Kevin Wilson

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Ohio State hires Kevin Wilson as OC as Ed Warinner appears to be heading to Minnesota

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For the second time in a matter of weeks, Ohio State is losing an offensive coordinator to another program. Fortunately, they had a replacement ready to slide into the spot.

Ohio State made the hiring of offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, the former head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, official on Tuesday. The addition of Wilson comes at a time when Ohio State has seen both co-offensive cooridnators move to new jobs and the Buckeyes fresh off the only shutout loss in postseason bowl play this past season. Wilson was fired amid concern over his treatment of players in Bloomington, which will have to be addressed by Ohio State once Wilson is officially introduced, but as far as his offensive coaching is concerned, the Buckeyes have a potentially solid upgrade at offensive coordinator.

Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports, via Twitter, Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will leave the Buckeyes program to take on a role as offensive line coach at Minnesota under new head coach P.J. Fleck.

There had been some discussion in the rumor mill about Warinner leaving to join the Minnesota staff, but reports of him becoming the offensive coordinator for the Gophers were silenced. However, with the addition of Wilson to the staff, Warinner would have had to settle with being demoted to offensive line coach in Columbus. That’s not exactly a bad job at all, but at Minnesota he will be given a fresh start under new leadership and perhaps have a chance to grow as an assistant under Fleck. His impact on improving Minnesota’s offensive line should be closely monitored, as the Gophers will now be on their third offensive line coach in as many seasons.

Ohio State also saw Tim Beck leave Ohio State to join former Ohio State assistant Tom Herman in Texas.

Indiana QB Ziander Diamont retiring from football after bowl game

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Indiana junior quarterback Ziander Diamont will play his final football game in Indiana’s bowl game, whichever one that may end up being. Diamont says he is taking precautions already to protect his long-term health and says he will need his brain in the future, a sentiment that seems to becoming more and more prevalent as awareness and education about brain injuries and football continue to evolve.

“That’s just not my style and if I’m going to go out, I’m going to go out my way,” Diamont said after Indiana’s victory over Purdue. “I think that for my safety and my future – I’m not going to the NFL – I need my brain. So that was the decision.”

Diamont’s size and dual-threat style has left him prone to rough hits as he runs the ball often with a 174-lb body. According to The Indy Star, Diamont confessed to suffering “a lot” of concussions during his time in Bloomington and in high school. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson conceded those hits may have taken a toll on him over time, which is one of the concerns when it comes to football players and CTE.

Unless Diamont changes his mind, this means Indiana will have one extra spot on the depth chart at quarterback to fill than initially expected for head coach Kevin Wilson. Diamont is expected to graduate in the summer and took part in the senior day activities on Saturday.

Indiana putting No. 1 Ohio State on high upset alert

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No. 1 Ohio State is on the ropes in its Big Ten opener in Bloomington. The underdog Indiana Hoosiers have taken it to Ohio State from the start and own a 10-6 lead at the half.

Indiana even gave Ohio State a chance to seize the momentum in the game, and the Buckeyes failed to do it. Up 10-3, Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson opted for a fake punt run despite snapping the football from Indiana’s own 16-yard line. The run was stopped short of the first-down marker and Ohio State took over inside the red zone. Fortunately for Wilson, the Hoosiers defense stood tall and held Ohio State to just a field goal.

Indiana running back Jordan Howard, among the nation’s leading rushers, was taken out of the game in the first half, although he returned with a noticeable hobble. Howard’s ankle was apparently rolled over on, forcing him to leave the field and receive medical attention in the locker room before he made his way back to the field.

Ohio State’s Cardale Jones has completed eight of nine pass attempts for 138 yards but he has held on to the football too often at times. With Ohio State’s offense in need of another halftime spark, could we see some J.T. Barrett in the second half?

Is Indiana’s Kevin Wilson on the hot seat in 2015?

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Nobody is going to confuse Indiana for a football school, given its storied basketball history. The Indiana Hoosiers have not won a bowl game since 1991. It is one of three bowl victories in school history. This is why any suggestion that Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson enters a season on a hot seat may feel a little strange.

