Over the past few years, celebrity boxing has made headway into the national media conversation, culminating in a fight Sunday between a YouTuber and a reality star from a boxing family. Pitting “famous” people against each other is not a new way to create entertainment, but what the recent boxing matches show is if there is enough conflict, people are willing to battle it out in the ring.
The Big Ten and college football obviously have rivalries on the field, but the rivalries off the field that spur out of words are the exact type of beef that can create a new competition for fans to take in. Thinking back to last offseason, Nick Saban called out Texas A&M for dirty recruiting. A day later, Jimbo Fisher does the most boxing promoter move possible by hosting an emergency press conference. They might as well have set a date to box each other.
There are tons of ways that watching coaches compete away from the field would be hilarious. Constantly on the list is wrestling, in the octagon, or in an American Gladiator type of environment. None of those are as pure as putting gloves on, going out to the local boxing gym, and catching some hands with each other. Now, this won’t end up being as a fun as a Vanilla Ice vs. Todd Bridges, but there are some electric matchups nonetheless.
Using the Big Ten storylines and the rest of college basketball, there is a long list of boxing matchups that would be both cathartic for the people involved, and incredibly entertaining for the rest of us.
The undercard rounds are the fights on the paper view of has beens and up-and-comers. Sometimes these fights end up turning into shining gems on a given fight card, but the majority of the time they are just a blip on the timeline. When a boxer is past his prime though, a nice bout with no pressure to make a few bucks is sometimes the only appeal you need.
Brian “My Dad’s my Boss” Ferentz vs. Gary “We need some Points” Barta
Starting off the night, a true battle that will be entirely overblown because there is an almost certain chance Brian Ferentz does not meet the points threshold to retain his job. The former offensive linemen, offensive line coach, and now offensive coordinator has only himself to blame for being so low that he has to pursue a celebrity boxing match.
If the threshold isn’t reached — 300 points in 12 games, or 25 points per game — maybe an alternative then termination is a bout against Gary Barta to keep his job. In most cases, the recent celebrity boxing trend has been a way for people on the way out to claim one more chances. For Barta, this fight would be a way to put the nail in the coffin of a tumultuous period in Iowa athletics.
Greg Gard vs. Juwan “The Right Hand Man” Howard
The best fights are those that fall on anniversaries or are rematches from an all-time matchup. For Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard and Michigan coach Juwan Howard, there is an opportunity at both.
Just over a year ago, Howard took the late game timeout management of Greg Gard personally. This led to one of the loudest slaps in sports history. In this matchup, Juwan can make his feelings heard loud and clear, while Gard could use his mind games to prove that he’s still in Howards head.
Jim “The Constant Flirtation” Harbaugh vs. Sean Payton/Shane Steichen/Kevin O’Connell
For years Jim Harbaugh flirted with beating Ohio State, but up until two seasons ago he struggle. In this triple threat, we’re looking at the three jobs Harbaugh was tied to the most the past two seasons, and pit the current Michigan coach against the three coaches that were hired instead of him.
Jimmy Boy could challenge the three in a gauntlet format, or at the same time depending on how wily he feels. Without the emotional feel from actually getting hired, the three coaches might not stand a chance. That being said, Jim Harbaugh will be in another bout with the NFL in 11 months.
Jimbo “I’ll Be Darned” Fisher vs. Nick “The Cyborg” Saban
This is also a throwback brought to reality — the best celebrity fights are. Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen fought a couple of months ago well into their late 40s. This was a throwback to the old UFC days when the popularity first started soaring. Well, Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban’s history goes back pretty far in its own right, back to when they were on the same coaching staff at LSU.
After years of snide remarks, Saban called Jimbo’s program dirty and what ensued was college football news cycle gold. The verbal sparring lasted through media days, and led to an underwhelming matchup on the field that Texas A&M lost on the last play. But every fight night needs a Kimbo Slice vs. a 50-year old Ken Shamrock, and this fight absolutely would fit that billing.
