This is it, the final step. After this, it’s just a matter of tallying up all of the previous ratings, which should only take me about three months to tabulate. I am expecting very accurate findings.
In all seriousness, though, I should start doing more time-capsule predictions where nobody sees what I’ve predicted until after the event has taken place. I feel like that’s an untapped market that I could make all mine.
“World’s Greatest Sports Predictor Does It Again!”
Rating the Big Ten coaches this year is a very interesting task, mainly because I have no idea where to put Mark Dantonio. Normally, I have these ratings done and then I write the intro. Today, I’m doing the opposite and am incredibly curious to find out how I’m gonna rate these guys.
I almost can’t wait to get started.
I will say that any of six different teams in the Big Ten West could make an entirely legitimate claim for having the best coach in the division.
Big Ten West
Paul Chryst isn’t an exciting guy, which makes him the boring pick here, but he is 21-6 in two seasons at Wisconsin, and 10-2 against division opponents.
Say what you want about Kirk Ferentz — and we all have, but he is consistently persistent, which shouldn’t be dismissed at a place like Iowa that relies more on development than recruiting.
If you can row a bandwagon, I’m gonna do it for P.J. Fleck. His results at Western Michigan were pretty astounding. There is no reason that Minnesota can’t become a Wisconsin. It starts with one coach, and maybe Fleck is that coach.
Expectations are high for Northwestern, but Pat Fitzgerald hasn’t always dealt with expectations very well. The Wildcats haven’t been as consistent as they should be with a coach as respected as Fitzgerald. Northwestern has lost at least six games in five of the last seven seasons.
I really like Mike Riley, but I need to see Nebraska take a step forward. They did that a bit in 2016, though it mainly just meant not losing every close game they were in. Now that Riley has his preferred offense installed, let’s see how things go for the Huskers.
I am a fan of Jeff Brohm and I think he will make things much more interesting around Purdue. It is going to take some time to build up the roster, but a 30-10 career mark as a head coach is pretty impressive.
The most unenergetic thing I have ever heard is any time Lovie Smith talks about how excited he is for the season. If teams are reflections of their coaches, then Illinois is a walking nap.
Big Ten East
1. Ohio State
There is no disputing who is No. 1 here. Urban Meyer has dominated the Big Ten and actually improved the conference in doing so. He still has trouble with that team from the state up north, but has had very little trouble with Michigan.
Say what you want about everything that Jim Harbaugh has yet to win as a college football coach, but it’s silly to dismiss what he does to football programs when he arrives. In just 24 games, he was able to do what it took Brady Hoke 28 games to do (win 20 games).
3. Penn State
I am going to assume this is James Franklin’s first time in the top three of any coaching ranking. Many people are expecting a dip after so many fortunate bounces last season.
4. Michigan State
Remember when Mark Dantonio was a top 5 or 10 coach in America? He’s not on any type of hot seat, but he doesn’t want to fall into Big Ten oblivion with another terrible season. This will be a very difficult coaching job, but this is also where he seems to excel over the years.
D.J. Durkin is recruiting well and got the Terrapins to the Quick Lane Bowl last year. This year will determine if he’s an elite Big Ten coach, or just another guy.
Chris Ash has to start showing he’s more than just a coordinator this year. Rutgers has always been a tough job, but it should be getting easier than this. Recruiting and facilities will continue to improve, provided Ash is as good as Rutgers is counting on him to be.
Indiana brings up the rear here because we just don’t know what to expect from Tom Allen. Bringing in Mike Debord as the offensive coordinator is already a questionable move. Allen did great things for the Hoosier defense, so he’ll get some time.