Big Ten: Ron Turner
We already know Illinois didn't retain offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chris Beatty and is expected to name former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit as his replacement. Illinois also will have a new offensive line coach as Luke Butkus reportedly is leaving the program to join Florida International. FootballScoop first reported Butkus' move to FIU.
Why would Butkus leave a Big Ten program for one in the Sun Belt? He played center for new FIU coach Ron Turner at Illinois and reportedly will be run game coordinator at the school. He also could be seeing the writing on the wall as head coach Tim Beckman enters a make-or-break 2013 season in Champaign. Illinois' offensive line struggled this season, as the Illini ranked 97th nationally in rush offense and 111th nationally in sacks allowed. Butkus, the nephew of Illini great Dick Butkus, joined Beckman following five years as a low-level assistant in the NFL.
It'll be interesting to see where Illinois turns for this hire and whether any more changes are coming for 2013. Cubit's hiring is expected to be announced next week. I heard in late November that Illinois would have at least two new assistants for 2013 (Butkus was one of the names mentioned).
- More on Bill O'Brien's decision to remain at Penn State here and here and here. O'Brien would have been crazy to take the Philadelphia Eagles job, Sam Donnellon writes.
- My guy Joe Rexrode rates Michigan State's early NFL draft entries. The draft departures add to the uncertainty surrounding MSU, Graham Couch writes.
- Taylor Martinez admits "everyone is getting impatient" for Nebraska to take the next step. Steven M. Sipple writes. A look at what's next for Superman (Rex Burkhead).
- Michigan is in line to land arguably the nation's top running back recruit in Derrick Green. The Wolverines are in rebuilding mode along their offensive line.
- New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen is nearly done hiring his staff. One new Badgers assistant has Nebraska ties.
- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett faces a hard road with his lawsuit against the NCAA. Corbett picks politics and football over education, Rodney K. Smith writes.
- Ohio State could pick up as many as three top recruits, including two linebackers, during the weekend.
- Former Illinois coach Ron Turner lands the Florida International job.
- Iowa is in the market for a new assistant after Erik Campbell's exit. Top receiver recruit Damond Powell is reopening his recruitment following Campbell's departure.
- Minnesota cornerback Troy Stoudermire will participate in an all-star game this month.
- Northwestern looks to aim higher after a 10-win season.
- Former Purdue player Kevin Sumlin has become a rock-star coach at Texas A&M.
- It's confirmed: Curt Phillips will start at quarterback for Wisconsin on Saturday. Some good news on the Badgers' future quarterback front as Bart Houston returns to practice.
- Nebraska's recent comebacks add to the team's tradition. Nebraska's seniors will shape their legacy in the coming weeks. It looks like Huskers running back Rex Burkhead (knee) will miss another game.
- Not surprisingly, injured Ohio State running back Jordan Hall will redshirt and return in 2013. The Buckeyes' offensive linemen form a strong bond.
- Greg Mattison has overseen Michigan's defensive renaissance the past two years. Five keys to victory for the Wolverines in Week 11.
- Penn State has depth at wide receiver both now and in the future. Resiliency has carried Nittany Lions players through the past year. Look for Penn State to pull off the upset in Lincoln.
- The entire Big Ten will suffer financially without a second BCS bowl team and not filling out the bowl lineup.
- Iowa's Micah Hyde has been a sports fanatic his entire life. A closer look at the Purdue-Iowa matchup.
- Purdue players know they have to win out. Boilers running back Ralph Bolden is at peace as an odd career nears its end.
- Severe weather is possible at the Penn State-Nebraska game.
- It looks like Indiana will play its biggest game in 20 years Saturday against Wisconsin. A look at predictions for Indiana-Wisconsin.
- Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne is ending his career with a bang. Former Illini coach Ron Turner thinks Tim Beckman must stay the course through tough times.
- Northwestern's linebackers could create problems for Michigan's quarterbacks.
- Minnesota isn't entertaining the thought of missing a bowl game. Former Minnesota coach Jeff Horton reflects on the team's win at Illinois in 2010.
- Michigan State uses the open week to heal up.
