Big Ten Coaching Analysis - Rebuild Factor
Posted Apr 5, 2013

If you needed one Big Ten head coach to take over your program ...

2013 Big Ten Coaches

The Building Factor

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Big Ten Coaching Rebuild Rankings 2012 | 2011

- Coach You Want To Build Around - Part 2 
Picture this. You're a beleaguered athletic director with an opening at the top of the football organizational chart. Your checkbook is open, and your fan base is glaring at you with unwavering anticipation. Which of the ACCs current head coaches would you put in charge of the program for the next several years? Knowing that your own job hangs in the balance, to which man would you entrust your future? Who gets to be the one you'd want to build around?

This is NOT necessarily a ranking of how good the head coaches are. This is a ranking based on who would be best to take over a program and build it up, so age is a major factor. A coach might be legendary, but he might not have another five years of greatness left. So with that in mind, who are the top candidates to run your program?

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Career Record: 116-23
The only question mark is his health and well-being. While he didn't leave Florida on the best of terms, he still gave the school two national titles, restoration after the Ron Zook gap-bridger, and Tebow. All he has done at Ohio State is quickly pivot from the controversy and NCAA issues to put the focus on a 12-0 season and a few whopper recruiting classes to show just how good things are about to be. Turning 49 this season, he still has at least another 15 years elite-level coaching in him, as long as he doesn't melt down.
Hot Seat Status: Enormous. He's Urban Meyer and he's at Ohio State. Any season without than a 14-0 and/or a national championship will be seen as a failure.
The Coaching Change Will Come … somewhere in the mid-2020s. He's not really an NFL coach and there's nowhere else to go from Ohio State. Assuming he doesn't feel like spending more time with his family, he's not going anywhere.

2. Brady Hoke, Michigan
Career Record: 66-57
It's not like Rich Rodriguez was that bad, but he never meshed in Ann Arbor. Hoke was able to build off of the foundation set by RichRod and has been fantastic in his first two years going 19-7 with a Sugar Bowl victory. More than that, with some whopping recruiting classes, he has the program looking like it's going to be a player in the national championship race for a long, long time.
Hot Seat Status: Massive. He'll get a few more years of grace period because he's not Rodriguez, but while the excitement is high, things will quickly change if he starts losing to Ohio State on a regular basis or if there aren't regular BCS appearances.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in ten years. Turning 55 at the start of the year, he has plenty of time to join forces with Urban Meyer in the new Bo-Woody rivalry.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Career Record: 50-39
The guy really and truly believed he could make Northwestern football a consistent power, and crazy as he might be, he's actually doing it. Only 38 and with the credibility of not just making NU a winner again, but also doing it consistently along with a real, live bowl win – a rarity for the program. The College Football Hall of Fame linebacker has brought the same fire, passion and intensity, and now he's on a run of five straight bowl appearances.
Hot Seat Status: None. There's no real pressure at Northwestern for one of the school's living legends, even at his young age. He bleeds purple.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in more than ten years unless some sort of a whopper job opportunity becomes available. He could be in the mix for almost any big-time college job opening and might start to be in the mix for the pros in the not-too-distant future, but he's not full of bluster; he really is Northwestern football.

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Career Record: 69-45
Is it possible that he's among the most underappreciated big-time coaches in college football? While he's overshadowed by the Urbans and Bradys of the Big Ten world, he has more than held his own. He hasn't been able to take the Spartans to a Rose Bowl, but he got to the Big Ten championship game last season and has the pieces in place to come up with a huge 2013. At 57, he still has plenty of time left to become further entrenched as the MSU head man with a terrific 51-28 record at the school.
Hot Seat Status: Little. The back-to-back 11-win seasons bought him plenty of time, and while going 7-6 last season wasn't a plus, there were several close calls and there's no real worry that it was the beginning of any sort of slide.
The Coaching Change Will Come … in ten years, if his heart scare of a few seasons ago doesn't become a factor again. He's at the tweener coach age where he might have one more move to make if it happens quickly, and while it wouldn't be to the pros, South Carolina – where he played in the 1970s - could be open in the near future if the 68-year-old Steve Spurrier choose to hang them up soon.

5. Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Career Record: 8-4
No matter what you think of the Penn State football program and the community as a whole, O'Brien did a whale of a job just keeping thing afloat during the most trying first season possible. Forgetting for a moment all he was able to do in the post-Joe Paterno era – at times he was the lone voice of reason when the bluster had to be toned down – he turned quarterback Matt McGloin into one of the Big Ten's most effective passers.
Hot Seat Status: Absolute zero. He could suffer several straight losing seasons and no one would say boo about it considering the restrictions and penalties.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within three seasons. He's an NFL head coach. He was able to parlay his one good year into a contract extension, but he's going to want to beat his head against the wall for only so long. It wouldn't have seemed right if he had left after just one season, but only 43, he's destined for the next level.

6. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
Career Record: 49-20
He's better than you think. For all of those looking for Nebraska to avoid sliding into mediocrity, whether it seems like it or not, Pelini has pulled the program out winning nine games or more in each of his five seasons and with three ten-win campaigns in the last four. True, the Huskers haven't exactly shown up in the last three bowl games, and getting hammered by Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship wasn't fun, but he's winning.
Hot Seat Status: Medium. Nebraska fans still want national championships, and the program isn't there. Pelini should be fine, but he has to start winning conference titles and show that things are on track to be in the national title chase.
The Coaching Change Will Come … within five years. He's only going to be 46 by the end of the season. Nebraska might be a destination program, but one slip and one bad year and the tone will quickly change.