How consistency in coaches impacts prep for Big Ten West

Hawkeye Headquarters

Kirk Ferentz has seen his share of Big Ten coaches come and go in his 21 years at Iowa, but this season all of the West Division coaches stayed put.

The coaching carousel took a pause this offseason.

“Well I’m fired up for the coaches that we didn’t have any changes,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “That’s good for the profession.”

With the same seven coaches returning to the sidelines for the first time since 2014…

“It means that there’s really good coaches in this league and there’s great support and the teams are winning on this side of the division,” Fitzgerald added.

So how does the coaching consistency alter preparation for the division opponents?

Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck says preparing for a first-year coach is actually less complicated because the new system isn’t completely installed.

“They’re gonna be probably simplier, because they’re just seeing who can do it,” Fleck said. “I think when guys have been there longer it’s harder because maybe what you see on film is fool’s gold and they’re not even gonna do that because they have so much in the repertoire over so many years.”

Fitzgerald agrees, saying veteran coaches are difficult to scheme because the good ones are constantly evolving.

“Obviously I think everybody changes their team based on their personnel, so you’ll see changes from everybody even though there’s not any changes from a standpoint of their coaches,” Fitzgerald said.

“Change is inevitable,” Fleck said. “You know, everybody improves, everybody gets better, everybody throws things out, adds things, makes things better.”

All with the same goal of winning a division title and taking their teams to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship.

“We’re always looking and trying to gameplan and get better,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “I mean, you’ve got to beat the teams on your side of the conference. So yes, we’ve done extensive studies… whoever does the small things right and makes the most big plays will win.”

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