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B1G Football 2021 Coaching Hot Seats Week 11
All the usual suspects lost this week. Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland, Rutgers, and Nebraska. The Illini meanwhile pulled off a big upset and unranked Purdue did what unranked Purdue does.
Sheridan, Lubick, Frost and all your “favorites” continued their march towards the unemployment line. A handful of new faces also join the watchlist portion of the rankings this week as I’ve finally given in to the irate demands of Minnesota and Maryland fans as well as added some other coordinators from struggling teams.
Now is as good a time as any in this article to provide your weekly reminder that you can still participate in our deadpool competition. Details on how to play can still be found in this previous post. Please remember that last week I reduced the the amount of time that a pick must be made before a firing from 1 full week to 4 days. That will allow everyone to make picks the final week of the season (if there hasn’t been a firing in conference by then), and allow them to still pick Nebraska’s coaches. Current entries to the deadpool 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
Danwesley Meyer - Nick Sheridan two hours after Indiana loses the Bucket game
g0purdu3 - Scott Frost heading into the locker room at halftime against OSU, down 56-0 (Nov 6)
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. (This is my favorite pick so far)
HoustonBoiler - Nick Sheridan Nov 28 11:00 AM
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
The JRod - Scott Frost Oct 30 between 6-8 pm
TheNate - Lubick in the shower with a text at 10:22pm on Oct 30th
whersmyelephant - Tony Peterson Oct 11
If I missed someone let me know. Those of you that have seen time pass your pick by, can make a different one. or stick with it. Anyone can make a different pick or stick with it. I should note that several of you no longer have picks that can win as other users have the same names and dates closer to the present despite also being in the past. On to the promised Nick Sheridan quotes.
Nick Sheridan took a perfectly good offense from 2020 (28.9 points per game, two good WRs, one good RB, and a perfectly fine Penix) and turned them into the worst in the conference. Okay - technically they’ve scored 1 more point than Rutgers, but Rutgers has won a conference game. Indiana is down to 20.3 points/game - good enough for 117th in the nation. I could go on with stats or tell you that Nick Sheridan is only 33 years old or that Kalen DeBoer may have been the entire engine that powered the Indiana offense up til he was hired by Fresno State following the 2019 season. Instead, this feels like a good week to just pull quotes from the game threads and twitter about Nick Sheridan. First from OTE:
Fire Sheridan tonight. Don’t let him on the bus. Make him walk 300 miles home in the freezing cold, it is exactly what he deserves.
Posted by Hoosiers47
Little harsh, but he is from Michigan and went to the University of Michigan so he should be able to find somewhere to crash.
Tom Allen yelling at Nick Sheridan on the sideline and Donaven McCulley not being dead (yet) are the two strong positives from this game.
Posted by IUinVA
McCulley survived the whole game!
I want Tom Allen to punch Sheridan right in the face. Multiple times.
Posted by Hoosiers47
Violence is never the answer. Love each other.
Now from the twitter verse:
Nick Sheridan gets a lot of hate, but the reality is that he shouldn’t be in this position to begin with. #iufb— taylor (@ByTaylorL) November 7, 2021
This is a completely accurate take.
After reading that nick Sheridan needs to be blasted into Pluto https://t.co/UQrA0Qfb5Z— sad iu football fan (@KobeFleming2) November 7, 2021
Considering space travel is really Purdue’s thing, I’m surprised IU fans think we would help them with this. On to the rankings! Can’t believe I forgot to include this beauty in last week’s article. I beg the forgiveness of our readers.
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?.
Tom Allen was breaking his own slogan during this week’s game. Safe to say he was not practicing LEO (love each other) when he was yelling at Nick Sheridan. When a head coach is yelling at a coordinator, it’s pretty safe to say a coordinator is soon to be on his way out. For completely unknown reasons, Sheridan kept calling plays designed to get their last scholarship QB hurt and the offense only managed 195 yards - just 88 through the air. Sheridan will almost certainly be gone at the end of the year and I expect a major staff shakeup in Indiana that will include a bunch of other assistants as well. If Indiana fans are wondering where it all went wrong on offense, I have a theory. Kalen DeBoer, Sheridan’s immediate predecessor at offensive coordinator, had a 67-3 record in the NAIA as a head coach and won 3 NAIA championships in 5 years along with a runner up finish and a semifinal loss. Now at Fresno State, DeBoer took at team that was 4-8 (2-6) in 2019 and went 3-3 in the Mt. West last year and is at 7-3 so far this season. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he was pulling all the strings on the Indiana offense and his effect bled over into 2020 as enough players were still around that had experienced his coaching. Now two years removed, the riding on DeBoer’s coattails has become ineffective. Next up: Indiana’s best chance to finally get a conference win in the most hyped Indiana season in my lifetime.
2. Nebraska Cornhuskers OC Matt Lubick (previously 3). 2nd season. Salary - $500k. Years left on contract - 1. Buyout at end of season - $500k.
