- Ohio State University:Â Clearly the front-runner for the Big Ten title in 2010 and possibly even more, the Buckeyes are looking for a big spring.Â Tressel had a superb recruiting class and with a bevy of talent to replace any key losses they sit firmly in the driverâ€™s seat.
- Wisconsin: The Badgers are loaded, and with a good schedule they trail only the Buckeyes in the expectations department.Â With a plethora of talent, spring will be more of the implementation of new schemes and twists than catching up a bunch of young players.
- Penn State: The Lions lost some talent, but with one of the countryâ€™s best recruiting classes and a stockpile of talent that sat behind them, they shouldnâ€™t lose much of a beat.Â They could compete if the defense uses the spring to get on the same page for a Big Ten title.Â They will need spring for less implementation of new things and more of trying to maintain.
- Iowa: They have a lot back, but some critical losses keep them at only four.Â Losing a massive LT to the NFL and their scheme, more than almost anyone, is centered on the OL more even than the QB.Â If they can solidify the OL this spring they could be much better than fourth.
- Michigan State: The Spartans will have to quickly bring in essentially a new OL.Â Foreman and Young are the two â€œLOCKSâ€ this early, but some younger players could push even Young, especially if they are healthy.Â Dan Roushar the OL coach is an elite coach who after using scotch tape in 2009, will have this young but much improved OL ready.Â The Spartans will have to retool the defensive secondary.Â They will have more young players competing for spots and playing time than in recent memory. With some very talented true freshman that could compete for spots in the fall, this is the chance for the young players that are on campus now to solidify their spots.
- Northwestern: Arguably, they had the most underrated recruiting class in the nation and the Big Ten in 2010.Â There is no better coach in the country than Fitzgerald who proves time and time again to get the most out of the least.Â The 2010 class could be bedrock of some huge success moving forward and he isnâ€™t afraid to play freshman.Â Because of that, this spring will be geared more for basics and technique as they look at a lot of youth to step up.Â They are my sleeper team for 2010.Â They will be young and struggle some, but if they can get the youth to overachieve for their age, the future success expected may come early to Evanston.
- Purdue: They have defensive issues that will keep them from big time success.Â Coach Hope has proven that he is the real deal and a good coach.Â If he can improve that side of the ball, in the fall I expect them to make a big step up from the current seventh.Â They got some young talent on D that should help, but they wonâ€™t arrive on campus until the fall.Â Along with the search for a new QB, the Boilermakers have questions, but a good spring could propel them to a big fall and a major jump.
- Michigan: The Wolverines will have to fix their D and they will spend the spring wondering what to do at QB.Â With one QB probably needing to move (Denard Robinson) to a new spot, Tate Forcier will almost certainly lose out at some point in 2010 to super freshman stud Devin Gardner and all of those questions have them this low.Â If NCAA charges arenâ€™t major and M Rod is at UM for the spring and fall, he is a good enough coach to maneuver through the minefield.Â If he survives the NCAA, he then has to survive the fan base that even with internal strife supported him the last two years.Â They wonâ€™t give him past a third with similar results.Â He has his recruits and has to win and win big in 2010.
- Indiana: The Hoosiers can score, but a donut has a better chance of surviving on my desk than they do of stopping anyone.Â This spring they have to find a way on defense to actually get a stop.Â They perhaps have more to lose or gain in the spring than any other Big Ten school.Â Coach Lynch is a good guy who is liked at a school that as long as you donâ€™t bring negative attention doesnâ€™t really care.Â They are a basketball school and that is good news for Lynch.Â Anywhere else he would be gone.Â I personally know two very successful division-one head coaches that think this job is a sleeping giant and would love this job.Â If he doesnâ€™t get to a bowl (6-6), will Indiana get serious about football?Â He needs this spring to coach some young players up on defense.Â Something he has proven so far unable to do.
- Minnesota: Donâ€™t be fooled by Coach Brewsterâ€™s â€œextension.â€Â It wasnâ€™t a raise and brought no new guaranteed money.Â He is not liked internally at Minnesota and there will be no one disappointed when he is gone.Â People I know there have told me things I canâ€™t print, but the situation is not good.Â The â€œextensionâ€ was a recruiting ploy and no coach is on a hotter seat than Brewster.Â As reported many times at Spartan Nation, Brewster struggles to keep coaches, and I donâ€™t know how good of a season he needs to keep his job, but I donâ€™t think he can get one good enough.
- Illinois: Sources at Illinois have told me that the only reason Zook is even employed is because there is a vacuum of upper management at the University and with furloughs for all the coaches and employees they simply didnâ€™t have the money to fire him.Â Sources inside the University told me recently that they expect a huge drop off in season ticket sales and that a recently renovated stadium with thousands of empty seats may make the administration have to get rid of him after this season.Â He has a redesigned coaching staff and with all of the new implementations of scheme and players the theme for Illinois is chaos this spring.