Following Indiana’s dismissal of defensive back Antonio Allen, who racked up quite the list of drug-related offenses this week, the attention for some has shifted to the head coach in charge of the Hoosiers. Austin Ward of ESPN suggested Wilson made the right move in removing Allen from the program (agree 100 percent) and that it turns the temperature up on his hot seat for the fall. Does it really? Ward is by no means alone in suggesting Wilson is on a hot seat. Athlon Sports placed Wilson in the top 10 of coaches on the hot seat out of the spring, making note of the step back Indiana took last season following an injury to quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Once Sudfeld went down, Indiana lost any offensive cohesion and momentum. Injuries happen, and the impact of every injury is not created equally. However, each coach must be prepared for when an injury happens and it is fair to serve up a certain level of criticism for Wilson following Sudfeld’s injury. You can only place so much blame on injuries.

Let’s keep a few things in mind. Wilson took over an Indiana program though to be pretty close to becoming a bowl team, and Wilson was supposed to help get the Hoosiers over that last hurdle. Instead, Wilson embarked on a total rebuilding project (or in Indiana’s case another new construction project). After winning just one game in his first season, Wilson managed to increase the win total each of the next two seasons to five wins in 2013 before stepping back to four wins last season. If the expectation was Indiana would have played in a bowl game by his fifth season, then Wilson has come up short and is deserving of hot seat talk. But is that the fantasy expectation for Wilson, or the realistic one?

Four seasons without a bowl game is most certainly a fireable offense at most programs, but is it really that harsh an offense at Indiana? What about the areas of improvement for the Hoosiers in that same stretch? Indiana has gone from averaging 21.4 points per game in 2011 up to 38.4 ppg in 2013 (that average dipped to 25.9 ppg last fall). The defense has failed to show the same kind of progress, floating around 35 points per game allowed during Wilson’s tenure in Bloomington. Also consider the Hoosiers are lumped in the same division that some are hyping as the best division in college football (although that is a bit of a stretch right now) with Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers. The division may be a bit top-heavy for now, but expectations continue to be high for Michigan and Penn State in the long-term. That should make for a tough road to six wins most seasons for the Hoosiers.

So what is the realistic bar for Indiana football? Is it six wins? Seven? In this day and age, that is a fair ceiling that gets a team to a bowl game, but history would suggest otherwise for Indiana. The Hoosiers have played in just nine postseason bowl games in 117 seasons. If Wilson is on a hot seat, there has to be more to the equation that can be seen off the field.

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Big Ten Predictions

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As the 2014 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out our CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository for our team’s looks at the upcoming season.

BIG TEN EAST

1. Michigan State (Last year: 13-1; beat Stanford in Rose Bowl)
Michigan State will have the best defense in the Big Ten, despite losing some key players from 2013. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will figure out how to get the most out of his defense and players like defensive end Shilque Calhoun and safety Kurtis Drummond will help make that task easier. The defending champs will be unlikely to start so slow on offense this season, as they did in 2013, with quarterback Connor Cook back and seasoned (and most importantly, confident). Michigan State’s offense should be balanced and reliant on the run with Jeremy Langford coming off 1,422 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Getting Ohio State at home is key as far as Big Ten play is concerned, but a week two trip to Oregon could keep the Spartans playing catch-up in the playoff discussion from the start.

2. Ohio State (Last year: 12-2; lost to Clemson in Orange Bowl)
Here’s the thing with Ohio State. With or without quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State may still be the best team in the Big Ten this season, but with Miller lost for the entire season the idea of Ohio State running through the regular season unscathed becomes much less likely. In a season that was expected to be layoff or bust, the Buckeyes may have already gone bust, but this is still a talented team that could be favored in every game of the season, with the likely exception of a road trip to East Lansing in early November. JT Barrett will take over under center, lacking much experience and with a fraction of the potential of a healthy Miller, but the Buckeyes will find some ways to make it work. Afterall it is not as though the rest of the roster is lacking for players ready to leave their mark. Look for Ohio State to get a bit tougher on defense this season, with Michael Bennett anchoring the defensive line and Noah Spence on the edge after serving a suspension.

