Big Ten: Barney Cotton

Is it safe? Is Big Ten coach poaching season over? For the sake of this post, let's hope so.

Although this year's Big Ten coaching carousel didn't include as many riders as last year's, which featured an unprecedented 40 changes in the league, there was a flurry of activity at the end. We saw two coaches -- Jim Bollman and Jim Bridge -- make jumps from one Big Ten school to another (in Bridge's case, he left Illinois the day the Illini opened spring ball for Purdue, where he replaced, you guessed it, Bollman as offensive line coach).

Purdue saw a complete staff overhaul in the transition from Danny Hope to Darrell Hazell, while Wisconsin brought in seven new assistants under new boss Gary Andersen. Illinois coach Tim Beckman survived a disastrous first season in Champaign, but he lost six assistants during the winter months, five of whom left voluntarily. Iowa's stretch of staff stability is over, as Kirk Ferentz hired three new assistants for the second straight year, and Michigan State restructured its staff after losing offensive coordinator Dan Roushar to the NFL's New Orleans Saints. Michigan made its first staff change of the Brady Hoke era after losing defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery to Oklahoma.

Despite the movement around much of the Big Ten, the league also had complete staff continuity at four schools: Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State. Nebraska flipped responsibilities for Barney Cotton and John Garrison, making Cotton the tight ends coach and Garrison the sole offensive line coach. Ohio State added special teams coordinator to the title of cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs.

Minnesota and Northwestern are the only FBS teams without a staff change for the past three seasons.

It seems like the carousel has finally stopped, so let's take a look at the staff changes throughout the league. These changes only include head coaches and full-time assistants.

Here's the rundown (number of new coaches in parentheses):

ILLINOIS (5)

Who's gone?

Chris Beatty, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Billy Gonzales, co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers
Luke Butkus, offensive line
Keith Gilmore, defensive line
Steve Clinkscale, cornerbacks

Who's in?

Bill Cubit, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Mike Bellamy, wide receivers
A.J. Ricker, offensive line
Greg Colby, defensive line
Al Seamonson, outside linebackers

Other moves

Hired Ricker after Bridge left for same post at Purdue
Made defensive coordinator Tim Banks secondary coach (had previously coached only safeties)
Split linebacker duties between holdover Mike Ward and new assistant Seamonson
Promoted Bellamy from assistant director of player personnel

INDIANA (2)

Who's gone?

Mike Ekeler, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers
Mark Hagen, defensive tackles/special teams and recruiting coordinator

Who's in?

William Inge, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers
James Patton, special teams and recruiting coordinator/assistant defensive line

IOWA (3)

Who's gone?

Erik Campbell, wide receivers
Lester Erb, running backs/special teams
Darrell Wilson, defensive backs/special teams

Who's in?

Bobby Kennedy, wide receivers
Chris White, running backs/special teams
Jim Reid, assistant linebackers

Other moves

Reid and holdover LeVar Woods will share linebacker duties
D.J. Hernandez, an offensive graduate assistant hired this winter, will work with the tight ends

MICHIGAN (1)

Who's gone?

Jerry Montgomery, defensive line

Who's in?

Roy Manning, outside linebackers

Other moves

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will coach defensive line (head coach Brady Hoke also has responsibilities there)
Manning and Mark Smith will share linebacker duties, as Smith now will handle the inside linebackers

MICHIGAN STATE (2)

Who's gone?

Dan Roushar, offensive coordinator/tight ends
Ted Gill, defensive line

Who's in?

Jim Bollman, co-offensive coordinator/tight ends
Ron Burton, defensive line

Other moves

Promoted quarterbacks coach Dave Warner to co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach. Warner will call plays this fall
Moved running backs coach Brad Salem to quarterbacks
Promoted defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to assistant head coach

PENN STATE (1)

Who's gone?

Ted Roof, defensive coordinator

Who's in?

Anthony Midget, safeties

Other moves

Promoted secondary coach John Butler to defensive coordinator. Butler will continue to coach cornerbacks
Running backs coach Charles London and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden will oversee special teams, an area Butler previously handled

PURDUE (10)

Who's gone?

