NCF Nation: Barney Cotton
According to the Omaha World-Herald, the third-year coordinator had his salary nearly doubled on Jan. 1, going from $365,000 last season to $700,000 this year. That would make Beck the third-highest paid coordinator in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell ($761,000) and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison ($750,000). Beck would be making more than Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. (We took a look at the highest-paid Big Ten assistants last month, which you can find here).
According to the story, head coach Bo Pelini said Beck had been contacted by at least two teams for jobs after the regular season.
Some other Huskers assistants also got raises. Defensive coordinator John Papuchis went from $300,000 to $310,000. Assistant offensive line coach John Garrison got the biggest bump, going from $160,000 to $245,000. Running backs coach Ron Brown and offensive line coach Barney Cotton saw their salaries jump from $240,000 to $254,800. Overall, the Huskers are adding more than $500,000 to their assistant coaching salary pool this year.
We've talked here recently about how Big Ten teams need to continue to pay their assistants well if they want to compete with other national powers. It's good to see Nebraska step up and reward Beck, who has done a great job so far in Lincoln.
Running backs: Iowa's problems with keeping running backs in school has been well documented, and the Hawkeyes lost leading rusher Marcus Coker and backup Mika'il McCall after off-the-field problems last season. The team really needs some more depth in the backfield, and don't be surprised if incoming freshman Greg Garmon pushes for playing time immediately.
Defensive linemen: Iowa had three defensive linemen drafted off the 2010 team and now loses its top two guys up front in departing seniors Broderick Binns and Mike Daniels. That's an awful lot of talent to replace in a couple of years, and the Hawkeyes can't expect to improve their defense without doing so. Finding some more pass rushers off the edge will be key.
Wide receivers: Marvin McNutt had a wonderful senior season, but the passing game often stalled whenever he couldn't wiggle free. Now he's gone, leaving a void at the position. Kevonte Martin-Manley and Keenan Davis have shown promise, but James Vandenberg could use some more weapons. Iowa has secured commitments from three receivers in this class.
Wide receiver: The loss of Darryl Stonum, who was dismissed following another run in with the law, created a void at receiver, especially with top pass-catcher Junior Hemingway out of eligibility. The Wolverines will have to hope Roy Roundtree can bounce back with a big season, because all other wideout options are unproven at this point. Three receivers are committed to Brady Hoke in this class.
Defensive line: Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen were key cogs in Michigan's run to the Sugar Bowl title in 2011, and they have both moved on, along with starter Will Heininger. Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison are defensive line coaches at heart and will want to grab as many difference makers as they can at that key position. Ondre Pipkins, a 325-pound tackle, is the highest rated defensive lineman in the Wolverines' class right now.
Offensive line: While the Wolverines should be fine on the O-line in 2012, even without Rimington Trophy winner David Molk and starting right tackle Mark Huyge, they signed only four offensive linemen total in the past two classes. Since linemen are often slow to develop, they need to refill the cupboard now. Michigan has four offensive linemen committed in this class, including standout Kyle Kalis.
Offensive tackles: Thanks in large part to injuries, Michigan State had to move a defensive lineman (Dan France) to tackle last summer and plug in a junior-college transfer (Fou Fonoti) into the other tackle spot. That the Spartans won the Legends Division title despite that is kind of amazing in retrospect. France will be a junior in 2012 and Fonoti will be in his final year of eligibility. They need more depth at the position, and they've got commitments from two offensive tackles so far in this class.
Wide receivers: Two of the most successful receivers in school history are gone as Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham finished off wildly productive careers. Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett is seeking a waiver to play immediately and will help the future even if he has to sit out a year. Michigan State is looking to sign three other receivers in this class to fill out the future two-deep.
Running back: Edwin Baker's early entry to the NFL draft came as a surprise. Michigan State is still in good shape at tailback for 2012 with Le'Veon Bell and Larry Caper. But after not signing a running back in last year's class, Mark Dantonio could use at least one more option in the backfield.
Defensive backs: It was no secret that Minnesota's pass defense was brutal at times in 2011, and top tackler Kim Royston leaves a hole at safety with his graduation. Getting Troy Stoudermire back for an extra year helps, but Jerry Kill needs to upgrade the talent in the secondary. That's why he has signed three junior-college defensive backs and secured commitments from four high school safeties so far.
