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B1G Football 2021 Coaching Hot Seats Final 2021 Edition
Across college football, we’ve seen 14 head coaches fired midseason as well as many other coordinators. Miami (FL), Arizona State, and Auburn (COVID mandate) are also all still possibilities to open up. The Big Ten has had zero head coaches shown the door and only two coordinators so far. While I would expect some significant coordinator changes after the season and even more position coach changes (that’s just the nature of the business and a big reason why I don’t include them in these rankings), the Big Ten appears to be headed to not firing a single head coach for the first time since 2013. If none of the B1G coaches are hired away by the NFL/other college programs, it could be the first time since 2009-2010 that the Big Ten has the same head coaches at the beginning of two consecutive seasons. Based on the three B1G coaches fired in 2010 (plus then ACC Maryland’s), that would mean the 2022 version of this article is going to have head coaches populate the top 5 more than the coordinators we’ve seen this year.
Most of the individual write ups are going to be pretty short this week as I’m pretty much said everything there is to say about these guys. A bunch of them are about to be gone and frankly I’m tired of talking about how terrible they are at their job. As far as replacements, below are a few names from G5 programs I would consider based on strong 2021 seasons. The usual nepotism guys, friends, former NFL coaches, and recently fired head coaches will also be candidates.
Offensive coordinators: Shannon Dawson (Houston), Mike Denbrock (Cincinnati), Zack Kittley (Western Kentucky), Barry Lunney Jr. (UTSA), Andrew Sowder (Kent State), Matt Mumme (Nevada), Frank Ponce (Appalachian State), Willy Korn (Coastal Carolina)
Defensive coordinators: Doug Belk (Houston), David Reeves (UAB), John Hauser (Miami-OH), Spencer Danielson (Boise State), Kurt Mattix (San Diego State), Patrick Toney (Louisiana)
This is your final opportunity to participate in the 2021 dead pool. Details on how to play can still be found in this previous post. Only update to that post is that I reduced the amount of time that a pick must be made before a firing from 1 full week to 4 days. I’ll make a final standings update sometime after Ohio State makes public their Matt Barnes decision (probably January). I’m sure OTE will have further coverage on the coaching changes across the B1G this upcoming offseason. Thanks for playing and I look forward to defending my win in the deadpool next year. Current standings/entries to the deadpool are as follows:
- BoilerUp89 - Matt Lubick Nov 29 at 9:36AM - 21 days off from actual firing
06Lion - Matt Barnes Oct 31 at 4:09 AM?
Atinat - Matt Barnes Oct 25 at 10:21 AM
Danwesley Meyer - Nick Sheridan two hours after Indiana loses the Bucket game
g0purdu3 - IU OC, Nick Sheridan. Monday, November 29th, 10 am eastern
greenie71 - Scott Frost Oct 3 2:00 PM
HeWasAHSQB - Scott Frost Nov 29
Hollywood Hawk Hogan - Jim O’Neil in the library with Pat Fitzgerald’s leg cast at 4:20 pm on Saturday, November 27, 2021.
HoustonBoiler - Nick Sheridan Nov 28 11:00 AM
HusCat - Scott Frost the day after the Iowa game
IronMonkee - Mike Sanford Jr. 11:00 AM 11/14 after he gets us shut out by Iowa
IUinVA - Nick Sheridan November 28, 11:11AM in the Arby’s parking lot
LandofSkyBlueWatersGopher - Mike Sanford, Nov. 28, 10:00 am CT
ProveIt - Barnes 1 day to 2 weeks after aOSU’s final post season game. Writer’s note: that would be after their loss to Cincinnati in the CFP, right?
rich52K - O’Neil Dec 1
The JRod - Scott Frost Oct 30 between 6-8 pm
TheNate - Nick Sheridan, in Sarah’s she-shed, with hand delivered note, at 7:22pm on November 29th
whersmyelephant - Tony Peterson November 30 at 1100 CTZ
If I missed someone let me know. Good luck to you guys playing for second, although the Scott Frost pickers are probably finishing in a tie for last this season.
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 but it’s close enough.
1. Indiana Hoosiers OC Nick Sheridan (previously 1). 2nd season. Salary - $500k. Years left on contract - 0?. Buyout at end of season - $0?.
Fellow OTE writer BuffKomodo said it best this week: “If Nick Sheridan isn’t fired, then Tom Allen might just have his seat turned up to 7 or 8 at the onset of next season.” With Northwestern finally getting over the 100 points in conference play this past week, Indiana is the only B1G team to score less than 100 points in B1G play. They will need 13 points in the Bucket game to get to 100. Next up: Purdue hopefully rescues the Bucket from its captivity. PREDICTION: 99.9% chance Sheridan is let go shortly after the Bucket game. Whether it’s on game day, on Sunday, or Indiana waits until Monday to make it official it is going to happen. I don’t see any realistic path for Sheridan to remain as the offensive coordinator for 2022.
2. Northwestern Wildcats DC Jim O’Neil (previously 2). 1st season. Salary - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS. Years left on contract - PRIVATE SCHOOL YEARS. Buyout at end of season - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS.
Another week, another game where Jim O’Neil is picked on by the opposing offensive coordinator. This week we saw Jeff Brohm call the same play with Milton Wright over and over again for 213 yards and 3 TDs. With just the Illinois game left (and a possible first HAT loss since 2014), O’Neil’s defense has given up 301 points for the season. I’ve said over and over again that in a just world Jim O’Neil would be replaced for next season but the Pat Fitzgerald loyalty factor may save him. Next up: Thumpasaurus thinks Northwestern wins the HAT. I think they lose it. PREDICTION: 80% chance that Jim O’Neil is let go. 20% chance that Pat Fitzgerald says “I’m untouchable. Deal with it.” I don’t think the Illinois game is super relevant to O’Neil’s job security.
