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Big Ten Head Coaches 2023: Part II The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Coaches

You won’t believe who’s #1!

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

And we are back for day 2 of ranking the 2023 Big Ten coaches. Which fanbase will I manage to slight this time around? Why is your team’s coach not ranked #1? Possibly because I don’t like your team. I mean I also don’t like the team whose coach is #1, so that may not have mattered. Unlike yesterday, no ties were broken by today’s writer.

7 Iowa Hawkeyes Kirk James Ferentz

198-136 (186-115/115-83 at Iowa)

Syndication: HawkCentral
Look at Kirk’s giant participation trophy

The middle of our rankings feels pretty appropriate for Kirk. His (or his longtime defensive coordinator’s) defense it the top of the conference and maybe the country. His offense and nepotism is the worst in the conference and almost certainly the country as well. That averages out to a good, but not great head coach and that’s exactly what old Kirk is. He will enter his 25th season as Emperor of all Iowa, and will continue to deny the heir Brian his shot at running the monarchy. But there will be no constitutional monarchy or political reforms. No, this is an absolute monarchy and the Ferentzi will sit on the defense in the cornfields, refusing to go on the offensive against their enemies until the Sun consumes the Earth.

6 Nebraska Cornhuskers Matthew Kenneth Rhule

47-43 (0-0 at Nebraska)

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Nebraska
Remember when the basketball game got interrupted by the Matt Rhule infomercial? I ‘member. Not my least favorite basketball moment of the last year though. Oh... I made myself sad
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Rhule is fresh off a failed stint in the No Fun League and Nebraska is back baby! Prior to proving that good college coaches suck in the NFL, Rhule turned Baylor into a 11 win team - let’s just ignore that none of those wins came over a top 25 team that season. Before Baylor though there was Temple. Temple. The 11 wins were pretty (as was Rhule’s accomplishments at Temple), but it might be overstating his capabilities just a tad. I’d still take 11 wins or 10. Nine even left me rather satisfied. Rhule should at least return Nebraska to respectability and that’s not a bad thing.

5 The Ohio State Buckeyes Ryan Bornonthirdbase Day

45-6 (31-2) at Ohio State

Syndication: The Commercial Appeal
Ryan Day being born
Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The head man of The Ohio State job was given an odd middle name by his parents, but he’s lived up to it during his professional career after being gifted The Ohio State position. I mean sure Day is 31-2 in Big Ten play, but he’s such a bad coach his athletic director had to publicly state he has full confidence in him this past week. The dreaded vote of confidence. That’s how you know The Ohio State should burn it all down (the stadium, football facilities, the university, etc.) and try again. If Day can’t even win a national championship at The Ohio State - let alone beat Michigan consistently - is he really the guy to be steering the SS Columbus?

4 Illinois Fighting Illini Bret Arnold Bielema

110-70 (13-12/9-9 at Illinois)

NCAA Football: ReliaQuest Bowl Clearwater Beach Day
Look at Bert’s participation trophy. It’s actually bigger than Kirk’s.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Old Bert has the largest presence on the coaching sidelines in the Big Ten. This is a man who literally cannot be pushed around. His stubborn reliance on the ground game is due to the fact that he struggles to get off the ground when jumping and therefore doesn’t believe in passing the ball. That inability to develop a passing game may be an issue in the modern 2020s Big Ten, but he’s already returned Illinois to respectability much faster than expected. Hopefully for Illini fans, the last two years of success weren’t due to his now departed defensive coordinator and Bert shows that he still has some coaching chops of his own.

It would be a real shame if our commenters posted Bert gifs in the comments. You know which ones I’m talking about.

3 Penn State Nittany Lions James Geoffrey Franklin

102-51 (78-36, 49-30 at Penn State)

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State at Utah
Rose Bowl
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Introducing the 75 million dollar man: James Franklin. Although he’s struggled to win the Big Ten in recent years or compete at the very, very pinnacle of the conference, Franklin has consistently put together very solid, competitive rosters that finish well above the bowl eligibility cutoff while still firmly out of the conference race. His consistency is to be admired and hey, he did actually win the Big Ten that one time. That was a really tough conference that year with football geniuses such as Darrell Hazell still roamed the sidelines in the B1G. Speaking of whom, I think one of today’s 7 coaches should be replaced by Darrell Hazell. He would return these once proud programs to a level of admiration and respect they haven’t had in a long, long time.

2 wisconsin trash pandas badgers Luke Joseph Fickell

63-25 (0-0 at wisconsin)

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Purdue
This guy is #2?
Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t understand this ranking but hey the other writers get votes too and this is what the results say. Fickell took my graduate school to the College Football Playoff. Nice little accomplishment. Well done. Tresselball does work really well when you out talent your opponents. But he’s also the first wisconsin coach with a loss to Purdue on his resume since... Barry Alvarez. Alvarez hasn’t been the coach since 2005 (unless you count his interim stints - and I’m not). I’m still really uncertain how the non-run game heavy offense works for the Badgers but I guess we find out. Assuming Fickell has time to implement it before Ohio State hires him to replace Day in November.

1 Michigan Wolverines James Joseph Harbaugh

132-52 (74-25/51-17 at Michigan)

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan
Harbaugh isn’t sad because UM lost. He’s sad that the Lions won’t return his calls
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After another offseason of playing footsy with the NFL (or pretending to while NFL executives ghost him), Jim returns for another season at Michigan with the Michigan machine running at full steam. Having beaten The Ohio State two years in a row and made it to the College Football Playoff two years in a row, Jim probably feels pretty good about himself and his coaching ability. But he made me and my fellow bots sad last December so he shouldn’t be surprised if he starts struggling with technology. I’m just saying he shouldn’t be afraid of chicken. He should be afraid of computers.


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