Big Ten: Corey Raymond

As the start of spring practice rapidly approaches, Bo Pelini acted quickly to name a new defensive backs coach for Nebraska.

According to multiple reports, Pelini has hired Tennessee secondary coach Terry Joseph for the same post with the Huskers. Joseph replaces Corey Raymond, who left this week to become LSU's secondary coach. Raymond spent only one season at Nebraska.

Joseph actually was in the mix for the LSU job as well. He's the seventh Tennessee assistant to depart the program since the end of the 2011 season. Here's his Tennessee bio.

Joseph has ties to both Pelini and to Nebraska, having served as a graduate assistant at LSU while Pelini worked as Tigers defensive coordinator. He's also the cousin of former Nebraska quarterback Mickey Joseph.

Terry Joseph, who also served as Tennessee's recruiting coordinator, would only have worked with the team's safeties had he stayed with the Vols. Nebraska seems like a much better -- and more stable -- gig for him.

Joseph's secondary helped Tennessee record 18 interceptions in 2010, but the Vols had only nine in 2011. Tennessee ranked 12th nationally in pass defense last fall.

Not a bad hire for Pelini, especially under the circumstances, with Raymond leaving so late. Nebraska opens spring practice March 10.

Big Ten lunch links

March, 1, 2012
It happened. Satan's trifecta. The day I most dreaded had fallen on the day I most loved.

Big Ten chat wrap

February, 29, 2012
We had the Leap Day version of the Big Ten chat earlier today, and it was a mostly constructive one. Here's a full transcript.

Not surprisingly, there were several questions about my story on the Big Ten's limited history of African-American football coaches.

While I expected a lot of criticism for this piece, I think most folks are missing the point and not reading the entire story. I don't think the Big Ten is racist. I think the athletic directors look for the best candidates and, for the most part, consider African-American coaches, who have, no matter what you think you know, faced an uphill climb to get these high-profile, highly visible jobs. I think the league's participation in the minority coaches forum is terrific.

It's noteworthy, however, that as the numbers of African-American football coaches increase nationally -- because they're qualified, not because they fill a quota -- we haven't seen any in the Big Ten. That doesn't mean we won't soon, as the story points out. But one African-American coach has been hired in the Big Ten in the past 20 years. That's unusual, given the recent surge.

To say Big Ten teams are always hiring the best coaches is absurd. While some teams have landed their first choices, others have not. And there have been several bad hires in this league. Minnesota AD Joel Maturi practically admitted to me he should have hired Charlie Strong rather than Tim Brewster -- not because Strong is African-American, but because he has turned out to be a better coach. And for those of you who think African-American coaches don't face resistance because of their skin color, look at Strong. He should have had an FBS job at least two years earlier than he did.

It's also absurd to ignore the pool of qualified African-American coaching candidates has grown substantially in recent years. Why else would we see the hiring numbers increase nationally?

Many of you are appalled or disgusted with my story. That's fine. But it's an issue worth raising because of the national trend, and it's one I'll continue to monitor going forward.

