Yesterday, we examined why John Groce, Tom Crean and Fran McCaffery are currently not in danger of losing their jobs. Today, we continue our examination of the conference’s coaching landscape. Specifically, we’ll explain why we expect the head men at Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue to be here next year. Here’s our take:
Richard Pitino (Minnesota): This is Pitino’s first year as a head coach in the Big Ten and second year as the head coach of anything. He spent one year at Florida International before accepting the job at Minnesota, but while at FIU, Pitino led the Panthers to their best conference record in school history. He seemed on the way to turning around a program that had won only 26 of 65 games under NBA legend Isiah Thomas. In April, he got an offer he couldn’t refuse: a chance to compete with the best in the business in the Big Ten. So he accepted and now is set to go through the ultimate learning experience as he coaches against the likes of Izzo, Matta and Ryan every week. Pitino will get the years of learning on the job he needs to try to build something special. Minnesota wouldn’t make this type of hire without knowing it’ll be marathon and not a sprint. He’s obviously fine right now.
Tim Miles (Nebraska): I wrote a post last week detailing the situation at Nebraska. In short, Miles has been given state-of-the-art facilities and the resources to secure top-tier assistant coaches that can deliver talented recruits. And while boosters will expect to see a return on the money they invested, they’re realistic about the task at hand and know it won’t happen overnight. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cornhuskers fare in this, Miles’ second year. If they are able to show noticeable improvement, he and his assistants can sell recruits on being a part of a “program on the rise.” Regardless, the administration is invested both in this program and Miles as the head coach — he’ll be given the appropriate time to turn the ship around.