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Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2017

Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Ohio State Buckeyes Football

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2017, Athlon asked coaches in the Big Ten to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Big Ten Football Predictions for 2017

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

Big Ten Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2017


“The Lovie (Smith) thing is interesting. It’s still too early to tell if he can leverage his NFL name in recruiting."

College Football Rankings: Illinois

"I think a lot of career college guys questioned the timing of Lovie coming in and the school’s decision to fire Bill (Cubit) because that staff was well-respected, but no one should’ve been shocked. That was the best chance Illinois has had at national attention."

"Is Mike Dudek still injured? That’s the only offensive player I can name off the top of my head, and that’s the problem."

"(Offensive coordinator) Garrick (McGee) might have to lean on their running game this season."

"When you watch their tape you don’t see the depth or the talent that it takes to win in this conference. We didn’t have to change what we liked to do on defense in any area against them."

"They have to get a pipeline going from out of state because they can’t survive on the in-state kids they land, not even close. The first class they signed was decent, but it’s not the return on what Lovie was supposed to provide." 

"The bottom of the league is going to get better, especially after this offseason. This is the program that could be left behind.”


“It’s always a hard place to win and has been for 50 years."

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"Kevin Wilson didn’t work with the culture, and that got him in the end."

"Tom Allen can do what Indiana needs to win because he’s more like Bill Mallory than any coach that’s been there since. He’s worked in the state before, and he gets it — because you have to really ‘get’ Indiana to be successful. He’s got the character Wilson didn’t have to manage the Indiana people and get players to trust you."

"Wilson sold his offense to try and get better talent in there. Besides Ohio State, we didn’t see an offense that had the kind of ceiling Indiana’s did. Mike DeBord runs something that’s as appealing as Wilson’s offense when it comes to recruits. DeBord is so efficient as a coordinator. His offenses show so much confidence and great timing on film. It was a great hire for Allen."

"Defensively, they’re going to be even better. Allen was a great coordinator before he got the head job. We looked at his defense at USF last offseason against particular passing attacks. Indiana was better coached on defense, finding fits, making tackles, than we’d seen in years. We saw them identify things we wanted to do pre-snap.”


“As long as Kirk Ferentz is there, Iowa isn’t going to change much of anything. They’re going to average out at around eight wins a year — some years they’re going to win 10, some maybe 11, and a bad year is six."

College Football Rankings: Iowa Football

"Ferentz is locked up on that deal for a reason; he’s one of the most consistent coaches in America at elevating mediocre talent. They shouldn’t be able to compete the way they do."

"You play an Iowa team and they’re going to want to fight you, the offensive line and their defense especially."

"Iowa today reminds you a little bit of the old Nebraska but without the big names. They specialize in tough football players, not stars, for better and for worse."

"Desmond King is hard to replace, but they’re deeper than you might think in what they can do in the secondary. They’ve for some reason always had good corners."

"This isn’t a Rose Bowl year but they’ll be solid."

"They just need some stars. No one can explain why they can’t win a big recruiting battle once in a while. They have so many tough, fundamentally sound players. They’ve never had one or two exceptional skill guys to put them over the top against the best teams in the league.”

Related: Ranking the Big Ten's Best RB Tandems for 2017


“This might be a program to watch because they’re making big strides in recruiting, and they have one of the most experienced staffs in our league. Who knows if you can make Maryland a contender in that division, but if you’re going to, it has to be with big-time talent."

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"They were a pain in the butt last year. That’s a compliment. Well coached, aggressive. And they were really young at most spots."

"I think the kids have bought in with DJ (Durkin) because he’s very demanding."

"You can see them forming an identity right away. They’re different from the other first- o