Some highlights from the chat:
Dan from Springfield, Ohio: Adam, Who do you see making the biggest splash as a freshman in the B1G this coming year? Also who do you think will be named preseason Offensive and Defensive POY?
Adam Rittenberg: Dan, I think Noah Spence has a chance to help Ohio State immediately. Spence and Adolphus Washington should get playing time right away as freshmen. Montee Ball is a lock for preseason Offensive Player of the Year. The preseason Defensive POY will be more interesting because of all the player departures around the conference. Ohio State's John Simon would be a candidate. So would Penn State's Gerald Hodges. And I think Michigan State's Will Gholston deserves consideration.
Frank from Galveston: After saying he wasn't leaving, Nebraska secondary coach Corey Raymond goes to LSU which leaves Bo Pelini with a huge hole to fill. How will coach Raymond's departure affect Nebraska?
Adam Rittenberg: Frank, the timing is unfortunate, and there could be an impact in recruiting, but the long-term effects should be minimal. Bo Pelini knows how to coach defensive backs, and he'll find a good replacement for Raymond. Pelini's track record of producing NFL-quality DBs should be enough of a selling point for Nebraska to overcome Raymond's departure rather easily.
Randy from Michigan: Adam, do you think that Junior Hemmingway can make an impact in the NFL? I personally thought that he carried the team on his shoulders when they needed him the most (look at the Sugar Bowl). He has the ability to make catches in traffic, even when he is well defended. Does this counteract the 0.2 or whatever, that he is behind some other good receivers in the 40 yard dash?
Adam Rittenberg: Randy, I absolutely think Hemingway can be a good pro receiver. Look at how he produced when healthy at Michigan. Look at how he finished his career at the Sugar Bowl. And look at how he performed at the combine. The guy has momentum right now, and he's showing just how effective he can be. While he likely won't be picked that high, I think a team can get a great value in Hemingway.
Matt from DC: To follow up: Obviously you are dead right about the SEC being the biggest obstacle because of their proximity to the bowl sites but I just don?t see how any school?s fan base, unless a blue blood like UT, OU, UM, OSU, USC, PSU, could travel to neutral sites two times in a couple of weeks. What conference would agree to let their team in a four team playoff play at neutral sites where the breakdown is 70-30 against them in the first semi?
Adam Rittenberg: Good points here, Matt. The hard part is that the regional sites would have to be assigned well in advance because of planning purposes. It would be impossible to decide to play a neutral site game in Indianapolis or Atlanta or Detroit two weeks before the game. The commissioners could assign these sites in advance and then have the higher-seeded teams play closer to home, but like you say, it would still be tough for fans.

Thanks again for the questions. I'll be on vacation in early March, so our next chat takes place March 21.

Big Ten lunch links

February, 28, 2012
We're a hot dog eating team with a bowling problem.
One Big Ten team is losing an assistant, while another managed to retain one.

Three days after saying he's staying at Nebraska, defensive backs coach Corey Raymond is headed back home. Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock, meanwhile, reportedly will remain in Madison after considering a jump to the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

Multiple outlets report Raymond will return to LSU, his alma mater in the same capacity. Raymond spent only one season with Nebraska after briefly taking a post on Kevin Wilson's new staff at Indiana.

He told the Omaha World-Herald's Sam McKewon on Friday that he wouldn't take the LSU job and didn't plan to even interview for a position.

Raymond played at LSU from 1988-91 before going on to a six-year NFL career. He served on LSU's staff from 2007-10.

Wisconsin lost six assistant coaches from the 2011 staff, an unusually high number when the head coach is retained. Hammock would have been a big loss as he has done a good job tutoring the Badgers' running backs.

Raymond's departure forces Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to act quickly with a replacement. The team opens spring practice March 10. Raymond's departure along with defensive coordinator Carl Pelini's exit means the defensive staff will have a new look under new coordinator John Papuchis.

While it's hard to fault Raymond for heading home, Nebraska fans have the right to feel a bit ticked off after he said he was staying. It's amazing coaches ever criticize recruits for changing their mind.

Big Ten chat wrap: Jan. 18

January, 18, 2012
Thanks for your patience today as my chat got bumped back an hour. It didn't stop the questions from streaming in.

In case you missed out on the fun, here's a full recap.

