Going into the 2019 season, how do the Big Ten coaches stack up? Here’s the preseason ranking of all the head men.
Who do you want as your head coach for right now, and how good are the all the current Big Ten coaches?
Record and resumés aren’t necessarily everything, but of course they matter. Where are each of the teams going, which guys have the buzz, and which ones need to prove themselves a bit more?
These aren’t Hot Seat Rankings – those are coming later. These are the rankings based loosely on what the head coaches have done, and mostly about what they’re about to do.
Think of it this way. If you were to hold a head coaching draft …
14. Chris Ash, Rutgers
The guy might be Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Norman Dale all wrapped up into one, but trying to get Rutgers off the ground in the second-toughest division in college football – put the Big Ten East right behind the SEC West – isn’t fair. It’s been a brutally rough run going 7-29 in three years with just three Big Ten wins, and even at Rutgers there has to be some signs of success.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 13
– 2019 Rutgers Preview
13. Mike Locksley, Maryland
Yeah, he knows the area and he’s a heck of a recruiter, but the 2-26 run as the New Mexico head coach and the 1-5 run when taking over Maryland in 2015 once Randy Edsall was canned doesn’t exactly scream yippee. There’s enough talent in place to go bowling, and he did a fantastic job as the Alabama offensive coordinator over the last two seasons, but he has a lot to prove after his time in Albuquerque.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
– 2019 Maryland Preview
12. Tom Allen, Indiana
It’s Year Three and the Hoosiers are supposed to be able to get over the hump – at least the pieces are there to do it. But after two straight 5-7 seasons – losing to Purdue both times with bowl eligibility on the line – and a 4-14 Big Ten record, Indiana is going to count to three … there will not be a four if there’s another losing season.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 14
– 2019 Indiana Preview
11. Lovie Smith, Illinois
Obviously Lovie Smith is a good football coach, but he hasn’t had a whole lot of luck in his first three seasons, and he hasn’t had a whole lot of talent to work with. On the plus side, 2018 was his best year yet. On the down side, he won four games. In a fourth year of a youth movement and rebuild, this is when the payoff is supposed to come.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 10
– 2019 Illinois Preview
10. Jeff Brohm, Purdue
This might seem weirdly low considering he could’ve been the Louisville head coach right now and he certainly should be in the mix for the NFL in a bit, but going 13-13 in two years and 9-9 in the Big Ten isn’t a reason to build a statue quite yet. Okay, okay, it sort of is – considering how bad the program was when he took it over – but there are a whole lot of other good coaches in this conference, too.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 8
– 2019 Purdue Preview
9. P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
All of a sudden, right after a 55-31 embarrassment against Illinois, it’s as if everything clicked, There might have been a loss to Northwestern over the last four games, but the Golden Gophers destroyed Purdue, crushed Wisconsin – breaking a LONG hex – and annihilated Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl. This is all starting to work. Fleck is putting it all together to be dangerous.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 12
– 2019 Minnesota Preview
8. Ryan Day, Ohio State
No, the new guy hasn’t done it yet, but sort of lost in the shuffle was how he held the ship together when it all could’ve easily blown apart early last year turning Urbangate. Granted, you could’ve been the head coach and Ohio State would’ve whacked around Oregon State and Rutgers, but guiding the way to the win at TCU was terrific at the time. Now he has to show that he can do the most with the most. Welcome to the show, newbie … win the Big Ten title.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked
– 2019 Ohio State Preview
7. Scott Frost, Nebraska
Obviously you want to buy stock in the Nebraska head coach now. You know what’s coming. You know Nebraska is going to grow into a thing. You know Frost is among the best and brightest coaches going. One massive season at UCF was nice, but 4-8 isn’t enough to get it done in this league of great coaches. No worries; again, the big things are coming.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 7
– 2019 Nebraska Preview
6. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Has he become underrated and underappreciated again? Not only is he winning a whole lot of games, but he’s cranking out a whole lot of top pro prospects, too. With 37 wins in the last four seasons, two straight bowl wins, and 152 career victories – all with the utmost class – he’s what you want in a head football coach. Why isn’t he higher? He has one double-digit win season in the last nine.
Last Season Preseason Ranking: 9
– 2019 Iowa Preview