But What About The Other Guys?

No, not the other candidates. Bdowd did that yesterday. I mean the other guys in the conference (and soon to be in the conference, and not in the conference even after hell freezes over), another set we can use as measuring sticks for Hazell. After all, things suck right now in West Lafayette, but it's not as though the conference is full of rainbows and unicorns. (I believe Delany banned rainbows from all Big Ten stadiums unless they appeared in conference-approved colors.)

Don't believe me? Let's take a look ...

The Big Tenteen Plus One
School and coach Grade Explanation
Illinois - Tim Beckman (second year) D- Beckman took over an unimpressive team from Ron Zook and immediately made it even less impressive, beating just one I-A school last season (Western Michigan) and only two so far this season (Cincinnati and Miami). The remaining schedule is favorable, with OSU the only bump in a relatively smooth road, but the Illini looked poor in their first three conference games, and a repeat of that performance against Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern could seal Beckman's fate.
Indiana - Kevin Wilson (third year) C+ Wilson took over a program that had a .500 team just once in 16 seasons and completely rebuilt the offense, turning it into a high-speed machine that's one of the best in the country. Although Indiana bottomed out in Wilson's first season (sound familiar?), they've shown reasonable improvement the last two. Still, Wilson has just one notable victory, over Penn State this season. Hoosier alumni have to be pleased with the offensive improvement, but if Wilson can't improve the defense soon, the natives may grow restless.
Iowa - Kirk Ferentz (fifteenth year) C- The Hawkeyes looked like they were trying to get Ferentz to retire last season, missing a bowl game for only the fourth time in his tenure (the first two times were his first two seasons). Iowa has ten bowl appearances under Ferentz, but only two BCS bowls, neither of which were the Rose, and the last was four years ago. Ferentz has earned quite a bit of leeway with the AD and the fans, and that season-opening loss to Northern Illinois doesn't look nearly as bad now, but that coupled with losses to OSU and Wisconsin are separating Iowa from the contenders, and the longer it takes Ferentz to challenge for the conference title again, the louder the grumbling will get.
Maryland - Randy Edsall (third year) D- Edsall left Connecticut for a Maryland program that was beginning to bother the top teams in the ACC, a move that looked even better once the announcement of Big Ten expansion came, but questions about the hiring of a mediocre Big East coach grew louder as Edsall won just six games in his first two seasons combined. The Terps pasted West Virginia in one of those ridiculous mostly-neutral-NFL-stadium games, but the Mountaineers aren't all that this season, and aside from that, Maryland's wins are over a terrible FIU team, a terrible Connecticut team (hmm), I-AA Old Dominion, and a bad Virginia team. The 63-0 thumping by Florida State didn't help, and after sound losses to Wake Forest and Clemson, Maryland alumni may begin pressuring Kevin Anderson to make a change. Edsall may not be around to coach Maryland's first game as a Big Ten member in 2014.
Michigan - Brady Hoke (third year) C- Hoke's first season in Michigan was a best-case scenario, as he pasted together enough bits of the trainwreck Rich Rodriguez created to go 11-2 and record a Sugar Bowl win, Michigan's first BCS bowl win since the 1999 season. In the following season, the Wolverines lost a disappointing game to a reasonable South Carolina team, and this year, Michigan seems unlikely to get a bid better than that one. Combine that with the lack of consistent wins over rivals (although obviously Notre Dame will be off the schedule anyway) and the elevated expectations in Ann Arbor, and you get the possibility of a disappointing 10-3 season. If Michigan falls to Nebraska or Iowa as well, or maybe in their bowl game, Hoke might actually be in a must-win scenario in 2014, and of course "win" at those schools means "win the Big Ten".
Michigan State - Mark Dantonio (seventh year) A Dantonio, like every MSU coach since George Perles, has failed to take Sparty to a BCS bowl, but he's had MSU playing postseason ball for seven straight seasons (I think it's safe to count 2013), and equally as important, he's been able to defeat in-state rival Michigan on a regular basis like few coaches before him have. (It's not just the Rodriguez years, either: Dantonio is 2-1 against Hoke.) 2012 was a bit shaky, but this season, the defense has stepped up to cover for what was initially a surprisingly bad offense. If Pat Narduzzi leaves after this season - his stock may never be higher - then the defense could drop off a bit, but then a few seasons ago, the defense was the problem. Dantonio is one of the few coaches in the group who is perfectly safe.
