Without a doubt, the Big Ten Conference has the best college football coaches in the FBS. From top to bottom, the conference has some of the most respected and talented coaches in the nation. There is a clear cut #1 for the best coach in the Big Ten, but you can make plenty of convincing arguments for #2 to #7. The talent pool is loaded.
Is this the year that a Big Ten school not named Ohio State wins the College Football Playoff? In preparation for the upcoming season, here are the coaching rankings for the Big Ten.
14. Illinois – Lovie Smith
Smith has had no love whatsoever since his return to the college game. Smith took the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl but has only managed to win five games in 2 years. The Fighting Illini were extremely short on talent, and a winning culture when Lovie arrived. So his principal job has been teaching his guys how to win and get more talent. Illinois just landed the third-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2019, Isaiah Williams. If the Illini can make improvements this year, with Williams coming in 2019, things could be on the upswing for Smith.
13. Tom Allen – Indiana
When you think of the Indiana Hoosiers, basketball, basketball, and more basketball comes to mind. Football? Not so much. Coach Tom Allen is in his second full season with the Hoosiers and will look to bolster its struggling defense. Although Indiana was 5-7 last year, the Hoosiers lost in overtime to Michigan and lost to Michigan State by 8. Only time will tell if the football program can get as much notoriety as the basketball program.
12. Chris Ash – Rutgers
Rutgers used to be at the top of the Big East with Greg Schiano coaching guys like Ray Rice, and Brian Leonard. However, Rutgers has been anything but good the past two seasons, with records of 2-10 and 4-8. The good news is Chris Ash seems to be doing the right things at Rutgers to stop the bleeding. Although it was only 4 wins last year, it was an improvement from the previous season. Ash won a national championship as co-defensive coordinator Ohio State so look for him trying to transfer some of that magic to the Scarlett Knights.
11. DJ Durkin – Maryland
Maryland and coach DJ Durkin came into the 2017 season with an optimistic attitude and that translated to an opening week upset win over Texas. However, injuries derailed the season as the Terps faded quickly. Despite the woes, Maryland has high hopes for 2018 thanks to Durkin’s successful recruiting campaign, which has the 28th recruiting class on 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. Expect Maryland to make a Bowl game in 2018.