Coaches Behind the Coaches: A Look at Big-10 Assistant Coaches

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Kirk Ferentz

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Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Each season, various coaches around the country are featured in top lists as prospects for future head coaching positions around the country. Often times, these ambitious individuals are in search of a program to call their own … programs that they can mold and have pride in and establish a winning environment their way. Head coaches have to get their start somewhere, often times they climb the ranks from player to graduate assistant to recruiter to assistant coach etc. All the way up the ladder, coaches are stockpiling techniques from other coaches. They are building their playbooks and essentially writing their philosophy for winning.

Not every coach has the same lofty goals. Some are driven by an undying thirst for attention and prestige. Some coaches are driven to break records. Other coaches will not be satisfied with a head coaching job at a prestigious University they are instead have aspirations set on the professional ranks. Still other coaches are driven by school pride and would never coach anywhere than their Alma Mater or the school that gave them their first coaching opportunity. There are other coaches who are driven by the pure desire to compete, the intensity of the game is a hunger that can never be satisfied for these men. Other coaches are driven by the desire to help mold and develop the young men and women into productive members of society. These special coaches are very special people. They may be head coaches but often times they are lifelong assistant coaches. The assistant coach is a person on the team who is often overlooked unless they are being discussed for a future head coaching position. The fact of the matter is that any quality Head Coach will pass credit on to their assistant coaches as often as possible. Here is a look at some of the top assistant coaches around the Big 10.

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Nebraska Ron Brown Running Backs Coach

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Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Brown has been an Assistant Coach at Nebraska for 23 years. He is a man who has been considered for Head Coaching opportunities in the past. Brown’s passion for the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Football team is surpassed only by his passion for the FCA the fellowship of Christian Athletes a program that Brown has been deeply involved in for a long time.

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Illinois Mike Bellamy Wide Receivers Coach

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Bellamy is in his second season with his Alma Mater, the Fighting Illini. The fighting Illini are hopeful that Bellamy will bring with him his NFL experience as well as a passion for the program. Bellamy was an All American Kick Returner and an All Big 10 Wide Receiver in his playing days.

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Penn State Larry Johnson Defensive Line Coach

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Johnson is the longest tenured coach at Penn State University. Following their tragic scandal, he was forced to clean house and start with virtually an entirely new staff. Johnson has been considered for Head Coaching positions in the past but has stuck with the Nittnay Lions. He is held in very high regard for his recruiting skills.

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Penn State Ron Vanderlinden Linebackers Coach

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Vanderlinden remains on staff following the Jerry Sandusky Scandal at Penn State. Vanderlinden has the responsibility of coaching the linebackers at a school that bears the moniker of “Linebacker U”.

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Ohio State Luke Fickle Co-Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Fickle is the only defensive coach that remained on the Buckeye Staff after Coach Jim Tressel left the program. Fickle was briefly the head coach for the 2011 season. Fickle is very proud to be playing for his Alma Mater. He was a standout nose guard from 1993-96. In 2010, Fickle was named Assistant Football Coach of the Year.

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Michigan Fred Jackson Running Backs Coach

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Jackson is the longest tenured coach currently on the Wolverines staff. Jackson has served University of Michigan since 1992 and is currently under his third head coach at Michigan.

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Northwestern Jerry Brown Defensive Backs Coach

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Brown has been leading young men at Northwestern for 20 years. Brown is also a member of the 1972 graduating class at Northwestern. To date, no other man has had more of a positive impact on Wildcat football.

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Iowa Brian Ferentz Offensive Line Coach

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Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Brian Ferentz is the son of Head Coach Kirk Ferentz. The Younger Ferentz played for his father and had a short stint in the pros. He was then fortunate enough to share an experience his father had many years prior and coach under Bill Belichick. Brian Ferentz was responsible for developing the dynamic tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Ferentz and Ferentz make a very dynamic duo themselves.

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