The closest comparison for Bill O'Brien, of course, is Charlie Weis. Both were New England Patriots offensive coordinators with no college head coaching experience who landed jobs at historic programs. Weis' tenure at Notre Dame started off strongly, with back-to-back BCS appearances, but he eventually flamed out, going 16-21 his final three years to earn a pink slip.
Like O'Brien, Weis coached with the Patriots through the NFL playoffs before joining his new team, which presented its challenges. Even though Weis was a Notre Dame alumnus, he had far less college experience than O'Brien, who coached 12 years in the ACC before heading to the pros.
Straight-from-the-NFL hires have not always worked out in recent Big Ten history, either.
Nebraska, another storied program like Penn State, famously went outside its family with an NFL coach. Shortly after his dismissal as the Raiders' head coach, Bill Callahan was hired by the Huskers to replace Frank Solich. Callahan changed the option attack to a West Coast passing offense. Despite some big numbers offensively, Nebraska went just 27-22 in his four years, with a pair of losing seasons, before he was ushered out. Huskers fans complained that Callahan never "got" the Nebraska tradition and culture.
Minnesota hired Tim Brewster -- who like O'Brien, had no college head coaching experience -- to lead its program in 2007. The former NFL assistant went 15-30 before being fired midway through his fourth season with the Gophers.
A far more successful example is Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. He was the offensive line coach under Bill Belichick -- O'Brien's most recent boss -- for six seasons before taking over the Hawkeyes. He is a three-time Big Ten coach of the year who has led Iowa to two BCS appearances. Unlike O'Brien, however, Ferentz had ties to Iowa as a former longtime assistant under Hayden Fry, and he had been a head coach at Maine.
Do you think Penn State would be happy if O'Brien turned out to be the next Nick Saban? Saban was the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator under Belichick the year before getting the Michigan State head coaching job in 1995. While the Spartans were mediocre his first four years, they went 9-2 in his fifth and final season. Saban later went straight from the Miami Dolphins to Alabama, though by then of course he had already won a national title at LSU. And he had been a head coach, at Toledo, before landing the Michigan State gig.
The Nittany Lions could also hope that O'Brien follows the path -- at least in some ways -- of current Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. He, too, was a longtime college assistant and offensive guru who spend three years on an NFL staff (with the Jacksonville Jaguars). Petrino got his first head coaching job at Louisville at the same age (42) that O'Brien is now. Petrino went 41-9 with an Orange Bowl win at Louisville, though he became almost as well known for his flirtations with other jobs as he was for his coaching acumen.
Al Groh is another former Belichick assistant who went from the NFL to college. He resigned from the New York Jets after one season to take the Virginia job. Despite having several talented players who went on to get drafted, Groh went just 59-53 in nine seasons with the Cavaliers, posting four losing seasons and never winning an ACC division title.
Results from former Belichick assistants are a mixed bag. Pat Hill had a successful 15-year run at Fresno State after going there straight from the Baltimore Ravens. Hill was fired following the 2011 season but compiled a 112-80 record and several memorable upsets.
Belichick proteges Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini did not fare well as NFL head coaches, while Romeo Crennel had only one good season with the Cleveland Browns. Jim Schwartz, who is leading the Detroit Lions into the playoffs, was once a personnel scout under Belichick in Cleveland.
Probably the most successful example of all-time of an NFL-turned-college coach is Pete Carroll. After getting fired from -- yes -- the New England Patriots, he was hired by USC in 2001 even though he hadn't coached in college in nearly 20 years. He won 83 games in nine years with the Trojans, including seven BCS game appearances and two national titles.
Texas A&M was probably hoping for a Carroll-like effect when it tapped then Houston Texas offensive coordinator Mike Sherman as its head coach in 2008. Sherman, who spent six years as the Green Bay Packers head coach, had one nine-win season with the Aggies but three non-winning ones. He was fired after the team went 6-6 this season.
And then there's Dave Wannstedt, who took over his alma mater at Pitt in 2005 after nearly 20 years in the NFL. Wannstedt was 42-21 with the Panthers, including a 10-3 mark in 2009. But it took him until his fourth season to post a winning season, and he was dumped after a 7-5 campaign in 2010.
