Dallas Colleges: Kevin Wilson

What we learned in the Big Ten: Week 4

September, 22, 2013
Five lessons from the week that was in Big Ten football:

1. Wisconsin-Ohio State could be the Big Ten's game of the year: In recent years, the Badgers-Buckeyes matchups have been more significant than Ohio State-Michigan or any other conference pairing. This week's showdown at Ohio Stadium could be just as significant. Ohio State is the Big Ten's best team, and Wisconsin might be No. 2 after another dominant rushing performance against Purdue. Both teams ascribe to the power run game but do it in vastly different yet equally entertaining ways. Although the Kenny G show has been terrific for the Buckeyes, top quarterback Braxton Miller should be back for the Big Ten opener. Miller might not be the biggest offensive star on the field, as Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has performed as advertised, racking up 624 rush yards and seven touchdowns in the first four games. The game features first-year Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen going up against his former boss, Urban Meyer. One of these teams has held at least a share of the past eight Big Ten titles. The winner takes control of the Leaders Division. Should be a great one.

[+] EnlargeDevin Gardner, Jefferson Ashiru
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesMichigan quarterback Devin Gardner had another three turnovers in the Wolverines' close win over UConn.
2. Michigan has real problems: It was tempting to write off Michigan's struggle to beat Akron last week as a hangover from the high-stakes Notre Dame game. But no hangovers the past two weeks. The Wolverines found themselves down two touchdowns in the second half Saturday night at UConn, the same Huskies team that lost at home by 15 to Towson in the opener. Michigan rallied for the 24-21 win, and at least Brady Hoke's team has shown grit at the end of games the past three weeks. But quarterback Devin Gardner committed three more turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble), and he has devolved from potential Heisman candidate to a potential problem spot in just a fortnight. An even thornier issue is the continued inability of the Michigan offensive line to open consistent holes for the running game. If the Wolverines are having trouble running the ball against Akron and UConn, what's going to happen in Big Ten play? There's plenty of time for Hoke & Co. to right the ship, and the upcoming bye week is a welcome sight. But right now, Michigan does not look like the top-15 team we thought it was two weeks ago.

3. The Iowa-Minnesota game has added meaning: We love the pig, but there's a lot more than the Floyd of Rosedale at stake (steak?) this week as Iowa and Minnesota open Big Ten play in Minneapolis. Both teams have shown improvement, especially with their power running games, and enter the matchup with momentum. Iowa exploded for 38 first-half points Saturday against Western Michigan and finished with 59, its highest total since 2002. The Hawkeyes received contributions in all three phases, including two punt return touchdowns from receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley and two pick-sixes from cornerback B.J. Lowery. Iowa's defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown. After a miserable offensive performance in 2012, Iowa is starting to establish an identity behind its line and a stable of running backs. Minnesota is doing the same, finally showing it can control the line of scrimmage and dominate on the ground. Despite not having its starting quarterback (Philip Nelson) or starting running back (Donnell Kirkwood), Minnesota racked up 353 yards and six rushing touchdowns, including four by backup signal-caller Mitch Leidner, in an impressive win against San Jose State. The Gophers are 4-0 for the second straight season. Both teams have very challenging league schedules, so getting off to a 1-0 start is huge. Big one at TCF Bank Stadium this week.

4. Bo Pelini is still standing, but needs time to regroup: The open week couldn't come at a better time for Nebraska's coach and his team, which ended an emotional week with a 59-20 thumping of FCS South Dakota State. The firestorm from audio-gate should die down, at least a little, as Pelini got through Saturday's game without any further controversy, and received mostly support from Huskers fans. Pelini is hardly out of the woods, though, and must turn his attention to a defense that needs a ton of work before Big Ten play begins Oct. 5 against Illinois. The Huskers surrendered 465 yards to the Jackrabbits, who had a balanced attack (238 yards passing, 227 yards rushing). Pelini called it the defense's worst performance in a season filling up with them. Whether it's youth, talent, scheme or attention to detail, Nebraska's defense must get back on track soon. Although the schedule remains favorable the next month or so, it's hard to see the Huskers repeating as Legends Division champs without some significant upgrades on D.

