Which Big Ten Football Coaches Are on the Hot Seat?

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor INovember 25, 2013

To say the Big Ten season hasn't played out the way many pundits and prognosticators thought it was going to would be an understatement. 

Ohio State and Wisconsin have lived up to expectations, but outside of that there have been many surprises in the Big Ten in 2013—some of them good and some of them bad. With a strange season on the brink of ending, it also means some coaches are sitting squarely on the hot seat. 

With one week left, who is on the hot seat in the Big Ten? Let's explore the names that should be nervous come Saturday night and Sunday morning. 


Tim Beckman, Illinois

Beckman may have won himself a Big Ten game for the first time just this past weekend, but he is one of a few coaches in the Big Ten that should be worried about his job. 

The Illini fan base don't have all that much faith in Beckman at this point. Two years in and the fans aren't buying in? That's a major issue. 

So too is not having any defense to speak of for the second straight year. 

Illinois currently ranks 10th in scoring defense (35.3 points per game), 11th in total defense (474.4 yards per game), 11th in rushing defense (247 yards per game) and seventh in pass defense (227.4 yards per game). 

Those numbers aren't good at all, but they are even worse when you consider where the defense was in year one. 

The Illini gave up 32.5 points a game, 387.6 total yards a game, 193.9 yards a game rushing and 193.7 yards a game passing. All of those numbers are significantly better than what this defense is doing this year. 

Is youth to blame for part of the drop-off? There is no denying that, but the group hasn't shown improvement from Week 1 to Week 13, they've pretty much stunk from start to finish. 

No doubt that things are looking up on the offensive side of the ball with Bill Cubit as the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks the Illini have for the future in Aaron Bailey and transfer, Wes Lunt. 

However, an apathetic fan base and a lack of any real jump in performance by the team as a whole has to be concerning to athletic director Mike Thomas. 

Yes, Thomas was the one to hire Beckman and admitting a mistake can be costly to an athletic director's career. However, admitting that mistake and finding the exact right hire can really change things for an AD—just ask Jamie Pollard at Iowa State what that's like. 

Prediction: Stays, but will need a bowl game next season to keep job after that.


Bo Pelini, Nebraska

There are a ton of factors at play in whether or not Pelini keeps his job as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Pelini faces the prospect of another nine win season, a new athletic director in Shawn Eichorst and a fan base that is continuously growing restless with a lack of championships. 

Has Pelini been consistent? He sure has, never winning fewer than nine games in his tenure as the head coach of the Huskers. Pelini has also failed to win anything more than a division championship in his six seasons at the helm. 

For a fan base that saw its teams dominate the mid-90's and win five national championships since 1970, this drought of not winning a conference title since 1999 weighs heavily. 

Then there is the off-field incident of a recording of Pelini talking bad about the fan base. Doing that isn't wise and he was lucky to have not been fired on the spot for those comments. 

Pelini also has had a hard time winning big games, going just 7-13 in 20 games against ranked opponents during his time at Nebraska. 

The Huskers aren't a bad team, but they aren't great either and that's the problem. Over Pelini's tenure the team has simply been good. He has never had a team finish with fewer than four loses on the year. 

When you talk about Tom Osborne, Bob Devaney, Frank Solich and Bo Pelini, Pelini's record doesn't even come close to stacking up to the others. 

Will Eichorst give Pelini another year? It remains to be seen, but if the new AD wants to make a move in the football program, this would be the year to do it.

Prediction: Fired/Resigns


Brady Hoke, Michigan

2013 has been nothing short of a disaster for the Wolverines. Instead of showing his program is on the rise, Brady Hoke has led a team that looks to be in decline more than getting better. 

Early season struggles in the run game have turned into major issues in Big Ten play and even led to two straight games with negative rushing totals. 

Just how bad is it? Michigan is averaging less than 100 yards a game (91.4 to be exact) rushing in Big Ten play, which ranks 11th in the conference.

That's not Michigan football and that's not what the new pro-style offense was supposed to deliver at all. 

In fact, the Wolverines, with a loss in "The Game" this weekend against Ohio State, will finish the season with a losing record in Big Ten play. 

Maybe had Wisconsin and Ohio State both been on the schedule as cross-division games one could see a reason why, but it was Penn State and not the Badgers on the slate. 

Michigan should've been able to handle a mediocre Penn State. 

However, it isn't just about this season. Expectations were high from the get-go thanks to 11 wins and a Sugar Bowl win in Hoke's first year on campus. 

Those expectations only continued to grow as Hoke brought in back-to-back Top 10 national recruiting classes. 

However, on the field the teams have produced an 8-5 record in 2012 and are currently at 8-3 this season too. 

It shouldn't be that shocking when you look at Hoke's history as a head coach. Only once, in 2008, did a Hoke-led team win double-digit games. Outside of that 12-1 season at Ball State in 2008, Hoke was a combined 35-49 as a head coach. 

Will firing an assistant be enough or has Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon seen enough? Only Brandon knows the answer to that question, but Hoke's mediocre past as a head coach tells us this isn't a fluke.

Prediction: Fires Borges, given another year. If he doesn't fire Borges, he should be gone.


*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycopens. 


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