Defensive tackle: One of the reasons the pass defense was so bad was a lack of pass rush applied by the front four. The Gophers had only 19 sacks this season, a year after registering just nine. Making matters worse, both starting tackles were seniors this season. Kill signed a junior-college defensive tackle and has two prep tackles committed. He needs to find guys who can find their way to the quarterback.
Overall talent and depth: Kill has said there are gaps in the Gophers' classes, and depth issues could plague the team during his rebuilding efforts. Including six junior-college players signed to help right away, Minnesota has a class of 28 right now. Minnesota simply needs more bodies everywhere.
Linebacker: Lavonte David leaves some rather large cleats to fill. Not only was he Nebraska's leading tackler the past two seasons, he was the only linebacker who played at a consistently high level. The Huskers' starters at the other two linebacker spots will be seniors this year, and depth is thin behind them. So it's little wonder why Bo Pelini has used four spots so far in what is expected to be a small class to fill that position, led by four-star prospect Michael Rose.
Tight end: Three of the top four options at tight ends will be seniors in 2012, leaving very little behind them. Sam Cotton, son of offensive line coach Barney Cotton and younger brother of current Huskers tight end Ben, is on his way to help.
Quarterback: Taylor Martinez is entrenched as the starter going into his junior year, and Nebraska never had to worry about playing Brion Carnes in a big spot this year after Bubba Starling opted for baseball. Still, it's dangerous to not have depth at quarterback, and so the Huskers need to add at least one signal caller in this class.
Defensive backs: The Wildcats were burned repeatedly in the passing game in 2011, and their best defensive back (safety Brian Peters) won't be around next season. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has commitments from three safeties in this class already.
Defensive playmakers: Northwestern was shockingly short on guys who could blow up another team's offensive play in 2011, so Fitzgerald's main mission had to be finding more guys who played like he did in college. That aim got a big boost when stud defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo committed to play in Evanston. That's a good start.
Wide receivers: Highly productive star receiver Jeremy Ebert is gone, along with starter Charles Brown. Venric Mark and Christian Jones have a lot of potential as the next big passing targets, but Northwestern's spread offense feeds off of speed and depth at the receiver position. Four receivers have given the Wildcats their pledge in this class.
The biggest one is the promotion of running backs coach Tim Beck to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Pelini also tabbed Corey Raymond as secondary coach, Ross Els as linebackers coach and Rich Fisher as wide receivers coach. Veteran Nebraska assistant Ron Brown moves from tight ends coach to running backs coach.
UPDATE: Pelini also has confirmed the promotion of John Garrison to full-time assistant. Garrison will work with Barney Cotton and coach the offensive linemen.
Departing the program are offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and receivers coach Ted Gilmore. Nebraska announced the resignation of secondary coach Marvin Sanders two weeks ago.
The staff makeover means Nebraska will have a new look on offense as it transitions to its new league. Although the Huskers made two changes to their defensive staff, we know what to expect from the Pelini brothers on that side of the ball.
What does this mean for Nebraska's offense? Beck hasn't been a play-caller at the college level but served as Kansas' passing game coordinator during the Jayhawks' breakthrough season in 2007. He's a terrific recruiter and did an excellent job with the Huskers' running backs. Beck also has a strong bond with Pelini that should help them going forward.
It's safe to assume he'll stick with a spread system, but what type of spread? Will we see shades of Oregon's offense in Lincoln next fall? How will the system suit Taylor Martinez and the other quarterbacks?
To clear up any confusion, the spread can work in the Big Ten. We've seen it work at places like Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State. But Nebraska's execution must be sharp against what I believe will be a superior group of defenses than it saw in the Big 12.
I'm looking forward to talking with Beck about his vision.
It's hard to fault Nebraska for changing things up on offense. After a blistering start to 2010, the unit took a nosedive in mid-November and didn't produce nearly enough in losses to Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Washington.
So change isn't a bad thing. But Nebraska has to know who it is on offense. Spring practice will be huge for the Huskers to figure out their identity and who leads the charge this fall.
His son, Ben, snagged his first touchdown grab on his 24-yard strike from Zac Lee to boost the Cornhuskers' lead to 14-0 over Colorado.
Earlier, Niles Paul returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown to account for the other Nebraska touchdown.
But the biggest story has been Nebraska's defense. The Blackshirts have limited Colorado to no first downs and 0-for-4 on third-down conversions so far. The Buffaloes have produced 27 yards on their first 12 snaps -- an average of 2.3 yards per play.
It's time for the Buffaloes to bounce back quickly or this game could get away from them pretty quickly.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Bo Pelini's new contract received much of the buzz Monday as the Cornhuskers' second-year coach received a hike that will push his yearly contract to $1.851 million per season.
