As we all know, the B1G has undergone a bit of a changing of the guard in regards to a few coaches in the past couple of days. First, and foremost, Bret Bielema bolted from Bucky Badger to take the job at Arkansas. Within about a day, former Buckeye assistant and Kent State head man, Darrell Hazell took the head coaching position at Purdue University.
It’s no secret that the B1G had a very rough year, and that there was to be coaching turnover. What effect will these two, and maybe more, coaching changes have on the conference? I think the changes will be immediate.
First and foremost, Bielema is a coward. The only explanation for his departure from Wisconsin involves Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Bielema’s only win against the Buckeyes came as an upset victory over the then number one Buckeyes in Camp Randall. It was a truly season-making win, and Bret’s only win against Ohio State. You have to give credit where credit is due, and Bret’s win against Ohio State was legitimate. Nothing else about Bielema’s record against the Buckeyes, however, was. Bielema was a whopping 1-5 against Ohio State, including this season’s overtime defeat in Madison. Bielema gave the Buckeyes a run in most of their battles, but all times minus a single blemish, the Buckeyes emerged victorious. It wasn’t so much their head to head battles on the field that scared Bret off.
Bret had an instantaneous, and seemingly ridiculous, problem with Urban Meyer. Maybe he was threatened with Urban’s countless success stories, National Championship rings, or SEC conference championships. Whatever the reason, Bielema let Urban know right away that he wasn’t “welcome” in the B1G conference.
“I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don’t want to be like the SEC—in any way, shape, or form.” -Bret Bielema
Well, Bret’s statement did just that, made a statement. It told the B1G and the rest of the world that Meyer’s ways weren’t welcome in B1G territory, and that he was scared of just what Urban Meyer could do. After a 12-0 season and a win against his Badgers, Bret fled to Arkansas thanks to Meyer. His SEC statement clearly meant nothing as an SEC job is what “lured” him away from Wisconsin. He admitted that the statement was simply a “pandering to Wisconsin and B1G fans”. What a joke.
If Bret was worried about Urban’s recruiting tactics, I have no clue as to what he is going to do when Nick Saban comes along.
Coach Darrell Hazell is a completely different story. Coach Hazell was a Buckeye assistant during the Tressel era, an assistant that many former Buckeye’s have called “their favorite person ever”. Hazell took the job at Kent State last season and immediately turned the Golden Flashes into a national media headline on the way to an 11-2 season. Working with less talent than he’d ever been accustomed to, Hazell got his group into BCS contention in just a single season. Hazell immediately shot up the ranks and was in the discussion for many open jobs in the higher ranks of college football. Purdue came calling and immediately, with the help of his mentor Jim Tressel, Hazell took the job and is looking forward to turning the Purdue program around.
The B1G immediately has two very large implications at hand with the hiring of Hazell and the fleeing of Bielema. What do these mean for the conference and more importantly for the Buckeyes?
For Wisconsin, the search is going to be difficult. While Bielema was certainly not great against the Buckeyes, he was good against the rest of the B1G. His three illegitimate Rose Bowl appearances prove that. The Wisconsin coaching carousel is centered around a few names that don’t seem to be all that intriguing. Paul Chryst, the current head coach of the Pitt Panthers, is a Wisconsin graduate and very much wants the job. Barry Alvarez, the Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin, is very much against hiring him. Alvarez claimed that the hiring of Chryst would be “inappropriate at this current time”. The fans choice for the Wisconsin job, even if an impossible one, is Jim Tressel. Tressel would make an incredible impact for the Badgers, but would never happen. Tressel has too much admiration and love for Ohio State to ever coach against them in the same conference. The final option, that could be the scariest for the rest of the B1G ten, would be Kirby Smart. Smart is the defensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide and, having run the best defense in the nation, would clearly be an X’s and O’s guy to watch out for. However, is the Wisconsin job better than his current job at Alabama? I don’t know, and I don’t think he knows either.
The bottomline is, the Wisconsin job could be a very touchy one. Alvarez is going to coach the Badgers in their bowl game, taking more time away from the search, but either way, I don’t know if the Badgers are going to find someone as good as Bielema to fill the job.
As for Hazell, the Purdue Boilermakers are going to become a threat real fast. We saw what he was able to do at a place like Kent State. Purdue’s talent will be that much greater than that at Kent State, so it should be incredible to see what Hazell can do as the Boilermakers head man.
The Big Ten, thanks to Hazell, is going to get better. Bielema leaving left a big ole’ black eye on the Big Ten, but Hazell is putting a bit of ice on that shiner. Shunning one of the B1G’s best for a middle of the road SEC team hurts, especially from a man who wanted the B1G to be “nothing like the SEC”. Hazell is going to restore some much needed competition in the B1G, especially with the less than stellar football programs joining the conference.
The B1G got worse and immediately better very quickly. Thank you Purdue, you did your conference a solid right there! And Bret, have fun in the SEC!