Danny Hope, head coach
Gary Nord, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Tim Tibesar, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Greg Burns, defensive backs
Shawn Clark, offensive line
J.B. Gibboney, special teams coordinator
Patrick Higgins, wide receivers
Cornell Jackson, running backs
Donn Landholm, outside linebackers
Kevin Wolthausen, defensive line

Who's in?

Darrell Hazell, head coach
John Shoop, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Greg Hudson, defensive coordinator
Jon Heacock, defensive backs
Jim Bridge, offensive line
Kevin Sherman, wide receivers
Jafar Williams, running backs
Marcus Freeman, linebackers
Rubin Carter, defensive line
Gerad Parker, tight ends/recruiting coordinator

Other moves

Replaced Jim Bollman with Bridge after Bollman left for Michigan State

WISCONSIN (8)

Who's gone?

Bret Bielema, head coach
Matt Canada, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Chris Ash, defensive coordinator/defensive backs
Zach Azzanni, wide receivers
Andy Buh, linebackers
Eddie Faulkner, tight ends
Bart Miller, offensive line
Charlie Partridge, co-defensive coordinator/defensive line

Who's in?

Gary Andersen, head coach
Andy Ludwig, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Dave Aranda, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Chris Beatty, wide receivers
Bill Busch, secondary
Jeff Genyk, tight ends/special teams coordinator
Chad Kauha'aha'a, defensive line
T.J. Woods, offensive line

Retained from previous staff

Thomas Hammock, assistant head coach/running backs/recruiting coordinator
Ben Strickland, assistant secondary coach

Other moves

Hired Genyk to replace tight ends/special teams Jay Boulware, who left earlier this month for a post at Oklahoma

Big Ten lunch links

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
12:00
PM ET
Snow around Big Ten country, and two more spring practices (Ohio State and Illinois) kick off.

To the links ...
Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck oversaw one of the most prolific attacks in the Big Ten in 2012. Now, Beck is getting rewarded for that good work.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the third-year coordinator had his salary nearly doubled on Jan. 1, going from $365,000 last season to $700,000 this year. That would make Beck the third-highest paid coordinator in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell ($761,000) and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison ($750,000). Beck would be making more than Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. (We took a look at the highest-paid Big Ten assistants last month, which you can find here).

According to the story, head coach Bo Pelini said Beck had been contacted by at least two teams for jobs after the regular season.

Some other Huskers assistants also got raises. Defensive coordinator John Papuchis went from $300,000 to $310,000. Assistant offensive line coach John Garrison got the biggest bump, going from $160,000 to $245,000. Running backs coach Ron Brown and offensive line coach Barney Cotton saw their salaries jump from $240,000 to $254,800. Overall, the Huskers are adding more than $500,000 to their assistant coaching salary pool this year.

We've talked here recently about how Big Ten teams need to continue to pay their assistants well if they want to compete with other national powers. It's good to see Nebraska step up and reward Beck, who has done a great job so far in Lincoln.

Big Ten lunch links

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
12:00
PM ET
Last links of 2012. Enjoy.

Big Ten lunchtime links

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
12:00
PM ET
One day, I am going to grow wings. A chemical reaction. Hysterical and useless. Hysterical and ...

Recruiting needs: Legends Division

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
10:00
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Earlier today, we took a look at the recruiting needs of every team in the Big Ten Leaders Division. Now it's time to turn our attention to the Legends Division and see what positions each team needs to restock before next week's signing day:

Iowa

Running backs: Iowa's problems with keeping running backs in school has been well documented, and the Hawkeyes lost leading rusher Marcus Coker and backup Mika'il McCall after off-the-field problems last season. The team really needs some more depth in the backfield, and don't be surprised if incoming freshman Greg Garmon pushes for playing time immediately.

Defensive linemen: Iowa had three defensive linemen drafted off the 2010 team and now loses its top two guys up front in departing seniors Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels. That's an awful lot of talent to replace in a couple of years, and the Hawkeyes can't expect to improve their defense without doing so. Finding some more pass rushers off the edge will be key.

Wide receivers: Marvin McNutt had a wonderful senior season, but the passing game often stalled whenever he couldn't wiggle free. Now he's gone, leaving a void at the position. Kevonte Martin-Manley and Keenan Davis have shown promise, but James Vandenberg could use some more weapons. Iowa has secured commitments from three receivers in this class.

