Big Ten Midseason Coach Rankings
1. Matt Canada, Maryland
Who was the one head coach who beat Texas this season? The Terps might not have shown up against Temple, but they made up for it with a blowout over Minnesota on the way to a 3-2 start. No one would’ve been shocked or would’ve blamed the program from going into the tank, but instead, it’s on its way to a bowl game.
2. Ryan Day, Ohio State
He kept the ship afloat. Yeah, Urban Meyer never really left and was still in charge of everything outside of being on the sidelines on game days, but he was the one who helped pull off the win over TCU, and the team started to tweak and build all while the rest of the program had public relations misstep after misstep.
3. James Franklin, Penn State
The program has become a machine at this point. It lost Saquon Barkley, it had to replace several key defenders, but with a fantastic blend of great young new guys, and with Trace McSorley leading the way, Penn State has been terrific. At some point, Franklin will start receiving his due for making this all go.
4. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
It really is okay to start giving him a little love. Granted, he still has Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State to deal with, and the loss to Notre Dame to start the season stinks, but the defense is still amazing, and he now has the offense beginning to rise up.
5. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
The defense is fantastic, the offense has moved on without the key running backs from last year, and the O line survived a few personnel issues early on to get to 4-1. There isn’t a great win yet, and the loss to Wisconsin at home was the one thing the Hawkeyes couldn’t do, but watch out – they’re gong to be in for a huge second half.
6. Tom Allen, Indiana
His Hoosiers were better than the stats might have seemed against Ohio State, and the home loss to Michigan State now stinks, but in the rain, his team beat Virginia, got through the road game at FIU, and has the offense playing well on the way to a 4-2 start. It’s not a lock IU will go bowling, but it’s been a strong first half for a team with no expectations.
7. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
BYU 24, Wisconsin 21. No … just, no. The secondary is a problem, and other than the gut-check win over Iowa, there’s not anything else in terms of wins to get fired up about. With Penn State, Purdue, Michigan and Northwestern in the second half on the road, the team needed to be perfect early on to be realistically in the CFP chase, and it wasn’t.
8. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
He deserves a little more credit than this considering he lost his star running back Jeremy Larkin, and he did start the season with a win over Purdue on the road. But the collapse against Akron and three straight home losses dug a deep, deep hole.
9. Jeff Brohm, Purdue
To be fair, he had to reload most of the defense. However, he had four straight home games to start the season and went 1-3 – partly because his team committed awful late penalties at the worst possible times. But the offense is starting to hum, and the team rocked Boston College and Nebraska to turn the season around.
10. Lovie Smith, Illinois
The promise and hope was that this year was going to be amazing after going through the growing pains of 2017, and it still might be. However, beating Kent State, Western Illinois and Rutgers isn’t a big deal. Collapsing late in Chicago against USF, is.
11. PJ FLeck, MInnesota
The wheels are spinning off. Beating Fresno State was nice, but the defense has gone bye-bye in Big Ten play, and now, without Rodney Smith to rely on for the ground game, the offense is playing like it has a walk-on true freshman quarterback.
12. Scott Frost, Nebraska
It’s a tough situation. The team was on the wrong side of a few close games, and the parts aren’t there to pull up out of the nosedive. However, 2018 doesn’t matter – this is all about building towards something special, and there are glimpses of what’s to come. Blow off the loss to Wisconsin and focus on what the passing game was doing. This is going to work – eventually.
13. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Just about everyone of note was back from a great 2017 season, and … pfffffffffft. The air went out of the balloon fast with a comeback win against Utah State, and then a loss to Arizona State where Herm Edwards pulled off a masterful performance late in the battle. Losing to a punchless Northwestern by ten at home is just not okay for a team that came into the season with top ten ranking upside.
14. Chris Ash, Rutgers
He’s fighting the good fight, but the tweaks and changes just aren’t working. There’s no offensive – failing to score more than 17 points in any of the last five games – and there’s the ignominious 55-14 loss to Kansas on the resume, along with a 42-13 home loss to Buffalo. Throw in the Indiana and Illinois losses, and what should’ve been a 5-1 start for a decent team is reversed.