappelletti in 1973.

The 50-year interval covers most of Schembechler’s tenure at Michigan, and contains 20 Huge Ten championships, though none since 2004, marking Michigan’s longest streak between league titles. Michigan received a nationwide title in 1997 and produced 39 consensus All-Individuals and two Heisman Trophy winners within the Nineties (Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson). The actual situation for Michigan, amplified prior to now decade however current all through the previous half-century, will not be successful sufficient large video games. Along with the latest Ohio State struggles, Michigan is 17-26 in bowl video games since 1971 with 4 consecutive losses. Michigan final made the Rose Bowl within the 2006 season and is 3-11 in Rose Bowls throughout the previous 50 seasons.

Edge: Penn State

Sources/administrative assist

Each the Michigan and Penn State packages obtain robust assist from athletic departments that constantly rank within the high 10 nationally in income. They play in America’s two largest stadiums — Michigan Stadium holds 107,601, whereas Beaver Stadium holds 106,572. Penn State and Michigan boast two of the nation’s largest alumni networks, and have stable booster bases with a number of large donors.

“​​The monetary half may be very related due to the scale of the stadiums,” stated a coach accustomed to each packages. “Clearly, when you could have giant stadiums, you possibly can create that income. They’ve made commitments and investments.”

Each faculties have veteran athletic administrators in Penn State’s Sandy Barbour and Michigan’s Warde Manuel, a former Wolverines defensive lineman beneath Schembechler. Each have been capable of pay market worth for his or her head coaches and high assistants. Each even have demonstrated persistence, most just lately final fall at Michigan, which went 2-4 in Harbaugh’s sixth season.

“They don’t seem to be as cutthroat as they’re within the SEC,” a Huge Ten workers member stated. “Penn State’s administration is similar method.”

Michigan in 2009 opened the Al Glick Area Home, a gleaming indoor observe facility, and has made two upgrades to Schembechler Corridor prior to now decade. The college accomplished a $226 million renovation of Michigan Stadium in 2010. Whereas Michigan’s cash by no means appears to be in brief provide, a former assistant thinks the varsity should proceed to push for amenities enhancements.

“Michigan’s constructing feels a bit bit outdated,” he stated. “It would not pop. It is not just like the SEC faculties. Michigan ought to most likely have higher stuff than what they’ve, being this system that they’ve.”

In February, Penn State’s board of trustees accredited a $48.3 million renovation and growth of the Lasch Soccer Constructing. A complete venture of $69 million contains upgrades to Holuba Corridor, Penn State’s indoor observe facility, and the outside observe fields. Penn State is also exploring potential renovations for Beaver Stadium as a part of its grasp amenities plan, though nothing is about right now.

Each faculties adhere to a broad-based philosophy in athletics, as Penn State sponsors 31 varsity groups, two greater than Michigan. Whereas the strategy impacts monetary choices and general assist, soccer budgets aren’t missing at both spot.

“Nobody has extra sources than Michigan,” a former Wolverines assistant stated.

Edge: Michigan

Recruiting/entry to expertise

Penn State and Michigan each are able to accessing high expertise swimming pools and placing collectively robust recruiting lessons. They only often take their very own paths.

Three of Harbaugh’s first 4 full recruiting lessons at Michigan (2016, 2017, 2019) ranked amongst ESPN’s high eight nationally. Even his less-decorated lessons, such because the previous two, have completed in ESPN’s high 15.

Penn State signed ESPN’s No. 4 class in 2018 and top-15 lessons in 2019 and 2020. Whereas the 2021 class ranked uncharacteristically low (No. 24), the Nittany Lions are off to a powerful begin in 2022, at the moment boasting the nation’s No. 3 class behind Ohio State and Notre Dame. PSU’s recruiting rebound underscores what this system can do inside its personal state (commitments from Nicholas Singleton, Mehki Flowers and others) in addition to in neighboring states akin to Ohio and Maryland. Penn State’s 2018 class additionally was heavy on in-state prospects (Micah Parsons amongst them), as nicely these from Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

Coaches say Penn State generally is a true regional recruiting energy with the potential to attract from different areas, akin to Florida. Though State Faculty is distant and solely accessible by direct flights from a couple of cities, prospects can simply drive there from populated areas akin to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore/Washington D.C. and New York. Penn State is the flagship faculty in a stable talent-producing state, and the closest blue-blood sort program to Maryland and New Jersey.

“Penn State’s acquired a greater recruiting base as a result of there’s extra gamers per capita on the East Coast than the Midwest,” a former PSU assistant stated. “Penn State can go to [New] Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, they’ll nonetheless do some bit in Ohio. It is a great distance from Michigan to Virginia.”

Michigan’s recruiting base is extra nationwide in scope, which might serve this system nicely with the best coach and recruiting operation in place. There are fewer elite prospects within the Midwest, and given the competitors from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and even Michigan State, Michigan’s means to pluck prospects from states akin to California is crucial.

“Michigan is higher-regarded academically,” an business supply stated. “The Jordan Model, if I am a child, the Jordan Model means one thing. And the Maize and Blue and people uniforms, the Huge Home, it makes a distinction.”