The Cornhuskers did better than expected against Ohio State as they eked out 17 points. Yards gained were only 361 though. Just 2 of 13 on 3rd downs. Against P5 teams, Nebraska has scored 22, 16, 20, 29, 23, 23, and 17 this year. It’s consistently meh, but not good enough. Nebraska has officially been eliminated from bowl contention (unless we count false hope for a 5-7 APR based bowl). Nebraska has guaranteed their fifth straight losing season. They had five in the 57 seasons before this five year stretch. I can see scenarios in which Nebraska just can’t figure out how to move on from Frost financially. But big changes are coming to this coaching staff whether than involves Frost or not. Lubick is almost certainly going to be part of those changes. Next up: A bye week followed by a matchup with the currently dominant Wisconsin defense.
3. 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.
The good news is that Northwestern held Iowa to just 17 points. The bad news is that Brian Ferentz is bad at his job (and is only not making this list because of blatant nepotism) so that 17 points is actually more than Iowa’s last two games combined. I’ve seen worse defense performances but the overly conservative Iowa offense meant once they scored 17 points midway thru the 3rd quarter they stopped trying - actually they may have stopped trying after 14 points to be honest. Despite facing a backup QB for the majority of the game, Northwestern did not pressure Padilla and only got 2 sacks and no INTs. Seems like it would have been a good game to bring a bunch of blitzes or mix up coverages and see if you could make the new QB uncomfortable. O’Neil did not and both teams were content to play a low scoring, yet uncompetitive game. Next up: At division leading Wisconsin. Seeing what the Badgers did to Rutgers this week makes me feel uncomfortable about this game.
4. THE Ohio State Buckeyes DC Matt Barnes [de facto DC, de jure DB coach] (previously 4). 1st season as DB coach. Salary - 450k. Years left on contract - 1*.
Ohio State’s defense pretty much got the job done against the Cornhuskers. Sure Nebraska scored more points than most of OTE expected, but that’s because Ohio State’s defense just isn’t as death starry as we are used to. That’s not all Barnes’s fault - he took over midseason - but it’s also not the type of dominating performance that gets an interim guy the long term promotion. If Ohio State makes the CFP, Barnes might be able to pull off an incredible performance there and get the DC job officially. I’m not betting on it at this point. *Barnes’s contract details are as a DB coach. Next up: Ohio State plays the Purdue Spoilermakers.
5. Nebraska Cornhuskers HC Scott Frost (previously 5). 4th season. Salary - $5M. Years left on contract - 4. Buyout at end of season - $20M.
Scott Frost has earned his firing. 4 straight years of no bowl bids and no progress leaves little doubt there. But let’s talk about his buyout. There was an investigative article by Mickey this week that looked at the dead money in college athletics over what is basically the 2010-2020 timeframe. For those that don’t know, dead money is money paid to coaches for not coaching. During this timeframe, Nebraska was 2nd in total dead money at $25.8 million (behind Auburn). $19M of that dead money was spent on football. Having gone to the booster money pool for so much money in the past decade, will Nebraska boosters be willing to step up again? Also worth noting is that no coach anywhere was paid as much dead money in that timeframe as Scott Frost would need to be in order to move on from him. Will Muschamp comes close at $19.2M but that was two separate buyouts as he convinced both South Carolina and Florida to fire him with significant money left on his contract. The most on any one buyout during this timeframe was Muschamp at $12.9M from South Carolina. Frost would cost $20M. Next up: A second bye week that has Nebraska fans hoping their AD is finding the money to say “bye-bye.”
Others to Watch:
Minnesota Golden Gophers OC Mike Sanford Jr. - I’m a man of my word and since I promised Gopher fans that if they dropped an ugly offensive game to one of the Maryland, Northwestern, Illinois trio that I would put Sanford here, I’m honor bound to do so. And there’s a reasonable argument to be made that Sanford should be replaced this offseason. The Gophers managed just 289 yards and 6 points in their game against Illinois. Sure Minnesota has had a few games against some bad defenses where they’ve put up points: Ohio State, Miami-OH, Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, and Northwestern. Their defense though is good enough that they should be competing for the West division. If they fall to Iowa and Wisconsin (and look bad doing so), I wouldn’t be shocked to see Fleck move on from Sanford with what would be a slightly disappointing 7-5 record. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Fleck wrote it off as being due to the rash of injuries to RBs and kept Sanford around. Next up: @Iowa. Free Floyd!
Michigan Wolverines HC Jim Harbaugh - Michigan handled Indiana. This game, like so many others this season, means very little for Harbaugh’s job security. A win next week makes me fairly confident he would be back in 2022. A loss and well... I wouldn’t be shocked either way. I don’t think Harbaugh’s seat is burning hot, and I’ll likely shuffle him behind some guys in the others to watch list even with a loss next week. Next up: Michigan meets Penn State and tries to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive.
Northwestern Wildcats OC Mike Bajakian - Other than the three interceptions, the Wildcats offense was okay. Fitzgerald getting a penalty backing them up in the redzone may have cost Northwestern the game as they were within a score with the ball late. Against B1G teams, Northwestern has put up 21, 7, 21, 7, 14, and 12 points. That’s really not enough points. The injuries on the offensive side of the ball (and the focus of angry fans on the defense) may be enough to buy Bajakian another year though. Next up: A Badgers team that has given up 0, 14, 13 (7 of those were given up by the offense), 7, and 3 in their last 5 games. A shutout wouldn’t surprise me.
