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Friday, December 5, 2008
Recognizing the Big Ten's top coordinators for '08

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

A comprehensive review of the regular season will begin next week, but I wanted to recognize the top coaching jobs by the guys many of you love to hate -- offensive and defensive coordinators.

Here are the Big Ten assistant coaches/coordinators who made the biggest impact on their respective teams this fall.

The list definitely has a defensive flavor to it.

1. Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz -- No assistant had a more transformative effect on a unit than Hankwitz did with Northwestern's defense. Considered a lost cause since the introduction of the spread offense in 2000, the Wildcats' defense led the league in sacks after finishing 10th last season, dropped its scoring average by 11.7 points from 2007 and allowed 67 fewer yards per game.

2. Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno and offensive coordinator Galen Hall -- Together, these two men administered the high-powered Spread HD offense that put Penn State into the national title mix midway through the season. Penn State's offense was by far the most balanced in the conference, leading the Big Ten in scoring, ranking second in rushing and third in passing.

3. Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley -- This guy deserves a head-coaching position, and Penn State would be wise not to drag its feet much longer before naming him Joe Paterno's successor. Despite a wave of injuries, suspensions and dismissals along the defensive line, Penn State led the Big Ten in both total defense (263.9 ypg) and scoring defense (12.4 ppg). Bradley's scheme produced stars like Aaron Maybin, Jared Odrick and Navorro Bowman and effectively masked weaknesses in the secondary.

4. Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker -- It helps to have two veteran tackles in Mitch King and Matt Kroul, but Parker's time-tested scheme once again proved to be extremely effective. Young defenders like Adrian Clayborn, Pat Angerer, Amari Spievey, Brent Greenwood and Tyler Sash blossomed as Iowa allowed just 13.2 points a game.

5. Minnesota defensive coordinator Ted Roof -- Roof would be higher on the list if not for Minnesota's four-game losing streak to close the season, but he did an incredible job with a unit that ranked last nationally and set team records for futility in 2007. Minnesota led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally in takeaways (30), and defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg and cornerback Traye Simmons earned all-conference honors.

Honorable mention: Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock and Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.