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Friday, July 11, 2008
Sizing up the new coordinators


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The offseason didn't bring an overwhelming amount of change to Big Ten coaching staffs. Aside from Michigan, which brought in a completely new group, and Northwestern, which lost one coordinator and fired the other, most of the league's assistants remained in their posts. But there were several notable moves, particularly at the coordinator spots. Here's a look at the new -- and, in some cases, familiar -- faces in charge of Big Ten offenses and defenses.

Michigan offensive coordinator Calvin Magee: If anyone had an uglier departure from West Virginia than Rich Rodriguez, it was probably Magee. He's back with Rodriguez at Michigan, helping to implement a wildly successful offense with completely new personnel. Magee coached running backs for the last seven seasons at West Virginia, adding the title of offensive coordinator in 2005. He was named the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2007 and has overseen a top-5 rushing attack in each of the last three seasons. He now must work his magic with Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady.

Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer: Shafer must have a very understanding wife. He has been at three spots -- Illinois, Western Michigan and Stanford -- in the last four seasons. But it's for positive reasons. The rising star coordinated a Western Michigan defense that led the nation in both interceptions and sacks in 2006. At Stanford, he played a key role in last season's stunning road win against USC -- one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Shafer's energetic style was a hit at Western Michigan, and he should do well up I-94 in Ann Arbor.

Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren: Coach Bret Bielema promoted Doeren to oversee a defense that was hardly porous (38th nationally) last season but fell off from its 2006 form. His decision to fire veteran Mike Hankwitz was surprising at first, but a background check on both Doeren and Bielema shows that this move was coming sooner or later. Both coaches spent time at Big 12 schools in Kansas before moving up the ranks. Doeren brings a fiery personality to a veteran-laden defense. Injuries depleted the unit this spring, so preseason camp will be important for Doeren to cement his philosophies.

Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall: The spread offense has been Northwestern's calling card since 2000, so when coordinator Garrick McGee left for Arkansas, coach Pat Fitzgerald needed someone familiar with the system. He found it in McCall, the Bowling Green offensive coordinator who coached standout quarterbacks Josh Harris and Omar Jacobs. Bowling Green runs a slightly different version of the spread than the Wildcats, but McCall inherits a veteran offense stocked at the skill positions.

Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz: This was the more important hire for Fitzgerald, and he scored a coup by hiring Hankwitz, the Wisconsin cast-off. While the Badgers chose a younger voice to lead their defense, Northwestern hired a much-needed sage. The 60-year-old Hankwitz has served as defensive coordinator at six different schools, first holding the title in 1982. He's known for zone blitzes and provides a veteran ear for the 33-year-old Fitzgerald. He takes over a defense that hasn't finished higher than 68th nationally since 2000.

Minnesota defensive coordinator Ted Roof: Perhaps no new coordinator has as daunting an assignment as Roof, who must fix the nation's worst defense -- one that set several school records for futility in 2007. He couldn't fix Duke -- then again, who can? -- and was fired after four-plus seasons as head coach, but he brings a strong reputation for crafting formidable defenses. He engineered defensive turnarounds at Georgia Tech and, briefly, Duke. Roof made tackling a priority this spring and must figure out how to work in several talented junior-college transfers.