The only real coaching controversy in the Big 10 at the end of this regular season was Bo Pelini at Nebraska, and for the time being that dispute seems to have been settled in favor of Pelini keeping the job as head coach of the Cornhuskers.
Every other Big 10 institution, even the two schools who are about to join the conference for next season — Maryland and Rutgers — has experienced very little conversation about making a change at head coach. Is there a reason for this lack of discussion in comparison to other conferences and does this give the Big 10 an edge heading into the 2014 season?
The primary reason for the lack of coaching controversies in the Big 10 is because the established coaches have just come off of winning seasons and the coaches of teams that didn’t have such good years are relatively new. Darrell Hazell just finished his first season at Purdue, Tim Beckman has just finished his second season at Illinois and Kevin Wilson his third season at Indiana.
The only oddity in these circumstances is Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern. Fitzgerald has been at Northwestern for eight seasons and just completed a season in which the Wildcats won one conference game. The Evanston faithful seem to be giving Fitzgerald a pass because of injuries that plagued the Wildcats all season.
What if any advantage does this give the Big 10 as a conference next season? With all 14 current head coaches returning, continuity will be a quality that the conference will excel in. Younger players will be learning more of the intricacies of their programs and the established players will be able to fine-tune their skills under the same regimes. The coaching staffs will be able to grow together into more cohesive units.
A final benefit that a lack of coaching controversies will pose for the Big 10 is in attracting future coaches. Eventually the likes of Kirk Ferentz and Mark Dantonio will retire, and the lure of being able to land a job that a high profile candidate could have for years upon years will be strong.
What some may see as a lack of ambition from Big 10 institutions to take risks could just as easily be viewed as wanting to avoid the pitfalls of being a prisoner of the moment. The rewards for the patience that Big 10 schools are showing could be huge.