Big Ten: Mike Sherels

Non-Minnesota fans might have missed Friday's official announcement that Mike Sherels has been promoted to Gophers linebackers coach after serving on the team's recruiting staff. Sherels is the first new assistant Jerry Kill has hired in his Minnesota tenure, but the move likely signified -- likely being the operative word -- something bigger for the Big Ten.

The end of the coaching carousel for 2014.

This post always includes a reminder that additional coaching changes still can happen, even though most of the Big Ten has started spring practice. It's the nature of the business.

Despite two new teams in the Big Ten, the number of overall changes in the league dropped for the second consecutive year, going from 32 in 2013 to 27 this year. There was only one complete staff overhaul, at Penn State, and four programs -- Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern -- kept all of their coaches from last season. After replacing more than half of his staff in the last offseason, Illinois' Tim Beckman hopes continuity pays off in what likely will be a make-or-break 2014 campaign. Iowa is back to its stable self after two years of coaching flux, while Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald hasn't made a staff change since after the 2010 season. Michigan State made a major commitment to Mark Dantonio and his assistants after the Spartans' Rose Bowl win, but it's still impressive that Dantonio retained the entire staff after such a great season.

Both Rutgers and Maryland have some new faces on staff before their inaugural season of Big Ten play. Rutgers has two new coordinators (one outside hire, one promotion), while Maryland has new assistants overseeing both lines.

[+] EnlargeLarry Johnson
Michael R. Sisak/Icon SMILongtime Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson moved to Ohio State this offseason after James Franklin was hired as the Nittany Lions' head coach.
Other than Penn State, Indiana and Rutgers are the only teams featuring two new coordinators in 2014. Although IU assistant Kevin Johns previously held the co-offensive coordinator title, he'll be the main man, as he takes over for Seth Littrell.

For the most part, the coaches leaving Big Ten programs did so voluntarily and for potentially better positions. Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien took the same role with the Houston Texans, while two assistants -- Ohio State's Everett Withers and Maryland's Greg Gattuso -- left to become FCS head coaches at James Madison and Albany, respectively. The Big Ten lost several assistants to the NFL, as O'Brien brought four assistants with him from Penn State (John Butler, Stan Hixon, Charles London and Anthony Midget) and swiped another from Ohio State's staff (Mike Vrabel). Wisconsin also lost running backs coach Thomas Hammock to the Baltimore Ravens.

Arguably the most interesting move took place within the league, as longtime Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson replaced Vrabel at Ohio State.

OK, let's get to it already.

Here's the rundown of coaching changes (head coach and full-time assistants only; number of new coaches in parentheses):


Who's gone?

Doug Mallory, defensive coordinator/safeties
Seth Littrell, offensive coordinator/QBs
Jon Fabris, defensive line

Who's in?

Brian Knorr, defensive coordinator/defensive ends/outside linebackers
Larry McDaniel, defensive line
Noah Joseph, safeties

Other moves

Promoted Kevin Johns to main offensive coordinator. Johns also now coaches quarterbacks in addition to wide receivers.
Moved James Patton from assistant defensive line/special teams to tight ends and fullbacks


Who's gone?

Tom Brattan, offensive line
Lee Hull, wide receivers
Greg Gattuso, defensive line

Who's in?

Greg Studwara, offensive line
Keenan McCardell, wide receivers
Chad Wilt, defensive line


Who's gone?

Al Borges, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Who's in?

Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks

Other moves

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is overseeing linebackers instead of defensive linemen
Mark Smith moves from linebackers to defensive line
Roy Manning moves from outside linebackers to cornerbacks
Curt Mallory will coach only safeties rather than the entire secondary


Who's gone?

Bill Miller, linebackers/assistant head coach

Who's in?

Mike Sherels, linebackers (promoted from recruiting staff)

Other moves

Pat Poore moves from wide receivers to running backs
Brian Anderson moves from running backs to wide receivers


Who's gone?

Terry Joseph, secondary

Who's in?

Charlton Warren, secondary


Who's gone?

Everett Withers, co-defensive coordinator/safeties
Mike Vrabel, defensive line

Who's in?

