Big Ten: Bob Heffner

Recruiting pitches: Big Ten

May, 10, 2013
Inspired by Florida's "#ComePlayWRFortheJoker" campaign, our recruiting writers looked at other ways schools can sell themselves on the trail. Here's a look at recruiting pitches for the Big Ten:

Illinois Illini
What they’re selling: A chance to rebuild a program from the ground up, beginning with four-star quarterback Aaron Bailey, who signed in 2013.
What they’re missing: Just about all of the top prospects from their own state.

Indiana Hoosiers
What they’re selling: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson embraces the idea of a college spring break and is ready to head to Cancun with some of his players.
What they’re missing: Wilson looks like he might hold the group up in Mexico, however, as he still needs the assistance of a flotation device. Points that it is in the shape of a turtle, though.

Iowa Hawkeyes
What they’re selling: Iowa boasts one of the few staffs that can say they will be there all four years of a recruit’s career and has the history to back it up. Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten and it’s not even close.
What they’re missing: Out-of-state prospects tend to think Iowa is all cornfields, leaving the staff to battle that misconception countless times throughout the recruiting cycle.

Michigan Wolverines
What they’re selling: Michigan coach Brady Hoke looks like an outlaw patrolling the sideline on Saturdays without a headset.
What they’re missing: The player who graces the NCAA Football 2014 cover Denard Robinson. "Shoelace" was one of the Wolverines’ best recruiting tools.

Michigan State Spartans
What they’re selling: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is the man behind Little Giants, one of the greatest trick plays of the last few decades.
What they’re missing: A trip to a Rose Bowl under Dantonio would put Michigan State over the top when it comes to recruiting. There is already a significant difference in the caliber of player the Spartans are now getting compared to just a few seasons ago.

Minnesota Gophers
What they’re selling: The Gophers boast the biggest locker room in college football.
What they’re missing: They have not had a winning season since 2008.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
What they’re selling: Bo Pelini whipped out “The Bernie” in the Huskers’ Harlem Shake video. Harlem Shake equals instant credibility with recruits.
What they’re missing: A lack of a strong base of in-state talent makes it tough to recruit at Nebraska, and a Harlem Shake video can overcome only so much.

Northwestern Wildcats
What they’re selling: The new facilities are right near Lake Michigan, which, as assistant Bob Heffner is telling recruits, is a great spot for fishing.
What they’re missing: Not too many high schoolers in New Jersey have taken up fishing as a hobby. At least not yet.

Ohio State Buckeyes
What they’re selling: Urban Meyer is bringing SEC speed to the Big Ten.
What they’re missing: Has anyone actually clocked Meyer in the 40-yard dash? How fast is he really?

Penn State Nittany Lions
What they’re selling: Beaver Stadium fits more than 106,000 on Saturdays, making it the second largest stadium in the country. Inside is also one of the country’s most passionate fan bases, and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit once listed Penn State’s student section as “simply the loudest, most supportive student section in college football.”
What they’re missing: A full slate of scholarships and a chance to play for a Big Ten title the next few years.

Purdue Boilermakers
What they’re selling: Few programs have the history Purdue does at quarterback, and former Boilermakers Drew Brees, Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter are all on NFL rosters. The Boilermakers just signed ESPN 300 QB Danny Etling, too.
What they’re missing: Brees, Orton and Painter.

Wisconsin Badgers
What they’re selling: The Badgers have been to three straight Rose Bowls.
What they’re missing: The coach who took them there.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

I'm not quite ready to put a stopper in the Big Ten coaching carousel for 2008-09, though the ride is pretty much over. Barring some unforeseen changes in the coming weeks, Minnesota's hiring of Richard Hightower as wide receivers coach will complete the staff shuffling for this year.

Here's a review of the coaching changes around the league this year. It's interesting to note that none of the league's top four teams in 2008 -- Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa -- lost an assistant. If it ain't broke ... 


  • Offensive coordinator: Mike Locksley left to become New Mexico's head coach. Illinois hired TCU offensive coordinator Mike Schultz as his replacement. 
  • Defensive line: Tom Sims was fired and replaced by hired Cincinnati's Keith Gilmore. 
  • Offensive line: Eric Wolford left for the same post at South Carolina, and Ron Zook hired Houston's Joe Gilbert as his replacement. 

Notes: Outside receivers coach Kurt Beathard will now work with the quarterbacks.


No changes


No changes


  • Defensive coordinator: Scott Shafer resigned and was replaced by former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson. 


No changes


  • Offensive coordinator: Mike Dunbar resigned and was replaced by Denver Broncos wide receivers coach Jedd Fisch.
  • Defensive coordinator: Ted Roof resigned to take the same post at Auburn and was replaced by former Nebraska and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. Defensive backs coach Ron Lee was promoted to co-defensive coordinator. 
  • Offensive line: Phil Meyer resigned and was replaced by Alabama assistant Tim Davis. 
  • Wide receivers: George McDonald left for a quality control position with the Cleveland Browns and was replaced by Hightower.

Notes: Davis will oversee Minnesota's run game. Lee will continue to coach the Gophers' secondary. 


  • Offensive line: Bret Ingalls left to become running backs coach with the New Orleans Saints. Superbacks coach Adam Cushing was moved to offensive line. 
  • Superbacks: Cushing became offensive line coach and Lafayette offensive coordinator Bob Heffner was hired as his replacement. 


No changes


No changes


  • Head coach: Danny Hope took over for the retiring Joe Tiller.
  • Offensive coordinator: Ed Zaunbrecher was fired and replaced by Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Gary Nord.
  • Defensive coordinator: Brock Spack left to become Illinois State's head coach and was replaced by Eastern Kentucky defensive coordinator Donn Landholm.
  • Running backs: Joel Thomas left for the same job at Washington, and Hope hired former Kansas State assistant Cornell Jackson as his replacement.
  • Offensive line: Hope handled the line in 2008 and hired former Eastern Kentucky assistant Shawn Clark as his replacement.
  • Special teams: Mark Hagen moved from special teams to linebackers, and graduate assistant J.B. Gibboney was promoted to this position.

Notes: Tight ends coach John McDonnell was not retained for 2009. Terrell Williams will once again coach the entire defensive line this fall after working strictly with the ends in 2008.


No changes

Notes: Brad Pendergrass was named director of football operations. Pendergrass most recently served as assistant director for football operations at Mississippi State.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern named Bob Heffner as its new superbacks coach (fullbacks/tight ends) this afternoon and officially announced Adam Cushing's promotion to offensive line coach. 

Heffner previously served as offensive coordinator and associate head coach at Lafayette College, where he has spent the last eight seasons as an assistant. He'll start his duties in Evanston on Feb. 16. 

"I had the opportunity to work with Bob when I was a graduate assistant at Maryland and am excited to bring his nearly 30 years of coaching experience to Evanston," Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement. "He is a great teacher who has worked with some tremendous coaches and programs during his career. Bob also brings a wealth of northeast recruiting ties to our program and he will lead our recruiting efforts in that part of the country. He is just a great addition to our staff.
"I also wanted to recognize Adam, who has worked closely the past five years with James [Patton] and Bret [Ingalls], our last two offensive line coaches. He has a bright mind and is a relentless recruiter, and it's great that we can reward Adam with this promotion."
The superbacks have been rarely used in Northwestern's spread offense, but the team has recruited more to the position in recent years.