Big Ten Football: Power Ranking Every Coach by Job Security

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2013

Big Ten Football: Power Ranking Every Coach by Job Security

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    Much of the talk during the offseason in college football revolves around the job security of head coaches. It's no different in the Big Ten, as all 12 coaches in the conference range the spectrum from being firmly secure in their jobs, to on the hot seat. 

    Coaches such as Tim Beckman at Illinois and Kirk Ferentz at Iowa are facing must-win seasons in 2013 after tough outings in 2012. 

    On the flipside, guys like Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Bill O'Brien at Penn State control their own destinies after experiencing a high level of success in their first years. 

    As the 2013 season is just a few months away, here's the ranking of each Big Ten coach's job security heading into the year. 

12. Tim Beckman, Illinois

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    After turning the program at Toledo around in three years, the Illinois Fighting Illini pegged Tim Beckman to replace Ron Zook as their head coach last year. 

    In 2011 under Zook, the Fighting Illini started 6-0 but then ended the season 6-6, the first team in FBS history to do so. That led to Zook's firing and Beckman taking the job. 

    However, Illinois took a huge step back in 2012 in Beckman's first year with a 2-10 overall record that included an 0-8 mark in Big Ten play. Now, Beckman is facing a must-win season to possibly save his job in Champagne. 

    According to Scott Powers of ESPN back in December, Beckman wasn't worried about his job security after the shaky first season, and Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas voiced his support for Beckman. 

    In response to the 2-10 season, according to Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune, Beckman overhauled his staff, which included a new offensive coordinator. 

    It seems like Beckman is taking the right steps to bring the Fighting Illini back to relevance in 2013. But if he's unsuccessful for a second straight year, his ouster may soon follow. 

11. Jerry Kill, Minnesota

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    While Jerry Kill improved the Minnesota Golden Gophers' record from 3-9 to 6-7 from 2011 to 2012, he still finished just 2-6 in the Big Ten both those years. 

    Kill also struggles with epilepsy, according to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press, which has caused him to miss parts of two games. 

    So with the team struggling in conference play and with added health issues, Kill may not be as secure in Minnesota as he might feel. 

    At a recent speaking engagement, Kill said that he was pleased with the direction of the program. But if he can't find a way to improve his school's record in the conference and get to a bowl on a higher level than the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, then the Golden Gophers could be looking for a new head football coach. 

10. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

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    Kevin Wilson's first head coaching job in college football hasn't gone as planned. 

    In just two years at the helm of the Indiana Hoosiers, Wilson has compiled a measly 5-19 record. Last season, the Hoosiers went 4-8 overall. 

    While the Hoosiers aren't known for having a storied football program, Wilson still wants to bring success to Indiana. According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, Wilson says that one of the biggest negative aspects of the program has been the lack of interest. 

    "It makes mad when I walk in the bookstore and I see the shirt that says, 'We've never lost a tailgate,'" Wilson said. "I've actually bought a bunch, took them home and I started my fires with those. You can laugh, but it's embarrassing to me that you guys like the fact that we don't lose tailgates because I don't like the fact that when we lose that football game and it's a different environment than in other sports."

    While Wilson may have the fiery attitude of a coach on the rise, his record doesn't show it. If the Hoosiers don't improve in 2013, he could get the boot. 

9. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin

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    While Gary Andersen has yet to coach a game for the Wisconsin Badgers, he'll be on a short leash his first season in Madison. 

    The Badgers were shocked when former head coach Bret Bielema left Wisconsin to take the Arkansas head coaching job. They replaced the coach that led the team to three straight Rose Bowls with Andersen. 

    The Badgers are used to success in the Big Ten. In Bielema's tenure, Wisconsin won at least 10 games four times. If Andersen does not deliver a similar level of success in his first year, he could be booted in order to prevent the program from hitting a slide. 

    Andersen had a tremendous year in 2012, going 11-2 as the head coach of the Utah State Aggies. However, the Big Ten is a different animal. If he's not successful in his first year, he could get the hook. 

8. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

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    In just two years, Darrell Hazell has turned the Kent State Golden Eagles into a contender. In 2012, the team won 11 games, went 8-0 in the MAC and went to the Bowl. 

    Now he'll be asked to revitalize the Purdue Boilermakers, a team that's only had one winning season since 2007. 

    The Boilermakers only gave Danny Hope, the team's head coach last season, four years. After losing in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year and finishing 6-7 overall, Purdue gave him the boot. 

    Fans of Purdue are looking for the team to return to the days of head coach Joe Tiller, who took the team to eight consecutive bowl games from 1997-2004. 

    If Hazell doesn't produce early for the Boilermakers, he could be ousted after just one season. 

7. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

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    Last season's 4-8 record for the Iowa Hawkeyes was the worst year under Kirk Ferentz since 2000, Ferentz's second year at the helm. 

