Top 10: Current Coaches in the B1G
Let’s say you want to start a university. You want recognition. You want support. You want future proud alumni that are successful enough to balloon your endowment. But what you really want in order to make all this happen is a profitable and productive athletic department. For this to work, you must have a big time ball coach. The question is, who are you taking?
The aforementioned coach must be successful enough to garner significant support from the university and its constituents. Three areas are key: charisma, leadership/desire to teach, and enough cache to run a big program. And what they teach must extend beyond the boundaries of a game; it must extend to life lessons as well, thus making him/her not only a champion of athletic competition but also of personal improvement.
Given this want of every fan to have such an accomplished coach to represent their school, let’s delve into the top ten HEAD coaches the B1G has to offer in either football or basketball only.
- Tom Herman (Off. Coord. OSU)- Okay I know he’s not a head coach, but we all know (and fear) that it won’t be long before he is. I hope him nothing but the best and all the success in the world wherever he goes. That said, I hope he stays a little longer. Big things can happen under his offensive watch. Now on to current head coaches.
- John Groce (Ill. Bball)- Some people might think this is premature even mentioning him in the honorable category, but I honestly believe he is one of the better coaches around. He excelled at Ohio U. He’s excelled early at Illinois. And he’s doing it there with inferior talent. Give him time, and he will impress you. His timeline is not full yet like some others in the conference, but he has proved to know how to win big games, including over TSUN in the tourney last year. Sustainability is the only issue. And yes he’s already better than Matt Painter. Sorry Purdue fans.
- Brady Hoke (TSUN Fball)- How can you say you are proud of your home state of OHIO and then use that name to insult your rival? Oh well, that doesn’t matter in the ranking, just wondering. Anyway, he is definitely getting recruits but that can be credited a lot to Greg Mattison as well as their success on the field can be. He does have them on the upswing though, but I honestly don’t think he knows what is happening on game day. Get a headset Fred. Actually, don’t, it’s working fine for us as it is.
10. John Beilein (TSUN Bball)- You have to respect a guy that worked his way up the ranks like he has. From high school coach, to JUCO, to D-1 and now the B1G, it’s something to be admired. He’s won at a rate above 60 percent and is hovering around that now at TSUN. He now has the team he wants with the backcourt to win now, so I suppose we’ll see if he should be higher or not this year.
9a. Mark Dantonio (MSU Fball)- Most Buckeye fans have a soft spot for Dantonio out of reverance for the past. However, he has started to annoy many with his frequent whining about people “stealing” his recruits. Sparty fans have started to adopt this strategy as well. But he has changed the expectations at a marginal football school to the point where they expect to be in the hunt for the B1G crown, and he has won a B1G COY award during his stint in East Lansing that has seen him win over 60 percent of his games. So he makes the list here.
9b. Bo Pelini (Neb Fball)- I’ve always hated lists that say top ten and do this kind of sharing on one number, but hey, I’m adaptable. When Pelini is not screaming like a hysterical turkey caller, he’s actually doing an okay job. Remember, after Tom Osborne left it was not easy reviving this sleeping giant in Lincoln. Ask Bill Callahan. But Bo has somewhat quietly done a pretty good job. It’s not easy to get guys to want to spend four years in a corn field, but he makes do with his mid-level recruits he gets. He’s gone 49-20 in his career at Nebraska, and I honestly don’t see much of a difference between him and Dantonio in accomplishments so they are tied. They are like the Odd Couple however when comparing their halftime speeches.
8. Tubby Smith (Minn Bball)- People forget that Tubby has a national title. They also forget that recruiting in Minnesota is like trying to sell vacation property in the Gaza Strip. It doesn’t come easy. But he has managed to amass over 500 wins for a career and make UM(inn) very relevant again in the basketball world. He’s not there yet in the land of the lakes, but even Jerry Lundegard in Fargo would want to stay in Minnesota to cheer for this Gopher.
7. Bill O’Brien (PSU Fball)- The job he did this year was impressive. The so-called ‘rabid’ Lion fans didn’t even bother to show up to many of their early games, yet he started winning and won them over. He’s shown a real loyalty by sticking around when he EASILY could have left for greener pastures. I have no clue how he kept Christian Hackenburg, the 5-star QB they just signed, from leaving for a bowl-bound program, but he did. Now if he can just get his fans to stop throwing full beer cans and bags of urine on opposing teams’ fans, he will really accomplish something.
