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Big Ten Coaching Hot Seats Week 8 - The Clock is Ticking in Lincoln

Scott Frost lost the chair, but found a hot seat

Michigan v Nebraska
Look Scott, I know we owe you a lot of money but that doesn’t mean you can just not do your job.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

***DISCLAIMER*** BoilerUp89 does not wish unemployment upon anyone and asks that you remember these coaches are real people with a family. Watching the performance of some of these coaches is inappropriate for young children and all viewers watch their games at their own risk.

Couple of non hot seat notes for this edition of your complain about your coaching staff comment section.

  • My thoughts go out to Erik Chinander and his entire family after his father passed away following an automobile accident this week. I’m not going to include him in the article this week as Nebraska’s defense has a) been playing really well this year and if he didn’t work under Scott Frost, Chinander would definitely be offered the opportunity to be the D-coordinator for Nebraska again next year and b) I’m not holding Nebraska’s performance this week (or likely the next few weeks) against him as he has bigger, more important things to deal with right now.
  • It’s after the Chair game, but as it’s the basis of my hot seat photo it’s not too late for me to remind you that you can still donate to the Chairities that the fans of the trophy support. The fans of Minnesota and Nebraska have done a great job keeping this trophy around when their administrations decided they hate fun and they’ve done an even better job giving the trophy a purpose other than just bragging rights. Major shout-outs to the supporters of the ChairTrophy.
  • Thanks to USAToday for realizing that I needed more accurate coaching salary and buyout info beyond the offseason tweets/articles of beat writers as we prepare for the stretch run. They published their yearly article on such things this week. The bad news is that they only published head coach information which I already had. Big bummer.
  • And finally we say goodbye to non B1G coach, Ed Orgeron. Just the latest in a long line of men that have so thoroughly torpedoed his coaching career with stupid off the field stuff so quickly. Of course he may not be the latest by the time this article actually posts but that is out of my hands.

B1G Football 2021 Coaching Hot Seats Week 8

It’s been another 2 week period of B1G football, although most teams saw a bye week in there and really only played one game. Northwestern won a conference game! Purdue claimed another AP top 5 victim in football! Scott Frost still only has 15 wins at Nebraska!

Our deadpool competition meanwhile got some additional players in the last edition of this article. Details on how to play can still be found in this previous post. Remember you can change your pick at any time as long as it is 1 week before a firing. The more creative you are in describing the firing the more I appreciate you as I read through the comments section and compile your picks. We are approaching the point in the season where I will begin to track job securities across the B1G on a weekly basis and the firing season is imminent but unless you see an article next week, use the comment section in this article for the next two weeks. November will definitely see weekly articles on this topic, October feels like it’s still biweekly content unless we start to hear rumblings or watch truly awful performances. Current entries are as follows:

06Lion - Matt Barnes Oct 31 at 4:09 AM?

Atinat - Matt Barnes Oct 25 at 10:21 AM

BoilerUp89 - Matt Lubick Nov 29 at 9:36AM

greenie71 - Scott Frost Oct 3 2:00 PM (while you could still be the closest to a Frost firing, your actual guess isn’t going to happen)

Hollywood Hawk Hogan - Jim O’Neil in the library with Pat Fitzgerald’s leg cast at 4:20 pm on Saturday, November 27, 2021. (This is my favorite pick so far)

HoustonBoiler - Nick Sheridan Nov 28 11:00 AM (HB, I’m not going to attempt to figure out which time zone you mean by GZT. You went to Purdue (eastern) but live(d?) in Houston (central). You get the central time zone by default unless you tell me otherwise

HusCat - Scott Frost the day after the Iowa game

IronMonkee - Mike Sanford Oct 24 10:00 AM

LandofSkyBlueWatersGopher - Mike Sanford Oct 31 noon

rich52K - O’Neill Dec 1

TheNate - Lubick in the shower with a text at 10:22pm on Oct 30th

whersmyelephant - Tony Peterson Oct 11 (well, that didn’t happen. Like greenie you are still eligible to win with this pick but feel free to make a different one)

If I missed someone let me know and blame Iowa for making me watch the Purdue game replay as I looked up comments from the previous article.

The Hot Seat Rankings:

Buyouts and years left on contracts are roughly at the end of the season. Technically some contracts change in December and some in January.

1. Northwestern Wildcats DC Jim O’Neil (previously 1). 1st season. Salary - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS. Years left on contract - PRIVATE SCHOOL YEARS. Buyout at end of season - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS.

Northwestern v Nebraska
Maybe I should ask the AD to give my coordinators raises and extensions after we beat Rutgers.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

It’s been a good two weeks for Jim O’Neil and the Wildcats. They didn’t lose the bye week. Then they won a conference game! Against a giant! Doesn’t matter that the giant is sleeping, it’s still a giant. Holding Rutgers to 7 points seems slightly impressive and I’m almost tempted to move O’Neil down to the two spot. But then I remember that Rutgers is 0-4 in B1G play and that while NU has had a handful of good performances (6 points to Indiana St, 6 to Ohio, and 7 to Rutgers) their performance against the not terrible teams on their schedule has been atrocious. O’Neil doesn’t face a ton of scary offenses from here on out (joys of a B1G West schedule) so he may move down this list quickly if Northwestern can repeat Saturday’s performance but right now he lacks the resume, the goodwill, and the results to be anything other than #1 on my list. Next up: The Wildcats play @Michigan for a new trophy and then face a currently division leading Gophers at home.

