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Jim Harbaugh Only +500 to Be Next Big Ten Coach Fired; Lovie Smith Favored

Jim Harbaugh with his Michigan team before kickoff.
Is Jim Harbaugh likely to find himself out of Ann Arbor sooner rather than later? Photo by Maize & Blue Nation (wikimedia commons).
  • Odds have been released on who will be the first Big Ten coach fired in 2020
  • The coaches from Illinois and Nebraska have been listed as the favorites
  • Here’s the case why a coach from a big-time program is a good bet at fairly long odds

Lovie Smith? Scott Frost? Pat Fitzgerald? Which Big Ten head football coach will be first to get the gate? That’s the subject of the latest college football prop bet, which lists odds on all 14 coaches in the conference.

Odds to Be First Big Ten Coach Fired

Coach Odds
Lovie Smith (Illinois) +200
Scott Frost (Nebraska) +225
Jim Harbaugh (Michigan) +500
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) +500
Tom Allen (Indiana) +800
Jeff Brohm (Purdue) +900
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) +1200
Mike Locksley (Maryland) +1400
Paul Chryst (Wisconsin) +2000
PJ Fleck (Minnesota) +2500
Mel Tucker (Michigan State) +3300
Greg Schiano (Rutgers) +5000
James Franklin (Penn State) +5000
Ryan Day (Ohio State) +10000

Odds as of Sep. 24th.

At first glance, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh may seem too high on the list. Here is a detailed case for the Michigan man to be the next Big Ten coach to be fired.

Will Pandemic Help Coaches On Hot Seat?

In most seasons, several coaches in each conference would enter the season on the hot seat. The leash is likely to be much longer than usual due to the current global pandemic. Teams will be less likely to turn the keys to the program over to a new coach mid-season. Even handing the reins to someone new with an interim tag isn’t a comfortable proposition when considering all the protocols that will be in place this season.

With teams much more likely to wait until the end of the abbreviated season to make tough decisions, coaches like Scott Frost (Nebraska) will benefit. He has undoubtedly been a disappointment since returning to Lincoln and the Cornhuskers have a tough early-season schedule. It would be very tough for the AD at Nebraska to pull the trigger even if the football team comes out of the gate with a string of losses.

The decision to fire Frost would likely be held until after the season is complete. That line of thinking will be common among the bottom feeders in the Big Ten.

What If Harbaugh Remains Winless Against Ohio State?

Continuing the logic that all Big Ten coaches will make it through the regular season in their current positions, the question changes. Now you need to ask yourself: which coach is most likely to get ousted right after the season? This is where Harbaugh becomes an intriguing choice at +500. He is 47-18 at Michigan with zero conference championships and zero conference championship-game appearances. His record is 10-14 against ranked opponents .including a winless 0-5 record against rival Ohio State.

The Big Ten title odds show that the Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorites to win the conference yet again. To do so, they would likely need a victory over Michigan in the season finale. Ohio State’s five straight wins against Harbaugh have been by a combined 95 points.

Would another ugly loss by the Wolverines put an end to the Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor? He is set to make about $7.5 million in 2020 – the second-last year of his contract – while Ryan Day at Ohio State makes just $5.4 million. That’s something boosters won’t stomach if he continues to lose with such regularity, and with just one year remaining on his deal, the buyout would be fairly low at season’s end.

The challenge will likely be clear – beat Ohio State or lose your job. With Michigan set to be sizable underdogs in “The Game”, the axe could fall soon after the final whistle.

The Pick: Jim Harbaugh (+500)

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