This year we don't have much turnover in the head coaching ranks, except for the abrupt exit of Jerry Kill, and the new coaches at Maryland and Rutgers. To my (totally unscientific and gut feeling) rankings!
- Mark Dantonio
- Urban Meyer
- Kirk Ferentz
- Pat Fitzgerald
- Jim Harbaugh
- Kevin Wilson
- Paul Chryst
- Mike Riley
- James Franklin
- Bill Cubit
- Darell Hazell
- Tracey Claeys
- Chris Ash
- DJ Durkin
Mark Dantonio has assembled an impressive record in East Lansing, and his Spartans were the conference champions this year. Unfortunately, the Spartans were bulldozed by Alabama in the playoffs.
Andrew Kraszewski has some words about the head Spartan:
Dantonio's pretty ok, I guess. Still the only guy in the conference who's beaten Urbz. Entire group of assistants will be back. Won at least 10 games in 5 of the last 6 seasons (God 2012 ruins everything), various postseason accomplishments, you all know the story by now.
The only coach amongst our ranks with multiple national titles, Urban Meyer's Buckeye's beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl and finished second in the loaded Big Ten East. He has several key players to replace this year, however for him it should be just reloading.
GoForThree has this to say about Urbz:
LPW this is easy. I expect Urban Meyer to keep being Urban Meyer. Recruiting top talent, developing top talent, and keeping OSU as the B1G’s lone program lending true respectability to this league
The longest tenured head coach in the conference had a magical season, right up until the final drive against Michigan State. His Hawkeyes had a Rose Bowl appearance, getting bulldozed by Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal.
StewMonkey has this to say about Ferentz:
Ferentz has been the coach for 17 seasons. And while Ferentz 3.0 kinda became a thing last year, the changes are mostly unnoticeable for those not intimately familiar with the team. We'll see if it's enough to actually succeed with pretty high expectations coming into the year. There's a whole lot of data out there saying we should expect some crash back to Earth.
The second longest tenured head coach (at age 40!) doubled his win total from last season and finally has a Wildcat squad that resembles one from his playing days: Bone crushing defense with a strong running game. He returns the same coaching staff for yet another year, with some consternation from the Wildcat faithful that he should've changed up his offensive assistants. Fitzy's loyalty to our staff has surprised us before, so I expect another strong season cheering from the stands in Evanston. Hopefully he can coach up Clayton Thorson into a more productive quarterback this season.
Jim Harbaugh's inaugural season in Ann Arbor was a smashing success. The extremely intense and focused head Wolverine still has a ways to go vs Ohio State, and his recruiting tactics definitely have people talking. Sleeping over with a recruit? Spring practice in Florida? Hey, if it works, great! A bowl victory against the Florida Gators was a nice touch.
Indiana AD Fred Glass's patience with Kevin Wilson finally paid off with probably the best season in bloomington since the Antwaan Randle-El days, or the late 80s. His snakebitten Hoosiers scared the crap out of everyone this year, and if not for a botched snap vs Ohio State Indiana would've beaten the hated Buckeyes for perhaps the first time in my lifetime. Indiana's power rushing offense (it seems so weird typing this) was the real deal.
Candystripes for Breakfast has some additional thoughts:
Kevin Wilson is probably having the best coaching tenure of any IU coach since Bill Mallory. Which arguably says more about the coaches brought in during that period, but ignoring that, Wilson is pretty much "the guy" at Indiana until he decides he doesn't want to be. It's too early to say if another bowl game might be in the cards for the Hoosiers, but if it is, anything short of another school poaching CKW means he'll be spending a lot of time in Bloomington. And hey, maybe he can get us another win or two over Penn State. We can dream, right?
The former Wisconsin Quarterback returned home and delivered an impressive debut at 10-3, tying Northwestern for a second place finish in the Big Ten West. Beating hated B1G foe U$C in the Holiday Bowl was a nice touch. Hopefully Barry Alvarez won't have to hire a new coach for a while and Chryst sticks around.
Perhaps the most surprising hire of the season, the former Oregon State head coach turned in a 6-7 initial campaign in Lincoln. A man with a most pleasant demeanor had a season featuring wins over Minnesota for the beloved $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy, #6 Michigan State, and against UCLA in the Foster Farms bowl. Time will tell if this is a good hire for the hungry Husker fan base.
Jesse Collins has more thoughts:
Mike Riley is still a solid incomplete. I realize 6-7 is not going to enamor you with anyone, but he has proven to be a good CEO so far and his recruiting finish was strong. If he can go out and land some huge blue chip targets in the Spring, get this team more stable on defense, and figure out how to teach Tommy to throw the ball away, I think he might be a darkhorse candidate for COTY in 2016. Or, you know, Nebraska might lose ten games in the final minute. That's totally in play too.
Perhaps the coach exuding the most Hype, James Franklin turned in a very disappointing 7-6 season in Happy Valley. I mean, his Nittany Lion squad lost to Temple, a team booted out of the old Big East for drawing less people than Purdue these days! That should never happen.
Good god, what a mess. Former Illinois head man Tim Beckman was canned a week before the season, and Bill Cubit took over and led the team to a respectable (for Illinois) 5-7 record. The high point of the season was a shocking win over Nebraska. The season ended on a disappointing note for the orange and blue faithful as the Hat returned to its rightful place in Evanston.
Thumpasauras has more thoughts:
Cons: Not Ideal
Pros: Won't be a dagger in the heart of the program
Did anyone expect Purdue to beat Nebraska? There's at least some progress, as a feisty Purdue played tight games against Northwestern and also #2 Michigan State. I still don't think he'll be back next season.
I'm not sure how to rank the incoming coaches in their first jobs. Claeys, a longtime Jerry Kill assistant, took over late in the season after Kill's abrupt retirement. Claeys is attempting to make this Gopher squad his own, and fired longtime (since 1999) collaborator and offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover.
WhiteSpeedReceiver has more:
Tracy Claeys has shown flashes of brilliance in his spots filling in previously for Jerry Kill. I was impressed with how the team looked in 2013, and despite being a very good defensive coach he seems willing to let the offense open up more and be aggressive. The down side is that he's still learning all the little nuances of the job like clock management. We'll see how things shake out, but I'm much more optimistic about him than I was about our last coach we hired without HC experience.
Urban Meyer's former co-defensive coordinator is taking his talents to the Birthplace of College Football and will hopefully bring better on field results and off season calm to a (temporarily) troubled Rutgers Scarlet Knight football program. The Rutgers faithful are very optimistic about this hire, and time will tell if the lessons Ash learned in Columbus will translate to wins on the field.
Jim Harbaugh's former Defensive Coordinator is now the head man in College Park, taking over for Randy Edsall. Durkin was once the interim Head Coach in 2014 for the Florida Gators after Will Muschamp was fired.
DJ Carver has more:
He's not Randy Edsall. That's a good thing