I can’t get worked up over this Blake Baker thing.
I know some people are really bothered about it. I know a lot of other people aren’t. Coaching is by nature very transient. So when a coach changes jobs, I tend to be pretty unsurprised.
I understand all the reasons Blake Baker would take the defensive coordinator job at LSU. I get its “home” to a degree. You know, wife, college, all that stuff. I get he’s going to make more money, but probably not a ton more. His biggest mistake was sending the Wolf of Wall Street video when it was announced he agreed to a contract extension. Maybe just say something like “can’t wait to get to work!” instead of a defiant message of refusing to leave.
I know where Mizzou stands in the traditional pecking order of national programs. But I also understand the transient nature of coaching. That’s one reason why I think Baker’s decision is a bad one.
LSU is higher on the food chain for football than Missouri is. I get that. They had a disappointing season this past year, only winning 10 games when they came into the season with National Championship hopes. Missouri exceeded their expectations and had their best season in nearly a decade, winning 11 games for the first time since 2014 and winning double digit games for the 6th time since Gary Pinkel was hired in 2001. Coincidentally, before Pinkel, Missouri hadn’t won double digit games since 1960.
LSU has 13 double digit win seasons since Gary Pinkel was hired at Missouri. Nick Saban won a National Championship there, Les Miles won a National Championship there, Ed Ogeron won a National Championship there, Brian Kelly has been there two years and won double digit games each year. The goal at LSU is a National Championship.
The goal at Missouri is to elevate the program to where LSU is. There are a handful of programs who realistically have a chance to win a national championship each season. Those programs would consider missing the College Football playoff next season as a disaster season. Heads would roll, coaches fired... and on that note.... LSU finished 13th in the rankings and fired the entire defensive staff. Conversely, Mizzou finished 9th and everyone got raises.
I really don’t mean to denigrate what Missouri is. But I look at Mizzou and a program like Ole Miss in the same boat. They’re trying to break into the tier LSU is in. Lane Kiffin and Eli Drinkwitz are a new breed of coaches in a new era of College Football, where being a blue blood may not be enough on it’s own to win year in and year out.
But the funny part about this is that Ole Miss and Missouri, and to a lesser degree Washington, maybe Arizona, are just as likely to switch up that narrative about what college football is and can be as the Alabamas and Oklahomas and LSUs are likely to keep their stranglehold on college football.
So I’ll reiterate that I think Blake Baker’s decision to leave was a poor one. There’s no guarantee that LSU will be better than Missouri next year, in fact there’s a good chance they’re worse. LSU is losing Jayden Daniels and replacing him with... A.J. Swann. The QB from Vanderbilt. They did just get a commitment from the top quarterback in the 2025 class but he’s two years from hitting campus and probably 3 or more from seeing the field. Maybe Swann is the next big thing, but I’ve seen him play plenty and I think he’s at his best Brady Cook.
Baker has stated he wants to be a head coach, and if that’s the case then why are you worried about moving back home now?
You have a wife and family who would prefer to be in Louisiana but next year is not guaranteed. Columbia is guaranteed. Two million bucks a year in Como. Let’s run a hypothetical after this past year... next year is crap at both Mizzou and LSU. Both programs fail to meet expectations and finish 6-6. Which coach is more likely to get fired? Drinkwitz? The guy who has elevated recruiting at Mizzou, won a Cotton Bowl, and finished in the top 10 just a year ago? Or Brian Kelly? Kelly is the guy who seems to have one foot out the door every day. There are rumors he goes to Michigan if Harbaugh leaves. He bolted out of Notre Dame... NOTRE DAME! To take the LSU job. How committed is Kelly to Louisiana?
But Baker was wanting a head coaching job, right?
Again the best case scenario here is he gets one next year after a good season in Baton Rouge... which is something that also could have happened with another good season in Columbia. Which roster would you rather take that risk with?
I don’t know but the one that’s already proven it’s on solid footing and was really good this past year sounds better to me.
Coaching is by nature a transient profession. Baker has coached in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida and Missouri. His new head coach has coached in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and now Louisiana. His old head coach worked in Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, North Carolina, and now Missouri.
Going “home” is temporary. Staying in Columbia would always be temporary also. Baton Rouge will be home temporarily.
Maybe I’m weird, but I would always prefer a modicum of stability over being where ever home is. I get the lure of being closer to your home base, but your next move is going to change that regardless of whether you’re in Columbia, Missouri or Baton Rouge, Louisiana next year. I give Baker two, maybe three years tops again before he’s on the move again. And that’s if he does a good job at LSU.
Five years ago making this decision is 100% a lock of a better move. Today though, with the changing landscape in college sports it's nothing more than a gamble on the future and little more than moving your family closer to home for a few years before the next move inevitably happens.