Monday, November 28, 2022

Fickell and Chryst

I don’t remember the last time I blogged about football, but with the Fickell hire it seemed like a good idea to post some thoughts. If for no other reason than so that Torvik can throw it back in my face in 10 years when I’m wrong. 

First, I didn’t like how Chryst went out. I don’t know (and I don’t think anyone else does either) what went down between Chryst and McIntosh, but it doesn’t sit well. He averaged 9 wins a year and should have had a chance to turn the season around. Good guy, good coach, got a raw deal at the end. It’s entirely possible the criticism of Chryst is valid, and the program was going downhill. The recruiting department took some hits, the offense was bad again, Chryst seemed to struggle with diving into NIL and the dirty business this will entail for college programs here on out. Still, he had a formula that worked at UW and I think he would have continued rolling out 9 wins a year for the next decade given the chance. We’ll never know what that universe would have looked like, nor the one where Jimmy Leonard took over the program, nor the one where Chryst was fired last year and replaced with Leonard like many wanted. So what are we looking at. I’ll draw up 3 possibilities and what I think of each.

 1) Fickell takes WI to the next level and makes them a perineal power, B1G title and National Championship contender. This seems like the most unlikely scenario, but also the expectation that McIntosh and the majority of the fan base are putting on him. He caught lightning in a bottle with mostly 3 star guys at Cincy and went to the playoff, so why not here? Just rinse and repeat in Cardinal and White, right? So with this we are basically banking on the fact Fickell is another Barry or Bo. A genius who can take middling players (athletically) and turn them into champions through training, scheme, etc. I guess it’s possible, but I’m not hopeful. Chance of this scenario- less than 5%.

2)  Fickell takes WI straight into the tank. This is the horror scenario, and I think we narrowly avoided this already when Gary Anderson left us (thank God). If you think this can’t happen just look at what happened to MI between Carr and Harbaugh, or look at Nebraska today (one of the most storied programs in college football with rabid fans, great facilities, and solid recruiting). That could be us. Fickell could be our RichRod changing the scheme, changing the recruiting, and losing an already fickle and quick to bail fan base. If it goes this way it may never come back. Barry was a great but also lucky hire. Other than Fickell, no other hot coach in demand has wanted this job despite 2 recent openings when Anderson and Chryst were hired. If the program tanks, it will take another Barry to resurrect it, and those guys are hard to come by. Chance of this scenario less than 20%. 

3)  Fickell spends the next 6-9 years at UW and wins about 9 games a year. He has a couple years where we overperform and make it into an expanded playoff with 11-12 wins, and a few years we underperform and barely make a bowl game. Sound familiar? It should because this is what we are. We won’t get to the next level because of recruiting. Fickell said in his press conference we will recruit “within the 300 mile radius”. That’s because almost all kids stay within that range of home when picking a school. We just don’t have enough 4 and 5 star kids within 300 miles to compete with schools in Ohio, Florida, Texas, etc. that have 10 times what we have right next to home. We will bring in 3 star kids, we will develop them, we will get some special kids here and there that take us to double digit wins. That won’t sustain a championship level program though year in and year out, you just need more 4 and 5 star kids that live nearby, and we just don’t have that. Chance of this scenario- greater than 75%.