Michigan

Wide receiver: The loss of Darryl Stonum, who was dismissed following another run in with the law, created a void at receiver, especially with top pass-catcher Junior Hemingway out of eligibility. The Wolverines will have to hope Roy Roundtree can bounce back with a big season, because all other wideout options are unproven at this point. Three receivers are committed to Brady Hoke in this class.

Defensive line: Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen were key cogs in Michigan's run to the Sugar Bowl title in 2011, and they have both moved on, along with starter Will Heininger. Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison are defensive line coaches at heart and will want to grab as many difference makers as they can at that key position. Ondre Pipkins, a 325-pound tackle, is the highest rated defensive lineman in the Wolverines' class right now.

Offensive line: While the Wolverines should be fine on the O-line in 2012, even without Rimington Trophy winner David Molk and starting right tackle Mark Huyge, they signed only four offensive linemen total in the past two classes. Since linemen are often slow to develop, they need to refill the cupboard now. Michigan has four offensive linemen committed in this class, including standout Kyle Kalis.

Michigan State

Offensive tackles: Thanks in large part to injuries, Michigan State had to move a defensive lineman (Dan France) to tackle last summer and plug in a junior-college transfer (Fou Fonoti) into the other tackle spot. That the Spartans won the Legends Division title despite that is kind of amazing in retrospect. France will be a junior in 2012 and Fonoti will be in his final year of eligibility. They need more depth at the position, and they've got commitments from two offensive tackles so far in this class.

Wide receivers: Two of the most successful receivers in school history are gone as Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham finished off wildly productive careers. Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett is seeking a waiver to play immediately and will help the future even if he has to sit out a year. Michigan State is looking to sign three other receivers in this class to fill out the future two-deep.

Running back: Edwin Baker's early entry to the NFL draft came as a surprise. Michigan State is still in good shape at tailback for 2012 with Le'Veon Bell and Larry Caper. But after not signing a running back in last year's class, Mark Dantonio could use at least one more option in the backfield.

Minnesota

Defensive backs: It was no secret that Minnesota's pass defense was brutal at times in 2011, and top tackler Kim Royston leaves a hole at safety with his graduation. Getting Troy Stoudermire back for an extra year helps, but Jerry Kill needs to upgrade the talent in the secondary. That's why he has signed three junior-college defensive backs and secured commitments from four high school safeties so far.

Defensive tackle: One of the reasons the pass defense was so bad was a lack of pass rush applied by the front four. The Gophers had only 19 sacks this season, a year after registering just nine. Making matters worse, both starting tackles were seniors this season. Kill signed a junior-college defensive tackle and has two prep tackles committed. He needs to find guys who can find their way to the quarterback.

Overall talent and depth: Kill has said there are gaps in the Gophers' classes, and depth issues could plague the team during his rebuilding efforts. Including six junior-college players signed to help right away, Minnesota has a class of 28 right now. Minnesota simply needs more bodies everywhere.

Nebraska

Linebacker: Lavonte David leaves some rather large cleats to fill. Not only was he Nebraska's leading tackler the past two seasons, he was the only linebacker who played at a consistently high level. The Huskers' starters at the other two linebacker spots will be seniors this year, and depth is thin behind them. So it's little wonder why Bo Pelini has used four spots so far in what is expected to be a small class to fill that position, led by four-star prospect Michael Rose.

Tight end: Three of the top four options at tight ends will be seniors in 2012, leaving very little behind them. Sam Cotton, son of offensive line coach Barney Cotton and younger brother of current Huskers tight end Ben, is on his way to help.

Quarterback: Taylor Martinez is entrenched as the starter going into his junior year, and Nebraska never had to worry about playing Brion Carnes in a big spot this year after Bubba Starling opted for baseball. Still, it's dangerous to not have depth at quarterback, and so the Huskers need to add at least one signal caller in this class.

Northwestern

Defensive backs: The Wildcats were burned repeatedly in the passing game in 2011, and their best defensive back (safety Brian Peters) won't be around next season. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has commitments from three safeties in this class already.