2. Indiana Hoosiers OC Nick Sheridan (previously 3). 2nd season. Salary - $500k. Years left on contract - 0?. Buyout at end of season - $0?.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana
I didn’t watch the Spittoon game so I’m just going to assume this was every offensive play for Indiana
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Yes Indiana has played 4 ranked teams this year. No, I didn’t expect them to beat any of those teams. But 6, 24, 0, and 15 points against those teams isn’t going to be good enough for Sheridan to come back next year barring a dramatic turnaround in the 2nd half of the season. This week Indiana’s defense deserved a win by holding Michigan State to only 241 yards of offense. But Indiana’s offense only had 322 yards themselves and settled for FGs instead of TDs when they had opportunities. Fellow OTE writer BuffKomodo pointed out that Indiana did snap their 11 B1G quarter TD-less streak this week. But 1 TD in 3 B1G games isn’t going to cut it when you have a show me contract as offensive coordinator. Next up: The offense tries to put up points against OSU followed by a must win game to maintain legitimate bowl hopes against the Turtles of Maryland.

3. Nebraska Cornhuskers OC Matt Lubick (previously 4). 2nd season. Salary - $500k. Years left on contract - 1. Buyout at end of season - $500k.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Nebraska
Scott Frost demands extensions for his entire coaching staff!
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Oh boy! Start your Matt Lubick countdowns. Even after a close loss to Michigan (during which some of us thought Nebraska might finally be turning the corner), Nebraska still had a semi-plausible path to a bowl bid this season sitting at 3-4 with games against fellow B1G West mediocrities Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Purdue left on the schedule. But following the loss to Minnesota, the Cornhuskers are left needing 3 wins against a Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Iowa schedule. They need at least one upset to get there and I wouldn’t be shocked if Nebraska isn’t favored the rest of the way either. A B1G team can’t miss bowl games 4 straight years without some major shakeups on the coaching staff. Like the rest of the B1G West, the Cornhuskers offense is struggling mightily (when not playing Northwestern). Unlike some of those other teams that win their share of close games however, Nebraska is losing every close game and only winning blowouts. That’s more of an indictment of Scott Frost than Matt Lubick but Lubick isn’t doing himself any favors either (the Gophers won the time of possession battle 38:01 to 21:59 and Nebraska went just 4-14 on 3rd and 4th downs) and unlike Frost, Lubick doesn’t have a huge buyout attached to his name. Next up: A long awaited bye week, followed by a game at Purdue. For a lot of programs with the stature that Nebraska pretends to still have, Lubick could be on the chopping block now as they head into the bye week.

4. THE Ohio State Buckeyes DC Matt Barnes [de facto DC, de jure DB coach] (previously 2). 1st season as DB coach. Salary - 450k. Years left on contract - 1*.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch
Attention! We beat the bye week!
Courtney Hergesheimer/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

OSU beat Maryland handily and then took a week off to congratulate themselves. Rutgers performance this past week means that Northwestern’s defense is better than Ohio State’s (a poor indicator for Barnes moving forward). Typically I wouldn’t put an interim guy this far down the list - and for the record I do expect at the end of the season Ohio State will officially replace their current DC with someone new to the staff - but there exists a possibility that OSU spits out a bullshit CFP appearance, avoids Cincinnati when the Bearcats get kept out, Georgia’s players go on strike, and OSU gets another “championship” despite having more losses than the actual best team in their own state. And because life is unfair this possibility seems more likely to me than Nebraska learning how to win games (actually this part is fair with apologies to our OTE Nebraska fans) or Sheridan and O’Neil putting things together. Next up: Ohio State’s defense faces Indiana’s offense in an intriguing on-field matchup between #2 and #4 in the hot seat rankings. I’m truly excited, but then I like watching things like UConn vs. UMass! Then OSU plays some team in the East that could theoretically challenge them if they just stopped faking injuries. *Barnes’s contract details are as a DB coach.

5. Nebraska Cornhuskers HC Scott Frost (previously 5). 4th season. Salary - $5M. Years left on contract - 4. Buyout at end of season - $20M.

Much like your hot seat writer’s favorite Indiana coach Archie Miller (come back to coach the Hoosiers Archie!) in early February of this year, Frost has a third of the season left in year 4, no postseason appearances yet, a struggling team, and a huge buyout. Archie’s team completely fell apart in the final third and eventually his buyout was paid (reportedly by only 2 Indiana boosters). Frost’s buyout is double what Archie’s was and he could still theoretically turn things around this year. As mentioned in the Lubick section the schedule isn’t all that friendly however. The buyout is the only reason Frost is down here at #5 as Nebraska looks like they are on a collision course towards a pointless year 5 for financial reasons only. Of course if Nebraska loses out or their boosters pony up the big time money it’s always possible Nebraska pulls the plug at the end of this season. Next up: Scott Frost has two weeks to evaluate whether he should have someone in charge of coaching special teams prior to playing Purdue. Lucky for him, Nebraska won’t be ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll for that game.