3. THE Ohio State Buckeyes DC Matt Barnes [de facto DC, de jure DB coach] (previously 3). 1st season as DB coach. Salary - 450k. Years left on contract - 1*.
Limiting Michigan State to just 7 points was a big step for the keep Matt Barnes as DC movement. Michigan State has just 224 yards of offense and that’s with Ohio State emptying the bench late in the game. I’m not sure it really matters as Ohio State isn’t the type of program to not go out and hire the best candidate available in the offseason, but if Ohio State can repeat that for 4 more games this season, Barnes is going to have a shot. *Barnes’s contract details are as a DB coach. This ranking is for him keeping the DC role. Next up: A Michigan offense that is 2nd (behind only the Buckeyes) in points scored in Big Ten play. PREDICTION: 50% chance that Barnes is fired outright. 45% chance that Barnes is given his DB coach job back. 5% chance that Barnes is kept as DC after Ohio State wins a national title because the world is unfair.
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers OC Mike Sanford Jr. (previously 4). 2nd season. Salary - $650k. Years left on contract - 0. Buyout at end of season - $0.
I know the Minnesota fans on OTE won’t believe me, but the Gophers actually have the 5th most points scored in Big Ten play. They’ve even scored 30 points in 7 games this season. Minnesota also still has an outside shot of winning the B1G West division. Despite these facts, every Gopher fan will tell you that it’s time for Sanford to go. Next up: The Gophers try to win the Axe and pending the Iowa-Nebraska game win the division. PREDICTION: 40% chance Sanford is let go. 60% chance P.J. Fleck looks at the overall numbers and not the lack of progress and decides things are going according to plan.
5. Maryland Terrapins DC Brian Stewart (previously 5). 1st season. Salary - $775k. Years left on contract - 2. Buyout at end of season - 1.675M.
Giving up 500 yards and 59 points (although 14 of those were the result of special teams and the offense) is not the best way to keep your job. Opponents are scoring 33.9 points per game (113th in the country). I strongly suspect Stewart’s job security is directly tied to the result of the Rutgers game. If Maryland wins and makes a bowl game, Locksley will keep Stewart around in order to have some staff stability for recruits and players. If Maryland loses, Locksley will try to convince the AD to find the money to replace Stewart. The money on the buyout is a big deal for a poor athletic department. Next up: Big, bad Rutgers. Maryland might also make a bowl game at 5-7 just due to the fact the bowls have to fill 82 spots this year. PREDICTION: 70% chance Maryland beats Rutgers and Stewart sticks around next year. 20% chance Maryland loses to Rutgers, and fires Stewart. 10% chance Maryland loses to Rutgers, but can’t find the money.
Others to Watch:
Northwestern Wildcats OC Mike Bajakian - Against the Boilers, the Wildcats offense just topped 300 yards and scored 2 touchdowns. Next up: HAT! PREDICTION: Fitzgerald is stubborn, keeps Bajakian around.
Indiana Hoosiers DC Charlton Warren - The Gophers offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut, but they put up 35 points. I think the combination of Warren’s recruiting and ability to point to the offense putting the defense in really bad spots gets Warren another year but a 2-10 season means Warren could be let go. Next up: Old Oaken Bucket. PREDICTION: WARREN returns, begins 2022 season just behind Frost on the hot seat rankings.
Rutgers OC Sean Gleeson - I can’t justify keeping Gleeson in the safe column any longer. Rutgers has made a lot of progress under Schiano and a bowl game would likely mean Gleeson is back next year. This was always going to be a long, slow rebuild. But against P5 teams this season, Rutgers has put up 17, 13, 13, 13, 7, 20, 3, 38 (hi Indiana!), and 0. Even grading on the Rutgers rebuild curve that’s not good. PREDICTION: Gleeson returns next year but needs to start putting up points on the board.
Nebraska Cornhuskers DC Erik Chinander - Chinander survived Black Monday for the Nebraska staff. While there is still a small chance he is let go following Black Friday, the fact that he survived that day means he’s likely to come back next year aboard the
Titanic S.S. Scott Frost. Next up: Nebraska loses to Iowa by less than 7 so they can say they outscored B1G opponents this season.
Nebraska Cornhuskers HC Scott Frost - Frost has been announced as coming back next year. Nebraska fans rejoice! Next up: Scott Frost goes for 3-9 in year 4.
Moving off the watch list:
None this week
Head Coaches That Will Be Safe After 3 Wins:
- Indiana - I’m 99.99% certain that Tom Allen will be coming back to Indiana next year. Unless he wants to be insanely loyal to Nick Sheridan, Allen will be fine. I don’t think he sets himself on fire like that.
After 6 Wins:
- Maryland - A bowl game would be a big win for Locksley in year 3.
Coaches that have reached safe threshold for 2021 (barring scandal):
Michigan State HC, OC, DC
Rutgers HC, DC
Iowa HC, OC, DC - Sorry, not sorry Iowa fans
Minnesota HC, DC
Wisconsin HC, DC
Purdue HC, OC, DC
Ohio State HC, OC
Illinois HC, DC
Penn State HC, OC, DC