10 More Years Of Koenning, Please October 4, 2010
If you’re not a follower of my Twitticisims, here’s my final thought from Saturday:
I’ve come to a decision: Offer Vic Koenning a 5 year contract extension on Monday. I’m totally and completely serious.
Conferences are all defined by something. In the Big Ten, the haves and the have-nots have nearly always been separated by defensive prowess. The Pac 10 has their offensive firepower (sometimes), the SEC builds on speed speed speed (both figuratively and literally), and the Big Ten will smash your mouth. Run game and defense – we don’t need no stinking firepower.
This has been no more evident than the last few years. The teams on top – Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, even Northwestern – got there mostly through their defense. The teams who have struggled – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota – found themselves on the bottom mostly because they haven’t been able to stop anyone. Three offensive mistakes and you’re done – the defense can’t keep you in the game.
So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve long dreamed of having our own Norm Parker (Iowa) or Jim Heacock (Ohio State) or Tom Bradley (Penn State) – someone who can bring in a system, call that system, recruit to that system, and keep us in every game.
Vic Koenning is that guy.
He had top-25 defenses four consecutive years at Clemson. He improved K-State’s defense from 117th to 39th in one year. And at Illinois, he’s improved our defense from 91st to 37th through four games. What’s that? Scoring defense is what matters? We’ve gone from 96th (30.2 ppg) to 29th (18.0 ppg).
I can keep going. NIU is averaging 29.2 points per game against their other opponents – we held them to 22. Missouri is averaging 42.7 points against their other opponents – we held them to 23. Ohio State was averaging 49.2 points coming into this game – we held them to 24. Oh, and did I mention that in our defensive rotation of 16 or 17 players, there’s only 3 seniors?
Can I give you one more? We’re tied with Northwestern at 29th in the country in scoring defense (18.0 points per game). Tossing out the FCS games, we’ve played the #21, #32, and #45 offenses. Northwestern has played #42, #47, #90, and #104. Takeaway: We’ve already played 3 of the 6 toughest offenses we’ll face this year. And we’re 29th in scoring defense. I’m really excited to see what the second half of this schedule might bring
OK, last one – I promise. This year, we’re giving up 4.91 yards per play through 4 games. Last year, through 4 games, we were giving up 6.23 yards per play. That, my friends, is probably the most stunning stat of them all. It might not seem like much of a difference, but 1.32 yards per play is the difference between, say, 3-9 and the Insight Bowl.
And remember, this was all done A) with Terry Hawthorne yet to play, and B) Supo Sanni out for the season, and C) Walt Aikens dismissed from school, and D) Josh Brent not making grades and leaving for the Supplemental Draft, and E) Garrett Edwards’ early retirement and F) Michael Buchanan suspended for two games and G) Lendell Buckner being kicked off the team and H) Justin Green playing cornerback for the first time in his life. All of that, a schedule with three top-50 offenses in the first 4 games, and we’re only giving up 18 point per game? Are you kiddin’ me?
Here’s what I suggest. A 3-year contract extension that runs through the 2014 season (same length as Zook’s contract). A raise to the Petrino pay level (Petrino makes $475,000 per year, Koenning makes $325,000). And some type of fulfillment bonus that pays at the end of the 5 year contract.
Sound familiar? Yes – I want Vic Koenning on the Jerrance Howard Plan. In the offseason, the vultures will circle over our top assistant – let’s give him a raise, an extension, and a bonus, and tell him we’re committed to him for the long haul.
Need a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t make this kind of commitment? Look at our friend Tim Brewster in Minnesota. He hires former Duke coach Ted Roof as his defensive coordinator in 2008. Roof turns the defense around, and Minnesota wins their first 7 and goes bowling. After the season, Auburn came calling, and Roof left Minnesota after only one year for a pay raise at Auburn. Minnesota’s defense went south quickly.
Don’t let that happen here. Lock him down now. His wife and kids didn’t follow him to Kansas State, but they did follow him to Illinois. He loves Monticello and the Sangamon River. He’d be happy if his kids graduated from Monticello High (and the youngest is 9 years old).
Let’s give him that opportunity.