3. Michigan (Last year: 7-6; lost to Kansas State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
Is this the year Brady Hoke turns the Michigan trends back in his favor? Only a handful of players on the roster now were not recruited by his staff, so his stamp is officially on this Michigan football program. The addition of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier comes with high expectations for improving the offense, which was dismal at times in protecting quarterback Devin Gardner and protecting the football. This was a team on the brink of losing at home to Akron but a play away from taking out Ohio State. You try figuring this Michigan team out. Moving tight end Devin Funchess to wide receiver was needed to improve the receiving position and should work well, and the running backs look to improve as well. Michigan’s defense is in the most in need of improving, cutting down on big plays allowed being the biggest concern. Adding star recruit Jabrill Peppers at defensive back could give a boost in that area.

4. Penn State (Last year: 7-5)
The James Franklin era gets underway with great enthusiasm but lingering concerns over roster depth. Penn State will have the talent at positions to do some good things and win a game they probably shouldn’t along the way (Ohio State and Michigan State at home?), but the depth concerns to lose a game they probably should not (Indiana in Bloomington, again?). The light at the end of the tunnel is there for Penn State, which is good news. Penn State also has one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation with sophomore Christian Hackenberg. Offensive line concerns are legitimate of course, as they have been for years, but if Hackenberg stays healthy the offense can be effective. The defense on the other hand, could use some playmakers and some more brute force up front to bring pressure on opposing QBs and close down running lanes.

5. Maryland (Last year: 7-6; lost to Marshall in Military Bowl as ACC member)
Maryland receives no favors on the schedule in their debut season as a member of the Big Ten, but the Terrapins join the new conference with possibly the best wide receiver unit in the conference. Stefon Diggs has the ability to break open a big play at any moment, and he plays in a division that sees some weaknesses in secondaries all over (except Michigan State). And do not forget about Levern Jacobs and Deon Long. Maryland’s biggest concern is keeping quarterback C.J. Brown upright to be able to get those receivers the football. The defense hit walls against explosive offenses in 2013 but returns a good number of upperclassmen, which is usually nice. A fourth-place finish is not all that unrealistic, but probably a reach for Maryland in 2014.

6. Indiana (Last year: 5-7)
The Hoosiers have an offense that is capable of giving every team in the Big Ten some fits. Credit head coach Kevin Wilson for making that happen since he arrived in Bloomington, but the defense is not a unit that will cause much fear on a weekly basis. The Hoosiers averaged 38.4 points per game last season, but the defense allowed 38.8 points per game. If the defense can just improve a little bit, then the Hoosiers should be seriously thinking about making plans for a postseason bowl game. It could be a rough start with the schedule though with road games at Bowling Green and Missouri. Getting to six wins may be a reach for Indiana unless they can get off to a good start. Running back Tevin Coleman could become one of the top running backs int he Big Ten.

7. Rutgers (Last year: 6-7; lost to Notre Dame in Pinstripe Bowl)
Rutgers is going to have a tall mountain to climb in year one in the Big Ten. Rutgers must go on the road to Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State and hosts Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Getting to six wins to return to the postseason is a reach for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers does add Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator, which should result in some better scheming and preparation, but Gary Nova is still the best option at quarterback and Rutgers has lost some key players over the last couple of years. Experience is thin. The defense could be picked apart by most teams n the schedule, which should be a constant area of focus for Rutgers.

BIG TEN WEST

1. Wisconsin (Last year: 9-4; lost to South Carolina in Capital One Bowl)
The Badgers fell shy of playing for yet another Big Ten championship last season, but now in a new division it looks as though Wisconsin has the easiest road to travel back to Indianapolis this fall. The Badgers will be led by one of the top running backs in the country, Melvin Gordon, and have a schedule worthy of legitimate playoff consideration if things go their way. A season-opening game against LSU in Cowboys Stadium is far from impossible and a home game against Bowling green should deserve more respect than it may get. Avoiding Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State in crossover games is nice too. On offense there is a need to see some players step up to support Gordon and quarterback Joel Stave needs to be a bit more consistent. The defense will be good, not great, but needs to find a way to create more turnovers in 2014.