Minnesota - Jerry Kill (third year) A The third-best overall record in the conference doesn't belong to Michigan or Wisconsin or Penn State or Nebraska, but to Minnesota. Sure, it's a soft schedule, but the Gophers aren't about to apologize for missing Ohio State (after all, they don't play Purdue either). Kill has done a fine job getting the Gophers back into Mason territory despite seizures that are making him unavailable on game days with increasing regularity. He has the full support of the athletic department, even without considering the team's record. Hopefully his health will allow him to continue coaching; if so, he'll probably have quite a cushion before the AD thinks about a replacement.
Nebraska - Bo Pelini (sixth year) C The vaunted Cornhusker defense is as bad as it has been in ages; combine that with Pelini's inability to lose fewer than four games, and the fans in Lincoln can be forgiven for wondering if this is the best they'll get. Nebraska's 6-2 record is as puffy as it gets, with Illinois, Purdue, and Northwestern providing the lone conference wins for NU. Both Michigan State and Penn State should beat Nebraska, and if Michigan and/or Iowa do the same, Pelini may be on the hot seat in 2014 whether or not they win the mediocre bowl they'd have earned.
Northwestern - Pat Fitzgerald (eighth year) B Almost half of the bowls in Northwestern history have come under Fitzgerald, so it would take a bit to get him unseated, but until last season's 10-3 record, people could be forgiven for wondering if maybe he'd already peaked with the 2008 squad that went 9-4. The Gator Bowl win was the Wildcats' first in 64 years, so that bought him quite a bit more time, but an 0-5 Big Ten start in 2013 might diminish that somewhat. A win over Michigan or Illinois would help, but even 0-8 in the conference will be forgiven, once. 2014 will need to be better.
Notre Dame - Brian Kelly (fourth year) A- The Purple-Faced Man doesn't need a decided schematic advantage to win; of course, he's not winning big bowl games, yet, so the fan base is grumbling a bit, and the last game against Michigan for a while was a loss, so more grumbling, but as long as Kelly gets the Irish to a bowl game they don't deserve, he'll continue to get a thumbs-up from the rabid fan base. If the ACC part of the schedule proves to be tough (lol), or if ND slips to second-tier bowls, that A- could turn into a D- quickly.
Ohio State - Urban Meyer (second year) A+ Probably should wait until the dude actually loses a game to discuss his job security.
Penn State - Bill O'Brien (second year) A The zealots who think Penn State should have kept fighting the sanctions will also believe, until they are gone (which, the sanctions or the zealots? either), that O'Brien has his hands tied, etc. etc., so games like the whipping in Bloomington won't count against him. At some point, though, he'll be expected to contend for the conference title, and at that point, they'll start grading his performance again.
Purdue - Darrell Hazell (first year) D- A provisional grade; a second-year turnaround will improve this significantly. Rebuilding pains are understandable, but a drop this significant must bring change. I'd be shocked if Shoop is around in 2014, and not at all surprised if other assistants change. Some part of the current situation is on Hope, just as the beginning of Hope's tenure was partly on Tiller, but if you hire a guy to fix things, then if they don't get fixed, it's not really about the guy who broke them.
Rutgers - Kyle Flood (second year) B Flood gets bonus points because a) he's either not a gigantic you-know-what like the guy he replaced or he hides it much better and b) the no-longer-Big-East is finally the minor conference we all knew it's been the last several years, so even a weaker performance will go mostly unnoticed. The Scarlet Knights' last season before joining the Big Tenteen is going to be a winning season; with weaker Cincinnati, awful UConn, and almost-as-bad South Florida left, Rutgers won't win the American Athletic, but they'll get a nice bowl bid, and then Flood will truly be tested when Connecticut and Temple are replaced by Michigan State and Ohio State.
Wisconsin - Gary Andersen (first year) A- Also a provisional grade, but likely to stick. Speaking of replacing a you-know-what, Andersen hasn't missed a step from his 11-2 season at Utah State, and the Badgers look about as strong as they were under roundly-disliked Bret Bielema. Take away the questionable loss to Arizona State, and the Badgers have just a seven-point loss in Columbus ... not bad for a first-year coach. With BYU (??), Indiana, and Penn State at home, and the Gophers on the road, Wisconsin should be 10-2 and angling for a BCS spot, and if they win that bowl, Andersen will be as secure as a first-year coach can be.

 

Boilers Put On Exhibition in Exhibition, Win 91-58

Other candidate update (keep your head up!)

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