And some highlights:
Addison from East Lansing: What should Spartan fans expect out of Lev'eon Bell for the upcoming season? The dude is a beast who blocks well and catches well out of the backfield. Big Ten First or Second Team RB?
Adam Rittenberg: A lot depends on the offensive line and the quarterback, Addison. I definitely think MSU will be more run-oriented on offense in 2012, but Andrew Maxwell also has to provide a threat in the passing game. I love Le'Veon Bell's potential and his physical running style. He should benefit from a more seasoned offensive line in 2012, but he'll also be working with a first-year starting QB.
Bucky from Lake Tahoe: Adam, cut to the chase, what do you and the experts think of the Canada hire? Like or dislike? Thanks!
Adam Rittenberg: It's not a big-splash hire, but Canada is a seasoned offensive coordinator who has worked both in the spread and in the pro-style. It'll be interesting to see how much spread he incorporates at Wisconsin, or if it will be strictly pro-style. I covered him at Northern Illinois in 2003 when Michael Turner helped the Huskies win 10 games. He also did a great job with the NIU offense in 2011. I'm more intrigued by the hire than anything because of Canada's varied background.
Ashley from Lincoln: I agree that the B1G really needs to get better assistant coaches. Nowhere is that more apparent than at Nebraska. Now that Carl is gone, looking at that list of assistants is depressing. Especially considering how tempting a job at this kind of program would be. Can you think of any rationale/logic behind Bo's mediocre coaching staff.
Adam Rittenberg: Bo has hired guys he knows and trusts, and he doesn't care if they're from big programs or not. He has several coaches whose potential is still not known. I like John Papuchis a lot. He might end up to be an excellent defensive coordinator and a future head coach. But we just don't know yet. Same goes for a guy like secondary coach Corey Raymond. Tim Beck is another guy who could end up being a future head coach, but the jury is still out. Bo is betting on potential a bit with his staff.
Bryan from Hoboken: Does Silas Redd have the potential to end the 2012 season as the Big Ten's best RB?
Adam Rittenberg: Bryan, he does, but he'll need help. He seemed to wear down late in the season, and there's only so much you can do with an average offensive line and virtually nothing from the QB spot. Bill O'Brien can help out Redd by developing the quarterbacks better and getting the offensive line to upgrade its play. Redd can be a workhorse RB, but Penn State needs to show more balance in its offense.

Thanks again for your questions, and my apologies to those whose questions weren't asked. Let's do it again next week.

Big Ten lunch links

March, 25, 2011
Hope you're having a good Friday. Here's what's happening around the league.

Opening spring ball: Nebraska

March, 11, 2011
Nebraska doesn't officially open spring practice until Saturday, but let's get a head start on the Big Ten's newest member with this spring snapshot.

The big story: Bo Pelini has reshaped his coaching staff, and the biggest change comes on the offensive side, as Tim Beck takes over at coordinator for Shawn Watson. Nebraska's offense backslid toward the end of the 2010 season, and Beck isn't afraid to start over with the system and his philosophy, so some changes can be expected. Nebraska likely will run some version of the spread, but who calls the signals and what elements are emphasized remains to be seen.

Position in the spotlight: Quarterback. The competition is on as Taylor Martinez tries to show Beck that he deserves the right to retain the top job. Beck spoke highly of incoming freshman Jamal Turner in a recent interview, and other signal callers like Cody Green also are in the mix. Martinez dazzled us in the first half of the 2010 season, but he'll need to adjust to Beck and the new system and turn in a strong spring.

Coaching changes: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired four new assistant coaches. Ross Els (linebackers) and Corey Raymond (secondary) will work with a talent-stocked defense, while Rich Fisher (receivers) and John Garrison (assistant offensive line) will aid Beck in the offensive makeover. Fisher is the most interesting new arrival. He most recently coached high school football and also served as a golf teaching professional in the Boston area after leaving the college coaching ranks in 2003. Nebraska also had Ron Brown move from tight ends coach to running backs coach.

Keep an eye on: Kenny Bell. Nebraska needs some playmakers to emerge at receiver, and Bell could fit the bill. He boasts top-end speed and will have a chance to claim an enhanced role this spring after redshirting in 2010.

Spring game: April 16
Our Big Ten spring preview continues with a look at the Legends Division.


Start of spring practice: March 23
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Succession plan for Stanzi: Remember James Vandenberg? The plucky young quarterback who nearly led Iowa to a milestone win at Ohio State in 2009 returns to the spotlight as Iowa looks to replace three-year starter Ricky Stanzi. Vandenberg had only eight pass attempts in 2010, so it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a potential featured role. John Wienke and A.J. Derby also will be in the mix.
  • A new-look defensive front: Iowa loses three multiyear starters along the defensive line, all of whom likely will go onto the NFL. Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns return, but Iowa must begin building depth around them after not playing a large rotation of linemen in 2010. It'll be a big spring for reserve defensive linemen like Lebron Daniel and Steve Bigach.
  • Rhabdo fallout: Iowa expects the 13 players hospitalized last month with rhabdomyolysis to be ready for spring ball, but there are questions about how the group responds to the rigors of practice. Expect the staff to take every precaution to make sure the players are ready to go. Iowa's internal investigation into what happened could reach its conclusion during the spring practice session.

