The Big 10 is coming off a season in which 2 schools were in the CFB Playoff. The stakes within the league can’t be any higher right now, but those will elevate once USC & UCLA enter the fray. Historically, this conference has seen the prowess of Paterno, Schembechler, Hayes, Fry, Alvarez, Carr and Tressel patrol the midwestern sidelines. The current landscape is not as esteemed, but there are a few that have carried on the proud football tradition of their university. This season will really test the coaching acumen of these 14 men, their staffs and of course their players. The conference is sorting through the mess of a new media contract that is causing some programs to break from tradition and play night games in November. This pivot from blustery Fall afternoon Football across the Midwest will soon become consistently frozen in November. The conference has no issue with playing night games in September & October, but they stayed away from November due to the weather and travel for the fans. This is another obstacle for the league to overcome, but as the decades have passed before, it will become an asset for the coaches and the conference. One negative that recently emerged is the relocation of the Penn St at Michigan St season finale from outdoors in East Lansing to indoors at Ford Field. This media deal cannot remove the home field advantage or late season weather that the conference owns as a badge of honor. The coaches, athletic directors and especially the fans must jump in and save that tradition. I have listed the 14 current Big 10 Head Coaches below based on a collection of current success, career success, ethics and maximizing their resources. If you’re looking for a great college football & NFL Podcast, subscribe to The Irrational Confidence Podcast (@IRConfidencePod on Twitter), available on all podcast platforms and the Spinnable Sports YouTube Channel. We just dropped our NFL Schedule Release reaction episode and you can also find our NFL Draft reaction episode in the same spot. Also, we’re releasing an episode covering the CFB Stadiums we want to catch a game at as well as our Preseason Top 25 teams very soon.
1.). JIM HARBAUGH: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
- Career CFB HC Record of 132-52 and 4-7 Bowl Record
- Guided Stanford to a 12 win season and the Orange Bowl in 2010
- 12 winning seasons out of 15 as a CFB Head Coach
- As a FBS D1 HC, He has 6 10+ victory campaigns out of 12.
- Guided Michigan to 2 straight wins over Ohio State
- Back 2 Back Big 10 Champions
- Back 2 Back CFB Playoff participants
- A record of 49-22-1 as an NFL HC as well as 1 Super Bowl appearance
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 25TH. “THE GAME” VS OHIO STATE
2.). RYAN DAY: OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
- Career CFB HC Record of 45-6
- Guided Ohio State to the CFB Playoff 3 out of 4 Years and a record of 1-3 in the playoff.
- 2 Big 10 Championships
- Won the Rose Bowl
- 1-2 vs Michigan
- Recruits at a very elite level
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 25TH. “THE GAME” AT MICHIGAN
3.). JAMES FRANKLIN: PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
- Career CFB HC Record of 102-51 and a 6-5 Bowl Record
- Won 9 games twice in a season at Vanderbilt and got them to 3 Bowl games.
- Guided Penn State to a Big 10 Championship in 2016.
- 4 11+ victory seasons out of 9 as Head Coach at Penn State.
- Has guided the Nittany Lions to 2 Rose Bowls and 1 Cotton Bowl.
- Recruits at an Elite level and develops NFL talent.
- Next step is to win the Big 10 and get into the CFB Playoff.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 21ST. AT OHIO STATE
4.). PAT FITZGERALD: NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS
- Career CFB HC Record of 110-101 and a 5-5 Bowl Record
- Won the Big 10 West in 2018 & 2020
- 3 10+ win seasons since 2012
- Led Northwestern to 8 bowl games since 2010.
- Considering academic standards, the Stadium and resources, he has done a tremendous job.
- He rarely has a ranked recruiting class, but he develops competitive Big Ten players and quite a few NFL ready players.
- Runs a clean program and maximizes his resources and in some ways, he overachieves.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 30TH. VS PENN STATE
5.). KIRK FERENTZ: IOWA HAWKEYES
- Career CFB HC Record of 198-136 and 10-9 Bowl Record
- 2 Big 10 Championships in 2002 & 2004
- 2 Big 10 West titles in 2015 & 2021
- 7 seasons of 10+ victories
- Develops NFL Talent at a very high rate
- Doesn’t have Top 25 recruiting classes very often, but he has a tremendous ability to develop his players
- He would be higher if it wasn’t for numerous off the field issues connected to him and the way he has run the program.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 23RD AT PENN STATE
6.). LUKE FICKELL: WISCONSIN BADGERS
- Career CFB HC Record of 63-25 and 3-3 Bowl Record
- Guided Cincinnati to 2 AAC Titles and played for a 3rd in 2019
- Got the Bearcats to the CFB Playoff and the Peach Bowl
- 5 straight winning seasons at Cincinnati
- Won 11+ games 3 different times with the Bearcats
- Recruits and develops players at a very high rate.
- Maximizes his resources
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 28TH. VS OHIO STATE
7.). BRET BIELEMA: ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
- Career CFB HC Record of 110-70 and 4-6 Bowl Record
- Had a great run at Wisconsin, flamed out at Arkansas and rebuilding Illinois
- Won 3 Big 10 Titles at Wisconsin
- Took the Badgers to 3 straight Rose Bowls
- 4 10+ plus victory campaigns (all in Madison).
