College Football Coaches' Rankings: Big Ten Edition

Daniel MayCorrespondent IJune 2, 2009

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions during play against the Oregon State Beavers at Beaver Stadium on September 6, 2008 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

These rankings take into account longevity, coaching skill, and changes in team performances over time

For coaches on the job less than five years, winning percentage is compared versus the team's record for the five years prior to their taking the position.

For the coaches with more than five years experience at a school, the winning percentage of the last three years is compared against career winning percentage. 

These considerations give a sense of the team’s trending under their coach.  Points were also assigned for having won a national and/or conference championship.

New coaches do not have data with their current teams, and so they will likely wind up rated at or near the bottom of each conference.

The Big Ten has an interesting coaching situation, as eight of the eleven coaches have been in their current positions for less than five years.  This season there is only one newcomer in the league. 

A small handful of Big Ten coaches, however, is already feeling the pressure, and their programs appear to be at a crossroads this season. 

1.  Joe Paterno, Penn State

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JoePa has been doing this longer than anyone else, and his career has been simply astounding.  Nineteen seasons with 10 or more wins, multiple national championships, and a chance to become the all-time wins leader in FBS history.  He has seen and done it all.

2.  Jim Tressel, Ohio State

Paterno is No. 1 simply because of the entire body of work.  What Tressel has accomplished in eight seasons, however, makes him one of the best in the game right now.

Yes, there have been rough moments in the national title games, but he has also engineered a Big Ten juggernaut.  In fact, he is also 5-3 vs. Paterno.  There is also that 2002 team. 

3.  Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Once considered the hottest young coach on the planet, Ferentz has been guiding the Hawkeyes for 10 seasons now. 

After a rough first two seasons, Ferentz has led the Hawkeyes to bowl bids in seven of the last eight seasons. 

In addition, his teams tied for the conference title in 2002 and 2004, and he has three Top 10 finishes at Iowa.

4.  Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Dantonio has won 16 games in his first two seasons with the Spartans, following a successful three years with Cincinnati. 

He appears to have his team poised for even more success, with a tenacious ground game and a staunch defense (which has become a trademark since his time as defensive coordinator for Ohio State).

5.  Rich Rodriguez, Michigan

The belief is that Rodriguez will be successful, very successful at Michigan, once his recruits are firmly in place.  Based on what happened on the field last season, however, Rodriguez has lost a bit of luster.

His first season was remarkably similar to his first year at West Virginia (three wins also), and yet after that, he reeled off six straight winning seasons and never finished lower than second in the Big East.

6.  Bret Bielema, Wisconsin

The overall win total has declined in each of his three seasons, and so Bielema and Wisconsin need a big year to prove that he can be successful. 

Wisconsin football is about power rushing attacks, big offensive lines, and stout defense, and Bielema needs to be sure to focus on these strengths for this season.  It is definitely a make-or-break season in Madison.

7.  Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

The opposite of Bielema, Fitzgerald’s teams have increased wins in each of his first three seasons, and watching him on the sidelines, it is clear that the Head Cat is gaining knowledge and confidence in each game.

If he is able to continue the momentum, Coach Fitzgerald will be among the top three or four coaches in the conference.

8.  Ron Zook, Illinois

Zook will be trying to prove that 2007 was not a fluke, and, while he will never be considered a top-flight tactician, his recruiting and enthusiasm is infectious. 

Despite that magical 2007 season, however, in his other three years at Illinois, Zook is just 9-26 (4-20 in the Big Ten).

9.  Tim Brewster, Minnesota

The Gophers were a great story to begin last season, and, in spite of the finish to the year, the six-game turnaround was a marvelous coaching job.  Brewster spent 13 seasons as an assistant to Mack Brown, and so he observed how to win. 

Now, it is time for him to demonstrate that ability to win consistently.  Remember, this is the same Gopher administration that dropped Glen Mason, despite his reaching seven bowl games in his final eight seasons.

10.  Bill Lynch, Indiana

2007 was a good season for Hoosier fans, complete with a surprising bowl berth.  Last season, the bottom fell out and Indiana returned to the bottom of the conference.

Lynch did not prove successful during his Ball State tenure from 1995-2002, and so, there are questions about his ability to elevate the Hoosier program. 

11.  Danny Hope, Purdue

Hope takes over for Joe Tiller, who established Purdue as a viable team, but was unable to make much progress over his final four seasons (25-25 overall).

Hope was successful as a coach at Eastern Kentucky, but there is a significant step-up in competition in this conference.

If he is able to move Purdue back to the upper half of the conference standings, he will not be at the bottom of the coach rankings next season.

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