5. Indiana still hasn't arrived: Indiana entered the year with high hopes for a bowl game this year, and with a warp-speed offense averaging 50 points a game through three weeks, the Hoosiers didn't appear to be deluding themselves. But after an impressive showing last week against Bowling Green, Kevin Wilson's team found itself right back in a familiar spot: unable to defend a good team. Missouri racked up 623 yards -- the most in Memorial Stadium history -- in a 45-28 win in Bloomington on Saturday. The game wasn't even as close as the final score, as Indiana tacked on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 10 seconds to go, and Missouri had three turnovers in the first half to kill promising drives. The Hoosiers' vaunted offense failed to score from the 6:31 mark of the second quarter until there was 11:24 left in the game, and IU punted nine times after punting only five times in the first three games combined. The loss to Navy now hurts even more, as Wilson's team would have to go 4-4 in Big Ten play to become bowl eligible. That seems like an awfully tall order. Penn State comes in next after a bye for both teams, and the Nittany Lions just righted their defense in a 34-0 shutout of Kent State. Penn State has never lost to Indiana and will be favored soundly again on Oct. 5. It might be wait for next year time again in Hoosierland.

IU assistant Hagen off to Texas A&M

January, 23, 2013
Despite Indiana's continued struggles on defense last season, head coach Kevin Wilson decided to keep his staff intact for 2013. Turns out, Wilson will have to replace one assistant who is leaving on his own accord.

Indiana defensive tackles coach Mark Hagen is off to Texas A&M, where he'll reportedly coach linebackers. Hagen, who also served as IU's special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator, joined Wilson's staff in 2011 after spending the previous 11 seasons at Purdue. He played linebacker at Indiana from 1987-91, twice earning second-team All-Big Ten honors, and remained with the Hoosiers as a graduate/administrative assistant until 1995.

GigEm247.com first reported Hagen's move to Texas A&M. Wilson confirmed the move today on Twitter.

Few coaches know the recruiting scene in the Hoosier State better than Hagen, and he'll certainly be missed on the recruiting trail, where IU has upgraded its efforts the past year.

Hagen has a connection to Texas A&M through Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin, who played at Purdue and coached there with Hagen during the 2000 season, when the Boilers won the Big Ten and reached the Rose Bowl.

It'll be interesting to see who Wilson hires to replace Hagen, and if he moves the recruiting coordinator or special teams coordinator roles to any of the other assistants, or hands it to Hagen's successor.

Which coaching tree has the best fruit?

August, 17, 2012
Colleague Brad Edwards had an interesting ESPN Insider post looking at the top coaching trees around the nation Insider, and two from the Big 12 made his list of the top five, with plenty more mentioned.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops grabbed the top spot in the league at No. 2, behind only Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

No arguing that spot, in theory. Stoops has four former assistants who jumped from OU to become head coaches: Kevin Sumlin (Houston, now at Texas A&M), Mike Leach (Texas Tech, now Washington State) and Kevin Wilson (Indiana).

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini spent 2004 as the co-defensive coordinator before eventually getting the Huskers job in 2008 after three years coordinating LSU's defense.

Not bad, and that's without even mentioning other guys from Stoops' tree who have been fired since becoming head coaches. Mark Mangino is out at Kansas now, and brother Mike Stoops is back as defensive coordinator after nearly a decade as the head man at Arizona.

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach even gets credit for his own tree. He checked in at No. 4 on the list for spawning Art Briles (Baylor), Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech) and West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.

Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy just missed the list, but may join it soon with former coordinators Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Holgorsen and Tim Beckman (Illinois) in charge of big-time programs.

Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Kansas State's Bill Snyder just missed the list. Snyder's tree begat Stoops and Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, which is impressive enough on its own. Without Snyder, plenty of the guys mentioned in this post wouldn't be the coaches they are today.

What other coaches' trees impress you?

The Big 12 Primer: Week 5

September, 29, 2011
Here's a look at this week's games. It should be a great set of games. I'll reveal where I'll be this weekend on the blog tomorrow morning, as well as my predictions.

Landry Locker and Trey Fallon are joined by Chris Level of Double T 104.3 to discuss Texas Tech's comeback win against Nevada, the current state of the team and the importance of a win against Kansas.

Listen Listen
Until then, let's hear yours in the comments.

Off: No. 5 Oklahoma State, Missouri

No. 14 Texas A&M vs No. 18 Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium (Noon, ESPN): Both suffered rough losses last weekend, but this game will be an annual one moving forward. Will it remain at Cowboys Stadium? Expect this game to be a good one, and the SEC presence to be strong.