Others to Watch:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 Wisconsin at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Illinois Fighting Illini OC Tony Petersen - Illinois put up 0 points and 93 yards against Wisconsin. Those are some Darrell Hazell type numbers right there. Peterson is trying to demand his rightful placement in the top 5, but his 3 year contract and it being the 1st year for Bert at Illinois means he is merely at the top of the others to watch list. Next up: The Illini are sacrificed to an angry Penn State team and then face off in the most important B1G game of the year. That’s right we are less than two weeks away from Illinutgers!

Wisconsin Badgers OC Joe Rudolph - Introducing for the first time to this column, a Wisconsin coach! Going back to my fanpost days, Wisconsin is the final B1G program to make it to the big time. Congrats to Joe Rudolph on this major accomplishment. Yes, Wisconsin ran the ball for 391 yards against the Illini and then 198 yards on the ground against Army. But even with those rushing performances they still couldn’t score more than 24 points. I fully expect Rudolph’s stay on this list to be brief when the Badgers follow tradition and run the ball for 900 yards against Purdue as they beat Purdue for the 15th straight time. Until that actually happens though, the complaints of Wisconsin fans has been noted and he joins the watch list. Next up: The annual Purdue win and then Iowa. Wisconsin still controls their own destiny.

Michigan Wolverines HC Jim Harbaugh - Michigan is 6-0. The Rutgers and Nebraska wins were closer than they should have been, but 6-0 is 6-0. Harbaugh still needs to get a win against 1 of MSU, PSU, and OSU this year though. The MSU and PSU games look more doable than they did a couple of weeks ago. Harbaugh’s seat is down to a slow boil. Next up: Northwestern and then the first opportunity for Harbaugh to come off this list with Michigan State.

Dear Minnesota fans, I’m not adding Mike Sanford to this list at this time. Minnesota just beat Nebraska, is tied for the division lead, and has upcoming games against Maryland, Northwestern, and Illinois. Even despite the struggles on offense this year Minnesota looks headed back to a bowl game and probably a 7 win season at the very least. If the Gophers lose one of the next three games then I’ll acknowledge the Gopher fan complaints. Until then, continue to voice your complaints in the comments and someone from management will be by to offer you a complimentary opportunity to writer your own fanpost entitled “Why Mike Sanford Should Be Fired.”

Moving off the watch list:

Purdue v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Purdue Boilermakers HC Jeff Brohm - Well, well, well. What do we have here? I had drafted an article last week to argue that Purdue fans should be patient with Brohm (I’m seeing enough good things and progress even if he has had to learn some hard lessons) but the article seems a lot less relevant following the win over Iowa. Brohm isn’t completely out of the woods for 2021 as I think losing out would result in a conversation with the AD and finishing 5-7 could theoretically result in an angry booster offering/demanding to pay the buyout (lol, Purdue has no boosters that would spend the money to pay Brohm’s buyout). The chance of Purdue completely falling apart in the final 6 games seems pretty low right now and in that scenario the odds of Purdue moving on from Brohm are even lower. That’s enough to move Brohm off the watch list for at least a few weeks. Hopefully I don’t have to revisit his job security the rest of the year and my draft article about Purdue football becomes more of a reason for optimism in 2022 and onwards. SUNDAY UPDATE: Thank you to Brohm for making Purdue football ranked for the first time since I started watching games.

Northwestern OC Mike Bajakian - Northwestern’s offense hasn’t been super impressive this year but they’ve been doing enough with backups and were in Indianapolis just last year with Bajakian coaching then. It’s difficult to envision a world in which stubborn Pat Fitzgerald fires both of his coordinators in the same offseason. Bajakian will move off the list and stay off unless the Wildcats offense completely collapses late this season.

Nebraska DC Erik Chinander - I mentioned this in the opening, but Nebraska’s defense has been good all year until this week against the Gophers. Nebraska’s AD seems like a semi-reasonable guy (apologies to my Omaha fans) and not the type to force Frost to replace his one good coordinator (Chinander) along with Lubick just for the appearance that Nebraska is doing something. And Frost certainly isn’t going to fire any of his assistants on his own. Chinander moves off the watch list for now.

Head Coaches That Will Be Safe After 3 Wins:

Indiana v Penn State
Who scheduled all these top 10 teams?
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
  • Indiana, Illinois

After 6 Wins:

Akron v Ohio State
Ryan Day signals how many weeks until he secures 2022.
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
  • Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Purdue, Nebraska

Coaches that have reached safe threshold for 2021 (barring scandal):

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day
Haha, watch me win the West again.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Michigan State HC, OC, DC

Rutgers HC, OC, DC (hey Rutgers - why are you trying to make me look stupid with saying your coordinators were safe weeks ago? Stop that. Stop that right now.)

Iowa HC, OC, DC

Minnesota HC

Wisconsin HC, DC

Northwestern HC

Purdue DC