Questions that face coaches who come from the NFL to campus often are whether or not they can recruit, whether or not they can motivate college-age players instead of building a more sterile pro environment and whether or not they can adapt their schemes to fit players with less talent. Some have fared better than others.
Will O'Brien be more like Carroll or Weis? Will he be a young Saban or the current Saban? A Ferentz or a Sherman?
Only time will tell, but history says the NFL-to-college route isn't always a smooth ride.
- Speaking of the weather, I cracked up when I saw there's a wind chill advisory and a freeze warning for Opa Locka, Fla., site of tonight's FedEx Orange Bowl matchup between No. 10 Iowa and No. 9 Georgia Tech (Fox, 8 p.m. ET). Apparently 40-degree temperatures scare people down there. As my buddy Nick P. likes to say, get tough. Anyway, Iowa certainly will feel right at home tonight, as temperatures will be between 45 degrees and 51 degrees during the game. Winds are at 10 mph. Though Georgia Tech is a running team, the weather probably favors Iowa. Wonder whether the Yellow Jackets will need sideline heaters like Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl.
- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has confirmed that secondary coach Kerry Cooks will leave to join Notre Dame's staff. Cooks is expected to oversee the linebackers at Notre Dame. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reports that Badgers reserve running back Erik Smith will transfer, which isn't surprising considering the team's logjam in the backfield.
- Here's what Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez had to say about his new boss, Dave Brandon: "We are very excited that Dave will be leading our athletic department. He has been a successful leader in business, and I'm sure all of our teams will benefit from his experience."
- Will Penn State running back Evan Royster follow teammate Navorro Bowman to the NFL? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Musselman thinks so.
- Several former Illinois assistants, including former head man Ron Turner, got the boot from the Chicago Bears today.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Big Ten media days begin Thursday with all 11 coaches appearing at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Joe Tiller will tell fish stories, Joe Paterno will snap off some good one-liners and Tim Brewster will show he has no need for a podium nor a microphone. I'll have a media day primer for you later today, but first here's a look around the league:
- Iowa athletic director Gary Barta issued a statement welcoming a second investigation by the state Board of Regents into the university's handling of an alleged sexual assault involving two former football players and a female student-athlete. Barta said he looks forward to addressing the situation publicly, adding that "most people understand there is more to this story and I look forward to being able to tell it." He did say school officials, including football coach Kirk Ferentz, followed university policy in handling the matter.
- University of Iowa president Sally Mason apologized for not releasing two letters from the mother of the alleged victim to the Board of Regents, but she has found no problems with the way school officials responded to the situation, Gregg Hennigan writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Will Big Ten media days give Ferentz and his players the chance to focus on football? The Gazette's Marc Morehouse thinks so.
- Ohio State fans still fuming about Carson Palmer's comments should put themselves in his shoes, The Columbus Dispatch's Ken Gordon writes in his blog.
- The Detroit News' Eric Lacy checks in with new Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, who sees eye-to-eye with football coach Mark Dantonio. Hollis also likens Dantonio's demeanor to that of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
- Ohio State has had higher-rated recruiting classes than the 2005 crop, but few groups have become more productive, Chip Minnich writes in Bleacher Report.
- Former Purdue player Kyle Williams had his prison sentence reduced from 31 years to 25 years after being found guilty of attempted rape, battery and criminal confinement in April 2007. A judge Wednesday dismissed one of the criminal confinement charges, citing double jeopardy.
- The buzz for Ohio State-USC already has begun, but there's another marquee nonconference matchup involving a Big Ten team. The Illinois-Missouri game, once the opening act before the two schools' annual basketball clash, sold out Tuesday, soon after tickets went on sale. Illinois also sold out its home game against Ohio State within an hour, and the school is opening five extra rows of seats to accommodate fans for the Iowa and Indiana home games. Man, the Ron Turner era feels like a long time ago.
- The Rashard Mendenhall-Ron Zook spat is hurting the Steelers running back more than the Illinois coach, Brent Parker writes in Bleacher Report. "Coach Zook is saying all the conclusive things, and Rashard Mendenhall is saying all the 'cryptic' things." Hard to argue with that.