Texas Tech at Kansas (Noon, Fox Sports Net): Both teams have been unimpressive early, but a win would be a nice statement for both teams, especially a lopsided one for the road Red Raiders. Seth Doege has been as good as advertised, but the Jayhawks are a better team than they were in 2010.

No. 15 Baylor at Kansas State (3:30 p.m., ABC): Baylor and Kansas State earned big-time wins this year, Kansas State at Miami last week and Baylor over TCU in its opener. The conference opener for both teams will give us a great idea of what to expect from both teams throughout the year. The Bears' offense, led by Robert Griffin III, will be the toughest test yet for a much-improved K-State defense.

No. 17 Texas at Iowa State (7 p.m., FX): This is one of two battles between Big 12 undefeateds this week, and the Iowa State fans will be jacked up to take on the Longhorns. The game is sold out, and Iowa State beat Texas for the first time ever last year.

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Ball State (7 p.m., pay-per-view): How could you not shell out the $39.95 for this classic rivalry? Ball State did knock off former OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson's Indiana team, but I'm guessing the Sooners don't meet the same fate. I'd expect Wilson to offer the Sooners a little insight, too.

Quarterbacks facing change of scenery

August, 9, 2011
Life should be good for the Big 12's veteran quarterbacks with little changing around them. But the league's top two passers are facing a lot of change. Here's a look:

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State.

Weeden is facing the biggest change. The offense will be the same, but the voice on the headset will be different. Inexperienced playcaller Todd Monken replaces Dana Holgorsen for the Cowboys. Monken previously coached wide receivers with Mike Gundy under Les Miles at Oklahoma State and came to the Cowboys after four seasons at LSU and two as the wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach before taking the OSU job, where he'll get the keys to what he's described as a "Ferrari." That's Weeden, Biletnikoff-winning receiver Justin Blackmon and the Big 12's best offensive line.

For Weeden, though, he'll have to deal with the loss of two-time 1,500-yard back Kendall Hunter. Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith will try to fill the void, but Hunter was a steadying force last season for the Cowboys' offense, which loses just two receivers: Bo Bowling, who caught 42 passes, and Colton Chelf, who caught 11 passes.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Jones, like Weeden, lost his offensive coordinator to a head-coaching job in the offseason. Kevin Wilson left OU to take the job at Indiana, but Jones' new coach is a man he knows well, and a man Oklahoma knows well. Josh Heupel has coached quarterbacks for the past five seasons at Oklahoma (which featured three Big 12 titles under three different quarterbacks), and now takes over as the offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops. Heupel also quarterbacked the Sooners under Stoops to the program's last national title, in 2000.

Heupel shares coordinator duties with receivers coach Jay Norvell, but Heupel will call the plays, and did well in his first try, a 48-20 stomping of Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl. Norvell, 48, is a more experienced coach, but Heupel, 33, is on the fast track for a head-coaching job.

Jones also must deal with life without DeMarco Murray, who carried the ball 282 times last season and caught 71 passes. That's a lot of touches to replace, but for the Sooners to reach their stated goal of a title, Jones will have to find a way to distribute those receptions elsewhere and support his new stable of running backs.

Nebraska secondary coach resigns

February, 3, 2011
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini declined to answer questions about his staff during his signing day teleconference on Wednesday, but on Thursday, he announced in a release that Marvin Sanders had resigned for "personal and family reasons."

Questions first arose on Wednesday after Indiana coach Kevin Wilson announced that his assistant, Corey Raymond, was leaving to coach the secondary at Nebraska.

Nebraska, however, still employed Sanders at the time. Now, presumably, Raymond might soon be announced as Sanders' replacement.

Pelini declined to answer questions about Sanders' status on Wednesday, but the Lincoln Journal Star reported later in the day that Sanders "may face disciplinary action by the school for a nonfootball issue."

For Nebraska, Sanders might only be the first of a few assistants to leave Pelini's staff after signing 20 recruits on Wednesday.

Sanders, along with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, receivers coach Ted Gilmore and Pelini, did not make their annual appearance at a recruiting dinner in Omaha on Wednesday night.

It should be a very interesting few weeks before spring practice begins in Lincoln.