Start of spring practice: March 19
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Hoke springs eternal: All eyes will be on new coach Brady Hoke as he oversees his first 15 practice sessions as the leading man in Ann Arbor. Hoke and his staff introduce new offensive and defensive systems, and Hoke likely will spend much of his time with a defense that reached historic lows during former coach Rich Rodriguez's tenure. An adjustment period can be expected, but Hoke wants to get things rolling as soon as he can.
  • Denard Robinson: The 2010 Big Ten offensive player of the year thrived in Rodriguez's spread offense. How will he be used in coordinator Al Borges' system? Will Robinson's unique talents still be maximized? After making major strides last offseason, Robinson must continue to grow as he adjusts to a new offense. This is also a big spring for backup quarterback Devin Gardner.
  • The move to the 4-3: Michigan is going back to a 4-3 defensive alignment under coordinator Greg Mattison, and the transition begins this spring. The defensive front has to lead the way, and the personnel is there to get it done. The Wolverines are a little thinner at linebacker, but saw some encouraging signs from Kenny Demens this past fall. Others must emerge at the position this spring.

Start of spring practice: March 29
Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • Familiar face, new leadership: Dan Roushar takes over as Spartans offensive coordinator, and while you shouldn't expect many dramatic changes, the veteran assistant will put his personal touch on the system. Roushar wants to fully re-establish the run game Michigan State displayed in the early part of the 2010 season. It'll also be interesting to see how he works with quarterback Kirk Cousins.
  • Reloading at linebacker: Michigan State loses two of the more productive linebackers in recent team history in Greg Jones and Eric Gordon. Returning starter Chris Norman will take on an enhanced role, and the spring will be big for younger linebackers like Max Bullough, Steve Gardiner and Denicos Allen.
  • Elevating the O-line play: You can bet Roushar will have an eye on his old position group, the offensive line, as it replaces starters at both tackle spots and at center. If Michigan State can get its offensive line play where competitors like Iowa and Wisconsin have it, the Spartans will be Big Ten title contenders for years to come. Michigan State has some nice pieces like veteran guard Joel Foreman, but it must build depth this spring.

Start of spring practice: March 24
Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • A time to Kill. Jerry Kill conducts his first 15 practices as Minnesota's coach and he has no shortage of challenges. He and his assistants must install new systems on both sides of the ball and, perhaps more importantly, get across their expectations for the players going forward. Kill wasn't overly thrilled with his first impression of the squad, so he has a lot of work to do.
  • Gray back at QB: After a season playing primarily wide receiver, MarQueis Gray is back at his preferred position of quarterback. Kill and his assistants made no secret of the fact that they see tremendous potential in Gray, a dual-threat signal-caller who could end up being a terrific fit for Kill's offense. It will be interesting to see how much Gray can absorb this spring as he prepares to lead the unit.
  • Kim Royston's return: Minnesota's defense got a huge boost when the NCAA somewhat surprisingly granted safety Kim Royston a sixth year of eligibility. Royston, who had a strong season in 2009 before breaking his leg last spring, is ready to go and should provide some much-needed leadership in the secondary. New defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will be on the lookout for playmakers and leaders this spring, and he'll find one in Royston.

