Big Ten: Phillip Fulmer
Other than perhaps Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, Bielema was the most "Big Ten" of the 2012 Big Ten head coaches. Born in Illinois, played at Iowa, spent his first eight years as a coach at his alma mater, left Big Ten country for two years to coordinate Kansas State's defense, returned as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator and then was elevated to head coach after the 2005 season.
But three days after coaching Wisconsin to a Big Ten championship game victory, Bielema bolted for the spotlight and scrutiny of the SEC. And he's not alone.
From today's Grantland story on Bielema at Arkansas:
Although SEC football has long been a vessel for expressions of Southern exceptionalism, many of the conference's most successful coaches come from the Midwest. Les Miles, Nick Saban, and Urban Meyer all have roots in Ohio. Mark Richt is from Nebraska. In fact, among the league's 14 current coaches, eight were born in states with Big Ten programs, while only five hail from SEC country.
I've joked that if you don't know where a college football coach grew up, just say Ohio and you'll probably be right. But the percentage of SEC coaches with Big Ten roots is notable. The SEC coaching ranks used to be filled with homegrown coaches like Vince Dooley, Pat Dye, Johnny Majors, Paul Bryant and Phillip Fulmer. Former Florida quarterback and head coach Steve Spurrier is still in SEC territory at South Carolina, but he's no longer the norm.
Here's a quick look at SEC coaches with roots in the Big Ten footprint:
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas: Born in Illinois, played and coached at Iowa, assistant coach and head coach at Wisconsin
- James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Born in Pennsylvania, played college ball in Pennsylvania at East Stroudsburg
- Butch Jones, Tennessee: Born in Michigan, played college ball in Michigan at Ferris State, head coach at Central Michigan and Cincinnati
- Les Miles, LSU: Born in Ohio, played at Michigan and served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1987-94
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Born in Pennsylvania (attended high school in New Hampshire)
- Gary Pinkel, Missouri: Born in Ohio, played college ball in Ohio at Kent State, coached at two MAC schools (Kent State and Bowling Green)
- Mark Richt, Georgia: Born in Nebraska (attended high school in Florida)
- Nick Saban, Alabama: Played in Ohio at Kent State, assistant at Ohio State and Michigan State, head coach at Michigan State from 1995-99
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky: Born and raised in Ohio, played at Iowa
- Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: Played high school football in Indiana, played college football at Purdue, assistant at Minnesota and Purdue
The Big Ten has more of a homegrown flavor in its current coaching ranks, as seven leading men grew up in Big Ten states: Illinois' Tim Beckman (Ohio), Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (Pennsylvania, born in Michigan), Michigan's Brady Hoke (Ohio), Michigan State's Mark Dantonio (Ohio), Nebraska's Bo Pelini (Ohio), Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald (Illinois) and Ohio State's Urban Meyer (Ohio). Purdue coach Darrell Hazell hails from a future Big Ten state (New Jersey).
Although homegrown players are the biggest reason for the SEC's run of dominance, coaches from Big Ten country also have played a role.
- The Big Ten Network's Dave Revsine goes inside the numbers for Week 10 in the Big Ten.
- Rich Rodriguez still can't breathe easy despite the NCAA ruling, Bob Wojnowski writes in The Detroit News. Rodriguez still needs more wins between the lines, John Niyo writes in The Detroit News. There's also the ongoing West Virginia investigation, annarbor.com's Jeff Arnold writes.
- Are you ready for some football at Wrigley Field? Pretty cool picture.
- Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says the Minnesota job is "not a good fit." Scratch Fulmer off of the list, but Minnesota AD Joel Maturi has received strong interest in the job, Phil Miller writes in the Star Tribune.
- Plenty of Joe Paterno tributes this week, and here are some the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Never say never, but 400 wins for a major college football coach likely won't be seen again, David Jones writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Paterno keeps mum on his starting quarterback for Saturday, but it looks like it'll be Rob Bolden, Cory Giger writes in The Altoona Mirror.
- Iowa running back Adam Robinson is 50-50 for the Indiana game after an apparent concussion, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. No surprise here, but turnover margin has propelled the Hawkeyes, Andrew Logue writes in the Des Moines Register.
- Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa is among the candidates for the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football, Teddy Greenstein writes.
- Wisconsin likely will be without two key offensive playmakers at Purdue, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Badgers defensive end Louis Nzegwu gears up for spread offenses, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- A look at how Michigan State stacks up with the other league title contenders from the Lansing State Journal's Joe Rexrode and Barry Kiel.
- More love for first-year Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning from Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- You can tell a lot about how Purdue will fare in a game by the way the Boilers start off, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
Posted by ESPN.com'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 ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's time to delve into the mailbag. A lot of you are still thinking about the Penn State-Iowa game last Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.
Steve from Memphis writes: What about the pass interference call on the last drive? A very questionable call, Scirotto had a play on the ball. Also [Daryll] Clark was very inconsistent.
Adam Rittenberg: Anthony Scirrotto was going for the ball, but that penalty will be called 99 times out of 100. Trust me. You can't make contact with a receiver before the ball gets there, even if the pass seems uncatchable. I understand Scirrotto was trying to be aggressive, but as a senior, he needs to be smarter in that situation. There was no way the Iowa receiver comes down with that ball. An incomplete pass creates fourth-and-15, desperation time for the Hawkeyes.
Matt from Orlando, Fla., writes: Hi Adam, I'm a Penn State fan/alum who was extremely disappointed by our loss on Saturday night, however watching the game from my sunny Florida couch, I wondered how any of the supposed "powerhouses" Big 12 or especially SEC would have faired in those weather conditions . . . you know, the 30 Degree Weather, 30 MPH gusts of wind and threat of snow . . . it's hard to dominate with style points let alone win in a sub-arctic environment. How does conditions like that effect SOS or conference play no less - I don't think its fair to compare Big Ten play to that of other prime weather environments in the South. I highly doubt UF, Texas, TT, OU could put up 50+ points on the board in that Winter Wonderland we call the North East. PS Congrats Iowa to a good game well fought. I don't mind that we'll be smelling Roses come January.
Adam Rittenberg: Several e-mails have brought up the weather argument. It comes with the territory in the Big Ten, and other leagues (Big East, Boston College in ACC, Mountain West, Boise State) also have to deal with less-than ideal playing conditions. I agree that it's a little harder to win with style points, though Penn State did that for much of the season and could still post some big wins down the stretch. I can say definitively that weather conditions don't affect strength of schedule or any BCS gauges. I like your attitude about the Rose Bowl, though. It's hardly a bad consolation for Penn State.
Ben from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam- I understood what Michigan State had to do to win the big ten prior to Penn State's loss to Iowa, however now I am somewhat uncertain. I believe that in order for Sparty to win the Big Ten Ohio State will have to find some way to lose one of their last 2 games but I'm not positive. Wondering if you could clarify.
Adam Rittenberg: You're exactly right, Ben. The Spartans need to beat Penn State and hope that Ohio State loses to either Illinois or Michigan to win the Big Ten's BCS berth to the Rose Bowl. If Michigan State beats Penn State and Ohio State wins out, the Buckeyes head to Pasadena.