- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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A full one-third of the Big Ten's head coaches will be in their first years in 2011. That includes new leaders of the league's two most storied teams. Here's a quick look at the new coaches and what kind of impact we can expect from each this season:
Luke Fickell, Ohio State: Fickell is the only one on this list who wasn't expecting to go into this season as a head coach. Elevated from co-defensive coordinator shortly after Jim Tressel's forced resignation on Memorial Day, Fickell is a former Ohio State player whose passion for all things Buckeyes comes through every time he talks. Fickell turns 38 on Aug. 18 and is only guaranteed to coach this year; given his team's talent and question marks, he's the biggest wild-card head coach in the league.
Brady Hoke, Michigan: He hasn't coached a game yet, but Hoke has already been embraced by Wolverines fans in a way Rich Rodriguez never was. That's because Hoke is viewed as a "Michigan Man," even though he was born in Ohio and went to college in Indiana. Hoke was a longtime Wolverines assistant coach before successfully leading Ball State and San Diego State to some of their best seasons ever. Hoke has recruited well and fired up the fan base with his "We're Michigan, we don't rebuild" bluster. He still needs to get Michigan back to being Michigan on the field.
Jerry Kill, Minnesota: Kill has been a head coach in high school, Division II, FCS and the MAC, and he has won everywhere he's gone. In other words, he's the exact opposite of Tim Brewster, who had no head-coaching experience before the Gophers lost their bet on him. Kill came to Minnesota after a solid tenure at Northern Illinois. He has said that building the Gophers into a winner will take time and there will be no shortcuts, but his history suggests he will get it done.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: The former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma has already accomplished something that seemed improbable: He's created a buzz about Indiana football. Wilson caused shock waves when he landed a verbal commitment from one of the nation's top quarterback recruits, Gunner Kiel, last month. The Hoosiers will play a fast tempo, quarterback friendly offense that will likely score points in bunches early on in Wilson's tenure. Whether he can get IU back to annual bowl contention or more depends on whether he can get the defense to come along for the ride.