The offseason Big Ten coaching carousel is finally finished, we hope. Spring football practices haven't begun, but evaluations can still be made about what some the new staffs look like. In this roundtable, our Big Ten writers discuss which assistant coach hire has the most potential.
Brian Bennett: Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown
What do you do when you lose a standout defensive coordinator like D.J. Durkin? If you’re Jim Harbaugh, you go out and hire the guy who just led the No. 1 statistical defense in the FBS last year. Brown isn’t a young hotshot; he’s 60 and has spent his entire career in the Northeast. But he’ll also bring some aggressive schemes that have proven to be highly effective with less talent than he’ll have in Ann Arbor. With guys like Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers and Chris Wormley sticking around, not to mention a future young stud in No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary, Brown could take Michigan’s already strong defense to an even higher level.
Mitch Sherman: Maryland associate head coach and defensive line coach Mike London
Well, it's a good thing new Maryland coach D.J. Durkin didn't let that perfect record as a head coach go to his head. The 38-year-old former defensive coordinator at Michigan and Florida -- who won the 2015 Birmingham Bowl at the helm of the Gators -- did just the opposite, filling his staff with depth and experience. There are other former head coaches like Pete Lembo and Scott Shafer, but London rates as the most interesting of the Terrapins' new staff members. He comes in with eight years of head-coaching experience, including the past six at Virginia. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2011. And without a unit to coordinate, London can focus on real teaching and another of his specialties, recruiting. He ought to be an ace for Durkin. London brought elite talent to Virginia. He knows the mid-Atlantic region well, and has ties to the Northeast and even Texas.
Austin Ward: Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano
There is no disputing the fact that hiring Chris Ash two years ago was an absolute home run for Ohio State, but Urban Meyer may have topped that by luring Schiano back to the college ranks -- as an assistant, no less. After his successful run at Rutgers and a challenging stint leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL, Schiano is back with something to prove and appears energized by working with one of his closest friends and a roster loaded with talent. The Buckeyes are largely inexperienced heading into spring practice, particularly in the secondary where Schiano will be focusing his attention. But with his track record of development he should help Ohio State continue to have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten.
Jesse Temple: Rutgers offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer
I don't know if this will turn out to be the best hire, but it certainly is among the most interesting moves. The biggest question regarding Mehringer is about his age. More specifically: Can a 28-year-old who was a graduate assistant at Ohio State only four years ago really do this job? Mehringer is obviously a rising star, and first-year head coach Chris Ash hopes he catches lightning in a bottle. Mehringer was the wide receivers coach at Houston last year, and was James Madison's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2014. The other pressing question is, what will the Rutgers offense look like? Mehringer ran a spread attack at James Madison, and Houston's offense was high-octane as well. He won't be able to totally overhaul Rutgers' pro-style system in his first year, so he'll have to make some compromises.