SportingNews: Meyer, Dantonio Big Ten's best decided to rank the Big Ten’s football coaches, and there’s no surprise at the top of the list. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, he of two national titles at Florida, is No. 1, and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, fresh off a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl Game win, is No. 2.

[ MORE: Big Ten coach rankings ]

After the top two, though, the site’s ranking is certain to elicit its share of debate. Pat Fitzgerald is No. 3, even after a 5-7 season, James Franklin is No. 4, despite never coaching a Big Ten game, and Gary Andersen rounds out the top 5.

Here’s what says about the top 5 coaches.

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Won two national titles at Florida, then left and won his first 24 games at Ohio State (forget about the schedule; his teams did it). There’s no debating Meyer’s ability to do the two most important things in the college game: recruit and motivate. Very few do it better.

2. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Won most single-season games in school history (11) four years ago, then beat that number by two games (13) last season. In those four seasons, Dantonio’s teams have won 42 games without the foundation of top 25 recruiting classes. No one gets more from less.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Even the elite take a step back every now and then. Look at the big picture: Fitz has consistently won at a place that values education over anything (forget about what some inane Labor Relations Board says), that has strict academic entrance standards (unlike just about everyone else), and that doesn’t get elite athletes. So what do they do? They develop players and coach.

4. James Franklin, Penn State

What Franklin accomplished at Vanderbilt, the SEC’s perennial tomato can, was remarkable. It wasn’t just winning games (which was a huge deal); it was how he sold the program to first its core and then to the nation. Wait and see what he can accomplish with the clout of the Penn State brand.

5. Gary Andersen, Wisconsin

Walked into a terrific situation left by Bret Bielema, and was a handful of plays from playing for the Big Ten championship. That the NFL showed interest this offseason should be more than enough to underscore his ability — as should the job he did turning around Utah State.

See the entire countdown here.

One thing’s for sure: If Bo Pelini is No. 6, Brady Hoke No. 7 and Kirk Ferentz No. 9, there is A LOT of coaching talent in the Big Ten.

About Brent Yarina senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.


Your Opinion?
Show Comments (8 Comments)
Tim on 4/15/2014 @ 4:45pm EDT Said:

First off define “COACH”? Is it just about wins and loses? I don’t think so, and your list eludes to that, so why is Coach Ferentz near the bottom?. Pat Fitzgerald #3 and Franklin # 4. Fitzgerald hasn’t accomplished much and Franklin is unproven. Yet you rank Kirk Ferentz # 9. He is the epitome of the word coach. He takes average talent at best and turns them into NFL superstars!!! He has placed more kids in the NFL than any other big 10 team besides OSU (and ranks 7th among all NCAA teams) over the last 7-10 years. Not bad company to keep. Oh yeah he is the only coach on that list who hasn’t had sanctions brought against his team. Some of the players include in no specific order…Chad Greenway (has been near the top of the NFL in tackles ever since he joined MN and he came from 8-8 football in SD), Bob Sanders (NFL defensive player of year and hardly on radar coming out of Erie, PA) Pat Angerer (another top tackler in NFL) numerous offensive linemen (to many to name) and DB’s (Spievey, Fletcher, Hyde, Prater, Godfrey). Oh yeah and a guy named Dallas Clark ( a walk-on LB now an ok TE in NFL). You need to reconsider your rankings. Oh yeah Frenetz has a pretty good record against the best conference in the country at 4-2, should be 5-1 but the officials elected to miss a blatant offside call on an on-side kick-but hey who are we to say the refs are perfect!

Mongrith on 4/15/2014 @ 6:44pm EDT Said:

Ha and the legendary and tenured Kirk is considered lower than these newbies… Whatever. Kirk you’re still better in my eyes

Alex on 4/16/2014 @ 9:46am EDT Said:

I would agree with this list. Nobody ever likes Urban Meyer but he has clearly proven himself. Dantonio is a class act and a star. Look for him to surpass Meyer in the next few years as MSU continues to rise into the National spotlight.

B1Gfan MI on 4/16/2014 @ 7:01pm EDT Said:

Presantly, Ferentz deserves to be number 1 . His longevity, development of players, success vs top opponents (especially at home) and good reputation in all facets of being a Head Coach are so much better than those listed as numbers 1 and 2. Wins and losses should not be the considered the dominant factor when making these lists. We all know the behind-the-scenes behavior and maneuverings that take place at certain institutions is less than forthright and always being on the verge of scandel is no way to run a successful college football program !

nathan on 4/16/2014 @ 8:03pm EDT Said:

Actually sutprised to see bo so low. Besides the blowout in big champ game other yr, but he has won at least 9 games in 6 strait yrs. One of only four or five current cpaches.Beat an sec georgia on bowl game and has been conf champ contenders every yr since joining the big.

paul on 4/17/2014 @ 5:18pm EDT Said:

I thought the Sporting News went out of business years ago, and based on this list, I can see why. Frentz #9…this author is a clown just throwing up numbers.

Scott wendrick on 7/17/2014 @ 1:43pm EDT Said:

Ferentz is way higher than 9 and Brady hoke is way lower than 6.

Jack on 8/1/2014 @ 5:17am EDT Said:

Meyer is #1.

Pelini is #2. He wins 9 games every year and has faced the toughest schedules since entering the Big Ten. He hasn’t been given the luxury of avoiding top teams like Northwestern and MSU have in recent years.

Dantonio and Fitzgerald’s only good seasons came when they played weak schedules. Ignoring the schedule aspect is comical.