Hoegher's Rankings! BOTTOM 10 Big Ten Teams of... well, since 1994

Hey y'all! So last week I decided to share with you my list of the Best Big Ten Teams (since 1994). However, that's only one side of the coin. Much like the esteemed MNWildcat, I feel like we all want to see what teams were the WORST. The terrible teams, the ones on the wrong sides of blowouts, the ones coached by Tim Brewster (oh yes, he shows up here), etc. A refresher of the rules and caveats:

1) I'm only concerned with Big Ten teams. This really doesn't come into play with this list, but it's still worth mentioning.

2) This list is based solely on my numerical rankings. Because of that, there may be teams that you think should be here that aren't, and there may be teams that are here that you don't think deserve to be here. Wins and losses don't matter that much, so crappy teams that still managed to steal games using wizard magic are eligible.

3) There is no limit to the number of slots a single school can take up on here. For the best Big Ten teams, that meant Ohio State took up more than a few slots. For this list, I hope this will help improve your knowledge of the Fighting Illini and Hoosiers. Big surprise, I know.

With all that said, to the list!

10) 2002 Northwestern

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
1927 Northwestern_2002 3-9 -0.440 0.933 68 1.374 100

No Honorable Mention this time (I included a section last time to highlight 1997 Michigan, who I thought had to be mentioned in the list somehow). No we start with 2002 Northwestern, which may be a bit surprising as they managed to get 3 wins through the course of the year. Heck, they only lost to Ohio State (NATIONAL CHAMPIONS WOO) by 11 pts! That's not so bad, right? Well, those wins came against Duke (2-10), Navy (2-10, and why do you hate America, Wildcats?), and Indiana (3-9, but I probably didn't need to tell you Indiana was horrible). Also, nice job holding Ohio State to 27 pts, but that was their second lowest of the year.

Yes, the 2002 Northwestern offense wasn't terrible (roughly average by my numbers), but that defense was... not good. They held Duke to 21 pts (whoop-de-f(ri)cking-do), Ohio State to 27 pts (better, though this helps demonstrate why I don't think 2002 Ohio State was that good), but every other team scored 30+ pts, and most scored 40+ pts. Giving up 52 pts to Air Force and 64 pts to Iowa isn't good, if somewhat understandable given the quality of those teams, but letting five other teams rack up over 40 pts on you is in-excuseable.

They are somewhat saved by the fact they played a fairly tough schedule (2002 Ohio State, 2002 Iowa, 2002 TCU: 4 combined losses), which is why their defense doesn't rank worse. Fortunately, this is the only Northwestern team on this list, so your shot at infamy ends here.

9) 2003 Illinois

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
1939 Illinois_2003 1-11 -0.450 0.768 90 1.218 91

Ron Turner, you crafty son-of-a-bitch. How in the world you managed to get another year after this one baffles me. Heck, it wasn't even your worst year (0-11 in 1997, though first years can get somewhat of a pass). Obviously, the job security was related to the 10-2 Sugar Bowl year in 2001,(Illinois is the only school I know that can have two years like that within two years of each other) but 1-11 should offer a trump card that says "Nice job before, but you really sucked just now so... see ya." Obviously, Ron Turner did not use his fortuitous gift and earn himself an extension, getting fired in 2004.

As to the actual team, they were equal-opportunity bad, performing poorly at offense (lost 3-6 vs UCLA, so last year's bowl wasn't the worst game ever played between these teams) and defense (gave up 38, 43, 49, 56, 36, and 41 pts on consecutive weeks during the conference schedule). Obviously, their only win was against a FCS school (I suppose they were D1-AA back then), and they still gave up 22 pts. But hey, a win's a win.

Final note: it must have been crushing watching the season develop for Illinois fans. Week One: lose by 7 pts to a quality Missouri teams. Week Two: beat up on a D1-AA school, Weeks Three and Four: lose by less than a score to Pac-10 schools. Yeah, they were 1-3 at that point, but at least the losses were close against BCS conference school. But onece the conference schedule started? No loss was by less than three scores until Indiana, and you don't get credit for losing close to Indiana. Woof.

8) 2007 Minnesota

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
1966 Minnesota_2007 1-11 -0.479 0.947 69 1.426 112

Tim Brewster, welcome! We've been expecting you. The one redeeming feature of the 2007 Minnesota season was that the win actually came against FBS competition (41-35 over Miami-Ohio). The bad news is this means that Minnesota lost to an FCS school, of course being one from the Dakotas. Maybe Brewster is allergic to boring states in flyover country. This is the only Brewster team on this list (2010 was doing so well, but stupid Minnesota had to go an fire Brewster and let the team improve), so we'll take this opportunity to highlight just how many times his team lost to a Dakotas school (we'll add in 2011 Minnesota for this, on the qualification that it was his players and Jerry Kill doesn't deserve that blemish).

