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Hot Reads: Tracking Assistant Coaching Changes in the Big Ten

January 06, 2020

The Big Ten only had one change in the head-coaching ranks this winter. Rutgers fired Chris Ash––now the defensive coordinator at Texas––and hired Greg Schiano to hopefully rekindle the relative success he enjoyed in his first go-round with the Scarlet Knights. It's business as usual––so far at least––for the rest of the league.

But there has been a lot of movement among assistant coaches. Some schools still have openings. Others are off and running with new coordinators. Here's a quick roundup of the coaching changes in the Big Ten.


Former offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne took the head coaching job at Old Dominion, so James Franklin went out and nabbed Kirk Ciarrocca from Minnesota. As the Gophers' offensive coordinator this season, Ciarrocca coordinated the No. 7 offense in the country per SP+. He is a Pennsylvania native, but spent the past seven seasons with Fleck at Minnesota and Western Michigan.


With Ciarrocca off to State College, head coach P.J. Fleck opted to go the co-coordinator route. Fleck elevated wide receivers coach Matt Simon to co-OC and hired Mike Sanford Jr. away from Utah State. Simon called the plays in the Gophers' Outback Bowl win over Auburn, but Sanford will have those duties in 2020. His Utah State offense ranked 82nd in SP+ in 2019, but is just a year removed from ranking second nationally at 47.5 points per game in 2018. The Gophers also lost defensive line coach Jim Panagos to Rutgers.


Jeff Brohm fired defensive coordinator Nick Holt shortly after the conclusion of the regular season. There's a familiar face in his place . . . at least for Husker fans. Bob Diaco is back. The one-time Husker DC most recently coordinated the defense at Louisiana Tech. SP+ ranked the Bulldogs' 2019 defense 62nd nationally before the bowl games. Louisiana Tech did shut out Miami in the Independence Bowl and currently ranks 31st in scoring defense (21.8 points per game allowed).


Here's another name Husker fans will remember––John Papuchis. The one-time Nebraska DC coached special teams and linebackers at Maryland in 2019. He has joined Mike Norvell's staff at Florida State as the defensive ends and special teams coach.


Special teams and safeties coach Chris Partridge is now the co-defensive coordinator on Lane Kiffin's staff at Ole Miss. It has been a rapid ascent for Partridge, 39, who was the head coach at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey before joining Jim Harbaugh's staff as director of player personnel in 2015. Now he's a DC in the SEC.


The Buckeyes had two big openings this offseason. Passing game coordinator Mike Yurcich left to become the OC at Texas though most of the murmurs here are that this was a move that made both sides happy. Not so much the case with defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, now the head coach at Boston College. That one was a loss. Ohio State will have no shortage of best-and-brightest candidates to replace Hafley, but his departure was a loss. The Buckeyes have yet to fill that role. Corey Dennis, a quality control coach, was promoted to QBs coach to replace Yurcich.


New head coach Greg Schiano has yet to announce a defensive coordinator hire, but the Knights have their guy on offense. Sean Gleeson is the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He spent last season as the OC at Oklahoma State after Mike Gundy plucked him from Princeton, where Gleeson was the offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018.


It's rare for the Wildcats to have a big-time change, but Mike Bajakian is the new offensive coordinator. He spent last season coordinating the offense at Boston College. The Eagles ranked 37th in offensive SP+. Northwestern? The Wildcats ranked 122nd. Bajakian replaces Mick McCall who spent the past 11 seasons at Northwestern.


The Hoosiers lost offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer to the head-coaching gig at Fresno State. DeBoer has also reportedly hired Indiana's special teams coordinator, William Inge, leaving Tom Allen with two openings on his staff. Indiana lost to Tennessee, 23-22, in the Gator Bowl last Thursday.

UPDATE – 10 a.m.


The Huskers joined these ranks Monday morning with the departure of outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Jovan Dewitt. He has accepted a position on Mack Brown’s staff at North Carolina.

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