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Ranking the Big Ten Positional Groups: The Coaches

by Sal Soothsayer | Posted on Sunday, July 13th, 2014

There are three things that today’s college coach has to be able to do: understand and teach X’s and O’s, recruit, and motivate. These three factors were the measurables used in evaluating coaching for this list.

Monday – Offensive Backfield

Tuesday – Receivers

Wednesday – Offensive Line

Thursday – Defensive Line

Friday – Linebackers

Saturday – Secondary

Sunday – The Coaches


We finish our week-long analysis of the Big Ten by looking at the coaching staffs of all 14 schools.


The best staffs from top to bottom:

Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer Photo Credit:

Buckeyes Head Coach Urban Meyer
Photo Credit:

1. Ohio State – Urban Meyer excels in all three of the categories listed above.  He has earned two national titles at Florida and 24 straight wins at Ohio State, and he might be best at recruiting. Yikes. OC Tom Herman is highly respected and new DC Chris Ash comes in after serving at Wisconsin and Arkansas. The hire of DL coach/recruiter extraordinaire Larry Johnson from Penn State cannot be overlooked.

2. Michigan State – Mark Dantonio is coming off of a magical 2013 run, but that wasn’t an isolated occurance. He has won 42 games over the past four years and might be the best in the nation at coaching up his recruits. There might not be a DC with a higher profile than Pat Narduzzi.

3. Northwestern – The luster fell off of Pat Fitzgerald a bit after 2013, but let’s put what he has done in Northwestern in context: 55-46 and 5 bowls in 8 years and a win in the 2012 Gator Bowl which was Northwestern’s first bowl win since the 1948 Rose Bowl. Oh, and he does it all with the most difficult academic standards in the Big Ten.

4. Penn State – James Franklin can recruit. He took the bull by the horns at Penn State and has already put together one of the top classes in the country. His teams at Vanderbilt made three consecutive bowl games and finished ranked in the top 25 in both major polls each of the past two years. He needs a marquee win to add to his resume to move higher on this list. Franklin brings his OC John Donovan and DC Bob Shoop from Vanderbilt.

5. Wisconsin – Gary Anderson stepped into a tremendous situation when former coach Bret Bielema made the surprising jump to Arkansas. Anderson did the job in year one when the Badgers won nine games and finished in the top 25. Anderson will have to rise to meet increased expectations in 2014. DC Dave Aranda came with Anderson from Utah State.

6. Iowa – Kirk Ferentz has put together an impressive run at Iowa, winning 108 games since 1999 and being named conference coach of the year three times. That being said, the Hawkeyes haven’t won nine games or more since the 2009 season that ended with an Orange Bowl win and a number 7 ranking. OC Greg Davis and DC Phil Parker are both in their third seasons. Ferentz and his staff have never put together tremendous recruiting classes, but get a lot out of their players.

7. Michigan – Brady Hoke is on the hot seat. When you start 11-2 your first season and two years later finish at 7-6, the Wolverine faithful are going to be out for blood. Hoke has brought in new OC Doug Nussmeier from Alabama with hopes of reviving a stagnant offense. Greg Mattison is a highly respected DC around the country.

8. Nebraska – A winning percentage at 73 percent, 6 bowls in 6 years, 5 straight seasons with top 25 ranking and many Huskers want Bo Pelini out. Are they right? Pelini has not exceeded expectations in his time with the Huskers and he could be on the hot seat. Third year DC John Papuchis has been under fire since taking over the reins.

9. Minnesota – Jerry Kill inherited a 3-9 team in 2011 and has brought the Golden Gophers to a bowl game each of the past two years, last year finishing the season at with 8 regular season victories. Kill has been a winner at every stop on his journey and it looks to be no different at Minnesota. DC Tracy Claeys has been Kill’s DC the past 15 years and has stepped in as acting HC when Kill has had medical issues.

10. Rutgers – Kyle Flood finished 2012 at 9-4 and was named Big East co-Coach of the Year. An ugly 6-7 record last year has some clamoring for his job. What have you done for me lately?! Flood will turn to his third set of OC/DC in as many years this year as highly respected and former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen returns to the sidelines as the Scarlet Knights OC and should be one of the best in the Big Ten. Former ST Coordinator Joe Rossi will be the DC.

11. Maryland – It is uncertain how hot Randy Edsall’s seat is at this point, but his squads at Maryland have underperformed since his arrival. He has a 13-24 record over three seasons after inheriting a team that went 9-4 under Rutgers OC Ralph Friedgen, who was unceremoniously dismissed (circle 11/29 on your calendars for Friedgen’s return to College Park). OC Mike Locksley and DC Brian Stewart are both in their third years at Maryland.

12. Indiana – Kevin Wilson has made Indiana more relevant since his arrival, but he hasn’t done much more than that. He has gone 10-26 in his three seasons at the helm, although last year’s 5-7 record was more promising. Co-offensive and Co-defensive coordinators are usually not the route to take.

13. Illinois – Many thought Tim Beckman would be let go after another disappointing year in 2013. Beckman is 1-15 in two years of Big Ten play. Beckman will be relying on OC Bill Cubit, who is in his second season with the Illini. DC Tim Banks came over from Cincinnati.

14. Purdue – The Boilermakers jumped on the Hazell bandwagon after he had one successful year at Kent State. It didn’t work out in 2013, as Purdue finished 1-11 while paying Hazell $2 million. Hazell has been head coach for three seasons (16-10 at Kent State) and will rely heavily on his assistants, as he hopes to turn his enthusiasm into victories in 2014. John Shoop was an OC at UNC and the DC Greg Hudson was LB coach at FSU prior to coming to Purdue.

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