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Big Ten Coaching Hot Seats - Week 10: The college football layoff rankings

Northwestern is ranked #1 and #2

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress / USA TODAY NETWORK

Since the last edition of Big Ten coaching hot seats...

Nobody has gotten fired! Northwestern marches on towards Ireland-11. Rutgers won a home conference game. Mel Tucker’s program is imploding. All of this has done very, very little to change the B1G hot seat rankings as the same guys that can’t coach continue to well... not be very good at their jobs.

Syndication: HawkCentral
Pat - your whole staff looks confused

This week we will talk about the Northwestern coordinators. In the past one and two-thirds of a season, the Wildcats program has gone 2-12 in the Big Ten with wins over Rutgers and Scott Frost. They are averaging a 14-32 loss in B1G play during that time. Add in non-conference losses to Duke, Duke again, Southern Illinois, and Miami of Ohio. This spectacular tire fire has been the encore to a 2020 season that saw the Wildcats win the West division.

This year, Northwestern has the lowest scoring offense and worst scoring defense in the greatest of all divisions: the B1G West. Despite being easily the worst team in the B1G for almost two straight seasons, no coaching changes have been made. If Pat Fitzgerald is not willing to make changes among his staff this offseason, we can start the timer on his clock. A staff makeover is not only necessary for improving Northwestern - it needs to be done for the sanity of all 14 Northwestern fans and the OTE writing staff that labors under the dictatorship inspiring leadership of MNWildcat.

**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, degenerate gamblers, and fans with addiction problems. All viewers watch these games at their own risk.

The Top 5

1 - Northwestern Wildcats DC Jim O’Neil (previously 1) - 2nd season, salary - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS, contract remaining - PRIVATE SCHOOL YEARS, buyout - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS

Syndication: HawkCentral
You GAVE up 33 points to Iowa!

In his 20 games as Northwestern’s DC, Jim O’Neil has given up 30 points thirteen times. Only Michigan State has given up more points in B1G play this season - but Sparty has already played Ohio State and Northwestern... plays the Death Star next. Jim O’Neil took over a defense that carried Northwestern to a division title and butchered it worse than the Star Wars sequels. There isn’t any one thing that the Northwestern defense does poorly - it is terrible across the board. #FireJimONeil

Next up: 2 Ohio State, @Minnesota

2 - Northwestern Wildcats OC Mike Bajakian (previously 3)- 3rd season, salary - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS, contract remaining - PRIVATE SCHOOL YEARS, buyout - PRIVATE SCHOOL DOLLARS

NFL: OCT 28 Buccaneers at Bengals Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bajakian moves up a spot in the rankings this week following another set of losses. The Wildcats offense has yet to put up 25 points in America this season. The 82 points scored by Northwestern this season is 3rd worst in the conference despite them not playing any of the top 4 B1G defenses so far. Their last performance was a 177 yard outing. The Wildcats’ offense has the 5th most turnovers in the country which had been holding back a semi respectable yardage/game number, but after this past performance I’m starting to think the offense isn’t fixable this season.

Next up: 2 Ohio State, @Minnesota

3 - Michigan State Spartans DC Scottie Hazelton (previously 2) - 3rd season, salary - $1.1M, contract remaining - 2 years*, buyout - $2.56M.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 WKU at Michigan State
When I said I wanted you guys to pummel the Wolverines, I meant on the field
Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hazelton’s defense is currently the worst in the conference at 33+ points/game. Sure, that’s hurt by the fact that the Spartans have already lost to Ohio State, Michigan, and Maryland. But the Spartans’ best defensive performance this season was the 27 points they gave up to the Turtles. Hazelton’s defense gives up the 24th most yards/game in the country. They are undisciplined averaging 7 penalties a game. And Hazelton’s scheme has resulted in the 7th highest opposing completion percentage in the country. Hazelton moves down a spot this week for a couple of reasons: a) Sparty’s schedule lightens up considerably moving forward, b) Tucker is less likely to be forced to make a coordinator change this offseason due to his higher buyout and corresponding ability to tell the AD “no”.

Next up: @16 Illinois, Rutgers

*Hazelton’s contract runs thru March 31, 2025. So at $1.1M a year, his buyout at the end of November is the 2 and 1⁄3 year salary.

4 - Indiana Hoosiers OC Walt Bell (previously 5) - 1st season, salary - $700K, contract remaining - 1 year, buyout - $700K

Syndication: The Herald-Times
Bell demonstrating how to throw the ball over the mountains
Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

The loss to Rutgers likely eliminated any hope of a Hoosiers bowl bid this season. Bell’s play calling is extremely pass heavy (Bazalak has the 2nd most pass attempts in the country) despite QB Bazalak having a completion percentage below 55%. The rushing attack has the 4th lowest yards/game. The problem is mostly the lack of O-line talent not Bell’s coaching or play calling. But if next year is the deciding year for Allen’s future status at head coach (and it’s looking increasingly likely that it will be), Bell hasn’t shown that he’s capable of fixing things by next season. Although Indiana has scored more points than 4 other B1G teams in conference play, those aren’t coordinators you want to be comparing yourself to. One has fired their OC (Rutgers), one is #2 in this ranking (Northwestern), another takes the #5 spot (MSU), and the last is Brian Ferentz.