- 5 out of 7 seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers finished in the AP TOP 25
- Must avoid losing clunkers like last year at Indiana, vs Michigan State and vs Purdue.
- Has a large task in 2023 replacing a lot of draft picks and his DC
- He hasn’t been the greatest recruiter, but he is very good at identifying talent and developing them into NFL players.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 16TH. VS PENN STATE
8.). MATT RHULE: NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
- Career CFB HC Record of 47-43 and 1-2 Bowl Record
- Built Temple from scratch to an AAC Champion in 2016
- Rebuilt Baylor from the bottom up and got them to a Sugar Bowl
- 3 10+ win seasons in 7 as a CFB Head Coach
- 5 of 7 seasons were .500 or better while in charge
- Took Temple to the AAC Title Game twice and Baylor to the Big 12 Title game once.
- Must improve recruiting a tremendously while at Nebraska, but he has done an outstanding job in developing players to surpass expectations.
- He maximized his resources at Temple and Baylor.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 30TH. VS MICHIGAN
9.). PJ FLECK: MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
- Career CFB HC Record of 74-49 and 5-2 Bowl Record
- 2 11+ plus win seasons only 3 losing seasons in 10 as a Head Coach
- 1 MAC Championship and 2 MAC West crowns.
- Shared a Big 10 West Title, but lost the tiebreaker and didn’t play for the championship.
- Guided Western Michigan to the Cotton Bowl
- Recruiting isn’t elite, but he develops players pretty well and maximizes his resources.
- Still lacking that trip to Indy for the Big 10 Championship o and a NY6 Bowl.
- The goal should be 10 wins and a Big 10 West outright title…worried that his initial culture infusion is wearing off.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 18TH. AT OHIO STATE
10.). GREG SCHIANO: RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
- Career CFB HC Record of 80-89 and a 5-2 Bowl record
- 6 winning seasons in 14 campaigns at Rutgers
- Won 11 games in 2006
- 6-20 vs the Big 10 and 28-48 vs the Big East
- Must recruit better and produce victories or his 2nd stint in NJ could be ending.
- He does get the most out of players talents considering Rutgers is very tough to recruit to.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 23RD. AT MICHIGAN
11.). MIKE LOCKSLEY: MARYLAND TERRAPINS
- Career CFB HC Record of 21-28 at Maryland and 23-54 overall
- Back to Back winning seasons at Maryland and wins the games he’s supposed to win
- 2-0 Bowl Record
- Produced a Top 25 Recruiting Class and recruits the DC area very well.
- Upset Penn State in 2020
- Still in search of that breakthrough win over Ohio State and/or Michigan
- Must hit this season with Tagovailoa at QB and build depth for the future.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 7TH. AT OHIO STATE
12.). TOM ALLEN: INDIANA HOOSIERS
- Career CFB HC Record of 30-40 & 0-3 Bowl Record
- 2 winning seasons in 6 at the helm (8-5 in 2019 and 6-2 in 2020)
- Upset Penn State in the 2020 opener
- Gets the most out of his players and recruits well to Indiana
- 6-18 combined the last 2 seasons, coincidentally that involved QB Michael Penix Jr being injured and transferring prior to the 2022 season.
- The goal should be 8 wins each year considering they play Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State annually
- 2023 is a big season for Coach Allen considering to rough seasons prior.
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: SEPTEMBER 2ND. VS OHIO STATE
13.). MEL TUCKER: MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
- Career CFB HC Record of 23-21 & 1-0 Bowl Record
- Only 1 winning season in 4 as a Head Coach
- Has lost by 10 + points 13 times in 3 years at Michigan State…4 of his 7 losses at Colorado were by 10+ points. In total, 17 of his 21 career losses are by double digits.
- Record of 12-13 in Big 10 play
- Signed his 10 Year, $95 Million Dollar contract on 11/24/21; he is 7-7 since then.
- Recruiting is subpar and he isn’t maximizing his players talents or program resources
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: NOVEMBER 11TH. AT OHIO STATE
14.). RYAN WALTERS: PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
- First ever CFB Head Coaching Position
- Too New To Rate
- Built a great defense at Illinois.
- Joe Tiller & Jeff Brohm proved you can win in West Lafayette, will be interesting to see if Coach Walters, paired with OC Graham Harrell can take them higher.
- Must be more consistent in recruiting and maintain player development
- TOUGHEST 2023 GAME: OCTOBER 14TH. VS OHIO STATE
The next installment of my Head Coach Power Rankings will take a look at the best among the Independents and Group of 5 schools. The Big 10 is already a great football league, but there are 3 new coaches joining the ranks with hopes to make it better. You can find a great article regarding the ACC and potential realignment ideas written by our Legal Eagle on Spinnable Sports.com. My Irrational Confidence Podcast Co-Host also penned an article looking at the ACC / BIG 12 /PAC 12 and their media negotiations.