This blog has been doing our annual "coaches hot seat" feature for 6 years now and it's honestly one of the main reason's I look forward to May every year. This is one of the few things we do here that addresses all of the other schools in the B1G, and especially their head coaches. We hope you enjoy!
Here's our own custom "hotness" scale, for your reference.
Totally Safe - Can literally lose every game and still be elected governor.
Safe for Now - Can have an off-year and still be okay.
Needs a Good Year - Needs to improve from 2012.
Needs a Great Year - 2013 could be the end if things don't get better fast.
Dead Man Walking - The end is near.
Let's get it on!
First up, the Leaders Division, which we'll bring to you in two parts.
Tim Beckman - Illinois
ILL Record: 2-10, 1 year
Career record: 23-26, 4 years
Beckman has one job to do at Illinois, make everyone forget about Ron Zook. The only way to do that is to win. Going 2-10 is not going to get it done. But, things can only get better for the Illini, and that begins now. In his first season with the Toledo Rockets in 2009, they went 5-7. The next year, 8-4. With 9 offensive starters returning for year 2 of the Beckman era, that's what Illinois fans are expecting.
QB Nathan Sheelhaase returns (which could be a negative, depending on who you are), along with 3 receivers, 3 offensive linemen and RB Donovonn Young who led the team in rushing and receiving last year. I think at least a hefty portion of the expectations are shared by Sheelhaase, who has struggled at times.
Only 4 defensive starters return, so plenty of rebuilding to be done on that side of the ball. However, Beckman is a defensive style coach, so I expect some improvement here as the season progresses and young guys get further along in the system.
Initial prognostications all point to Illinois remaining a middle-to-bottom team in the Leaders division. I think while it would be nice to suggest otherwise, I just don't see 8 wins on their schedule. The Beckman era will take a few years to really get off the ground, so 2013 could be a bumpy ride...although a bowl is certainly a possibility.
Notable games in 2013:
9/14: vs. Washington (neutral site)
11/2: @ Penn State
11/16: Ohio State
MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Good Year
Kevin Wilson - Indiana
IU Record: 5-19, 2 years
Career Record: 5-19, 2 years
When you're the head football coach at Indiana, life is an uphill battle. Indiana is a basketball school, no question about it. Always will be. Football is just something that happens every fall when IU fans are making plans to flock to Assembly Hall.
The only good football being played in Bloomington is usually being played by the visiting team. Seems like it's been that way forever. So when the football squad puts together a 4-8 season like they did in 2012, all you can do is contrast that to two straight 1-win seasons the last two years, and see some improvement.
The beauty of this year's team is that so many guys are back. 10 starters on offense and 9 on defense. The only holes needing to be filled are center on offense and two defensive tackles on defense. That has to be music to Kevin Wilson's ears, I'm sure.
I'm not one to make wild off-the-cuff predictions, but watch out for the Hoosiers this year. A bowl is certainly a possibility. They could impress a few people and shake up the Leaders division. No, they're not going to challenge the Buckeyes for the division crown, but they won't come in last either. Could be a fun year in Bloomington.
Notable games in 2013:
10/5: Penn State
10/19: @ Michigan
11/16: @ Wisconsin
11/23: @ Ohio State
MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now
Urban Meyer - Ohio State
|I giggle every time.|
OSU Record: 12-0, 1 year
Career Record: 116-23, 11 years
Well, 2012 was about as glorious of a football season as there can be in Columbus. All expect for the fact that the season ended after the Michigan game, before any post-season play began. The undefeated Buckeyes spent the holidays at home thanks to the off-the-field issues of a couple years earlier.
The huge silver lining of tat-gate was the hire of Urban Meyer. He's a huge fan-favorite in Columbus. And when you step in and take a 6-7 team from the previous year, who has legitimately nothing to play for, and go 12-0...that's special.
I think the 2013 Buckeyes could be a bit overrated, though. Many experts expect Ohio State to waltz through the Big Ten. While they do have a lot of good players coming back on offense, notably QB Braxton Miller, RB Carlos Hyde and WRs Corey Brown and Devin Smith, the defense is another story. Only 4 starters return (3 of which are in the secondary). But at Ohio State, they've gotten used to reloading rather than rebuilding...which is what most teams do when coming off NCAA sanctions.
Cameras like Urban, and he likes them. As a face of a program, he's a natural. He recruits very well...some would say a little too well. But ultimately, he rallied his team and in-turn the fanbase with a very quick start to his first season. Personally, I think Urban may be a bit too "SEC-like" for the loyalists in Columbus. And in time, the SEC culture that he has brought to Ohio State and the Big Ten could prove to haunt him in the end. Yes, he's an Ohio boy born and raised, but his success was doing things the SEC way, which is not the way things are done in the Big Ten.
Urban left Florida because the stress of the job was too great. Unfortunately, the pressure is on to deliver once again in Ohio. 12-0 seasons are the expectation now at Ohio State. And in 2013, fans are already booking flights to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship Game. I don't see how that is any less stressful than what he faced in Gainesville.
With a schedule like theirs this year though, who can blame Ohio State fans for expecting a national title. It'll all come down to who wins on November 30th in Ann Arbor...and that's just fine with us.
11/30: @ Michigan
MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now
~ Up next, Leaders Division Hot Seat Part 2.