B1G Coaches Hot Seat - Leaders Division

2011 was crazy year for coaches in the B1G conference. The Leaders Division especially was rife with coaching issues. So that makes it a perfect place to begin our 5th (!) annual Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat – a staple of this site during the month of May each and every year.

And of course, the 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 2011
Needs a Great Year: 2012 could be the end if things don't get better fast
Dead Man Walking: Probably won't make it through 2012

Let's get it on!

Tim Beckman - Illinois

First Season
Career record: 21-16

Finally, the Ron Zook era at Illinois has come to an end. He was fired on Nov 27, 2011 after running the Illini to a 6-6 record (2-6 in-conf) after starting out the season 6-0 against baby seals. Zook compiled a 34-51 record in Champaign in his 7 seasons as head ball coach. Sweet. Have fun paying his contract the next 3 years.

But we're not here to trash Zook anymore. Those days are gone. It's the start of the Tim Beckman era and we here at MBN couldn't be more happy. Beckman hails from Berea, OH. He played college ball at the University of Findlay where he graduated in 1985. Since then he's had coaching stops at Auburn (where he earned his master's in education), Western Carolina from 90-95, Elon from 96-97, defensive coordinator at Bowling Green from 98-04 (for Urban), cornerback's coach at Ohio State from 05-06, DC at Oklahoma State 07-08, and then his first head coaching gig at Toledo for the past 3 seasons.

In his 3 years as head ball coach for the Rockets, he went 21-16, including a tie for first in the MAC West division last year after going 7-1 in conference. He guided the Rockets to the Military Bowl.

Beckman will have plenty of work cut out for him this year. On offense, they do bring back QB Nathan Scheelhaase and 6 other starters. But they need to replace RB Jason Ford and WR AJ Jenkins, both leaders at their positions. The loss of Ford is not as bad because Scheelhaase is their leading rusher, but Jenkins caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards and 8 TDs. Receivers like that are tough to replace.

Defensively, DE Whitney Mercilus, LB Ian Thomas and CB Tavon Wilson will be missed. But CB Terry Hawthorne, DT Akeem Spence and LB Jonathan Brown will help this defense out during the transition.

Overall, I think Illinois is a middle-to-bottom B1G team in 2012. Expectations really can't be that high. And while I really do like the Beckman hire, mainly because I like defensive-minded coaches,  I think it's going to take a few years to really get Illinois back to prominence. But you gotta start somewhere.

Notable Games in 2012:
9/1 vs Western Michigan
9/8 @ Arizona State
10/6 @ Wisconsin
11/3 @ Ohio State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Kevin Wilson - Indiana

2nd Season
2011: 1-11 (0-8)

Well, for Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers, there's really nowhere to go but up. Last year could have gone better, but they were close. Their first 4 losses were by a combined 13 points. I think Indiana is moving in the right direction, and I really like Kevin Wilson.

Football coaches at Indiana are kinda screwed out of the gate. Indiana is never going to be a great football school. They may have a decent shot at a 6 or 7-win season here or there, but they'll never compete for a B1G title. Now basketball, that's another story.

But all those things aside, I think Kevin Wilson is a very good coach. If he can improve to maybe 4 or 5 wins this season, a measurable improvement, then he'll prove me right. He will have help in terms of 7 starters back on offense, and 8 on defense. And let's not forget, he has OL coach Greg Frey on staff, Michigan's OL coach under RichRod. Coach Frey is a very good OL coach.

It's going to be an uphill battle for Wilson and Indiana. But given the relatively low expectations that exist in Bloomington, I think his future is safe for the time being. But a 3rd-straight 1-win season is not good for business even if you're a basketball school.

Notable games in 2012:
10/13 vs Ohio State
10/20 @ Navy
11/10 vs Wisconsin
11/17 @ Penn State
11/24 @ Purdue

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Urban Meyer - Ohio State

First Season
Career record: 104-23

The Ohio State football program finds itself in one of the most awkward positions in it's 122 year history. For all the love OSU fans showed Jim Tressel both during his career and after it, now that Urban Meyer is at the helm in Columbus, Buckeye fans are ready to turn the page and forget about all that crap that took place over the last year and a half.

But not so fast my friend.

Urban takes office amid a season where Ohio State has legitimately nothing to play for – Ohio State is not eligible for post-season play in 2012. So, pride, I guess is all there is to play for in Columbus. Essentially, the Michigan game is going to be OSU's bowl this year. And Urban knows full well that putting the Michigan game on it's own level is exactly what you do as the head coach at The Ohio State University (and vice versa).

Expectations, not just for 2012, but overall for Urban Meyer are off the chart already. The moment he took the podium the day he was hired, Buckeye fans started counting how many championships he was going to bring them. And given Urban's track record, who can blame them? He's a great coach. But, if there's one thing Michigan fans can tell you, is that all that glitters ain't always gold (like the spread offense).

Look, I actually like Urban Meyer. I do. But, there's something to be said about hiring the big sexy name. It rarely works out. Why? Expectations. Urban has no time to fail before he can succeed. If he struggles, watch out. OSU fans were critical of Tressel...and he was an amazing coach for them.

