Power Ranking Big Ten Football Head Coaches by Recruiting Skills

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IDecember 24, 2013

Power Ranking Big Ten Football Head Coaches by Recruiting Skills

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    Being a head coach in the Big Ten is an honor and a privilege. It's a special league that is full of tradition, history and great rivalries.

    However, the Big Ten is also a competitive conference, so head coaches must be skilled recruiters. If a coach can't recruit in this league, he and his program are going to get left in the dust by the other 11 schools.

    While Ohio State and Michigan remain flagship programs for the Big Ten, other schools have emerged in the conference due to hiring solid recruiting head coaches. Who is the best on the recruiting trail in this league?


12. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

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    Darrell Hazell hasn't been at Purdue long, as this was his initial season in West Lafayette. Yet, it appears he has a lot of work to do when it comes to the Boilermakers establishing themselves on the recruiting trail.

    While Purdue has 18 commitments, 17 of them are 3-star prospects. Hazell will need to go after and acquire better talent in the coming years to move up in these rankings. 

11. Tim Beckman, Illinois

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    Although he's just finishing his second season at Illinois, Tim Beckman has not set the recruiting trail on fire. The Illini are No. 12 in the 2014 247Sports Big Ten recruiting rankings.

    Beckman has signed only one 4-star recruit in his past two recruiting classes, plus he has yet to expand Illinois' recruiting profile. The clock may be ticking on Beckman in Champaign. 

10. Jerry Kill, Minnesota

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    Jerry Kill came to Minnesota from Northern Illinois in December of 2010. He's known as a bright offensive mind, but he's struggled to bring in good talent.

    Since Kill took over, Minnesota has never finished higher than 11th in the 247Sports Big Ten recruiting rankings. However, Kill appears to be finding his recruiting groove these days, as he has 4-star running back Jeff Jones committed, while also being in the hunt for a few more 4-star recruits. 

9. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

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    Kirk Ferentz is one of the most respected coaches in all of football. He's been at Iowa since 1999, and has won two Big Ten titles.

    However, the Hawkeyes have never risen to new heights on the recruiting trail. Ferentz doesn't hunt big game often, as it seems he settles on prospects who are in Iowa's tier. His formula has led to a solid amount of winning, but this list is about recruiting. 

    Iowa is currently 48th in the 247Sports recruiting rankings

8. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

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    Indiana has never been a football school, and it never will. Men's basketball will always be king in Bloomington, but that hasn't stopped Kevin Wilson from trying.

    Wilson has been at Indiana since 2011, and his best class came in 2013. The Hoosiers signed four 4-star recruits, per 247Sports, which is like winning the lottery for them. 

    The results on the field haven't been overwhelming, but Wilson is a better recruiter than many realize. 

7. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

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    Due to high academic standards, recruiting at Northwestern can be challenging. However, Pat Fitzgerald appears to have found a way to bring in good talent without sacrificing the program's integrity.

    Recruits such as defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo and quarterback Matt Alviti are 4-star prospects who have signed with the Wildcats in recent years. 

    However, this year may be Fitzgerald's best class ever. He has four 4-star prospects in his 2014 class, as cornerback Parrker Westphal, defensive end/tight end Garrett Dickerson, running back Justin Jackson and quarterback Clayton Thorson are all headed to Northwestern. 

6. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

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    Mark Dantonio has been the head coach at Michigan State since the 2007 season. The Spartans have never been one of the elite recruiting schools under Dantonio's guidance, but they have signed good talent.

    Michigan State is No. 5 in the 2014 247Sports Big Ten recruiting rankings. The highest it has finished under Dantonio is No. 4 in 2010. There's a reason why the Spartans contend for Big Ten titles almost every year.

5. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin

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    After just several weeks on the job in 2013, Gary Andersen signed a solid 20-man class that quietly possessed impressive talent.

    This year, he has the No. 27 class in the country, according to the 247Sports recruiting rankings. Andersen has acquired 25 total commitments, with four being 4-star recruits.

    He hasn't changed much in Madison, but it appears Andersen is raising the Badgers' recruiting profile.

4. Bo Pelini, Nebraska

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    It is looking more and more like Bo Pelini will return to Nebraska next season as head coach. Although times have been rough, the Cornhuskers have been a solid recruiting program since he took over in 2008.

    Nebraska had the No. 17 class in 2011while it finished 22nd in 2013according to 247Sports. While he may not be beloved by Big Red fans, Pelini has shown he's actually a good recruiting head coach. 

3. Bill O'Brien, Penn State

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    Hired in January of 2012, Bill O'Brien has quickly become one of the best recruiting head coaches in the Big Ten.

    What makes his skills even more remarkable is that he has done a great job on the recruiting trail while constantly and simultaneously battling sanctions and whispers about him going back to the NFL.

    O'Brien signed the No. 4 class in the Big Ten in 2013, which alone should tell you how exceptional his recruiting skills are. Many said it was a fluke, so all O'Brien has done this year is construct the No. 18 class in the country, per 247Sports' recruiting rankings.

2. Brady Hoke, Michigan

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    Aside from finishing 26th in the 2011 247Sports recruiting rankings, Brady Hoke has always brought one of the best 14 classes in the country to Michigan.

    His 2014 class is only ranked 14th because it is a small group of only 16 commitments. However, Hoke has signed phenomenal talent since becoming Michigan's head coach in 2011.

    There's no denying how well he's done on the trailall you have to do is look at the Wolverines' current roster and recruiting class to see for yourself. 

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

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    Without question, the head coach in the Big Ten with the best recruiting skills is Urban Meyer. The leader of the Buckeyes is one of the best the game has seen.

    Meyer took over in Columbus during the 2012 recruiting cycle. He quickly put together the No. 1 class in the Big Ten, which was No. 5 in the national 247Sports recruiting rankings.

    Meyer then signed the nation's No. 2 class in 2013, while his 2014 group is also second in the country. It's clear Ohio State has the best recruiting head coach in the Big Ten.



    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.