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Friday, July 13, 2012
The next great coaches in the Big Ten

By Brian Bennett

We've been taking a look at coaches this week, seeing which programs are defined by one coach, which coaching jobs are the best, which coaches offer the most bang for the buck and which coaches have the most longevity.

We wrap up the series today by looking forward. Who are the next great coaches in the Big Ten? Here are some names to keep an eye on:

Brady Hoke, Michigan: Hoke is on the verge of being considered one of the elite coaches in the game. He has been a head coach for nine seasons, but only one of those -- 2011 -- was at a BCS AQ school. Hoke's 58-52 overall record might not seem that impressive, but he was the Mountain West Coach of the Year at San Diego State and the MAC Coach of the Year at Ball State, which he led to a 12-win season in 2008. Hoke led the Wolverines to an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl win last season. His recruiting success indicates that more success is to come, and his loyalty to the school suggests he could become an all-time great in the mold of Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr.

Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State: Narduzzi was a hot coaching name in the offseason after overseeing one of the best defenses in the country. He chose to stay with the Spartans but will likely be in high demand again for head-coaching jobs. He is a fiery guy with a good personality who could follow in Mark Dantonio's footsteps as a successful leader of a program.

Tim Beckman, Illinois: Though he came up as a defensive assistant, Beckman's teams were known for their offenses at Toledo. He went 21-16 in three years but had back-to-back eight-win seasons and was 14-2 in the MAC in 2009 and 2010. He still has a lot to prove as a head coach and needs to be able to recruit well to win at Illinois, but there's no doubting his energy level.

John Papuchis, Nebraska: Papuchis is only 34, but he is quickly climbing the coaching ladder. He was named the Huskers' defensive coordinator this offseason after impressive stints tutoring the defensive line and special teams. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is extremely high on Papuchis, who was a graduate assistant under Pelini at LSU. Papuchis' career arc suggests that a head-coaching job might not be far off.

Bill O'Brien, Penn State: There's much we don't know yet about O'Brien. He has never been a head coach, for one. We don't know how the Penn State scandal will affect his ability to do the job, and it's never easy following a legend. But O'Brien has earned praise so far for how he has handled a challenging situation and for his recruiting efforts. The Nittany Lions have all the resources that the right coach could use for tremendous success.

Luke Fickell and Tom Herman, Ohio State: Fickell went 6-7 in his first shot as head coach last season with the Buckeyes. His inexperience at game management showed at times, but he did an impressive job handling the many off-the-field distractions. Studying under Urban Meyer could give him more seasoning and a chance to become a better head coach down the line.

Meyer plucked Herman from relative obscurity at Iowa State to be his offensive coordinator, admiring Herman's creativity as a playcaller. Guys like Charlie Strong, Kyle Whittingham, Dan Mullen, Steve Addazio and Beckman have gone on to become winning head coaches after working with Meyer. Perhaps Fickell or Herman -- or both -- will be next in line.