Big Ten: New Mexico Lobos

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has called league expansion a "back burner issue" more than once in recent weeks.

Well, here's one for the conference to put on the front burner. 

The hiring rate of minorities to head coach and coordinator positions remains well below what it should be in college football, and it's reflected in the Big Ten.

The league has one minority head coach -- Michigan's Rich Rodriguez is Hispanic  -- and only two minority coordinators in Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell.

The league had six coordinator changes during the offseason, including the departure of Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who became one of six black head coaches in the sport when he took over at New Mexico. But none of the vacancies was filled with a minority candidate.

The Big Ten has had only three black head coaches and only one, Michigan State's Bobby Williams, since 1991. Northwestern had consecutive black head coaches from 1981-91 in Dennis Green and Francis Peay.

Before Michigan hired Rodriguez, the Big Ten had only one other minority head coach in the last two decades -- Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez, one of the most successful coaches in recent league history.

"It's not more of a concern today than it was a year ago or two years ago, but it's a constant focus," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said of minority coach hiring. "We want diversity on our campus from the president's office to the faculty, including the athletic department. And the only way you get that is through purposeful recruitment. It's not just who applies. It's who you're looking at and who you're developing through your ranks."

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Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Cornell Jackson has been hired as Purdue's running backs coach, the team announced Sunday night.

Jackson coached linebackers at Kansas State in 2008, but the majority of his career has been spent with running backs. He tutored backs at Baylor (2007), New Mexico (2005-06), Washington (2004) and Arizona State (1996-99). Former New Mexico stars Rodney Ferguson and DonTrell Moore are among the players Jackson coached.

"Cornell is a great addition to our staff," Purdue head coach Danny Hope said in a statement. "He comes highly recommended and has coached in some big-time conferences. He's an aggressive coach and an excellent recruiter. He preaches ball security, physical running and finishing each play. We really hit the jackpot with him."

Jackson replaces Joel Thomas, who recently left to become running backs coach at Washington. The 48-year-old takes over a group that loses top rusher Kory Sheets but returns Jaycen Taylor, a key contributor in 2006 and 2007 who tore his ACL in preseason camp in August.

Hope is still looking for a defensive coordinator to round out his coaching staff after Brock Spack left to become Illinois State's head coach.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Mike Locksley's departure to become head coach at New Mexico leaves Illinois without its offensive architect and top recruiter. Arguably no assistant coach in the Big Ten brought in a better recruiting haul than Locksley, who landed wide receiver Arrelious Benn, cornerback Vontae Davis and defensive end Will Davis, among others.

But Illini head coach Ron Zook won't have trouble finding a replacement at offensive coordinator. Zook's phone has been flooded with calls the last 48 hours, including recommendations from Georgia head coach Mark Richt, former Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer and Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall.

Hmmm, I wonder who Hall is pushing for the job (Jay Paterno?). Nothing against Fulmer, but Zook should be a little leery of hiring anyone associated with Tennessee's offense this season.

"What makes you busy is that it's a job that a lot of people want," Zook said. "It makes you feel good because people have taken notice, they've seen the progress we've made and they realize we've got some talent here. Now, we've just got to coach it up and get them ready to where they're supposed to be."

Locksley doesn't expect to bring "major guys" from the Illinois staff with him to New Mexico. If Zook chooses to stay in house, wide receivers coaches Jim Pry and Kurt Beathard, both of whom have offensive coordinator experience, would be top candidates.

Though Locksley served as a mentor for quarterback Juice Williams and others, Zook assured his players Tuesday that "nothing's going to change."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

New Mexico has officially hired Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley as its next head coach and will introduce him at a news conference Tuesday. 

Illinois head coach Ron Zook issued the following statement about Locksley, who served as his top assistant and lead recruiter for the last six seasons. 

"I am very excited for Mike to have this opportunity. He is ready to take this next step and I know he will be a great ambassador for the University of New Mexico. Locks is the whole package. He can coach, he can recruit and he can motivate his players. He did a tremendous job with our offense here and will be missed." 

Zook now must find a way to replace Locksley. Here's one way to maintain the recruiting pipeline to the Washington D.C. area. 

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will be named head coach at New Mexico, sources have told ESPN's Joe Schad. Locksley emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Rocky Long during the weekend. 

It was only a matter of time before Locksley took a head-coaching position, but this definitely comes as a surprise. He makes good coin in Champaign and appeared to be holding out for a BCS conference job. He interviewed at Clemson and reportedly talked with Syracuse as well.

Locksley is an East Coast guy with recruiting ties to the Washington, D.C., area, so he seemed destined for a Big East or an ACC job, not one out West. 

The good news is New Mexico is a stable program in an excellent conference (the Mountain West). It's not in a great recruiting area, but Locksley's recruiting prowess should bring some top talent to Albuquerque.

Illinois undoubtedly will continue to run Locksley's dynamic offensive system. Ron Zook might have lost his pipeline to the Washington D.C. area -- Locksley landed players like Arrelious Benn and Will Davis -- and it will be interesting to see who he brings in to replace Locksley.