Monday, December 27, 2010
Coaching changes impact Big Ten bowls
By ESPN.com staff
It will be interesting to see how several recent coaching changes impact bowl games involving Big Ten teams.
Let's take a look:
Texas Tech announced Sunday that defensive coordinator James Willis is leaving the program. Willis won't coach for the Red Raiders in their upcoming TicketCity Bowl matchup against Northwestern. Texas Tech's defense isn't very good (116th nationally, 463 ypg allowed), and the timing of Willis' departure can't help matters.
On the flip side, the Red Raiders are no strangers to coaching shakeups before bowl games. They dealt with the firing of head coach Mike Leach days before the 2009 Alamo Bowl and still went out and beat a shorthanded Michigan State team.
It'll be interesting to see how Texas Tech's defense performs against a Northwestern offense still reeling from the loss of star quarterback Dan Persa.
Despite the annual JoePa-is-retiring/sick email, it appears as though the major coaching news in the Outback Bowl rests with Florida.
Head coach Urban Meyer is stepping down after the bowl game, and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was hired last week as Temple's coach. Addazio beat out Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and others for the job. Addazio will remain with Florida through the Outback Bowl.
Although it wouldn't shock me if Florida put together an inspired performance for Meyer's final game, I've got to wonder how all this turmoil affects the Gators' players. They're used to BCS bowls and endured a disappointing 7-5 season. The quarterback situation seems shaky, and starter John Brantley is contemplating a transfer.
Penn State, meanwhile, avoided major changes to Paterno's staff. This seems like a situation where the Lions could capitalize.
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Two Big Ten assistants have taken head-coaching jobs this month, but both are sticking around for bowl games. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren was named head coach at Northern Illinois, while Ohio State receivers coach Darrell Hazell has landed the top job at Kent State.
I talked with Doeren on Sunday, and he's very much locked into Rose Bowl preparation. Although he has started to put together his staff at NIU, he has remained in Madison for most of the month. I don't think his impending departure is much of a distraction for Badgers' players, especially since Doeren's replacement likely will from within the current staff.
Hazell also is the type of coach who won't let his new role distract him from the task at hand. Ohio State needs all of its coaches locked in after last week's suspensions bombshell.
Although I doubt we'll see many major coaching moves this week, keep an eye on Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell. Both are in the mix for the vacancy at Miami (Ohio), and I hear Watson has an excellent chance to land the job.
There's also talk of Texas eying Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst for its OC vacancy.