Lost in that fanfare was the 22.2 percent boost that Nebraska assistant coaches received in the new deal.
The highest-paid assistant will be offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who will receive a whopping 66.7 percent increase from last season. Watson's new yearly salary will be hiked to $375,000,according to figures obtained by the Lincoln Journal Star. It will make Watson the highest-paid assistant coach in Nebraska football history.
Here's a look at the salaries of Pelini's staff for the 2009 season.
Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson $375,000
Defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Carl Pelini $208,360
Running backs coach Tim Beck $208,360
Tight ends coach Ron Brown $208,360
Offensive line coach/associate head coach Barney Cotton $208,360
Wide receivers coach/assistant head coach Ted Gilmore $208,360
Secondary coach Marvin Sanders $208,360
Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler $150,000
Defensive ends coach John Papuchis $150,000
The collective package will pay Nebraska assistants a total of $1,925,160 -- the highest collective total ever paid to Nebraska assistant coaches. The school said the assistants' new salaries rank sixth among Big 12 teams.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Spring practice is blooming across the Big 12 this week with workouts beginning Monday at Baylor. There's unbridled excitement over the Bears following a 4-8 season that saw them lose three games by a touchdown or less.
The Bears' spring work will be dotted by fewer unanswered questions in Art Briles' second season directing the Bears, the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner writes. And the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price writes that the Bears have legitimate hopes to make their first bowl trip since the 1994 Alamo Bowl.
Ah, the enthusiasm of the start of spring practice. It's catching across the conference.
Here are a few other stories around the Big 12 that struck me as interesting this morning.
- Maybe it was the return of Mike Leach. Eric Boyd of the Texas Tech Daily Toreador reports that since the Red Raiders' coach signed his contract extension two weeks ago, ticket sales have jumped.
- With only one returning starter in the secondary, Oklahoma State's biggest defensive question will be finding production from a group of inexperienced players, the Oklahoman reports.
- A kinder, gentler Will Muschamp with fewer YouTube moments? Texas players say the fiery defensive coordinator is calmer and more in control as he starts his second season working with the Longhorns, according to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls.
- Nebraska redshirt freshman tight end Ben Cotton, son of Cornhuskers offensive line coach Barney Cotton, was ticketed in a campus incident for trespassing, minor consumption and disturbing the peace, the Omaha World-Herald's Jon Nyatawa reports.
- The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton writes that few realized the starpower that was on display at Floyd Casey Stadium last August 28 when Baylor and Wake Forest met.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
And people thought it was known just for its jazz history and barbecue.
Kansas City is undoubtedly the northern hub of the Big 12. It was always the center for the old Big Eight Conference and some of the locals still haven't forgotten the interlopers from Texas who pushed the Big 12's offices to Dallas when the conference opened.
But "The City of Fountains" is bigger than just a few fax machines and file cabinets. And it will be proved again today when Iowa State and Kansas State announce they are coming soon.
Multiple newspapers reported this morning that the Cyclones and Wildcats will move 2009 and 2010 games to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Sources told the Topeka Capital-Journal the two teamswill receive payments of at least $1.8 million per game. KSU nets about $1 million from a normal game in Manhattan, according to the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle.
Kansas City is on a roll attracting Big 12 events. Arrowhead Stadium will be the site for the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 6. The breathtaking new Sprint Center was the host for the Big 12's men's basketball championships in March and will be solidly in the rotation for future tournament events. And the venerable Municipal Auditorium, with its stately art-deco ambience, is the best arena around for the women's title.
It's surprising that more regular-season Big 12 games don't end up in facilities like Arrowhead Stadium. The Missouri-Kansas game last season was one of the most ballyhooed sports events I've ever seen and the atmosphere lived up to the hype.
That game was bigger than any Texas-Oklahoma game I had ever attended because it had significant championship ramifications penned solely on that game. Now if we could get those Kansas City engineers to figure out how to get traffic moving a little faster, the next time might be easier.
The Kansas City Chiefs' organization appears more than willing to shell out big guarantees for games that it feels will be successful. I'm surprised that Nebraska hasn't convinced an opponent to move a home game to Arrowhead for those kind of windfall profits after a successful game there in 1998 against Oklahoma State.
So don't be surprised to see more Big 12 events end up at "The Paris of the Plains" in the future.
