Considered by many to be one of the best coaches in college football, Petersen has shown great dedication to the Broncos program by staying when others offered him some giant paydays. While Boise State upped the ante by paying Petersen two-million a year, he's had his chances to leave for bigger programs and even more money. Considered a grinder, Petersen has proven he's willing to put in the hard work needed to keep his program on top and has shown the ability much like Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio to evaluate hidden talent and get the most out of it. This season will be a giant test for Petersen as he looks to replace one of college football's best quarterbacks. But you should expect Petersen to have something up his sleeve when his team takes the field in the season opener.
The former Spartan will welcome the Spartans to his new home turf in week two of the season knowing it will be a major struggle to beat one of the top programs in the Big Ten. While some have talked about Enos being on the hot seat, CMU did sign Enos to a contract extension in Febuary giving him through the 2015 season to right the ship.
Week 3: Brian Kelly - Notre Dame (187-66-2 in 22 seasons)
Kelly and Dantonio will always be tied together as Kelly followed the Spartans head coach at Cincinnati and enjoyed great success in his three seasons as the Bearcats head coach. While Kelly has posted back-to-back 8-5 marks in his first two seasons at the helm of the Irish, this fall will be a giant test as the Irish not only have to travel to East Lansing they also have road games at Oklahoma and USC. While some Irish fans are restless, Kelly has proven to be able to recruit high level prospects and should start seeing the fruits of his recruiting success this fall.
Week 4: Ron English - Eastern Michigan (8-28 in three seasons)
English almost left the college game after the 2005 season when he was offered a position on the coaching staff of the Chicago Bears. However, then Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr persuaded English to take over the Wolverines defense. However, English's time with the Wolverines was short lived as Carr retired and Rich Rodriguez came in and removed the entire defensive staff. English landed at Louisville for a short time before being hired at EMU in December of 2008. After his first two seasons and a 2-22 record, English started to see his hard work payoff when EMU posted a 6-6 mark in 2011.
There is no mistaking the coaching success Urban Meyer has enjoyed during his coaching career. With two National Championships already beside his name, Meyer will look to add more at Ohio State in the years to come. From the day he took the Buckeyes job, Meyer has shown a focus to build the Buckeyes program into a team capable of matching up against in team in the country. He hit the ground running after being named head coach at Ohio State on November 28-th and sent waves across the Big Ten Conference and other programs by pulling away top committed talent.
Week 6: Kevin Wilson – Indiana (1-11 in one season)
When you look at the coaching tree Kevin Wilson comes from you have to give him a chance to have success. After many years of learning under the departed Randy Walker, Wilson, who came to IU from Oklahoma, found the going tough in his first year at the helm of the Hoosiers and made sure his new players understood he would not stand for lack luster play demanding each of them to take their games to another level. While it's yet to be seen if Wilson can turn the Hoosiers program around from being bottom dwellers of the Big Ten, don't look for him to go down without a fight.
Kirk Ferentz fully understands how the rumor mill works as he's been linked with NFL jobs almost on a yearly basis. However, Ferentz enters his 14-season at the helm of the Hawkeyes with some questions surrounding his program after going 4-4 in Big Ten play the past two seasons. While under contract until 2020, Ferentz could feel some heat if the Hawkeyes struggle again in 2012.
Week 8: Brady Hoke - Michigan (58-52 in nine seasons)
Despite finishing second in the Legends Division, Hoke and his Wolverines earned a BCS spot in the Sugar Bowl. While Hoke earned a win over rival Ohio State, a loss to in-state rival Michigan State and to a subpar Iowa team left their marks. While Hoke is only six games over 500 during his coaching career, he shows all the signs to be a successful coach as he built Ball State into a very good program before leaving for San Diego State where he guided the Aztecs to a 9-4 mark before taking the Michigan job.
Week 9: Bret Bielema – Wisconsin (60-19 in six seasons)
Many don't like giving Bielema credit for the job he's done at Wisconsin as they feel he inherited a program from Barry Alvarez set for long term success. However, after six seasons at the helm of the Badgers, Bielema has shown the ability to get the more out of the talent he recruits and has guided his team to back-to-back berths in the Rose Bowl. However, Bielema has seen Michigan State become a great battle having gone 3-3 against the Spartans since Mark Dantonio took over the Green & White. 2012 will prove to be a giant test for the Spartans as they will play the Badgers on the road for the first time since 2009.
Week 10: Bo Pelini – Nebraska (39-16 in four seasons) **1 win came as HC in the 2003 Alamo Bowl**
After working his way up the coaching ranks in the NFL and college, Pelini got his break when former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne became athletic director and fired Bill Callahan. While Pelini's tenure as Huskers head coach has been successful, many question of he's the guy to put the program back in the hunt for a National Championship. Husker fans will learn by midseason if Pelini can place the program in the hunt for a Big Ten Championship Game appearance when the team travels to Ohio State and Michigan State with game at home against Wisconsin and Michigan prior to each.
Despite being only four games over 500, Fitzgerald is not on any hot seat as he's placed the Wildcats in four bowl games during his six seasons at the helm. Some have questioned if Fitzgerald would ever consider leaving the Northwestern program as his name has been linked with job openings over the past couple of years. One of the top young coaches in the game, Fitzgerald understands his role having played and now coached at Northwestern and has shown the ability to recruit players who can have success on and off the field.
Week 12: Jerry Kill – Minnesota (130-82 in 18 seasons)
More attention was paid to the seizures suffered by Kill than the wins over Miami Ohio, Iowa and Illinois in his first season at the helm of the Golden Gophers. Kill has worked his way up the coaching ladder with stops at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois and Northern Illinois and comes from the coaching tree of Dennis Franchione. While no one expects Kill to have the Minnesota at the front of the Big Ten, no one would be surprised if he knocks off a team here and there as he continues to build the program.