These are the fights of the next contenders. Most of the time these fighters are putting in the effort to be the main event. Big stories that are just starting to run their course, a start to a championship career or the final stage of a trilogy that never had a title fight connection to it. On the main card you need big names, and this fight night has some big ones ripe for the pay-per-view dollars.
Lincoln “Only Offense” Riley vs. Alex “Run Through Me” Grinch
In one corner you have Lincoln Riley, a coach who consistently leads top-10 offenses with elite position play. In the other corner, you have Alex Grinch who knows where all the skeletons are buried and can’t teach tackling. The two may show a graceful face to the public about their relationship, but we all know on the inside of the facility, they’re at a wits end.
Riley can finally get even for the amount of points Grinch gave up to Utah and Tulane to close out the season. A win here would not equal a playoff appearance, but a place to properly settle the beef could happen in the ring. Grinch could probably beat Lincoln in a fight, so that might be how he continues to stay employed.
Kevin “The TV Mogul” Warren vs. Greg “Past His Time” Sankey
Now in his final few months as the commissioner, Kevin Warren is just doing house keeping to finish out his tenure. Sankey won the first round in the eyes of most fans for going through with college football. Kevin Warren decided to play it safe and put up a late fight with a six-game schedule. In a split-decision, Sankey wins round one.
The next battle ensued. Greg Sankey poached Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 setting up a huge TV deal. Limiting the SEC to one partnership hurt the total value, giving the Big Ten commissioner a chance to respond. Brokering a multi-network TV deal after the coup of the Pac-12 by taking USC and UCLA, Warren negotiated a TV deal worth significantly more than the SEC on a per team basis, giving him round two.
Round three in the boxing ring, winner takes bragging rights in the trilogy.
The main event is where championship belts are won. Contenders make their final pitch for chance at the belt, and winners take home the largest purse of the night. They are the reason we’re watching, and no this won’t have the meaning of an Ohio State and Michigan. It’s celebrity boxing, so these people are the ones you watch to hate.
John “I’ll sue you” Ruiz vs. Charlie “The New Presidente” Baker
The NCAA has always been an enemy of the Miami Hurricanes, so any reason they see to investigate the program is one they’ll take. This time Miami mega-booster and NIL attorney was the man behind the level II violations Miami just received. Being a brash individual on social media tends to bring an audience praying on their downfall – a bit too familiar to be honest. Over a year in the making, this bout probably won’t live up to the hype.
New president Charlie Baker is the one who has to step in the ring for Mark Emmert’s NCAA investigation. The best way to start a leadership tenure is to make a statement. This is Baker’s opportunity to push through legislation that will bring more transparency to NIL. The fight in the ring is symbolic, but the build up is just beginning to what is looking like an all-time trilogy fight.
NIL Royal Rumble
What better way to end a night than a Royal Rumble. Every NIL Foundation founder enters and only one leaves. There is nothing to gain in this fight but bragging rights. That being said, seeing Da Schott take on John Ruiz in celebrity WWE style Royal Rumble to settle who cares the most about giving athletes money would be comical. The wide range of characters this would bring to the ring would be worth the price of admission.
The guy who bought the Suns, Matt Ishbia, is a Michigan State donor, The Fertitta family made a fortune off the UFC, as well as other business ventures, and Eric Dickerson still has the cool car he got. You may think this comes down to athleticism and skill, that’s not always the case. That gives a fair playing field to everyone involved unlike competing for players in the NIL Scape.
Celebrity fights are a trend that have existed for quite some time, but recently the popularity has regained traction with social media beefs. Now that those beefs have been settled to an extent, it is time for a college football fight night with coaches and administrators alike to squash their beef in the ring.
This might not be as fun given the age of some of the participants, but what college football needs is a place as pure as a boxing ring to settle off field exchanges. A fight card full of Big Ten and CFB personalities would do numbers around the country just on the novelty aspect. Once settled in the rings, these fights will still occur on the field or in the court room giving us extended college football content to consume.
At the very least it is fun thing to talk about, because thinking about a mega booster putting on boxing gloves is kind of funny.
If you have a beef in college football that you think needs to get settled in the ring, comment in the comment section below who should battle out.