Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, May 11, 2015

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With former Big Ten standout coordinators Pat Narduzzi (Michigan State) and Tom Herman (Ohio State) head coaches at Pittsburgh and Houston, respectively, it's time to take a look at the conference's assistants who could be next to become head coaches.

Here's my list, in alphabetical order, of the most likely candidates.

Dave Aranda, Wisconsin, defensive coordinator. Nicknamed the ?Professor,? Aranda is famous for his devotion to film study and analysis. He is the epitome of the cerebral coach. New Badger boss Paul Chryst thought so much of Aranda that he was retained from the previous staff. Under Aranda's watch, Wisconsin's defense has allowed an average of 299.4 yards per game, ranking third among FBS programs over the last two seasons and trailing only Louisville (280.5) and Michigan State (282.9). The Badgers have allowed an average of 18.6 points over the last two seasons, the sixth-best mark in the FBS during that span.

Tracy Claeys, Minnesota, offensive coordinator. He has been at Jerry Kill?s side since 1995, when Claeys joined Kill?s Saginaw Valley State as defensive line coach. Since then, Claeys has become one of the most respected defensive minds in the nation while following Kill to Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Minnesota. Claeys, 46, has helped transform Minnesota's defense since he has been in charge. Minnesota allowed 380 points in 2011 and 321 points in 2012. In 2013, the Gopher defense allowed only 289 points, which was the first time that Minnesota didn?t allow 300 points in a season since 2004 when it allowed 273 points in 12 games (allowed 285 points in 13 games in 2003).

Luke Fickell, Ohio State, defensive coordinator. He is ready for the next challenge, as this will be Fickell?s 14th season, including 10th as co-defensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, at his alma mater. Ohio State has had some outstanding defenses under Fickell, who was the head coach in 2011, between Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. In 2005, the unit was fifth in the NCAA in total defense and first in rushing defense. In 2007, Fickell saw his unit rank first in total defense, first in scoring defense and first in pass defense. In 2009 and 2010, the Buckeyes were fifth and fourth, respectively, in total defense.

Bob Shoop, Penn State, defensive coordinator. He had a chance to take the same job at LSU after last season but remained in State College. Good for PSU. Shoop, 48, was selected the 247Sports Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2014 after directing a unit that allowed just 278.7 yards per game, good for No. 2 in FBS and the Nittany Lions? second-lowest average since 1990. He has coordinated units that have finished in the Top 25 nationally in total defense in each of the last four years.

Ed Warinner, Ohio State, offensive coordinator. With Tom Herman off to coach Houston, Warinner moved from co-offensive coordinator to offensive coordinator. The smart and personable Warinner doubles as a standout o-line coach. Warinner has been instrumental in Ohio State's record-setting offenses that have set dozens of school and Big Ten records under Urban Meyer. Ohio State has averaged 37.2, 45.5 and 44.8 points the past three seasons and the team's offense has been among the best in the nation each year.

Others to watch:
Chris Ash, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator
Tim Beck, co-offensive coordinator, Ohio State
Matt Limegrover, Minnesota offensive coordinator


About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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