Just save a few extra cinnamon rolls for me at the legendary Stroud's Restaurant when you get there.
Until then, here are some tasty Big 12 links. They are almost as habit-forming and not nearly as gooey on your fingers.
- Club Med in cleats? Colorado prepared for its opener against Colorado State earlier this week by playing dodge ball, having a diving/belly flop contest, a 3-point basketball shooting competition and playing video games at a Boulder-area restaurant. "I just really believe there is so much magic in the world and so much magic in people, and sometimes we let life trample that down," Colorado coach Dan Hawkins told the Boulder Daily Camera.
- Missouri TE Chase Coffman was back catching passes for the first time Wednesday as he recovers from a broken right pinkie finger. Coffman scored touchdowns on consecutive red-zone plays.
- After watching Usain Bolt perform in the Olympics, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach believes that Jamaica could be a recruiting and vacation paradise. (Tip to the Dallas Morning News)
- Heralded Nebraska WR prospect Khiry Cooper talks about his early practices in a video interview with huskers.com.
- The Oklahoman's Jake Trotter details how important Bob Stoops has been in turning the Oklahoma program solidly in the black financially. "We can tie everything back to Bob Stoops," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told the newspaper. "The success of our football program has been like the high tide in the harbor that has raised all of the boats."
- Billionaire financier T. Boone Pickens is pumping up support for Oklahoma State across Nebraska.
- The Tulsa World's Guerin Emig writes about Oklahoma backup QB Joey Halzle, who earned his teammates' respect with a strong relief performance last season against Texas Tech.
- The dog days of training camp brought a water balloon fight to Texas A&M on Wednesday. "Humor is one of the greatest components of having great chemistry when you can laugh at things together," A&M coach Mike Sherman told the Bryan-College Station Eagle.
- Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger expanded on his comments about his team's opener with Texas with the San Antonio Express-News' Natalie England. "I was trying to explain to the kids on campus here that the University of Texas has a long tradition of winning," Schnellenberger said. "They have such great players. There's no way we're going to match up with as good as players as they have, but we're coming down there to try and win the game."
- Massive 305-pound T Rylan Reed is back healthy for Texas Tech after suffering a serious ankle injury in last year's Gator Bowl.
- Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley are set as Texas' top receivers. But after that the Longhorns' receiving rotation is a jumble, Austin American-Statesman's Alan Trubow reports.
- Colorado and Colorado State appear to have different ideas where they want future games in the series to be played, according to B.G. Brooks of the Rocky Mountain News. The Buffaloes want games played at Boulder to provide a six-game home package of games, starting next season. The Rams are interested in continuing the series in Denver.
- WR Howard Morrow's return from an injury could settle one of Texas A&M's biggest questions, San Antonio Express-News reporter Brent Zwerneman writes.
- Brent Nickerson and LaRon Moore are emerging as likely replacements for injured starting Texas Tech CB L.A. Reed, whose condition remains undetermined.
- Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton told the Lincoln Journal-Star he's energized after spending last season as a volunteer assistant coach at Ames (Iowa) High School. "As hard as it was getting fired," said Cotton, who previously was an offensive coordinator three years at Iowa State, "it was also a blessing in disguise, because it kind of gave me a chance to re-energize myself and refocus on why I was a coach."
- Nebraska QB Joe Ganz tells the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel that he grew up in suburban Chicago wanting to be Tommie Frazier.
- NFL scouts are telling Kansas State coach Ron Prince that QB Josh Freeman could be the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. "That's what NFL people tell me," Prince told the Manhattan Mercury.
- Iowa State freshman DE Cleyon Laing, a Canadian native, is adjusting to American football before the new culture. "I haven't really had time to get culture shock yet," Laing told the Ames Daily Tribune. "It's just practice, sleep, meetings, sleep, and repeat. It's football 24/7."
- Baylor coach Art Briles is intent on boosting production from a running game that ranked 113th nationally last season and last in the nation in 2006.
- Heralded freshman TB back Darrell Scott sprained his left thumb at Colorado's morning practice, but returned for the Buffaloes' afternoon work.
- Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan predicts that Kansas still will have a productive running game this season, despite the loss of two starting offensive tackles and leading rusher Brandon McAnderson.
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel expects his younger players will receive most of the snaps Thursday at his team's final training-camp scrimmage.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
New Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's attitude is all about swagger. But it's hard to build that kind of confidence playing some of the weak sisters that will dot his future nonconference schedules.