Start of spring practice: March 12
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • New vision on offense: Nebraska likely will have a championship-level defense in 2011, but will the offense bounce back from a poor finish to last season? Tim Beck is the man pegged to get things back on track. Coach Bo Pelini promoted Beck to offensive coordinator, and Beck will begin to implement his vision for the unit this spring. Nebraska figures to stick with the spread, but what version Beck wants to use remains to be seen.
  • The quarterbacks: Taylor Martinez stiff-armed the transfer rumors, and in January said he looked forward "getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back." The big question: Will he also get his job back as Nebraska's starting quarterback? Martinez can help himself with a strong spring, but Cody Green also is in the mix and things could get very interesting if Bubba Starling decides to stick with football rather than pursue a pro baseball career.
  • New faces on staff: In addition to promoting Beck, Pelini hired three new assistants: Corey Raymond (secondary), Ross Els (linebackers) and Rich Fisher (receivers). Raymond takes over a talented group that must replace three standout players, including cornerback Prince Amukamara. It'll be interesting to watch Fisher, who most recently coached in high school and also served as a golf teacher, as he transitions back to big-time football.

Start of spring practice: March 7
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Rebuilding the defense: Northwestern figures to have one of the Big Ten's top offenses this fall, but there are major issues on the other side of the ball. The Wildcats' defense flat-lined in the final three games, surrendering 163 points and getting dominated at the line of scrimmage. It's a big spring for coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who must fill gaps at spots like linebacker, but more importantly must restore the aggressiveness seen in 2008 and part of 2009.
  • The backup QB race: Dan Persa is still rehabbing his surgically repaired Achilles' tendon and won't do much in spring ball. It provides an opportunity for Northwestern to hold an extensive competition to see who backs up Persa this coming season. Kain Colter provided a spark in the bowl game and could be the answer. Evan Watkins needs a bounce-back spring, and Trevor Siemian will be in the mix after redshirting this past fall.
  • Here's the kicker: Northwestern loses four-year starting specialist Stefan Demos and will look to identify a replacement this spring. Neither Jeff Budzien nor Steve Flaherty has attempted a field goal in a game -- they have combined for two PAT conversions -- so the race will be wide open. Special teams has cost Northwestern at inopportune times over the years, but it could be an area of strength in 2011 if the kicker situation is sorted out.
Kevin Wilson has no hard feelings.

Wilson knows how it must look: four assistant coaches leaving his Indiana staff for other jobs days after they came aboard. But after living the assistant's life for decades and understanding how the coaching carousel moves, Wilson doesn't harbor any ill will toward those who bolted Bloomington.

[+] EnlargeKevin Wilson
AP Photo/Darron CummingsKevin Wilson understands the offseason coaching carousel is part of the business side of college football.
"I don’t pigeonhole a guy on what he’s got to do," Wilson told on Thursday. "If they can pay [Auburn offensive coordinator] Gus Malzahn $1.3 million, if a guy can get a better deal, more power to him. With the timing, some things came in front of guys' laps that I don’t think they anticipated. I didn’t have a problem with any guy, I didn’t have a problem with any coach.

"That’s the business side of college football. It doesn’t look good maybe, but as an assistant football coach, you do what's best for you."

To recap the staff departures:

  • Offensive coordinator Brent Pease returned to Boise State for the OC job after Bryan Harsin left for Texas
  • Defensive ends coach Jerry Montgomery left to become defensive line coach at Michigan
  • Cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond left to become secondary coach at Nebraska
  • Running backs coach Jemal Singleton left for the same position at Oklahoma State

Indiana has filled most of the gaps, hiring two offensive coordinators (Kevin Johns and Rod Smith), a new defensive ends coach (Brett Diersen) and a new cornerbacks coach (Brandon Shelby). Wilson will hire his final full-time assistant coach (presumably for the running backs) in the near future.

There are two major periods of activity for coaching changes: following the season and after national signing day. Wilson made his hires following the season but several got swept away in the post-signing day flurry.

"I think we put together a great staff," Wilson said, "and the guys that left, it was unfortunate because they were great fits here. I thought we stole some good ones. We wanted them here. We encouraged them to be here. Unfortunately, when a guy hasn’t moved, hasn’t bought a house, it’s almost like he was a free agent. I think we maybe helped the stock of some young coaches and now they can quote say they were a Big Ten coach although they never coached in a Big Ten game.

