Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Taking the temperature in the Big Ten
By Brian Bennett
CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd came out Monday with a look at the temperature under the seat of every coach in the FBS. It gives you an idea of which coaches' jobs are in trouble, and which ones are safe.
Dodd uses a numerical scale as follows:
0-0.5: Don't even think about it -- can't be touched
1-1.5: Very safe -- change highly unlikely
2-2.5: Safe -- solid position
3-3.5: On the bubble -- you never know
4-4.5: Warm seat -- feeling the pressure
5: On the hot seat -- it's time to win now
Let's take a look at how Dodd ranked the Big Ten coaches, from coolest to warmest:
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: 0.0
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: 0.0
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State: 0.5
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa: 0.5
Jerry Kill, Minnesota: 0.5
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: 0.5
All six of these guys get the "can't be touched" rating from Dodd, and for good reason. Bielema is coming off a Rose Bowl season. Fitzgerald has a contract that runs through 2020. Dantonio led the Spartans to an 11-win season in 2010. Ferentz and Pelini are highly successful, locked up with lucrative contracts and beloved by their fan bases. And Kill is entering his first season.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: 1.0
Hoke gets the "very safe" rating. There's more pressure at Michigan than at Minnesota to win right away, which is why I suppose Hoke isn't rated as untouchable as Kill. But seeing how well Hoke has recruited and the fact that he's a "Michigan man" replacing an unpopular predecessor, he doesn't appear in any immediate danger.
Danny Hope, Purdue: 2.0
Joe Paterno, Penn State: 2.0
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: 2.0
Here's an odd grouping in the "safe, solid" zone. I suppose there could be a faction grow that wants to push Paterno out, but JoePa has earned the right to determine when to call it quits. Wilson is entering his first year, and Indiana is not a program that should be impatient with a new coach. Hope looks like he could be moving toward the hot seat with just a 9-15 record so far in West Lafayette. But his athletic director has come out in support of Hope in recent days.
Luke Fickell, Ohio State: 3.5
Fickell is rated "on the bubble -- you never know," and you never know seems about right. We don't know how Fickell will fare in his first attempt as a head coach, or how potential NCAA sanctions against Ohio State will affect would-be candidates' interest in this job. As an interim coach, Fickell's job is the most precarious, but also perhaps the most unpredictable.
Ron Zook, Illinois: 4.0
Dodd rates Zook as being on the warm seat and having the hottest temperature in the Big Ten. Only two coaches -- New Mexico State's Mike Locksley and Washington State's Paul Wulff -- got a higher hot seat rating than Zook, who is 28-45 at Illinois. But he is coming off a bowl victory and has a chance to get the Illini off to a strong start this season thanks to the schedule. On the other hand, longtime athletic director Ron Guenther is retiring, leaving Zook without his staunchest ally in the athletic department. No question it's a big year for him in Champaign.