Defensive playmakers: Northwestern was shockingly short on guys who could blow up another team's offensive play in 2011, so Fitzgerald's main mission had to be finding more guys who played like he did in college. That aim got a big boost when stud defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo committed to play in Evanston. That's a good start.

Wide receivers: Highly productive star receiver Jeremy Ebert is gone, along with starter Charles Brown. Venric Mark and Christian Jones have a lot of potential as the next big passing targets, but Northwestern's spread offense feeds off of speed and depth at the receiver position. Four receivers have given the Wildcats their pledge in this class.

Big Ten lunchtime links

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
12:00
PM ET
Hope everybody had a happy Father's Day.

Nebraska spring wrap

May, 4, 2011
5/04/11
8:30
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Nebraska


2010 overall record: 10-4

2010 conference record: 6-2 in Big 12 (T-1st in Big 12 North)

Returning starters

Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David, CB Alfonzo Dennard, DE Cameron Meredith, QB Taylor Martinez, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Brandon Kinnie, C Mike Caputo, TE Kyler Reed

Key losses

CB Prince Amukamara, DB Dejon Gomes, DB Eric Hagg, DE Pierre Allen, G Ricky Henry, RB Roy Helu Jr., WR Niles Paul, K/P Alex Henery

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Roy Helu Jr. (1,245 yards)

Passing: Taylor Martinez* (1,631 yards)

Receiving: Niles Paul (516 yards)

Tackles: Lavonte David* (152)

Sacks: Jared Crick* (9.5)

Interceptions: Eric Hagg (5)

Spring answers

1. Flippin' out: Nebraska entered the spring needing more options at receiver, and freshman Jamal Turner made it very clear he can contribute this season. Turner, who switched to receiver from quarterback, made the most memorable play of the spring game when he scored on an electrifying 49-yard catch and run, capping things with a flip into the end zone. He recorded 228 all-purpose yards in only seven touches in the game. Speedster Kenny Bell also drew praise this spring and should help the pass attack.

2. D-line depth: Injuries to starters Jared Crick (knee) and Cameron Meredith (shoulder) allowed other players to gain increased reps this spring. The result is what defensive coordinator Carl Pelini calls the deepest line he has had at Nebraska. Converted linebacker Eric Martin had a strong spring and looks like the replacement for Pierre Allen at end. Players like Thaddeus Randle, Jay Guy and Kevin Williams add to the depth at defensive tackle.

3. Rex 'n effect: The run game will drive Nebraska's offense this fall, and junior I-back Rex Burkhead looks ready to lead the way. Burkhead had a strong spring and capped the session with 91 rush yards on 11 carries in the spring game, gaining seven yards or more on eight carries. Burkhead seemed to grasp the new offense well, and while heralded incoming freshman Aaron Green and others will be in the mix for carries this fall, Rex is the Huskers' most reliable option.

Fall questions

1. Taylor Martinez: T-Magic drew some good reviews this spring and showed a greater willingness to be a public face for the team, but he struggled in the spring game (4-for-13 passing) and battled a toe injury for part of the session. We saw last season that Martinez isn't nearly the same player when he's limited, so he needs to get healthy and continue making strides this summer. Coach Bo Pelini says Martinez is his starter if the season started today, but others like Cody Green and spring game star Brion Carnes are in the mix.

2. Offensive line: The Big Ten's best teams typically boast elite offensive lines, and Nebraska's front has drawn mixed reviews the past few seasons. Nebraska must replace three starters, including first-team All-Big 12 guard Ricky Henry. Line coach Barney Cotton wants to play 8-10 men up front, which should keep players fresh in Tim Beck's fast-paced offense. Center Mike Caputo is a nice piece to build around, but Nebraska needs others to step up.

3. Oh, Henery: Nebraska fans could take the kicking game for granted in recent years as All-American Alex Henery did it all at an extremely high level. Replacing Henery will be a big storyline as the Huskers enter a league where weather can have a major effect on kicking and punting. Brett Maher looked good in the spring game, drilling three field goals, including the winner. The Huskers need continued improvement from Maher, who could handle all the kicking duties, although scholarship kicker Mauro Bondi arrives this summer.
Nebraska is accelerating its offensive tempo and entering a league loaded with daunting defensive linemen.