"We kind of spiked the guys' stock a little. Maybe that hurt us, but at the same time I've got no ill will against any of those guys or any of those programs."

Wilson points out that his core group of hires -- co-defensive coordinators Mike Ekeler and Doug Mallory, and Johns -- has remained intact. Indiana has committed greater resources to football, which is evident in Wilson's contract (seven years, $8.4 million) and getting coaches like Johns and Ekeler away from good situations at Northwestern and Nebraska, respectively.

"We’ve been presented financially with a good situation where our salaries are going to be extremely competitive," Wilson said. "The bottom line is I don’t think we’re taking a backseat to anyone. These guys felt family wise, career wise, it’s better. We wish them well. But shoot, I think we have a heck of a gig going.

"There are some good people who want to be at Indiana."
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.
Valentine's Day is about love, but it's also about heartbreak.

Every Big Ten team has felt a little heartbreak from time to time, whether it's a coach leaving for another position, a recruit choosing another college destination or key players veering off track.

Here are some heartbreakers for Big Ten squads:

1. Ohio State's Tat 5: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four of his teammates broke some Buckeye fans' hearts by selling memorabilia, including Big Ten championship rings and Gold Pants, for cash and tattoos. The "Tat 5" helped themselves with their Sugar Bowl performances and their pledge to return for their senior seasons, but their absence for the first part of the 2011 season could sting.

2. Brent Pease, Jerry Montgomery, Corey Raymond and Jemal Singleton: All four assistants joined Kevin Wilson's new staff at Indiana but soon bolted for other jobs. Montgomery (Michigan) and Raymond (Nebraska) left for other posts within the Big Ten. Ouch.

3. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Adam Robinson: Iowa's all-time leading receiver and top running back the past two seasons both missed the Insight Bowl following December arrests. DJK, who had an extremely productive career in Iowa City, is trying to restore his rep before the NFL draft. Robinson wants another chance at Iowa but right now it looks like a long shot.

4. Tate Forcier: After an encouraging season on the field, the Michigan backup quarterback was ruled academically ineligible right before the Gator Bowl. It proved to be the end for Forcier, who last week transferred to Miami.

5. Jacoby Brissett: Wisconsin held a scholarship spot for the quarterback recruit, but he didn't even have the Badgers in his final two choices (Miami and Florida). Brissett ended up signing with the Gators.
I don't keep statistics of every assistant coach move in the Big Ten in the past few decades, but I'd be surprised if we've seen an offseason quite like this one.

Although college football assistants change jobs every year in every league, the Big Ten has had an unusually high number of coaches make moves within the conference. Some changes were voluntary, some were out of necessity, and two coaches spent just days at one Big Ten school (Indiana) before jumping elsewhere within the league. New Big Ten member Nebraska played a role in several of these moves.

Here's the rundown:
  • Purdue linebackers coach Mark Hagen left to become defensive tackles coach/special teams coordinator at Indiana.
  • Northwestern receivers coach Kevin Johns left to become Indiana's receivers coach/pass game coordinator. He later was elevated to Hoosiers' co-offensive coordinator.
  • Former Michigan assistants Rod Smith and Greg Frey, out of work following Rich Rodriguez's firing, joined Kevin Wilson's staff at Indiana. Smith will serve as co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, while Frey will coach the offensive line.
  • Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler left to become co-defensive coordinator at Indiana.
  • Former Indiana assistant head coach/running backs coach Dennis Springer, out of work following Bill Lynch's firing, was hired by Northwestern as Johns' replacement (wide receivers coach).
  • Jerry Montgomery and Corey Raymond both took jobs on Wilson's staff at Indiana but soon left for positions elsewhere in the league. Montgomery will coach defensive line at Michigan, while Raymond is expected to be announced as secondary coach at Nebraska. Indiana also brought in a Nebraska defensive staffer, Brett Diersen, to help replace Montgomery and coach the defensive ends.

All in all, nine assistant have spent time at multiple Big Ten programs in recent months.

