Big Ten Basketball: The Worst Coaches Since 1992

Jeffrey BatheContributor IIIFebruary 12, 2011

Big Ten Basketball: The Worst Coaches Since 1992

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    Kevin O'NeillDoug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Next season, the Big Ten Conference welcomes the University of Nebraska to their ranks, the first new team in the league since 1992. As the 11 team era comes to a close, it is time to look at the bottom five coaches in the conference since Penn State started to compete in basketball in 1992. Only records since 1992 will be looked at when ranking the coaches.

    As with any form of rankings, there is the potential for subjectivity and conversation about who was snubbed. 

    Let the list begin.

    Other stories in the series:

    Big Ten Basketball: The Best Coaches Since 1992

    Big Ten Football: The Best Coaches Since 1993

    Big Ten Football: The Worst Coaches Since 1993

Dishonorable Mention

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    Jim MolinariJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Success has been lacking during the following coaches' Big Ten tenures, but they were too successful, inherited a team mid-season or their story is still being written and so they didn't make the top five.

    •   Bill Foster: Northwestern University, 1992-1993: 8-19 (3-15 Big Ten)

    •   Tom Crean: Indiana University, 2008-Present: 28–59 (8–40 Big Ten)

    •   Jim Molinari: University of Minnesota, 2006-2007: 7-17 (3-13 Big Ten)

5. The Asterisk Club

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    Kelvin SampsonJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The following coaches are here not for their coaching records, but for the black marks they left on their programs. While they had success on the court, the problems that occurred on their watch stained their programs, took wins away, had record books re-written and banners taken down in shame. They are being referred to as the "Asterisk Club" because of the marks left on their programs' histories.

    •   Clem Haskins: University of Minnesota, 1993-1999: 231-124 (153-78 Big Ten)

    •   Steve Fisher: University of Michigan, 1992-1997: 185-81  (88-56 Big Ten)

    •   Kelvin Sampson: Indiana University, 2006-2008: 43-15 (21-8 Big Ten)

    •   Jim O'Brien: The Ohio State University, 1997-2004: 132-88  (61-52 Big Ten)

4. Todd Lickliter, University Of Iowa (2007-2010)

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    Todd LickliterJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Todd Lickliter took over the Hawkeyes, replacing Steve Alford. The Hawkeyes had enjoyed a successful stretch, posting seven straight winning seasons. Prior to coming to Iowa, Lickliter posted a 131–61 record while at Butler.

    Overall Record: 38–57

    Big Ten Record: 15–39

    Number of Winning Seasons: None

    Number of Losing Seasons: Three

    Big Ten Regular Season Titles: None

    Big Ten Tournament Titles: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Top Three: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Bottom Five: Three

    Best Season: 15-16 (2008-2009)

    Worst Season: 10-22 (2009-2010)

    Notes: Lickliter's problems started early in his tenure, as leading scorer Tyler Smith transferred to Tennessee and the Hawkeyes were not able to fill the void during his first season. He was replaced by then-Siena coach Fran McCaffery following the 2009-2010 season.

3. Randy Ayers, The Ohio State University (1992-1997)

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    Randy AyersJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Randy Ayers took over the Buckeyes following Gary Williams' departure for the University of Maryland. OSU had been to eight straight postseason tournaments (four NCAA and four NIT), so success was part of the program. This success continued for the first three years of Ayers' tenure, with three straight NCAA bids. However, once the conference went to eleven, Ayers' fortunes changed.

    Overall Record: 54-85

    Big Ten Record: 24-66

    Number of Winning Seasons: One

    Number of Losing Seasons: Four

    Big Ten Regular Season Titles: None

    Big Ten Tournament Titles: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Top Three: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Bottom Five: Five

    Best Season: 15-13 (1992-1993)

    Worst Season: 6-22 (1994-1995)

    Notes: Ayers was 124–108 (64–80 Big Ten) during his eight year tenure. However, it is the last five years, which fell into the area of this article, which demonstrated the lack of success of the program in the latter part of his tenure and led to his demise. Ayers was replaced by Jim O'Brien following the 1996-1997 season.

2. Kevin O'Neill, Northwestern University (1997-2000)

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    Kevin O'NeillJamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Kevin O’Neill was hired to succeed Ricky Byrdsong. O'Neill took over a Northwestern squad that had not been above 10th in the Big Ten since 1983-1984. Prior to coming to NU, O'Neill had been the coach for three seasons at Tennessee.

    Overall Record: 30-56

    Big Ten Record: 9-39

    Number of Winning Seasons: None

    Number of Losing Seasons: Three

    Big Ten Regular Season Titles: None

    Big Ten Tournament Titles: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Top Three: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Bottom Five: Three

    Best Season: 15-14 (1998-1999)

    Worst Season: 5-25 (1999-2000)

    Notes: The highlight of O'Neill's tenure was the fact that he lead the Wildcats to an eighth place finish in 1998-1999, which was the best finish NU had since 1983-1984. The 15 wins the Wildcats won that year was equal to the total O'Neill earned his other two seasons in Evanston. Following the 1999-2000 season, he was replaced by Bill Carmody.

1. Ricky Byrdsong, Northwestern University (1993-1997)

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    Ricky ByrdsongJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Ricky Byrdsong was hired to succeed Bill Foster after his stepped aside to become the Wildcat's interim athletic director. Byrdsong took over a Northwestern squad that had six straight 10th place finishes in conference play and hadn't had double digit wins since 1983-1984.

    Overall Record: 34-78

    Big Ten Record: 10-62

    Number of Winning Seasons: One

    Number of Losing Seasons: Three

    Big Ten Regular Season Titles: None

    Big Ten Tournament Titles: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Top Three: None

    Number of Seasons in Big Ten Bottom Five: Four

    Best Season: 15-14 (1993-1994)

    Worst Season: 7-22 (1996-1997)

    Notes: Byrdsong struggled during his four years at Northwestern. The Wildcats' best finish in the Big Ten was a tie for 10th in the 1993-1994 season. Brydsong followed up that performance with three straight 11th place finishes in the conference. Following the 1996-1997 season, he was replaced by Kevin O’Neill.