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Big Ten Coaching Hot Seats Week 4 - Introducing the Dead Pool Competition

Join Us In Guessing Who Will Be Fired First

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Ohio State Press Conference
Congrats to Coombs on being the first Big Ten coach to be relieved of his duties in 2021.
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Checking in on our beloved and not so beloved coaches and coordinators at the quarter post of the season! Since I’m a “writer” now, the disclaimer section has been updated.

***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.

B1G Football 2021 Coaching Hot Seats Week 4

Normally this is the section of this article (formerly fanpost) where I go in depth on a particular coaching situation. And while this is a perfect opportunity to bash Ohio State football for requiring a firing after 1 loss to a top 10 team, I wanted to introduce a new OTE competition instead. I’ll talk about the unreasonable expectations of the OSU fanbase and football program some other time. The new competition is called the B1G coaching dead pool and the goal is to guess the first head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator fired in the B1G this year.

2018 New York Comic Con Portraits
A new competition emerges!
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Rules: Only HC/OC/DC may be chosen. No special teams coaches or positional coaches. For teams with co-coordinator titles, the guy with play calling duties will be considered the coordinator and the others are not eligible to be picked. If the head coach calls plays, the higher paid co-coordinator will be considered the actual coordinator. Any disputes will be settled by me checking Wikipedia. In the event that multiple people pick the same guy (which I’m assuming happens if I get more than 5 people to participate), the person closest to the date/time of the firing will be considered the winner. If two users have the same date/time, the user that picked first will be considered the winner. You may change your pick at any time in the season, but your pick must be made at least one week prior to a firing to count. Picks of coordinators are not given credit if the head coach is fired first.

How To Play: Reply in the comment section with the name of the HC/OC/DC that you think will be fired first and take a guess on the date and time (HH:MM format) that it will occur. I’ll try to let you know if your pick is invalid. Bonus OTE points if you are petty and pick a time one minute before/after another user. End of the coaching carousel standings will be published sometime in the winter if someone can pull my attention away from basketball.

Possible Picks (If you think I’ve picked the wrong co-coordinator let me know, coaching title creep is a real issue and not an easy one to sort thru):

Illinois HC Bret Bielema, Illinois OC Tony Petersen, Illinois DC Ryan Walters

Indiana HC Tom Allen, Indiana OC Nick Sheridan, Indiana DC Charlton Warren

Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz, Iowa OC Brian Ferentz, Iowa DC Phil Parker

Maryland HC Mike Locksley, Maryland OC Dan Enos, Maryland DC Brian Stewart

Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh, Michigan OC Josh Gattis, Michigan DC Mike Macdonald

Michigan St HC Mel Tucker, Michigan St OC Jay Johnson, Michigan St DC Scottie Hazelton

Minnesota HC PJ Fleck, Minnesota OC Mike Sanford Jr., Minnesota DC Joe Rossi

Nebraska HC Scott Frost, Nebraska OC Matt Lubick, Nebraska DC Erik Chinander

Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald, Northwester OC Mike Bajakian, Northwestern DC Jim O’Neil

Ohio St HC Ryan Day, Ohio St OC Kevin Wilson, Ohio St [de facto] DC Matt Barnes*

Penn St HC James Franklin, Penn St OC Mike Yurcich, Penn St DC Brent Pry

Purdue HC Jeff Brohm, Purdue OC Brian Brohm, Purdue DC Brad Lambert

Rutgers HC Greg Schiano, Rutgers OC Sean Gleeson, Rutgers DC Robb Smith

Wisconsin HC Paul Chryst, Wisconsin OC Joe Rudolph, Wisconsin DC Jim Leonhard

*see further explanation in hot seat rankings

The Hot Seat Rankings:

Buyouts and years left on contracts are at the end of the season.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes DC Kerry Coombs. 2nd season. Salary - $ 1.4M. Years left on contract - 0. Buyout at end of season - N/A. Matt Barnes [de facto DC, de jure DB coach]. 1st season as DB coach. Salary - 450k. Years left on contract - 1*.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Ohio State Press Conference
Goodbye Kerry, we hardly knew you
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coombs fall from grace happened so quickly that he didn’t even have time to show up on this list before losing play calling duties and therefore the real DC duties. While he maintains the title of DC on OSU’s website, the de facto DC is now Matt Barnes who took over play calling duties against Tulsa. Ryan Day confirmed that he sees Barnes calling the plays moving forward. Even more conveniently, Coombs contract only runs thru this season. I don’t see Coombs regaining the DC position and consider him demoted and ineligible for the dead pool and my hot seat rankings moving forward. Should Coombs somehow regain play calling duties, he will be eligible again. Barnes meanwhile goes straight to the top of the hot seat rankings due to his initial audition against Tulsa resulting in 501 yards given up (428 thru the air). The secondary is a major problem and even before he took over play calling duties that was Barnes’s responsibility. Performances like that make it unlikely that Barnes keeps the de facto DC role past the end of the season and may cost his position coach role as well. *Note that Barnes contract details are for his role as a DB coach. His ranking here is the combined likelihood that he a) gets bumped back to a position coach or b) gets dropped from the staff altogether.

2. Northwestern Wildcats DC Jim O’Neil. 1st season. Salary - $?. Years left on contract - ?. Buyout at end of season - $?.

Indiana State v Northwestern
I couldn’t find a picture of O’Neil that was NU related, so you get this thing instead. I have questions NU fans.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

First off, I’m mad at Northwestern for being a private school and not publicizing their contract details. On the football side of things, let’s just say O’Neil’s first season isn’t off to a great start. Although they did hold Duke scoreless in the 2nd half, they gave up 30 points in the first half and 562 yards for the game. Against the Spartans in the opener, NU gave up 38 points and 511 yards. Even Indiana State scored points against NU (even bad defensive teams shutout their FCS opponents - see Purdue vs. UConn). It is an odd year so NU wasn’t expected to be great, but giving up 500+ yards regularly to FBS teams isn’t a recipe for job security for a first year DC. Northwestern mercifully avoids the Ohio State and Penn State offenses and the top teams in the West are defensive teams without QBs but NU has got to drastically improve if O’Neil wants to get a 2nd season.

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

Nebraska v Rutgers
Another Nebraska fumble
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Nebraska has recovered from being embarrassed by Illinois and gone 2-1 since without the expected blowout loss to Oklahoma. That pushes Frost down the list for now. But it’s not all good news for Nebraska, they are still 2-2 after playing their 3 worst opponents on the schedule. So the rearranging of the chairs on the deck of the Titanic scenario is probable if Nebraska doesn’t get rid of Frost. Nebraska’s offense has been more significantly more broken than their defense so Lubick gets the ranking over Chinander. Chinander’s defense actually looks decent.

4. Illinois Fighting Illini OC Tony Petersen. 1st season. Salary - $750k. Years left on contract - 2. Buyout at end of season - $1.5M.

Maryland v Illinois
Some say Peters is still looking for an open receiver even now
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

So Illinois got thumpasaurus’s hopes up by beating Nebraska to open the season before dashing them. Normally I wouldn’t include any coaches on a first year staff on this list, but Illinois is staring the possibility of a 1-11 or 2-10 season in the face. Of course by me bringing up this possibility Illinois will now win their next game against Purdue. Thumpasaurus tells me that Petersen calls the offense and not Bielema. That raises the potential of Petersen being the sacrificial lamb following a 1 or 2 win season. The defense has been slightly better than the offense so Petersen gets priority on this list.