A former Penn State assistant added of Michigan: “They appeal to a extra nationwide recruit [than Penn State].”

The problem for Michigan is competing inside its personal footprint. Michigan has added some key recruits from Illinois, akin to 2021 quarterback J.J. McCarthy (he completed his highschool profession at IMG Academy in Florida), 2020 extensive receiver A.J. Henning and 2022 extensive receiver commit Tyler Morris. However Illinois usually would not produce a considerable amount of high-level prospects.

A veteran Huge Ten assistant, who has labored at Michigan, questioned whether or not this system really has a candy spot in recruiting.

“Ohio State and Notre Dame get all the great youngsters in Ohio, and Michigan will get no matter is left over,” the coach stated. “Penn State can go on the East Coast and get nearly whoever they need. The place is Michigan’s base? They only haven’t got a nucleus or base the place they dominate.”

Regardless of some regional challenges, Michigan has proven it might succeed by recruiting completely different areas. For instance, the previous two teaching staffs have accessed New Jersey for elite recruits akin to Jabrill Peppers (2014 signee) and Rashan Gary (2016 signee). California has lengthy been a state for Michigan to focus its efforts, and this system has made some inroads in each Florida and Georgia.

“At Michigan, you’ve got nonetheless set to work your ass off, however on the finish of the day, you can most likely beat Penn State if you happen to’re doing it the best method,” stated a former Huge Ten assistant.

Edge: Michigan

Expectations/program local weather

The info and suggestions on the primary three classes reveals how shut this job comparability is true now. However coaches and others word key variations in expectations/local weather round every program, magnified by Michigan’s struggles towards Ohio State and different notable opponents.

“Proper or mistaken, the expectations are for Michigan to be on the identical stage as Ohio State, no matter what historical past says,” a Huge Ten coordinator stated. “Historical past says there hasn’t been a Huge Ten championship since 2004, however the expectation is, it higher come tomorrow. Penn State needs these issues, however they do not decide you on them. They’re simply pleased with the 10-win season.”

Different coaches accustomed to each packages made related arguments.

“You are most likely anticipated to win the nationwide championship at Michigan ahead of you might be at Penn State,” one coach stated. “The Penn State followers are a bit extra content material with a superb product. Michigan is a bit bit extra, ‘We beat Ohio State, we beat Michigan State.’ They’re a bit bit extra straight related to what video games you win.”

One coach stated Michigan’s administration and key decision-makers appear extra practical and even resigned to this system’s place in faculty soccer’s pecking order. He famous that Michigan’s final two coaches, Wealthy Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, had been fired after dropping seasons, and that the varsity did not dismiss Harbaugh after final fall, a season impacted closely by COVID-19 but additionally traditionally unhealthy by Michigan’s requirements.

However Michigan followers are perceived as extra fickle and even entitled. They need this system to match the college’s customary. Little about Michigan soccer resembles “leaders and greatest,” because the battle music goes.

Penn State, in the meantime, is extra of a “blue-collar,” regional fan base, as one particular person famous. They assist create what coaches contemplate one of many nation’s greatest game-day atmospheres, particularly throughout “whiteout” video games. Whereas Michigan additionally produces spectacular crowds, Michigan Stadium typically is not thought of as hostile for opponents as venues akin to Beaver Stadium, Ohio Stadium or Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.

“You are going to discover a bit bit extra passionate fan base and ambiance at a Penn State sport than a Michigan sport,” a Huge Ten assistant stated.

Edge: Penn State


A theme that has emerged within the teaching job breakdowns is that the roles that ought to be higher aren’t all the time so. Michigan appears to suit into this class. The Michigan model stays one of many strongest and most recognizable in American sports activities. Cash is not an issue in Ann Arbor, and recruiting nonetheless has the potential to be robust.

However Michigan is not the identical program because it was within the Nineties and early 2000s, and the prolonged stretch with out Huge Ten championships or marquee wins (towards Ohio State and others) has broken the job.

“Custom-wise, Michigan ought to be a top-10 sort job,” a Huge Ten assistant stated. “It is Michigan. No person’s received extra video games than them. They have 40 one thing Huge Ten championships. However you are very distant out of your rival. Your instant competitors is competing at an especially excessive stage.”

Penn State additionally has misplaced some luster, at the least because the Eighties, when it received two nationwide titles and recorded 5 AP top-eight finishes. Whereas Penn State recorded three AP top-eight finishes in its first 4 years as a Huge Ten member, the varsity hasn’t obtained the increase that some envisioned. However Penn State is extra related within the league as of late, and its program seems closest to Ohio State, each on the sphere and in recruiting. Penn State takes benefit of its regional recruiting benefits and offers an atmosphere the place coaches know they should win, however aren’t judged solely by their efficiency towards a superior program.

Michigan remains to be extra nationwide than Penn State, which has its advantages, however even Harbaugh hasn’t constantly capitalized on the benefit. You surprise if anybody can.

Higher job: Penn State

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