6. Pat Fitzgerald (NU Fball)- I’ve nearly reached the point of a full-on man crush for Pat Fitzgerald. He gets the most out of his kids, and most of them are not there to play football. They are there to go to school at Northwestern for free. Big difference. The fact that he has a winning record at the smartest school in the league tells us a lot. And his passion is impossible to hide. The average team ranking for NU in recruiting the past four years has been in the 50s, but he still wins. I would hire him for my football team anyday.
5. Bo Ryan (Wis Bball)- This is all the higher you’re going Bo. Deal with it. I honestly don’t like his demeanor, but he too gets a lot out of his players. They usually do not have near the talent that the Hoosiers, Buckeyes or Spartans have, but he still gets results. He has won close to 73 percent of his games at UW, and this is another guy to be respected for his meteoric rise up the coaching ranks. He starts off as a Junior High coach and ends up coaching a B1G power? Wow. If we had a top ten for which coach looks the most like their mascot, he would win paws down.
4. Tom Crean (IU Bball)- Besides the fact that he has to be Rainn Wilson’s brother, as we learned from the videoboard at the Buckeye-Hoosier basketball game, he has started to look very good in the coaching ranks. He has taken the Three Mile Island of a mess in Bloomington over and created a power that coach Norman Dale would be proud to call Hoosierworthy. He does not have a stellar record in his time at Indiana, but that doesn’t matter. No one could’ve won right away there. He is #1 and has a monster recruiting class coming in, so there seem to be nothing but good things coming for the Hoosiers. Someone might want to tell him to stop pacing so much during the games, however. He goes up and down the bench faster than Kelvin Sampson was run out of there.
3. Thad Matta (OSU Bball)- He took over not only a program that was down, but a program that was ineligible for the postseason in his first year. Ever since that 65-64 win over #1 Illinois, we have all been overjoyed with the basketball success he’s had. He’s brought in top flight talent to Columbus and brought legitimacy to a once mediocre basketball program. He has won at an incredible 77 percent his whole career at Butler, Xavier and OSU, but has also won at a 71 percent clip in the B1G. He has had continuous first round picks from Mike Conley to Evan Turner, and even the marginal players are having success in the NBA (BJ Mullens). Yes he made a mistake by passing on Trey Burke, but stuff happens. I think we can forgive him for that already. And with five B1G titles in eight years and two final fours? None of us have seen that type of success around here for decades.
2. Tom Izzo (MSU Bball)- The best thing about Izzo is his fearlessness. He will play anyone anytime in the OOC schedule. And it’s paid off over the years. His teams always seem to struggle a bit at first and then are contenders by February. It’s because they are battle tested and improved. Not only that, the stats are impressive given that tough scheduling. He’s won 71 percent of his overall games, with SIX final fours and one national title. Add seven B1G titles and seven total Elite Eight appearances? Wow. Plus he’s been to 15 straight NCAA tourneys. I will admit, and many might call me a homer here, but I was close to putting Matta ahead of him. But his background is simply to impressive. However, if Matta wins that elusive national title? He’s passing Izzo ASAP.
1. Urban Meyer (OSU Fball)- Other fans can say what they want, but there is a reason they don’t like him. It’s because he wins. And he doesn’t do it in the grandfathered in type of way they are used to. He is not here to make friends with them; he is here to beat their teams senseless. He has won at an 83 percent clip his whole career, and he has two national titles. He is changing the way the conference does business, from the onset of more night games to starting the B1G stance on halting the new recruiting rules. He’s brought a 6-7 team to 12-0 in one year, and he’s starting to get the recruits that will spell doom for the rest of the conference. Apparently Michigan coaches don’t care about speed, but he does, and I’m going to have to go with my instinct on this one. Of course Urban is right. Don’t agree? Just watch that awful, stomach-melting catastrophe from the Buckeyes’ 2006 title game that most of us have convinced ourselved didn’t happen and say speed doesn’t matter. But it’s speed everywhere, not just receiver and running back. It’s the speed from linebackers to the even more important defensive linemen that has separated the SEC from others. And hopefully soon coach (and the rest of us) will be on the right side of a NC game whipping.