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Big Ten Head Coaches 2023: Part I The Bottom Half

If this was a B1G division, it would be the West division

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Unlike the player rankings, the head coach rankings aren’t super likely to change before the season because the coach transfer portal is almost certainly closed until the season begins. So here it is: the definitive Big Ten head coaches rankings for your 2023 season as voted upon by a group of people that don’t watch the games. Tiebreakers broken by whomever I wanted to be higher. Feel free to guess who I slighted and promoted.

14 Indiana Hoosiers Thomas E. Allen

30-40 (17-35) at Indiana

Purdue v Indiana
I was at this game!
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

After appearing to have turned the corner at Indiana in 2020 and finishing second in the worst division of the Big Ten, Indiana has put together two consecutive losing seasons under Tom Allen. Some critics (and fans) believe that Indiana’s 2019-2020 success was due to their former offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer. It’s hard to argue against that after watching DeBoer’s performance as the head coach of Washington, but Allen will have at least one more chance to Love Every One on the schedule.

13 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Gregory Edward Schiano

80-89 (12-22/6-20 this go around) at Rutgers

Rutgers Spring Football Game
Even in the spring game, Rutgers still finds a way to lose
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Schiano enters the fourth season of his second stint at Rutgers having yet to reach 6 wins. While Rutgers served as a Gator Bowl game fill-in in 2021, the conference record has actually gotten worse each season the past three years. The 2006 national coach of the year, Schiano once resurrected a moribund Rutgers program. Can he do it again, or does his defensive identity fail to work when completely outmatched talentwise in the Big Ten?

12 Northwestern Wildcats Patrick William Fitzgerald

110-101 (65-76) at Northwestern

Wisconsin v Northwestern
Irish national champion
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The second longest tenured head coach in the Big Ten, Pat Fitzgerald is the only one to have won a national championship as a head coach. Granted, it was the Irish national championship, but it still counts. The past two years have been brutal for Northwestern, with back to back 1-8 Big Ten records. If it weren’t for Scott Frost, Fitzgerald would be on an 18 game losing streak. Although it’s uncertain whether Fitz can turn things back around, he is the winningest head coach at Northwestern both by win totals and winning percentage.

11 Michigan State Spartans Melvin Tucker II

23-21 (18-14/12-13 at Michigan State)

Michigan State v Penn State
Mel Tucker flips off the Michigan State fanbase probably
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Four years ago, Mel Tucker left Colorado. Colorado is now the worst power five program in the country. I’m certain that Tucker has things well in hand at Michigan State and that they won’t repeat the spiral of doom that was Colorado football... oh the starting QB and #1 WR just entered the portal?

After a surprising 11-2 2021 campaign, Spartan megadonors rewarded Tucker with a $95 million contract. Then 2022 happened and people realized just how good Kenneth Walker III was. 2022 may have just been a one year dip, but recruiting has certainly fallen off a cliff following last season so if Tucker is going to succeed at MSU, this upcoming season is crucial.

10 Maryland Terrapins Michael Anthony Locksley

23-54 (21-28/11-27 at Maryland)

Duke’s Mayo Bowl - Maryland v NC State
Mayo bath
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Have you ever taken a bath in mayonnaise? Well, then you and Mike Locksley have something in common. I also question your life choices. When Maryland hired Locksley in 2019, he had a career 3-31 record. Questioning the Terrapins AD decision making at that time made a lot of sense, but Locksley has slowly built Maryland into a solid team that is able to hold their own in the Big Ten East. He’s led the Terps to bowl eligibility each of the last two seasons and steadily improved their conference record each year.

9 Purdue Boilermakers Ryan Walters


COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 29 Michigan State at Purdue
Go for two
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Big Ten’s youngest coach is a first time head coach. A Colorado alumni, Walters has most recently been the defensive coordinator at Purdue’s rival Illinois. Under Walters, the 2022 Illini defense ranked second nationally in points allowed, third in total defense, and third in yards per play. He has a five year contract.

8 Minnesota Gophers PJ Fleck

74-49 (44-27/26-26 at Minnesota)

Minnesota v Wisconsin
Row, row, row the boat
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Fleck sits at .500 in the Big Ten thru six seasons. Despite having the easiest crossover schedule in the West last season, Fleck failed to lead the Gophers to the promised land of Indianapolis. Instead they settled for a second consecutive 9-4 season. PJ Fleck is known for his eccentric coaching style and enjoys sprinting down the sideline. The second biggest hype man in college football (behind Deion), Fleck does not enjoy eating ice cream in blizzards and therefore seems an odd choice for a Gophers coach, but he’s made it work so far.

Tune in tomorrow for the top half of the rankings.