The Big Ten has seen some coaching turnover in recent years with a number of teams hiring a new head coach in the past 18 months. With so many coaches being recently hired they are generally less likely to be fired whilst they try to bring about improvements to their respective teams. But there are still a few Big Ten head coaches in the conference who need a strong campaign in 2016:
Big Ten Head Coaches on the Hot Seat
James Franklin (Penn State)
With the aftermath of the NCAA sanctions all but over, there is no excuse for the Penn State Nittany Lions to improve and start to challenge for a ten win season. Last year’s schedule setup perfectly as they missed Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa from the West division but they could only manage seven wins in total.
The offense last year was a complete disaster which wasted arguably one of the best defenses in the country. It’s crucial that James Franklin puts together a stronger campaign in 2016 and he has made changes to his coaching staff to hopefully improve the woeful offense. At some point the Nittany Lions need to be challenging the elite programs in their division.
Darrell Hazell (Purdue)
To the surprise of many, Darrell Hazell survived last year’s two win season to coach another year at Purdue. Barring a surprise victory over Nebraska at home they struggled to really compete against the rest of the conference. Only a road game at Michigan State saw them truly run another opponent that close in defeat.
An opening home game against Eastern Kentucky should give them a win to start the season whilst home games with Cincinnati and Nevada are games they could conceivably win. Realistically Hazell needs to find at least three or four wins to keep this job and some of those wins need to be in conference play. No coach can survive for long by winning just one conference game per season, even at Purdue.
Mike Riley (Nebraska)
All the signs point to a big improvement from Nebraska in 2016. They seemed to find new and bizarre ways to lose games last season which shockingly left them 5-7 in the regular season. Their season could be summed up by a ten point loss at Purdue followed by a one point victory over Michigan State. They were capable of being incredibly poor and immensely impressive from week to week. But the metrics believe they deserved more wins than they actually got last year.
The schedule helps them out in 2016 but the Cornhusker fan base will be expecting them to return to a nine or ten win season. If they were to lose games like Indiana on the road and Minnesota at home on their way to another five or six win campaign then the short Mike Riley tenure in Lincoln could be over.