And we might not be done yet. There are several remaining Big Ten assistant coach vacancies -- Wisconsin's running backs coach, Illinois' linebackers coach, two potential openings at Nebraska -- that could be filled from within the league.

What does this mean? Perhaps not much, but the familiarity factor isn't something to overlook when some of these coaches reunite with their former teams on fall Saturdays. Johns knows Northwestern and vice versa. Same goes for Hagen and Purdue, Ekeler and Nebraska and, to a lesser degree because of head-coaching changes, Springer at Indiana and Smith/Frey at Michigan.

Indiana hosts both Northwestern (Oct. 29) and Purdue (Nov. 26) this season, but doesn't play Nebraska or Michigan.

Big Ten assistant coach updates

February, 7, 2011
Several Big Ten teams are still filling out their staffs for 2011, and we'll hear an official announcement or two later Monday.

Here's a roundup of what's been happening the last few days:


The Hoosiers on Friday announced the hiring of Brandon Shelby as cornerbacks coach. Shelby, who previously held the same position at Louisiana-Monroe, starred as a defensive back at Oklahoma during IU coach Kevin Wilson's time there and also served as a Sooners' defensive assistant in 2006. Shelby replaces Corey Raymond, who left Indiana to take a position at Nebraska. Although Nebraska hasn't made an official announcement about Raymond, he's expected to replace secondary coach Marvin Sanders, who resigned Thursday.

Indiana also last week hired Nebraska defensive assistant Brett Diersen as defensive tackles coach and Air Force running backs coach Jemal Singleton to the same position. Diersen replaces Jerry Montgomery, who Wilson said left for a position at Michigan.

These appointments complete Wilson's staff for 2011.


So far, Sanders' resignation is the only official announcement Bo Pelini has made about his staff. But Wilson said Raymond is on his way to Lincoln, and all signs point to offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore being on their way out. Nebraska's offensive production dipped toward the end of the 2010 season, and the Huskers' receivers had an up-and-down year.

Multiple media reports from Nebraska state that Pelini might be targeting Oregon receivers coach Scott Frost, the former Huskers' star quarterback, and Notre Dame offensive line coach Ed Warinner as replacements. Warinner served as Kansas' offensive coordinator from 2007-09 and spent time in the Big Ten as Illinois' offensive line coach and run game coordinator from 2005-06.

The interesting part of this is Pelini reportedly will hand over play-calling duties to running backs coach Tim Beck. The Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald both report that Frost might not leave Oregon unless it's for a job as a play-caller elsewhere.

Pelini seems to be reshaping his staff before Nebraska's jump to the Big Ten. It will be fascinating to see how things play out in Lincoln.


Coach Brady Hoke will finalize his staff Monday and announce the defensive assistants to join coordinator Greg Mattison.

Montgomery is on his way to Ann Arbor, and he'll reportedly be joined by Akron defensive coordinator Curt Mallory on the Michigan staff. Expect Mallory to coach the Wolverines' secondary, while Montgomery will work with the defensive line. Mallory played at Michigan and has spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest, serving as Illinois' secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator from 2007-09. Montgomery played at Iowa and most recently served as Wyoming's defensive line coach.


After promoting Dan Roushar to offensive coordinator last week, Mark Dantonio reportedly has found the final member of his staff.

According to The (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun, Central Michigan receivers coach Terry Samuel has left to take the same position on Michigan State's staff. Samuel, who played wide receiver at Purdue, worked his way up through the FCS ranks before joining former Dantonio assistant Dan Enos at Central Michigan last year.

He'll coach the position group that previous Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell oversaw. Samuel inherits a deep and talented receiving corps led by B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin.


The Badgers lost a key assistant over the weekend as running backs coach John Settle departed for the same position with the Carolina Panthers. Settle did an outstanding job with Wisconsin's running backs, helping to mold standout players like P.J. Hill, John Clay, James White and Montee Ball.

Although Wisconsin always recruits talented backs, Settle leaves some big shoes to fill. It will be interesting to see who coach Bret Bielema hires as his replacement.

Big Ten Friday mailblog

February, 4, 2011
You know how to reach me.

