Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, July 21, 2015

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten saw three potentially impactful coaching changes after 2014, with Michigan (Jim Harbaugh for Brady Hoke), Nebraska (Mike Riley for Bo Pelini) and Wisconsin (Paul Chryst for Gary Andersen) altering leadership.

But other schools made more subtle changes to their staffs that could have big impacts on their fortunes this fall.

Here are the five biggest additions–listed alphabetically–to existing Big Ten staffs.

Tim Beck, Ohio State. He pushed the buttons on some good offenses at Nebraska before landing in Columbus as co-offensive coordinator. Beck will work with Ed Warinner, who assumes coordinator chores after Tom Herman left to become head coach at Houston. Beck and Warinner have mojo from working together at Kansas under Mark Mangino and helping KU feature a deadly passing game that led to an Orange Bowl berth in the 2007 season. Beck also will coach the always important quarterback spot. The Buckeye offense won?t look much different than it did during the program?s run to the national title last season. Still, Beck?s ideas and influence will be significant.

Keith Dudzinski, Maryland. ?Coach Dud? has been on the staff in College Park since 2011, so familiarity won?t be an issue. And Dudzinski coordinated defenses at UConn and UMass, so he knows his way around a playbook. Dudzinski, who was inside linebackers coach prior to his promotion, is tasked with improving a unit that underachieved each of the last two seasons. He has scraped the 3-4 scheme of former coordinator Brian Stewart-now the DB coach at Nebraska-and installed a 4-3. He must makeover a front seven that lost every starter from last year. End Yannick Ngakoue is a good building block.

Ben McDaniels, Rutgers. McDaniels is known most for being the younger brother of New England Patriots? offensive coordinator/wunderkind Josh McDaniels. Now, the former Rutgers receivers coach also will be known as the Scarlet Knights? sixth offensive coordinator in the last six years, taking over for sage Ralph Friedgen, who is now filling a consultant role after helping the Scarlet Knights go 8-5 record in their first season in the Big Ten. What is McDaniels up against? Rutgers had its most productive offense since 2008, averaging 390 yards per game in 2014. Don?t expect an overhauled offense; just tweaks that involve alignment.

"A little bit of tweaks that I like, especially moving guys in different spots," senior receiver Leonte Carroo told about the differences between Friedgen and McDaniels. "As far as receiver, placing receivers like myself in the slot and things like that. It's been fun so far. I love the offense. It's not too much different from Coach Friedgen, but just some little tweaks."

Mike Phair, Illinois. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach, Phair will work with the same unit in Champaign and also serve as co-defensive coordinator after 13 years in the NFL. Phair is charged with trying to improve what has been a lackluster run defense under Tim Beckman and defensive coordinator Tim Banks. The Illini rushing defense was the worst in the Big Ten last season, allowing 239.2 yards per game. Overall, the team?s total defense was the worst in the conference, allowing 456.4 yards and 34 points per game. Perhaps a more mature front, combined with Phair?s acumen, will result in a sturdier front for Illinois. If not, it figures to be another long season for the Illini defense.

Mark Snyder, Michigan State. The Spartans scored big when they landed Snyder as linebackers/special teams coach. He has spent 12 years as a head coach or defensive coordinator, working most recently as DC at Texas A&M. How many staffs will have a collection of defensive minds like MSU, with Snyder, Mark Dantonio, Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel? That should lessen the loss of Pat Narduzzi. The 50-year-old Snyder coached linebackers under Dantonio when the head coach was serving as Ohio State's defensive coordinator, including the Buckeyes' national title season of 2002. Snyder later became defensive coordinator at Ohio State. He also coordinated defense at South Florida and was head coach at Marshall from 2005-09.


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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