Big Ten Football: Power Ranking Coaches for 2012 with Urban Meyer at Ohio State
Home to some of the most legendary names to ever roam a college football sideline—Hayes, Schembechler, Paterno—the Big Ten is no stranger to great coaches.
While some teams lost legends and never missed a beat—Wisconsin, Iowa—others like perennial powers Michigan and Ohio State haven’t been so lucky.
Here’s a look at the Big Ten’s best coaches for 2012, assuming Urban Meyer is the new head man at Ohio State next season.
1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
With two national championships in three seasons at Florida, Urban Meyer solidified his reputation as one of the top coaches in all of college football.
If the Buckeyes can lure Meyer from the TV booth and get him back on the sideline, it won’t be long before Ohio State is competing for national titles again.
2. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
One of the toughest jobs in all of sports is replacing a legend. Doing it successfully is almost unheard of, but that’s exactly what Bret Bielema has done at Wisconsin.
Since replacing Barry Alvarez in 2006, Bielema has enjoyed a 12-1 season and a Rose Bowl berth while keeping Badger football a household name.
3. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Like Bielema at Wisconsin, Ferentz replaced a legend at Iowa when he took over for Hayden Fry.
Ferentz has taken the Hawkeyes to the BCS and kept them relevant for more than a decade in a conference dominated on and off the field by Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Ferentz has been rumored for numerous NFL head coaching jobs.
4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
When Mark Dantonio took over the Spartans, he inherited a program left in disarray by Bobby Williams and John L. Smith.
It’s taken him just four and a half seasons to turn the team completely around, compiling a 39-20 record along the way while consistently contending for a Big Ten championship.
5. Joe Paterno, Penn State
If these were all-time rankings, Joe Paterno would be at the top of the list and it wouldn’t even be close.
However, JoePa seems to have become nothing more than a figurehead at Penn State, and if he’s around in 2012 his role will likely diminish even more.
Still, the Lions keep winning (7-1 so far this season), keeping him near the top of the list.
6. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Bo Pelini has lost some of the luster he had when he was hired by failing to take Nebraska to a BCS bowl game in his first three seasons, but the guy has won a lot of games.
The Huskers are 36-13 under Pelini and 3-1 in bowl games.
7. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
It’s been a disappointing season in Evanston, but that doesn’t mean Pat Fitzgerald isn’t a great coach.
At a school known more for academics than gridiron success, Fitzgerald was 34-29 before this year.
As tough as it is to replace a legend, it might be even harder to replace a friend and mentor who died a tragic and sudden death, which is exactly how Fitzgerald got the job after his predecessor Randy Walker suffered a fatal heart attack.
8. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Michigan head man Brady Hoke is near the bottom of this list, but only because he’s coached just seven games.
The “Michigan Man” is off to a great start in Ann Arbor, and if he continues on his current path, it won’t be long before the Wolverines are a consistent Big Ten title contender.
9. Danny Hope, Purdue
After a couple of lean seasons in West Lafayette, Purdue head coach Danny Hope looks to have the Boilers on the upswing in his third season on the job.
The Boilermakers need just two wins in their last five games to become bowl-eligible.
10. Ron Zook, Illinois
Illinois’ Ron Zook is a great recruiter and a mediocre head coach.
He failed at Florida where he had his pick of the nation’s talent, and he’s recruited enough good players at Illinois to sandwich a Rose Bowl trip between years of disappointing seasons.
11. Jerry Kill, Minnesota
Jerry Kill’s first season at Minnesota has been a disaster, but the university brass must like the direction he’s taking the program as Kill was just rewarded with a new seven-year deal worth $1.2 million this week.
Given it’s only his first year and Tim Brewster set the Gophers back at least two seasons, the jury is still out on Kill.
12. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Like Jerry Kill at Minnesota, it’s too early to tell if Kevin Wilson is going to be a success at Indiana.
The Hoosiers are just 1-7, but they’ve been much more competitive under Wilson than they were a season ago.