What does that mean for the Huskers' offensive line? Hopefully more hands on deck.

Line coach Barney Cotton has wanted to establish an eight-man rotation up front. The past two seasons, Nebraska rarely used more than six in games. Cotton hopes the number can change this fall.

"This year, it’d be great to play 10," Cotton told me earlier this week. "I don't know if that's possible or not, but the spring is all about competition and development, and we've got a good start on that."

Nebraska returns two starters up front in center Mike Caputo and tackle Jeremiah Sirles. Tackle Marcel Jones missed most of last season with a back injury, but he has starting experience from 2009. The Huskers also bring back linemen like Andrew Rodriguez who saw a bit of time as reserves in 2010.

But the need to build depth is very real. Nebraska loses both of its starting guards, including first-team All-Big 12 selection Ricky Henry. The new offense largely eschews huddling and wants to stay a step ahead of the defense. There's also the matter of durability, especially after the poor end to last season.

"We're all about competing here and how we finish," Cotton said, "and we're certainly not happy up front with how we finished, especially those last two games.”

Conditioning will be a focal point in the summer months, but Cotton wants to have as many options as possible.

"Creating not just depth but playing depth is what’s really going to be important for us," Cotton said. "By playing depth I mean guys we feel comfortable putting in the game when the game's on the line."

Caputo fits into that category. The former walk-on started throughout last season and earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.

Cotton calls Caputo "the unquestioned leader" of the line, a role Caputo embraces.

"I’m working on that, trying to become more vocal," Caputo said. "Last year, we were all kind of old and now, me and [Marcel Jones] are really the only old guys left. It's a little different."

Caputo has seen several young linemen step up this spring, including Rodriguez, Brent Qvale and Brent Long, all sophomores. Nebraska's revamping of the coaching staff this offseason put a greater emphasis on the line as Bo Pelini promoted John Garrison to assist Cotton and coach the tight ends.

"This year, we’re very young," Cotton said. "We have three seniors in the top 10, so we've got kind of a youth movement here, but there are a lot of guys who look like they’re ready and willing to step up to the plate."

Big Ten lunch links

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
12:00
PM ET
Happy St. Patrick's Day (and start of NCAA tournament day)! It's great to be back at work.
It wasn't exactly a big secret in Husker country, but Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has confirmed several staff changes.

The biggest one is the promotion of running backs coach Tim Beck to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Pelini also tabbed Corey Raymond as secondary coach, Ross Els as linebackers coach and Rich Fisher as wide receivers coach. Veteran Nebraska assistant Ron Brown moves from tight ends coach to running backs coach.

UPDATE: Pelini also has confirmed the promotion of John Garrison to full-time assistant. Garrison will work with Barney Cotton and coach the offensive linemen.

Departing the program are offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore. Nebraska announced the resignation of secondary coach Marvin Sanders two weeks ago.

The staff makeover means Nebraska will have a new look on offense as it transitions to its new league. Although the Huskers made two changes to their defensive staff, we know what to expect from the Pelini brothers on that side of the ball.

What does this mean for Nebraska's offense? Beck hasn't been a play-caller at the college level but served as Kansas' passing game coordinator during the Jayhawks' breakthrough season in 2007. He's a terrific recruiter and did an excellent job with the Huskers' running backs. Beck also has a strong bond with Pelini that should help them going forward.

It's safe to assume he'll stick with a spread system, but what type of spread? Will we see shades of Oregon's offense in Lincoln next fall? How will the system suit Taylor Martinez and the other quarterbacks?

To clear up any confusion, the spread can work in the Big Ten. We've seen it work at places like Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State. But Nebraska's execution must be sharp against what I believe will be a superior group of defenses than it saw in the Big 12.

I'm looking forward to talking with Beck about his vision.

It's hard to fault Nebraska for changing things up on offense. After a blistering start to 2010, the unit took a nosedive in mid-November and didn't produce nearly enough in losses to Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Washington.

So change isn't a bad thing. But Nebraska has to know who it is on offense. Spring practice will be huge for the Huskers to figure out their identity and who leads the charge this fall.

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