Indiana Hoosiers DC Charlton Warren - Warren joins the watchlist this week as Indiana falls to 0-6 in the B1G by giving up 411 yards and 29 points. Indiana has now given up the 2nd most points during Big Ten play. Warren is a first year coordinator for the Hoosiers, having replaced now South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack. Last year in 7 B1G games, the Hoosiers opponents scored 136 points. This year in 6 games against B1G opponents those B1G opponents have scored 199 points. I know some of those were given up by the offense, but this is still a major step back for the defense. Warren will have a shot to save his job if the players don’t give up and roll over in the final quarter of the season. The Hoosiers face Rutgers, Minnesota, and Purdue to finish off the year - 3 not great offenses (although admittedly Purdue can throw the ball a little when it’s not raining). Big lopsided losses to those teams would not be good. I don’t follow recruiting enough to actually know how involved Warren is - Hoosier fans please let me know in the comments - so if Warren is the lead recruiter for any of their top verbal commits, that is another reason why he could see another year since it’s one of their better recruiting classes ever as it currently stands. Next up: Rutgers in a very important game for Rutgers limited bowl hopes and Indiana’s conference win hopes.
Maryland Terrapins DC Brian Stewart - Maryland has given up 20, 51, 66, 34, 35, and 31 points in B1G games this year. That’s good for 234 points allowed - easily worst in the B1G. This week they allowed Jahan Dotson to go off for 242 yards and 3 TDs. Stewart is another on the long list of first year defensive coordinators in the Big Ten this year (jNU, IU, PU, UM, and UI are the others) but unlike O’Neil or Warren he didn’t take over for a great defense. Maryland’s defense needed a lot of work when Stewart came in and they still do. It doesn’t help that they play in the East and things could get even worse in the next two weeks with games against the Spartans and Wolverines. However, if (and this is a big if) Maryland can get the win against Rutgers and make a bowl game I would expect Maryland to return Stewart for another year. A bowl game would represent major progress and at some point Locksley has to keep coordinators around if they want to recruit players. Next up:
#3 ranked Michigan State.
Nebraska Cornhuskers DC Erik Chinander - I really, really don’t want to put Chinander here. He’s put together a really solid defensive season this year. But the buyout for Frost means I can see a scenario where the AD says, “We can’t afford to fire Frost, but we are replacing the entirety of the rest of the staff.” It would likely crater Nebraska’s recruiting class for two consecutive years (this year and next), result in a bunch of transfers out, and we might get to see a 0-12 season - all of which are reasons to not do it unless you are an Iowa fan. But that’s still a lot of money that Frost is owed. And Nebraska’s AD has already shut down one program in his athletic directing days (RIP Omaha wrestling) so maybe he wants to do it again. This scenario isn’t a 0% chance. Next up: A bye week. If Nebraska had the money and was interested in seeing what Chinander can do as a head coach, they could let Scott go and give Chinander the interim tag for the final two games.
Moving off the watch list:
Illinois Fighting Illini OC Tony Petersen - The Illini managed just 265 yards of offense against the Gophers. Despite that they managed to edge the Gophers in time of possession battle with 30:20 and went 5 of 12 on 3rd downs. Petersen is working without a functioning QB on the roster and the Illini have gotten to 4 wins with two games to play. I’m not even convinced that a bowl bid is completely out of the question as Iowa has been scuffling around since Purdue beat them up. Next up: Another bye week. They will get two weeks to prep for Iowa in a game that determines whether the Illini’s bowl hopes will be crushed by a HAT (not something we thought would still be in contention after a 1-4 start). The lack of weapons to work with on offense, the initial three year contract for Petersen, and his clearing of the low expectations in year 1 should see Petersen back in 2022.
Head Coaches That Will Be Safe After 3 Wins:
- Indiana - I’m 99.9% certain that Tom Allen will be coming back to Indiana next year. There is a 0.1% chance that a 2-10 record combined with a 70 point loss to Purdue sets their AD over the edge and he does something dumb. Neither the 2-10 record nor the 70 point loss are all that likely. This doesn’t mean I think Allen isn’t coming back next year. It just means that at a lot of programs coaches are fired for turning in 2 win seasons during years that their teams are expecting to compete for the conference. I don’t think Indiana follows the lead of those other programs, but I’m being overly cautious here for a 5th year head coach.
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):
Moving the rest of the Purdue guys and the entire Penn State group down into this group. Purdue should be obvious. As for Penn State, 6 wins and a rebound from last year brings Franklin back (unless USC hires him) and his DC has done too good of a job to be in serious trouble. The OC is the third OC in three years and is highly respected in the industry. He should be fine too.
Michigan State HC, OC, DC
Rutgers HC, OC, DC - Rutgers coordinators are making me look bad. I should probably seriously consider taking them off the safe list despite the progress Rutgers made this season compared to last season. I’ll wait a week. Their schedule lightens up significantly down the stretch.
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