It seems that Pelini isn't exactly excited about the schedule he inherited from former athletic director Steve Pederson and former coach Bill Callahan.
Nebraska assistant athletic director for football Jeff Jamrog told the Omaha World-Herald that he's actively seeking upcoming games -- and only against Division I opponents.
The Cornhuskers will be playing Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State next season, and Western Kentucky, Idaho and Football Championship Subdivision power South Dakota State in 2010.
"It looks like they wanted to schedule a bunch of wins," Jamrog said. "We can't do anything about it. We can't do anything about the guarantees that were set, unless you want to cancel the contracts. But we aren't interested in doing that."
Pelini is in favor of taking on all comers in the future.
"That's what the fans want to see," Pelini said. "That's the shame of the BCS. Fans aren't seeing the games they used to see in September. We want to play those games. I don't want to shy away from anyone."
Assuredly, this is very refreshing attitude for a new football coaching staff to have. But something tells me that Pelini will prefer his schedule of Western Michigan, New Mexico State and San Jose State this season before facing Virginia Tech than if he had switched to a tougher one.
Hope that Pelini is up to the challenge of tackling a few morning links, too.
- Versatile WR Quan Cosby has had to argue to convince Texas coach Mack Brown to use him as a punt returner in the past. But his role looks assured heading into this season.
- Converted QB Jeremy Sanders has thrived at his new position at RB, Waco Tribune-Herald reporter John Werner writes.
- Colorado LB Jon Major, one of the top two in-state recruits for Colorado last season, has been lost for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
- One of the real treats of covering the Big 12 each week is Kansas City Star beat writer Mike DeArmond's priceless Vlog from Missouri's camp. But how come I always think of "Sex, Lies and Videotape" when I watch his sometimes brutal weekly assessments of the Tigers?
- Kansas State DE Ian Campbell is back at his original position after an abortive stab at linebacker last season. I wonder what took KSU coaches so long to move him back, comparing his performance last season to the previous one.
- Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell showed quick dexterity with the new clock rules, running a no-huddle offense during all of his snaps in the Red Raiders' first scrimmage. Harrell needed only 14 plays to produce three 60-yard scoring drives, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
- Converted RB Cody Glenn is getting a few extra tips in his conversion to linebacker from a long-lost relative, legendary former Nebraska LB Broderick "The Sandman" Thomas.
- Joe Kines, a 64-year-old coaching veteran with 40 years of experience, is facing an ultimate challenge of trying to resuscitate Texas A&M's "Wrecking Crew" defense, Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News reports.
- It seems Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is a big fan of the Olympics. "All of them, I like watching all of it," Stoops told the Oklahoman. "What's so neat about it is you get that one moment to be at your best. That's what I love about boxing as well. You get that one shot. And if you happen to have over-trained, or you don't hit it just right..." Sounds a bit like playing in a bowl game, doesn't it?
- Oklahoma State WR Jeremy Broadway appears to be making the most of his last chance with the Cowboys after his suspension last November.
- Tulsa World reporter John Hoover wonders if Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias is the most underappreciated player in the Sooners' football history. Hoover's statistics make a good case.
- Veteran Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton told Lincoln Journal-Star that his current group might be the deepest in talent he's ever coached.
- Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News profiles Oklahoma's defense. Buried deep in the story is the quote of the day from Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who isn't exactly enthusiastic about the development of his young linebacking corps. I'm not ready to puke yet," Venables said.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler said Kansas' rapid ascension last year is providing hope to Oklahoma State players. "After what Kansas did last year, everybody realizes just how close the Big 12 [race] is and no games are given to you anymore," Oklahoma LB/S Andre Sexton said. "We're pretty much in the same situation now as they [the Jayhawks] were in last season."
- Construction-worker-turned OLB Mike Balogun has been thrust into the mix as Oklahoma scrambles for a replacement for injured Austin Box.
- If new Troy WR Josh Jarboe is declared immediately eligible at Troy, he still might play in the state of Oklahoma this season. The Trojans will face Oklahoma State Sept. 27 in Stillwater.
- Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the battle to replace Tony Temple in the Missouri backfield. Sophomore Derrick Washington from the strangely-named hometown of Peculiar, Mo., appears to have nailed down the starting job -- mainly because of his receiving skills. "
- 5-foot-6 freshman RB Rodney Stewart is t
urning heads at Colorado's practice -- despite his diminutive size and the presence of heralded RB Darrell Scott in the Buffaloes' camp. And along with fellow freshman Ray Polk, all apparently will receive playing time this season.