2007: Lost to North Dakota State (21-27)

2009: Beat South Dakota State, but just barely (16-13)

2010: Lost to South Dakota (38-41)

2011: Lost to North Dakota State (24-37)

Three losses in five years, and it really deserves to be four for that atrocious 2009 performance (the reactions in the Star Tribune were certainly all as if they did lose, from what I recall.

However, the worst part of 2007 Minnesota being listed here was that my school damn near lost to them. I was at that game, sitting in the student section, and I was terrified that we were going to somehow lose to this terrible product Brewster served up. Thankfully, that didn't occur.

7) 2005 Illinois

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
1967 Illinois_2005 2-9 -0.479 0.707 97 1.186 88

Guys, we're overflowing with crappy Big Ten coaches (Which, it should be noted, the SEC seems to be trying to snatch up right now. Damn shame Zook already burned that bridge.)! Ron Zooks first squad was his worst, and follows the tried and true Illinois way of matching a really crappy season (2005) with a BCS bowl season (2007), with only a single season between. I don't know how you do it, y'all.

Also, it must also be a requirement at Illinois that bad seasons start off optimistically before cruelly dashing the hopes of Illini fans everywhere (all four of them). They beat Rutgers 33-30, and this is after Greg Schiano had begun his reclamation project, so that actually means something. They went to 2-0 after crushing San Jose State, but after that it was all bad. They never held another team to less than 35 pts, and they let a John L. Smith coached team put up 61 pts on them. So yes, it was a bad defense. Offense wasn't much better, scoring a total of 5 pts over two weeks to end the season (against Ohio State and Purdue). Since you can't get 5 pts without a safety, this means that the offense scored a single field goal against those two squads.

Fun stat: Adding any two consecutive weeks' scoring output in conference play still doesn't yield enough points to overcome any single score given up to an opposing team. That's sounds a bit confusing, but the point is that Illinois was bad.

6) 2002 Indiana

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2002 Indiana_2002 3-9 -0.505 0.880 77 1.385 101

Well, it's not terribly surprising that the team that suffered a loss to one of the teams up there [/waves hand ^^^^ that way] is also on this list. Also, I think we've got our Crappy Coach Hat Trick with Tim Brewster, Ron Turner, and Gerry DiNardo now.

2002 Indiana was, as seems to be the case with many Indiana teams, not terrible on offense (77th is nothing to be proud of, but it's not quite a pile of burning rubber), but the defense was an absolute tire fire. They ended the season on a five game total of 234 pts given up, only one opponent of which was ranked (Penn State). Needless to say, they did not win any of those games. Those wins came against William and Mary (who cares), Central Michigan (4-8, and they still gave up 29 pts to them), and Wisconsin (FVCK). I'm going to ignore that last one, because it makes me sad. My point was, that even in their wins, Indiana gave up 25 pts on average. That would be okay for a full-season average, but alas: 37 pts was their full season average. THAT'S TERRIBLE. But again: you beat Wisconsin (who ended up 8-6, so seriously what happened), which makes me sad and I'm ending this early.

5) 1997 Indiana

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2033 Indiana_1997 2-9 -0.549 0.544 107 1.092 72

Cam Cameron, well nice to see you. I have to confess, my knowledge of 1990's Indiana football is not the greatest (I know, I'm failing as a FanPost-er). But I do have a decent knowledge of recent NFL history, and I find it plenty full of LOL's that the 1-15 Miami Dolphins of 2007 and the 5th ranked Indiana Hoosiers of 1997 have the same head coach. Nobody hire this man in 2017, it can only end badly.

In a twist (for Indiana), this team played mediocre-to-bad defense and performed atrociously on offense. A reminder that a rating of 0.544 means that Indiana regularly scored about half of what their opponents normally gave up, which is really quite bad (that's what those yearly rankings are for, to help give you context). 1997 Indiana got shut-out three times (against Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa) and score 7 pts or less a total of seven times over the course of their season. They performed better in their wins, putting up 33 pts over Ball State (5-6, coached by... Bill Lynch. And the LOL's keep rolling along) and 23 pts over Illinois (0-11, and yes they will be on this list). By the way? Looking at this, I think I'm over-rating their defense, as I think it's being propped up by 6 pt efforts by Ball State and Illinois.

I'll leave with this note. Indiana was completely non-competitive in all their losses, with the inexplicable exception of a 26-27 loss to... sigh... Wisconsin. I didn't start writing this to see all the poor performances by my Badgers against crappy teams, but I guess this is the route it's going.

4) 1998 Illinois

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2067 Illinois_1998 3-8 -0.578 0.493 111 1.071 68

Ron Turner has got this All-Time Crappy Coach Title LOCKED DOWN, you guys. I'll add them all up at the end of this post to see how many times coaches show up, but rest assured: Ron Turner is the run-away champion. Semi-related: Rob Turner coached at Illinois for eight years. Again: I've no idea how he kept his job. Must be a great negotiator.

