Coaching Hot Seat Rankings - Big Ten
Illinois head coach Ron Zook
Illinois head coach Ron Zook
Posted Apr 5, 2010

Which coaches are on the hottest seats? Beyond just the idea of a coach possibly being fired for not winning, the rankings are also based on who's under the most pressure. Ranking all the Big Ten coaches and how much pressure they're under.

2010 Spring Preview
Coaching Hot Seats - Big 10

2010 Spring Preview 
- No. 20 Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1-10) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11-20) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21-30) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31-40) 
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41-50)  
- No. 19 Is this it for the Big 12? 
- No. 18 Just how close the Big East has come to a BCS title?
- No. 17 Did ACC expansion work?
- No. 16 Why does the Pac 10 need USC to be good?
- No. 15 Just how hot is the Big Ten for expansion? 
- No. 14 Does the SEC title = BCS title? 
- No. 13 What's going to make you grouchy? 
- No. 12 The new superstars 
- No. 11 Ranking all 120 coaches and their hot seat status 

- ACC CoachesBig East Coaches | Big Ten Coaches | Big East Coaches
- Big 12 Coaches | C-USA Coaches | Ind CoachesMAC Coaches | M-West Coaches
- Pac 10 Coaches | SEC Coaches | Sun Belt Coaches | WAC Coaches 

By Pete Fiutak  

A hot seat isn't always what the media makes it out to be. When a coach is on the proverbial hot seat, usually it means he needs to win now or he'll be fired, but it could also mean a lot more. It could mean a coach needs to start winning because he's under pressure (Mark Richt), but isn't under real threat of being fired. It could mean he's winning, but is in an impossible situation and can't afford a slip (Jim Tressel after last year's loss to Purdue). Or it could mean he needs to win big just because he does (Urban Meyer).

So keeping in mind that for this, Hot Seat doesn't necessarily mean win-or-get-fired and it's more about who's under a lot of pressure (and yeah, in some cases it is a win-or-else situation), here's the ranking of the all 120 coaches and where they fit in on the warm butt scale.

Ranked from highest to lowest on the pressure scale

Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
This hasn't exactly gone well. He hasn't been given the slightest bit of a break, but his inability to field a decent defense has been his own fault. Winning would cure everything both on and off the field.
Status: He could cure cancer, find Bin Laden, and make fat free mayo taste like real mayo, and none of it would matter if he doesn't come up with a winning season.

Tim Brewster, Minnesota
He has the shiny stadium and he has the facilities, but if he has to win right now and big. The buzz of the new digs is going to die down in a hurry and Brewster isn't bringing in the talent like he was supposed to.
Status: He not only has to get to a bowl game, but he has to show that the program is on the right track. Anything less than eight wins and a bowl win and he's gone.

Ron Zook, Illinois
It hasn't worked out. Known as a great recruiter, he came up with one big class, went to the Rose Bowl, and that has been it. Illinois isn't going to eat his contract unless a disaster strikes.
Status: Illinois might like to go a different direction, but Zook can change everything with a winning season.

Bill Lynch, Indiana
Indiana is a tough situation, and while Lynch did a decent job of getting the program to a bowl a few years ago, he has to win this season with a team good enough for a 13th game.
Status: The expectations might be a bit lower than at other places, but there will likely be a change without a bowl appearance.

Joe Paterno, Penn State
The heat is always on whether he succeeds or not. Who's next … who's next … WHO'S NEXT?!?! Any slip whatsoever and the anti-Paterno group will be begging to know what the plan is.
Status: It's Joe Paterno, he'll never be fired, but anything less than a New Year's Day bowl will get some grumbling.

Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Remember, Bielema was all but gone if he didn't come up with a strong 2009. Now he has to show he can coach when the expectations are high.
Status: He's fine as long as the Badgers go bowling, but there can't be a 2008-like meltdown.

Danny Hope, Purdue
Hope showed that succession plans can work. Purdue shouldn't have been even close to a winning season last year, but it was close under Hope's direction.
Status: Solid. He could survive one more non-bowl year, but then 2011 would be important.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
While he might not have done enough to push MSU over the top, the program is in far better, steadier shape than it was for years before his arrival.
Status: Comfortable. He's getting through the team's off-the-field issues without a problem.

Jim Tressel, Ohio State
If Tressel had come up with the same success at almost any other school, the stadium would be named after him. Ohio State isn't just any other football school.
Status: Tressel should be rock-solid safe from critique after all of his success, right? Rewind back to last year's loss to Purdue.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Not only is Ferentz back and respected, but he's among the hot head coaches again. He's growing into legendary status in Iowa.
Status: After surviving off-the-field issues and on-the-field disappointments, he's a star and bought himself a few bad years (if they actually come).

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
There are few head coaches who are true believers like Fitzgerald is at Northwestern. He's as committed as any coach and he really thinks there's no reason the program can't be a contender for the Big Ten title year in and year out.
Status: He bleeds purple. He's the type of guy who might quit if he wasn't doing a good enough job, but he'll never be fired unless disaster strikes.