It’s been a wild couple months in college football, but it appears we are heading for calmer waters. All FBS head coaching positions are currently filled, so the coaching carousel should be winding down.

Barring a college coach jumping to the NFL (Ryan Day?) or a coach randomly stepping down early in 2022 (like Mark Dantonio 2 years ago), coaching staffs are pretty much set at this point.

And looking at all of the movement, it’s worth noting that the Big Ten fared quite well. Aside from Virginia Tech tabbing Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry to take over as head coach, B1G programs didn’t have any major assistants poached. In theory, Big Ten teams should enter 2022 with a ton of momentum, since the only changes to their staffs have been changes they actually wanted to make.

It’s kind of strange to see the Big Ten’s champion, Michigan, really come away unaffected by the coaching carousel when its 2 coordinators, Josh Gattis and Mike Macdonald, excelled. All Michigan lost was senior offensive analyst Steve Casula, who is now the OC at UMass, and director of player personnel Courtney Morgan, who joined Washington in that same role. The Big Ten’s other surprise team, Michigan State, lost only its defensive backs coach Travares Tillman to Georgia Tech (how big of a loss was it when the Spartans had the worst pass defense in the country?) and an analyst to Georgia Southern. Those programs are going to have a ton of continuity in 2022, increasing their odds against being 1-year wonders.

Minnesota, with the No. 4 defense in the country, extended DC Joe Rossi through 2024 instead of losing him. Ohio State, with the No. 1 offense in the country, held on to OC Kevin Wilson even though Akron showed interest in hiring him as the head coach, and running backs coach Tony Alford turned down a spot on Brian Kelly’s new staff at LSU. Penn State co-DC Anthony Poindexter, who looked poised to become the head coach at Virginia, stayed with the Nittany Lions after negotiations fell apart. Wisconsin, with the No. 1 defense in the country, kept its defensive staff intact, including DC Jim Leonhard, who has had no shortage of suitors the last few years.

And of course, Michigan State extended Mel Tucker and Penn State extended James Franklin, fending off high-profile programs like LSU, USC and Florida.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten did some poaching of its own. Ohio State tabbed Jim Knowles, leader of Oklahoma State’s top-3 defense, to be its DC. Nebraska hired Mark Whipple, architect of Pitt’s top-5 offense, to be its OC. Minnesota got former offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca back.

Going into the 2022 season, the foundations should be strong across the B1G, and that’s important considering the past few years when the conference’s best teams have had their coaching staffs raided. And those teams have struggled, relatively speaking, after losing those assistants. A few notable examples:

  • Ohio State hasn’t been the same since defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley left to become the head coach at Boston College. Hafley helped the Buckeyes have the No. 1 defense in 2019, and the last 2 seasons, they’ve been 59th and 50th.
  • Indiana lost its offensive coordinator, Kalen DeBoer, after an 8-win season in 2019 and it lost its defensive coordinator, Kane Wommack, after finishing the 2020 season ranked 12th. DeBoer became the head coach at Fresno State and is now the head coach at Washington, while Wommack is the head coach at South Alabama. Without those guys, Indiana just had a winless B1G season and fired its OC, while Tom Allen took a pay cut.
  • Minnesota was 23rd in yards per play in 2019, when it finished the season ranked 10th. But after losing OC Kirk Ciarrocca to Penn State, the Golden Gophers have finished 62nd and 88th in that category. QB Tanner Morgan, meanwhile, has gone from one of the country’s most efficient passers in 2019 to a mediocre one.
  • Penn State averaged over 6 yards per play in 2019, but OC Ricky Rahne was hired to be Old Dominion’s head coach. The last 2 years, Penn State has averaged less than 5.5 yards per play, breaking a 4-year streak of averaging more than 6.

Replacing assistant coaches isn’t as easy as Nick Saban makes it look, huh?

While you never truly know what’s going to happen (what if the Chicago Bears make Ryan Day an offer he can’t refuse?), the Big Ten right now looks stable. Contrast that with programs that lost key coaches to other jobs like Clemson (OC and DC), Georgia (DC), Oklahoma (head coach), Oregon (head coach), Texas A&M (DC), Oklahoma State (DC), Ole Miss (OC), Pitt (OC) and Notre Dame (head coach), and you can see why the Big Ten should have a slight edge. When you also factor in LSU and Florida will have new staffs, well, the Big Ten has to feel great about where it stands from a coaching perspective going into 2022.