Three B1G coordinator hires that will shape the conference
By Bart D.
Coaching hires are always combed over with a jagged, black plastic comb you find in a parking lot that’s been run over 15 times. But coordinator hires barely register a blip other than on message boards where the die hards converse because it’s either that or do household chores. And Lord knows we aren’t wanting any of those. With that in mind, the B1G title could depend not on head coaching hires this year … but rather those charged with making the head coaches look good. The three biggest coordinator hires, ranked in terms of my own personal importance, because I’m writing it.
1. Doug Nussmeier, offensive coordinator, Michigan: The Wolverines went into their game against Michigan State ranked 8th in the nation in total offense. That was halfway through the season. By the time it was over, they were 86th in the nation. That’s a remarkable change of pathetic right there. Nussmeier is known as a tireless recruiter (something Al Borges was criticized for not doing much of) and is a “name” hire that makes recruits turn their heads. He’s shown he can do it in both the Pac 12 and the SEC … the two best conferences in the nation currently. Given a stable of high-level OL recruits, Derrick Green, and Devin Gardner, big things will be expected of him in Ann Arbor. Michigan is less predictable play-calling from being a conference-title-contending outfit, and this is a “go for broke” hire. Or go for Hoke, if you like bad puns.
2. Chris Ash, co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State: Into the first week of December, Ohio State had a clear path to the national title. Then Michigan State happened. Then Clemson happened. What was exposed was a hideously bad defense that was inexplicably bad. Ash comes with accolades from Arkansas by way of Wisconsin after Everett Winters bolted to take the James Madison head coaching job. Ohio State was a miserable 112th in the nation in pass defense. In Ash’s last year at Wisconsin, the Badgers were 4th in the nation in said category. OSU is banking on that type of coaching and those results. Things could get scary if they get it, but it’ll be an interesting dynamic to see how he and Luke Fickell exist together. Ash’s hiring and title is a bit of an indictment on how Fickell did his job this past season.
3. Brian Knorr, defensive coordinator, Indiana: Breaking News: Indiana’s defense is terrible and has been since Kevin Wilson was first hired. IU’s defense has finished sub-100 every year since Wilson’s hire, and as much as IU seems to stack the schedule with home games, they probably need to be making bowl games sometime soon. Wilson has been as advertised on offense and the recruits are noticing, but the defense has got to be better. Athletic director Fred Glass has professed his desire to stabilize the program from coaching upheaval with Wilson and not continue the revolving door of coaches there, but at some point, the wins need to support that decision. This is a huge year for Wilson, because IU has improved technically every year he’s been there. The next step is a bowl game, and it is on an improved defense to get to that point. Good luck, Knorr.