    That 4-8 mark included a 2-6 record in the Big Ten and the program's second-straight loss to in-state rival Iowa State. 

    So just three seasons removed from an appearance in the Orange Bowl, Ferentz is in the midst of a slump. However, his job security is almost unfairly safe at this point because of his massive 10-year contract he signed in 2009. 

    According to, if Iowa bought Ferentz out of his contract in order to replace him, it would have to pay him 75 percent of his remaining contract paid monthly until his contract runs out. 

    That equates to $240,000 monthly until 2020. 

    So unless Iowa wants to pay a massive sum of money or find a way to fire Ferentz for cause, then the Hawkeyes are probably stuck with him for a few more years. 

6. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

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    Pat Fitzgerald, who was tasked with replacing Randy Walker after his sudden death of a heart attack in 2006, has done a tremendous job of turning the Northwestern Wildcats into a contender in the Big Ten. 

    In 2012, Fitzgerald had his best season with the Wildcats, going 10-3 during the season, including a win in the Gator Bowl and a 5-3 record in the Big Ten. 

    In a Sporting News story by Matt Hayes, it was revealed that the job at Northwestern, the same school that Fitzgerald was a linebacker at in the mid 1990s, is the coach's dream job, and that he's not interested in any other coaching gigs. 

    It appears that the job is Fitzgerald's to lose. He's certainly on the right path.

5. Bo Pelini, Nebraska

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    Bo Pelini has three bowl wins as the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Granted, one of those wins came when he was the interim head coach in 2003. 

    Nevertheless, Pelini has always brought the Cornhuskers to bowl eligibility since he took over the program permanently in 2007. In 2012, Nebraska won the Legends Division with a 7-1 record in conference play and finished 10-4 overall. 

    Pelini's overall record at Nebraska, including the one-game stint as the interim head coach, is 49-20. 

    Simply put, Pelini has done what's been asked of him by athletic director Tom Osbourne, and he's not likely to lose his job anytime soon. 

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

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    Mark Dantonio has become the brand at Michigan State. 

    In his six seasons at the helm of the Michigan State Spartans, Dantonio has accumulated a 51-28 overall record, a Big Ten title in 2010 and two bowl wins. 

    The Spartans took a bit of a slide last year, finishing the year 7-6 after winning 11 games the previous two years. However, Michigan State won the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to finish the year on a high note. 

    Dantonio will need to stop the slide to maintain his job security. But for now, his job is perfectly safe. He's done too much for the athletic department to become trigger-happy with him. 

3. Brady Hoke, Michigan

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    After the Michigan Wolverines fired Rich Rodriguez in 2011, the fans in Ann Arbor were left in a state of flux. 

    Brady Hoke quickly put out any qualms felt amongst the Woverine faithful by taking Michigan to the Sugar Bowl in his first year, where they beat Virginia Tech 23-20. 

    2012 was another good year for the Wolverines as they finished second in the Legends Division and went 8-5 overall. 

    If nothing else, Hoke calmed the waters for Michigan by returning the team to dominance. Now he'll face arguably his biggest test in 2013: Replacing Denard Robinson. 

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State

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    Bill O'Brien could have gone 0-fer last year and still kept his job. After the Penn State Nittany Lions program went through its darkest hour in 2011, they were just looking for a coach to usher in a new era. No matter what type of era it was. 

    The fact that O'Brien went 8-4 overall and was 6-2 in the Big Ten and kept Penn State amongst the group of elite college football teams in 2012 is nothing short of miraculous. 

    When the NCAA levied four-year sanctions against Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it triggered a clause in O'Brien's contract that extended it by the length of the sanctions. That means unless O'Brien bolts for another team or for the NFL, he'll be at Penn State for a long time.

    Many were worried that the unprecedented sanctions against the Nittany Lions would cripple the program. O'Brien proved that, at least for one year, he wouldn't let the adversity affect his team's play on the field. 

    If he can maintain the same level of success for the next three seasons, the Nittany Lions could be a contender for a Big Ten title once their sanctioned period ends. 

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

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    Nothing gives a coach better job security than an undefeated season. 

    That's what Urban Meyer delivered to Columbus in his first season as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

    Not only did Meyer lead the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 record in 2012, but he changed the national mindset of the program. 

    When Jim Tressel was ushered out because the program had run amuck, the Buckeyes were vilified. However, after Meyer's first season, the opinions changed and everybody began to wonder why an undefeated team couldn't play for a national title or a conference title. 

    Now the sanctions are over at Ohio State, and Meyer will have his first chance to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and possibly a berth to the national title game. 

    Meyer's tenure at Florida ended on his terms. Expect his run at Ohio State to end the same way, however far that may be down the road.