Offensive-minded head coaches rule the Big Ten ... and nation

Offensive-minded head coaches rule the Big Ten ... and nation

Every head coach has a side of the ball he was “brought up in” and is associated with. Some come with an offensive background; others were raised on the defensive side of the ball.

In the Big Ten, offense has the edge, as eight of the 14 head coaches have an offensive background. And, aside from Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio—who is a defensive guy—the conference coaches with Big Ten titles all have come from the offensive side of the ball.

The Big Ten isn’t unique in the offensive influence of its head coaches. In four of the five Power Five leagues, head coaches with offensive backgrounds outnumber those with defensive backgrounds. The discrepancy in the Big 12 (9 to 1) and ACC (11 to 3) is huge. It isn’t so huge in the Pac-12 (7 to 5).

The only conference with more head coaches with a defensive background than an offensive background? The SEC, which has 8-6 breakdown in favor of defense.

Add it all up nation-wide, and head coaches with offensive backgrounds outnumber those with defensive backgrounds, 41-23. As they say, offensive football sells tickets and brings excitement … and you can win with it, too. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (2016), Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (2006, 2008, 2014), Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher (2013), LSU’s Les Miles (2007), Texas’ Mack Brown (2005) and Miami’s Larry Coker (2001) all have won national titles since 2001 … and all were offensive coaches.

But the only head coach with a defensive background who has won the national title since 2010 also happens to be the sport’s most dominant: Alabama’s Nick Saban, who has won five (2003, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015). In fact, the only other defensive-minded head coaches aside from Saban to win the national title since 2000 have been Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (2000), USC’s Pete Carroll (2003 and 2004) and Auburn’s Gene Chizik (2010).

Here is a look at the head coaches of each Power Five school and what their background is.

BIG TEN
Defense (6)
Tom Allen, Indiana
Chris Ash, Rutgers
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
DJ Durkin, Maryland
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Lovie Smith, Illinois

Offense (8)
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
James Franklin, Penn State
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Mike Riley, Nebraska

ACC
Offense (11)
Steve Addazio, Boston College
Dino Babers, Syracuse
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
David Cutcliffe, Duke
Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Mark Richt, Miami
Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Defense (3)
Dave Doeren, NC State
Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia
Pat Narduzzi, Pitt

BIG 12
Offense (9)
David Beaty, Kansas
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Tom Herman, Texas
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
Matt Rhule, Baylor
Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Defense (1)
Gary Patterson, TCU

PAC-12
Offense (7)
Todd Graham, Arizona State
Clay Helton, USC
Mike Leach, Washington State
Chris Petersen, Washington
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
David Shaw, Stanford
Willie Taggart, Oregon

Defense (5)
Gary Andersen, Oregon State
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Jim Mora, UCLA
Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Justin Wilcox, Cal

SEC
Offense (6)
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Butch Jones, Tennessee
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Jim McElwain, Florida
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Defense (8)
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Will Muschamp, South Carolina
Barry Odom, Missouri
Ed Orgeron, LSU
Nick Saban, Alabama
Kirby Smart, Alabama
Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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