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

Minnesota v Nebraska
What game are we playing?
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Headed into this week’s games I was going to put Minnesota’s DC Joe Rossi in the 5th spot on this list. Minnesota’s shutout of Colorado this week is a a good example of why doing coaching hot seat rankings too early in the season is a dumb idea. Instead we get Scott Frost in the 5 spot. Nebraska’s defense actually looks improved this year, but Frost has an offensive background and the offense has not been good for 3.333 seasons now. A bowl season looks almost impossible with games against ranked teams MSU, Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa remaining. The upcoming game against MSU is hugely important for Nebraska’s bowl hopes. Frost’s buyout is the main reason he’s not higher on this list.

Others to Watch:

Washington v Michigan
Hey! I’m you are reading this, help me beat Ohio State
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Nebraska DC Erik Chinander - Chinander was my preseason favorite to be the first guy fired but the Nebraska defense actually looks much improved. They’ve given up 21 points to Illinois (the offense gave Illinois 9 points), 7 to Fordham, 3 to Buffalo, and 21 to Oklahoma (the special teams offense giving up 2 points this time). I can’t take him off the watch list completely because he’s a 4th year coordinator at a program that hasn’t made a bowl with him as the coach, but his performance in 2021 has been good so far. If Nebraska’s defense continues to perform like this in 2021, the only way he gets let go this year is due to purely symbolic garbage because of Frost’s buyout.

Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh - 3 games into the season, Michigan’s season is going smoothly. None of that matters for Harbaugh’s job security. The next two weeks will give us a much better idea of how Michigan’s season is going this year as they play an improved Rutgers and good defensive team in Wisconsin. But the real judgment games for Harbaugh are MSU, PSU, and OSU. Losing all 3 of those would be difficult for Harbaugh to survive in year 7.

Indiana OC Nick Sheridan - Indiana has broken their Penix. Penix has 4 TDs and 6 INTs on the season so far (2 TDs and 6 INTs against FBS schools) and a sub 50% completion percentage. The running game hasn’t been a lot better averaging only 2.5, 3.6, and 4.1 yards per carry (the 3.6 yards against Idaho). Indiana doesn’t have to face Iowa level defenses every week, but their schedule doesn’t let up in the upcoming month as they will face PSU, MSU, and OSU in their next 4 games. Even with OSU’s prominent secondary issues, their D-line is still going to cause issues for IU’s offense. Sheridan should be fine if Indiana can make a bowl, but that’s an open question at this point.

Purdue HC Jeff Brohm - Purdue hasn’t been off to a great start, but they look competent in most phases of the game. That’s a step in the right direction. The biggest issues are depth and poor O-line play. As the Purdue “writer” on OTE I’ll cover these issues in detail at some point, but so long as Brohm gets to 5 wins and doesn’t suffer blowout losses he should be back in 2022.

Illinois DC Ryan Walters - Like Illinois’s OC, the possibility of 1-11 or 2-10 season mean that Walters’s job security could be a question at the end of the season. Not something we would have thought possible from the genius behind deploying an even front against Scott Frost’s Nebraska squad. I don’t have specific complaints about the Walters defense - perhaps thumpasaurus’s weekly rants will include something - as the numbers don’t look completely awful on their face considering how bad the offense is.

Northwestern OC Mike Bajakian - Less likely than most of the others on the watch list as he led Northwestern’s offense to Indy last year, but the lack of performance by the Northwestern offense so far this year means that he has to be on the watch list.

Head Coaches That Will Be Safe After 3 Wins:

  • Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Northwestern
Indiana University’s coach Tom Allen coaches against...
When I said 9Windiana I meant over 2 seasons
Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

After 6 Wins:

  • Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Purdue, Nebraska
COLLEGE SOCCER: SEP 17 Michigan at Maryland
The fact that 10 soccer photos showed up when I searched “Maryland football” in our image search tells me everything I needed to know.
Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

Iowa v Iowa State
Kneel before your Emperor: Kirk Ferentz, 1st of his name
Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Michigan State HC, OC, DC

Rutgers HC, OC, DC

Iowa HC, OC, DC