Joe from Chicago writes: "[Dan Roushar] inherits an offense that showed decent promise in 2010, and the Spartans bring back two-year starting quarterback Kirk Cousins." First of all, it was "decent" enough to win 11 games (many in clutch performances) and the conference championship, second of all, "promise" indicates that it was floundering around ineffectively, but has a chance to be mediocre in 2011. I don't think Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, or Penn State would characterize their losses to MSU with these adjectives. You'd think MSU just went 7-6 based on the way you describe them. MSU had two bad losses, but is not Illinois. Show us some love!

Adam Rittenberg: Joe, you're interpreting "promise" in that way, but that's not what I meant. Promise means potential -- I've never heard it interpreted as "floundering around ineffectively" -- and Michigan State boasts great potential for 2011 on offense. I can't rate the Spartans' 2010 offense as exceptional when the team finished in the middle of the league in most offensive categories and saw a pretty significant drop-off in rushing production as the season went on. Did the offense help Michigan State win a Big Ten title? No doubt. But clutch performances, as you mention, along with huge special-teams plays and solid defense also played a role. You bring up the Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State games. Were those displays of exceptional offense? Nope. But Michigan State found ways to win the games. Roushar inherits a pretty solid unit, but he also knows Michigan State must run the ball more consistently.

Robert from Kansas City writes: My question is now that national signing day is over how much stock should we really put into how many stars a player has. Looking back on some of great Hawkeyes, many of there players who turned out to be All Americans and all Big Ten players had no more than three stars and some of them even had only one star (Bob Sanders). Do you think that the amount of stars a player has is over rated and that all four and five star recruits don't always translate into victories and that it has more to do with coaching a player up than anything else?

Adam Rittenberg: Robert, star ratings are often meaningless. They give us something to talk about and something for some fans to obsess about. But player development is way more important in my view, especially in the Big Ten. If star ratings really mattered, the ACC would be a dominant football conference, which it's not. Iowa is a great example of a program that does a masterful job in player development. While Iowa's heralded 2005 recruiting class didn't pan out that great, the Hawkeyes have transformed more than a few anonymous recruits into All-Big Ten and NFL players.

Devin from an igloo in Indiana writes: When Danny Hope first came to Purdue he said he was going to recruit Florida hard to bring some more athleticism and speed, he has succeeded in signing 24 Floridians in the last 3 years, but when are we going to see this speed and athleticism on the field? (and translate to some wins?????)

Adam Rittenberg: Well, a couple of those Florida recruits are panning out, guys like star cornerback Ricardo Allen, linebacker Will Lucas and quarterback Rob Henry, who showed some promise last season before his hand injury. I would give Hope a little more time with these players because he's got the right idea by bringing in versatile, athletic guys to Purdue.

Matt from Indianapolis writes: Hey Adam,Just heard Indiana lost two more coaches. What's the deal with them losing 3 in less than 3 months? Raymond and Montgomery were the names of the guys leaving...Any idea what's going on here?

Adam Rittenberg: Matt, it's a little unusual to lose three coaches, but assistants will make moves after signing day if they get better opportunities elsewhere. Indiana is a bit of a risky place to be given the prolonged struggles and while IU is giving coach Kevin Wilson enough time and resources to get things right, it's hard to pass up places like Nebraska (Corey Raymond) and Michigan (Jerry Montgomery). Brent Pease's situation at Boise is a little bit different because he never would have left if he knew offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin would depart to Texas. I will say the number of Big Ten assistants making moves within the league this year is very unusual.

Craig from Braintree, Mass., writes: Adam Weber has some of the best QB career numbers for the University of Minnesota and was a three year captain and the NFL doesn't invite him to the combine. I find that hard to believe. What's your take?

Adam Rittenberg: Craig, I thought there was a good chance Weber would be invited, but there are several factors working against him. He played in so many systems in college and understandably had some growing pains. While his numbers improved in 2010, the drop-off in 2009 likely hurt his stock. NFL scouts have interest in Weber, and he still should be able to find a spot in the league next year.



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