2. Iowa (Last year: 8-5; lost to LSU in Outback Bowl)
The Hawkeyes may not dazzle with their style of play, but it should be effective enough to make a realistic run to an appearance in the Big Ten championship game. The Hawkeyes are anchored on the offensive line by left tackle Brandon Scherff and the rest of the line should do well in creating space for running back Mark Weisman. Iowa’s offense is designed to win some ugly games, and the defense should be capable of allowing for that to happen. Defensive tackle Carl Davis will lead the way up front along with defensive end Drew Ott. Iowa allowed just 18.9 points per game last season. The most challenging game on the schedule before late November may be a road game at Pittsburgh, but Iowa ends the regular season with Wisconsin and Nebraska at home on back-to-back weeks, with the division potentially on the line and Iowa in control of its own path.

3. Nebraska (Last year: 9-4; beat Georgia in Gator Bowl)
Nebraska will also have one of the top running backs in the Big Ten and the nation with Ameer Abdullah, but the Cornhuskers have some work to do in improving the supporting cast to become a top contender in the Big Ten. The Huskers will have some help on the defense with Randy Gregory entering the season as one of the top defensive ends in the conference, but Nebraska’s defense is a long time removed from the great defenses of the past. Bo Pelini‘s team has been consistent with the win total, but inconsistent on a game-to-game basis at times. With road games at Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa, it looks like Nebraska could be staring at another nine-win season.

4. Minnesota (Last year: 8-5; lost to Syracuse in Texas Bowl)
Head coach Jerry Kill has done a tremendous job with building something at Minnesota, but the bar may have been reached by the Gophers for now. Minnesota needs to see big leaps from multiple positions in order to make a run at a top three finish in the west division. Minnesota needs consistency out of the quarterback position from Mitch Leidner. Running back David Cobb should help take some pressure off Leidner, but there will be a time when Minnesota needs a big third-down completion. The schedule is a challenge as well, with a road game at TCU and back-to-back road games in conference play at Nebraska and Wisconsin to end the regular season.

5. Northwestern (Last year: 5-7)
The Wildcats were a trendy pick by many in the west division throughout the offseason, but the late departure of Venric Mark and the loss of wide receiver Christian Jones will take a big toll on Northwestern’s offense, which was to be the strength of the team for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. That is a lot of offensive production lost by the Wildcats, and that does not even account for a new full-time starting quarterback in Trevor Siemian. Fortunately, Siemian is not without some experience in this offense without Mark, with Treyvon Green playing a solid role last fall. On defense, linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo will rack up the tackle numbers but the rest of the defense can be exposed and the special teams break in a new kicker and punter.

6. Illinois (Last year: 4-8)
What will save head coach Tim Beckman? Three years in, Illinois needs to make a push for a postseason game if the heat is going to be turned down on Beckman’s job security. To get there, the Illini defense needs to improve in a hurry. The Illinois defense was shredded routinely last season and the offense was unable to keep up. Adding quarterback Wes Lunt after sitting out the 2013 season should help stabilize the offense, and should help the Illini keep up with the opposition, but the defense needs to find away to come up with some turnovers after not being able to last fall. re there six wins on the schedule? Yes, but it will be a battle to get there until the defense starts showing signs of improvement.

7. Purdue (Last year: 1-11)
There is nowhere to go but up for Purdue, hopefully. A trip to the postseason is a dream at this point, but the Boilermakers should make some improvements this fall. Head coach Darrell Hazell is in year two and the team should be starting to find its identity. On offense, Purdue managed just 14.9 points per game last season and the defense allowed 38.0 points per game. What should the realistic goal for Purdue be in 2014? Getting an extra touchdown per game and cutting one on defense would be a nice way to go. It still will not result in a winning season, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION
Michigan State over Wisconsin

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)