One thing I know for sure, is there will be no shortage of drama surrounding Urban or Ohio State. Both are lightening rods for sports columnists and folks looking for smoke. Even in his first 5 months on the job, Urban has been under fire for his alleged recruiting practices. Even if these rumors and reports are unfounded, there's already blood in the water.

Meyer left Florida citing health concerns. He said he needed to spend more time with his family and looking after himself. So he took a job with the mothership as a college football commentator where he was on the road constantly. Then, not even a whole year later, he took a job at maybe one of the most stressful coaching gigs in the nation. Something doesn't add up.

Personally, I think Urban just wanted out of Gainesville. But that's just me.

Notable games in 2012:
9/15 vs Cal
9/29 @ Michigan State
10/6 vs Nebraska
11/17 @ Wisconsin
11/24 vs Michigan

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Bill O'Brien - Penn State

First Season
Career record: 0-0

Wow. Penn State is about as radioactive as a program can be right now. The fallout is still falling out in State College, PA as the Jerry Sandusky saga is far from resolved. To date, Penn State has paid millions to a PR firm in attempts to restore their image/credibility/integrity as a big time college football program. They've attempted to name Beaver Stadium after Paterno in return for his family not suing the school...to which they said no thanks.

All-in-all, there are much bigger problems at Penn State these days besides what's going on on the field. The real kicker here is, Penn State has been rocked to it's core. And then they found out that the core is also corrupt. There's seemingly no good way for this thing to end...whenever that is. And no matter if you cheer for the Nittany Lions or against them, it's obvious that this program is at the start of a very long process where it needs to find it's new identity. Because the one that died last year after being the head coach for 46 years, took everything good along with it.

Bill O'Brien is tasked with doing the impossible. His first head coaching job is a tough one. He's spent the last 5 years in the NFL with the Patriots. Before that he floated around the ACC at GT, Maryland and Duke from 95-06.

No question O'Brien has one of the toughest jobs in the B1G. I can't imagine any way in which he's overly successful this season. But maybe that NFL pedigree will serve him well as he just needs to focus his team on football and the business of getting their minds off of the circus that's going on around the program and school.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 @ Virginia
10/20 @ Iowa
10/27 vs Ohio State
11/10 @ Nebraska
11/24 vs Wisconsin

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Danny Hope - Purdue

4th Season
2011: 7-6 (4-4)
2010: 4-8 (2-6)
2009: 5-7 (4-4)
Total: 16-21 (10-14 )

If there's one coach in this division that's actually on a hot seat, it's Danny Hope. Hope was hired a year before Joe Tiller retired back in 08. He was hired early so he could take the baton, so-to-speak, and keep the winning tradition at Purdue going. So far, it hasn't quite gone as expected. He's 16-21 in 3 years in West Lafayette. At Michigan, that record will get you shown the door (ask RichRod), but at Purdue, all it will do is turn up the heat a bit.

2011 was Hope's first winning season thanks to a win over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Expectations for 2012 need to be high considering 9 returning starters on both offense and defense. WR Justin Siller is gone. As are both tackles and the RG. But the bulk of the offense returns. But this isn't the same potent offense we saw back in the Tiller days. Hope's problem is that he's just not the recruiter that his predecessor was. Turns out, Danny Hope is not a very likeable guy.

The real key for Purdue and Hope is that they take care of business out of conference. But the problem is, they'll lose to Notre Dame. And then they start B1G play by hosting Michigan, Wisconsin and then traveling to Ohio State. By the time October ends, they'll be 3-5, at best.

Purdue needs to cut ties with Danny Hope. He's not the guy they need. It's just not working.

Notable games in 2012:
9/8 @ Notre Dame
10/6 vs Michigan
10/13 vs Wisconsin
10/20 @ Ohio State
11/24 vs Indiana

MBN Hotness Meter: Needs a Great Year

Bret Bielema - Wisconsin

7th Season
2011: 11-3 (6-2)
2010: 11-2 (7-1)
2009: 10-3 (5-3)
2008: 7-6 (3-5)
2007: 9-4 (5-3)
2006: 12-1 (7-1)
Total: 60-19 (33-15)

I don't like Bret Bielema.

I don't like his red wind-breakers. I don't like his blank expressions. I don't like that he complains all the time. I don't like his cake-walk non-conference schedules. I don't like that he won the inaugural B1G Championship game. I don't like that he's gone to two Rose Bowls in a row (and lost). I don't like how he embarrassed us by running the same play 87 times in a row back in 2010.

I don't like Bret Bielema.

That is all.

Notable games in 2012:
(Certainly no non-conference games!)
9/29 @ Nebraska
10/27 vs Michigan State
11/17 vs Ohio State
11/24 @ Penn State

MBN Hotness Meter: Safe for Now

Keep an eye out for the Legends Division post coming at you soon.


  1. Wait, so why are you such a big fan of Bret Bielema?

  2. It's purely based on respect, I swear.

  3. Two things: One, why do you keep using that picture of Bret Bielema?

    Two, lmao at the picture of Urban with the Buckstash! Nice one, Brad!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. LOVE the picture of Urban and his 70's-rific 'stache. Also, fine forensic analysis of Beilema! Spot on! LOL! Great work as always, Brad! -Kerri. (AKA Support Brady Hoke)

  6. Thanks!

    I use that picture of Bret so that we never forget how important that 2007 Capital One Bowl win was for Wisconsin and the B1G as a whole.