Right, the actual team. Another "meh" defense, but an absolutely atrocious offense. Two shut-outs (0-41 vs Ohio State, 0-27 vs Penn State), and four other games with single digit offensive outputs. Their wins came against Middle Tennessee (D1-AA at the time, doesn't count), Northwestern (back when they were shitty, doesn't count), and Indiana (obviously doesn't count). The only other remotely close game came against a Washington State team that clearly missed Ryan Leaf and his choking-away-the-Rose-Bowl ways. Everything else was an exercise in endurance and ritualized beatings that were remarkably consistent in their application (lost 9-35 to Louisville, 14-37 to Iowa, 9-42 to Purdue, and 9-41 to Michigan State). Ron Turner: you truly are a legend.

3) 2003 Indiana

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2082 Indiana_2003 2-10 -0.595 0.653 106 1.248 94

I may have mis-led people up there. Ron Turner is still the master of crappy coaching, but Gerry DiNardo isn't going down without a fight. However, DiNardo's saving grace is that Indiana (inexplicably) cares more about their football team than to leave it in the hands of a walking Peter Principle for eight years (he got fired after three).

Now, Indiana did get two wins, so props for that. Also: no shut-outs! Combo-breaker, I know. Don't worry, we can make it up in other ways. Their only wins came against Indiana State (D1-AA, doesn't count) and Illinois (covered above, and subject to the Ron Turner Handicap). Their other losses averaged a 24 pt margin, and that's including a 6 pt loss to Northwestern (6-7, so not terrible) and an 8 pt loss to Purdue (9-4, but a rivalry game, so there's some wiggle room there). Again, Gerry DiNardo wasn't fired after this year, and I think that says more about the state of Indiana football than most anything else (other than the next entry. SPOILERS).

2) 2011 Indiana

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2086 Indiana_2011 1-11 -0.601 0.876 76 1.477 113

So, I'll be honest: I didn't expect to see last year's Indiana squad on here. They're always bad! They played Ohio State close(ish)! They only gave up 59 pts to Wisconsin! Not the most ringing endorsement, sure. But I thought that of 15+ years before then, more crappy teams would emerge and take their place. I was wrong. By the way, Kevin Wilson may want to keep that resume fresh because other 1st year head coaches on this list (2005 - Ron Zook, 2007 - Tim Brewster, 2002 - Gerry DiNardo, 1997 - Cam Cameron, 1997 - Ron Turner) don't exactly have successful ends to their featured roles. You'll notice Jerry Kill doesn't show up here, and that's because Jerry Kill is a good coach.

This is recent history, so I don't really have to explain this to y'all much. The Hoosiers were bad on offense, and offered comparisons to Medusa on defense. They beat a Dakota skill convincingly though, so he's got that over Brewster, at least.

But yeah. Any team that gives up 50+ pts three times over the course of a season is never going to be one that avoids any "worst of" list. Hopefully, Kevin Wilson can thwart historical trends and turn Indiana into a Big Ten East conten- HAHAHA. No, they'll still suck and Kevin Wilson will be fired in 2014.

And now, our crown jewel (though I've kind of spoiled it already)

1) 1997 Illinois

All-Time Rank Big Ten Team Record Adj Marg Adj Off Yr Rk Adj Def Yr Rk
2159 Illinois_1997 0-11 -0.659 0.536 109 1.195 85

Fitting that the #1 team on this list is the only team to not manage a single win (to be fair, they didn't have FCS/D1-AA opposition to feast scrounge on like some of these other teams. More damning is the fact that none of their losses were within a score, and seven of their games weren't even within two scores. The Illini had a 4 week stretch from Oct 4th to Nov 1st where they failed to score more than 7 pts in any game, losing by 35, 24, 45, and 17 pts. Only two of those teams would end the year ranked (and Indiana ended 2-9, of course). They managed to lose by two touchdowns to Louisville. A Louisville team that would end the season with a single win. That is awful. There is pretty much nothing redeeming this team, and finally: Ron Turner continued to enjoy his job for seven more years after this fact. Illinois Football: "Giving Job Security to Undeserving Coaches is Our Priority!"


3 - Ron Turner

2 - Gerry DiNardo

1 - Cam Cameron

1 - Randy Walker

1 - Tim Brewster

1 - Ron Zook

1 - Kevin Wilson

So yeah, Ron Turner takes the crown, though congratulations to Indiana for placing three coaches on this list. That's what preparation gets you, y'all.

Again, this is by no means a definitive list, and I'm sure I left out deserving candidates (e.g. 1999 Iowa, though their exclusion gives me hope that this isn't a terrible list, because Kirk Ferentz is not fired right now). Give your thoughts as you will.

- hoegher

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