Chris Ash, co-defensive coordinator/safeties
Larry Johnson, defensive line/assistant head coach


Who's gone?

Bill O'Brien, head coach/offensive playcaller
John Butler, defensive coordinator/cornerbacks
Charlie Fisher, quarterbacks
Stan Hixon, wide receivers/assistant head coach
Larry Johnson, defensive line
Charles London, running backs
Mac McWhorter, offensive line
Ron Vanderlinden, linebackers
John Strollo, tight ends
Anthony Midget, safeties

Who's in?

James Franklin, head coach
John Donovan, offensive coordinator/tight ends
Bob Shoop, defensive coordinator/safeties
Charles Huff, running backs/special teams
Brett Pry, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers
Josh Gattis, wide receivers/assistant special teams
Herb Hand, offensive line
Ricky Rahne, quarterbacks
Sean Spencer, defensive line
Terry Smith, cornerbacks


Who's gone?

Jon Heacock, defensive backs

Who's in?

Taver Johnson, defensive backs


Who's gone?

Dave Cohen, defensive coordinator/linebackers
Ron Prince, offensive coordinator
Rob Spence, quarterbacks
Damian Wroblewski, offensive line

Who's in?

Ralph Friedgen, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks
Bob Fraser, linebackers/special teams
Mitch Browning, offensive line
Ben McDaniels, wide receivers

Other moves

Promoted special teams coordinator Joe Rossi to defensive coordinator
Anthony Campanile is coaching only tight ends after overseeing both tight ends and wide receivers


Who's gone?

Thomas Hammock, running backs/assistant head coach

Who's in?

Thomas Brown, running backs

Big Ten lunch links

February, 17, 2011
Mitchell: Well, if the shoe fits ...
Cam: They don't, they're comically large.
Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Marcus Sherels' migration from wide receiver to cornerback was a collective effort, and it didn't happen overnight.

The seeds were planted last season, first by Sherels' older brother, Mike, then a senior linebacker and a co-captain for Minnesota.

"He was always like, 'I've been telling the coaches to move you,' after every game last year," Marcus Sherels recalled.

Ronnie Lee also played a role. During practices, Lee, the Gophers' defensive backs coach, began to watch the younger Sherels, who played running back and cornerback in high school.

Every so often, Lee asked Sherels to cover one of the other wideouts.

"When he was running routes, you could see he had great hands and great body control," Lee said. "And when I asked him to come over and cover his own wide receivers, he did it and he didn't know I was watching him at the time. I was recruiting him."

Sherels finally made the move to defense in the spring, and it's paying off this season for an unbeaten Minnesota team.

The 5-foot-11, 166-pound junior ranks second in the Big Ten in pass deflections (7) and recorded his first career interception last week against Montana State. He has moved into a starting role on a revamped Gophers secondary that is showing the playmaking prowess missing last season.

"He's home," head coach Tim Brewster said of Sherels. "He's where he should be."

Sherels spent the summer before his freshman year preparing to play cornerback for Minnesota, but a shortage at wide receiver caused a switch.

"It was hard," Sherels said. "In high school, my team didn't even have receivers. I didn't really know what I was doing."

He appeared in 16 games his first two years and had three receptions.

Despite some initial skepticism about moving back to corner, Sherels quickly realized it was a natural fit. After spending spring ball acclimating to defense again, Sherels got comfortable breaking off the backpedal and hitting ball carriers in preseason camp.

Brewster never doubted that Sherels had the tools to succeed in the secondary. And after Minnesota finished last nationally in total defense and 115th in pass defense last season, that's where he was needed.

"He's got tremendous quickness," Brewster said. "His speed is excellent. He's a sub-4.5 guy, great vertical jump. ... The other thing is he brings a physicality. He'll hit you. He's not only just a cover corner. He'll come up and support the run and do things. He's really taken charge as our bell cow in the secondary."

Added Sherels: "It just felt natural. It's a better spot for me."

Seems like big brother knew best.

"He was more excited than anyone," Marcus said of Mike Sherels. "He's like, 'I finally told you that's your spot. That's where I thought you should be the whole time.'"