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In which the longest-serving coach in the country somehow isn't the most stable in his conference.

I Believe I Can Fly

The new Iowa football poster was released late last week. Yes, it is badass.

I too like to imagine C.J. Beathard with like giant eagles wings and singing lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd with like an angel band, and I'm in the front row, and I'm hammered drunk.


Remember when Illinois fans went crazy with rivalry glee when new coach Lovie Smith followed Iowa recruit A.J. Epenena on Twitter? How Illinois fans expected a five-star recruit to drop everything for a chance to play for the failed coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, merely because that coach showed enough interest to have a staffer click a button on his web browser?

We got another dose of Lovie Smith's Recruiting Delusions theater this weekend when Iowa defensive line commit Juan Harris popped up at an Illinois football camp in Chicago.

Harris is obviously a massive, massive human being. I have a feeling that he'll eventually end up as an offensive lineman at the next level, but he'd make a great addition on either side of the ball for Illinois. The defensive line in particular is the biggest area of need going forward; a potential player like Harris would go a long way in solidifying things up front. Regardless, these are the types of recruiting battles that the Fighting Illini need to start winning, and the new coaching staff would be off to one hell of a start if they manage to eventually flip the Iowa native.

Let's get a few facts out of the way first: Harris is not an "Iowa native"; rather, he's a Chicago native who moved to Wisconsin, and eventually Iowa, due to family circumstances. He participates in the Chicago offseason camp circuit frequently due to his family connections in the area, which probably explains why he popped up at this camp over the weekend. Also, Harris' purported connection to Smith -- his uncle, Tommie Harris, played for Smith with the Bears -- is a now-discredited rumor created by Juan Harris.

The fact that Harris might show interest in another program is not exactly surprising: He has decommitted and recommitted twice since his initial commitment 18 months ago. In fact, given the teams that are after him and his tendency to be distracted by any coach with the time to write a letter, I'd be surprised if Iowa keeps Harris' commitment to the end. But if Juan Harris is going to leave Iowa, it almost surely won't be to play for a program further from home and historically worse. And Illinois is falling victim to the same delusion that we're seeing from Ames, that history can be washed away with a simple coaching change.

A Comparison of Stubborn Old Guys

ESPN says Mark Dantonio is the most stable coach in the Big Ten ($). Mark Dantonio. Mark. Dantonio.

There’s plenty of job security in being, perhaps, the country’s top overachieving coach. The Spartans have had 10-plus-win seasons in five of the past six seasons despite recruiting rankings typically in the 20s or 30s. As we’ve discussed, the division is becoming tougher, but there’s no reason to buy into the notion that MSU is going to fall off because of its ability to identify hidden recruiting gems and excel in development.

At age 60, it’s unlikely that Dantonio is heading anywhere, though some top-tier programs may kick the tires. He has been that good.

All of those things are correct. They're also all correct for a guy who is the longest-serving head coach in the country with a multi-million dollar buyout that the athletic department has never been able to afford, an improbable division title and once-in-a-generation Rose Bowl berth in hand, a son and son-in-law on staff, and a career arc well past the NFL jump. But hey, go ahead and pick the guy with the questionable disciplinary record. That doesn't matter at all.

Other Stuff

NFL Network places C.J. Beathard fifth on its list of college quarterbacks who are best with the game on the line. The four ahead of him have a far bigger national profile, but it reiterates that a solid senior season (combined with his family's NFL connections) could make him the first Iowa quarterback drafted since Ricky Stanzi.

There was some talk after his 1-for-6. four-point state basketball tournament championship game against West Des Moines Valley that Connor McCaffery's recruiting grade was inflated. About that:

The Big 12 is probably going to split into two five-team divisions and play a championship game, despite the fact that each team already plays all nine other conference members. It's a blatant money grab, like all other things the Big 12 has done since the conference dropped Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri. Dividing the conference isn't exactly easy, either.

If you've been confused as to why there's a bunch of soccer on your television, college football's best soccer writer is here to explain Copa America.

The Greatest (North American sports columnist working today) writes about The Greatest.