Ranking the Big Ten Head Coaches
By Tony Gerdeman
One of my beliefs about why the SEC is better than the Big Ten is because they take their football much more seriously, and it shows in the quality of coaches that get hired.
Until the Big Ten follows suit, they will continue to chase an uncatchable rabbit. The top half of the Big Ten takes their football seriously, but it's the bottom half who taint everybody else.
With so much money being handed over to each Big Ten school via their television deals, there is no reason that a good portion of that money shouldn't go back to the programs that earned it.
Too many Big Ten schools operate like small market franchises when they should be acting like first-round NFL draft picks who just got their first paycheck.
It's not hard to separate the schools who really care and the schools who don't. You can usually see it in the standings.
1. Ohio State - Urban Meyer (104-23)
The current Big Ten coaches have won two BCS National Championships, and they both belong to Urban Meyer. At 104-23, he has more FBS wins than any other coach in the conference. Meyer is 7-1 in bowl games (lone loss to Michigan), and is 21-3 against his teams' rivals as a head coach.
2. Wisconsin - Bret Bielema (60-19)
In Bret Bielema's six seasons, the Badgers have won ten or more games four times. Given the lack of readily-available recruiting, Bielema has even outdone his mentor Barry Alvarez. He still has some work to do when it comes to the Rose Bowl, but who's counting?
3. Michigan State - Mark Dantonio (62-39)
The Spartans have gone 11-2 and 11-3 in the past two seasons and in doing so have lost five or fewer games over a two-year span for the first time since 1965 and 1966. Dantonio has Michigan State where Nick Saban couldn't even get them. Now he just has to keep them there.
4. Michigan - Brady Hoke (58-52)
Taking Michigan from where Rich Rodriguez left them in 2010, to the Sugar Bowl last season was a pretty remarkable job by Brady Hoke. Some might think this is a bit high for Hoke, but he won eleven games last season with somebody else's team, and did it by adapting to what he had on the field.
5. Nebraska - Bo Pelini (39-16)
In the four years before Bo Pelini took over the Nebraska program, the Huskers had a 27-22 record. In the four years since he has taken over, Nebraska is 38-16. He changed the entire program around. However, losing four games each year as he has done will eventually become tiresome.
6. Iowa - Kirk Ferentz (108-87)
If the mark of greatness is being consistently okay, then Kirk Ferentz is a great head coach. After winning double-digit games three years in a row from 2002-2004, the Hawkeyes have won ten games in a season just once (2009). For the Hawkeyes to ever be great, too many variables have to fall into place.
7. Northwestern - Pat Fitzgerald (40-36)
While the vibe around the Northwestern program is positive, the Wildcats haven't improved their record from the previous season since 2008. In fact, their win total has declined by one win each season starting in 2009. If it happens again in 2012, the bloom might finally be off of this Rose.
8. Purdue - Danny Hope (51-43)
Perhaps nobody does 'a little bit above average' with 'a little bit below average' as well as Danny Hope does. Hope's success against Ohio State alone earns him at least two spots, but until the Boilermakers stop losing games that they shouldn't, he will never crack into the top half of this list.
9. Illinois - Tim Beckman (21-16)
Tim Beckman did some good things as the head coach at Toledo, but he will need to show that he can put a decent defense on the field because he hasn't done it yet. If Beckman can fix his defensive issues, he has the recruiting work ethic to really make some noise at Illinois.
10. Minnesota - Jerry Kill (130-82)
Jerry Kill is a better coach than what he has been able to show at Minnesota, or at least he used to be. What could have been an incredible debut with a win over USC last year, turned into a loss and then a follow-up loss to a terrible New Mexico State team. That's not just the fault of the team.
11. Penn State - Bill O'Brien (0-0)
We have no idea what type of head coach Bill O'Brien is going to be, and even after five years or so, we still won't really have a great idea. He is saying all of the right things, but the future of the program is just too cloudy to judge O'Brien over the next few years (unless the Nittany Lions are just absolutely horrible).
12. Indiana - Kevin Wilson (1-11)
Last season, Kevin Wilson managed to take the Hoosiers to their worst season since 1984. At a program like Indiana, that's saying a lot. But he did join Lee Corso, Bill Mallory and Gerry DiNardo as the only four Hoosier coaches to ever lose double-digit games in one season.
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