Next up: 15 Penn State, @2 OSU

5 - Michigan State Spartans OC Jay Johnson (previously N/R) - 3rd season, salary - $1.35M, contract remaining - 2 years*, buyout - $3.15M

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Johnson moves into the rankings as Sparty’s offense is the 2nd worst in the B1G (ahead of only Rutgers). Without Kenneth Walker III, Johnson’s offense is lifeless. Sparty is averaging less than 100 yards on the ground (14th worst in the nation) and just 336.9 yards/game. Now Sparty gets to go and face the best defense in the B1G. Good luck.

Next up: @16 Illinois, Rutgers

*Johnson’s contract runs thru March 31, 2025. So at $1.35M a year, his buyout at the end of November is the 2 and 1⁄3 year salary.


Syndication: HawkCentral
The heir apparent

Iowa Hawkeyes OC Brian Ferentz (previously 4)

Brian finally moves out of the top 5. Not that he’s done anything right, he’s still an awful, awful coach and the statistics back that up (just 248 yards/game). But sitting at 4-4 with 4 games to play, Iowa’s record seems likely to end up somewhere in the area that Kirk can shrug off the offensive offense. Who knows - Iowa may even make a bowl game. If Kirk wants to live out his dream of firing football coach, he’s going to have to work harder. Next up: @Purdue, wisconsin

Northwestern Wildcats HC Pat Fitzgerald

Clean house Pat. You’ve earned the right to go thru a poor set of coordinators, but it’s time to take action. This is an embarrassment. Next up: 2 Ohio State, @Minnesota

Indiana Hoosiers HC Tom Allen

Allen is headed straight towards a second consecutive disappointing season. The team’s talent level has to get better, but that’s not going to happen overnight. While recruiting can help long term, the play calling needs to be more creative soon to cover up their talent deficit. Next up: 15 Penn State, @2 Ohio State

Indiana Hoosiers DC Chat Wilt

Wilt is coming off his best game at Indiana and his first game holding an opponent under 20 points. Sure it was Rutgers, but he didn’t manage that against Idaho. The defense hasn’t completely folded, which is more than they could say last season. I’m still giving Wilt a lot of credit for that, but the final four game stretch here will go a long way to determining Wilt’s job security for 2023. Next up: 15 Penn State, @2 Ohio State

Purdue Boilermakers DC Ron English

The loss to wisconsin wasn’t all on English - the offense’s turnovers sure didn’t help - but it was an uninspiring effort from the Boilermaker defense. Most Purdue fans won’t hold a loss to wisconsin against English (after all, every single one of us expected it), but if Iowa’s offense can move the ball at will against Purdue fans will begin to stop making excuses for English. Next up: Iowa, @16 Illinois

Nebraska Cornhuskers OC Mark Whipple

Interim head coach means the coordinator is more likely gone than not. Whipple’s interim is almost certainly out at the end of the year. Next up: Minnesota, @5 Michigan

wisconsin Badgers OC Bobby Engram

Interim head coach means the coordinator is more likely gone than not. Engram is slightly more likely than Whipple to stick around since his interim HC is more likely to stick around. Next up: Maryland, @Iowa

Rutgers Scarlet Knights HC Greg Schiano

Schiano is trending towards a 4th season in his second go around at Rutgers. He took decisive action with Gleeson and secured that illusive home win against Indiana. Both are things that should calm the fanbase a bit. Now, Schiano just has to avoid getting blown out for the rest of the season. Next up: 5 Michigan, @Michigan State

Coaches that should be safe for 2023

Michigan State v Maryland
I should probably pay Kenneth Walker some of my salary as thanks...
Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Iowa Hawkeyes HC Kirk Ferentz, DC Phil Parker

Note: I’m familiar enough with the workings of Gary Barta that despite the fact that Iowa is awful, I’m still willing to state that Ferentz is safe for 2023. He may quit if Barta fires his son or he may retire but the likelihood that Kirk is shown the door still seems very unlikely under his current contract and his current athletic director.

Penn State Nittany Lions HC James Franklin

Illinois Fighting Illini HC Bret Bielema, DC Ryan Walters (despite being safe Walters is likely leaving for a head coaching job if he wants one)

Michigan Wolverines HC Jim Harbaugh

Michigan State Spartans HC Mel Tucker

Ohio State Buckeyes HC Ryan Day

Maryland Terrapins HC Mike Locksley, OC Dan Enos

Minnesota Gophers HC PJ Fleck

Safety Levels

The below win totals are the #s needed to be safe for returning next season. They are a reflection of contracts, season expectations, and past performance. I would expect many of these coaches to return even if they don’t meet these thresholds, but if they fail to do so this is where we start talking about the realm of possibility barring off field stuff we don’t already know about. The list of head coaches to not meet their numbers is down to four with one of those looking to come off it this week.

Purdue v Maryland
Hey, beat Iowa so I’m safe in BoilerUp89’s rankings next week!
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Coaches needing four wins to be safe: Pat Fitzgerald (1/4)

Coaches needing five wins to be safe: Tom Allen (3/5)

Coaches needing six wins to be safe: Jeff Brohm (5/6), Greg Schiano (4/6)