'C' change: Looking at the Big Ten coordinator turnover

Among the new coordinators entering the Big Ten next season will be former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, who will lead Ohio State's defense. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The Big Ten head coaching carousel never got as wild as we thought it might. Four schools had openings, but two (Illinois and Minnesota) wound up hiring their interim head coaches.

That doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot of change in the league's headset set. The real volatility has come at the coordinator level.

By the latest count, there are 14 new coordinators in the Big Ten for 2016. That is half the coordinator jobs in the conference. And that number still could fluctuate between now and the start of the season, or even next week (Will Tennessee make a major play for Penn State's Bob Shoop?).

Some of the turnover became necessary as coordinators moved up within the league. Illinois' Bill Cubit and Minnesota's Tracy Claeys were each promoted to head coach. A pair of defensive coordinators were hired as head coaches by the two newest teams in the conference: Chris Ash (formerly of Ohio State) by Rutgers and D.J. Durkin (formerly of Michigan) by Maryland.

Only four Big Ten teams -- Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern -- have avoided any coordinator change. At least so far.

Here is a rundown of the changes throughout the league, along with some thoughts on the moves:


Cubit reshaped his staff after getting the full-time job, promoting Mike Phair to defensive coordinator and Cubit's son, Ryan, to offensive coordinator. This isn't too big of a change, as Phair was already officially the co-defensive coordinator last season along with Tim Banks, and the elder Cubit intends to keep calling plays on offense.


Durkin hired former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer as his defensive coordinator and Walt Bell to run the offense. These both look like smart hires. Shafer brings a wealth of experience, and along with Durkin's own defensive acumen, the Terps should have serious brainpower on the defensive side. The 31-year-old Bell is an up-and-comer who oversaw a dynamic attack at Arkansas State.


After Durkin left for Maryland, Jim Harbaugh replaced him with Boston College's Don Brown. It's good to be Michigan. The Wolverines simply replaced one defensive whiz with another, as Brown's BC defense led the nation in yards allowed in 2015.


Claeys hired Jay Johnson from Louisiana-Lafayette as his offensive coordinator and still must finalize a defensive coordinator. It was a mild surprise that Claeys parted ways with longtime colleague Matt Limegrover, but the Golden Gophers' offense had become a problem. Johnson is a Minnesota native who should bring some fresh ideas to the program. Jay Sawvel is expected to be the defensive coordinator, and he worked wonders with the team's secondary the past few years.

Ohio State

Former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano replaced Ash as defensive coordinator. Urban Meyer can recruit a little. Getting someone of Schiano's caliber to run the defense is a coup, and he should help recruiting efforts as well.

Penn State

James Franklin hired Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead to replace John Donovan as offensive coordinator. Anyone who has watched Penn State's offense even a little bit lately knew something had to change. Moorhead has a strong track record and could bring an up-tempo scheme to State College. Things will no doubt look different in the post-Christian Hackenberg era.


Under pressure to turn things around, Darrell Hazell reworked his staff, promoting Terry Malone from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator and hiring Ross Els as defensive coordinator. If things improve, great. If not, the Boilermakers will have to fight the perception that they failed to spend money and make a big impact with these hires -- Els was out of college coaching last season after losing his job at Nebraska when Bo Pelini was fired. The clock is ticking in West Lafayette.


Ash hired Drew Mehringer (offense) and Jay Niemann (defense) as coordinators on his inaugural staff. Both are interesting in their own ways. Niemann was the defensive coordinator at Drake when Ash played there, so the student has become the teacher. Though Ash went with experience on defense, he boldly went young with his offensive hire. Mehringer is just 28, but he is a protégé of Tom Herman.


Arguably no program took a bigger hit on the coordinator level than the Badgers, who lost defensive whiz Dave Aranda to LSU. Athletic director Barry Alvarez wasn't interested in matching the $1.3 million salary the Tigers gave Aranda. So Wisconsin is once again in the market for an important football coaching position.