First-year fun: A look at first-year B1G coaches since 1990

First-year fun: A look at first-year B1G coaches since 1990

Who can forget the debut of Urban Meyer at Ohio State in 2012? It was spectacular, as Meyer led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 mark. Alas, Ohio State was on probation and unable to play for the Big Ten title or go to a bowl. Still, it was the most impressive debut in the Big Ten dating back to the 1990s.

Purdue’s Jeff Brohm and Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck took the lid off their Big Ten careers last week along with Indiana’s Tom Allen, who actually debuted in the bowl game last year but begins his first full season in 2017.

Fleck’s first foray as the Golden Gophers coach resulted in a 17-7 win vs. Buffalo. The Boilermakers lost to No. 16 Louisville, 35-28, but Brohm turned some heads by pushing the Cardinals to the limit. Allen had No. 2 Ohio State sweating last Thursday in Bloomington before succumbing, 49-21. How will each coach’s debut season culminate?

Let’s take a look at the records of the 45 first-year head coaches who were hired from 1990 to today. Just 18 (40 percent) notched winning records in their debut. The only first-year coach to win the Big Ten in this 27-year period? Michigan’s Gary Moeller in 1990.

Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz each began with 1-10 overall and 0-8 Big Ten records, so a bad start isn’t necessarily a portent of things to come.

Note: Only coaches hired at schools that were in the Big Ten at the time of appointment are included.

Twelve wins (2)
Urban Meyer, Ohio State, 2012: 12-0 overall/8-0 Big Ten
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin, 2006: 12-1/7-1

Eleven wins
Brady Hoke, Michigan, 2011: 11-2/6-2

Ten wins (2)
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan, 2015: 10-3/6-2
Paul Chryst, Wisconsin, 2015: 10-3/6-2

Nine wins (5)
Joe Tiller, Purdue, 1997: 9-3/6-2
Gary Moeller, Michigan, 1990: 9-3/6-2
Gary Andersen, Wisconsin, 2013: 9-4/6-2
Lloyd Carr, Michigan, 1995: 9-4/5-3
Tracy Claeys, Minnesota, 2016: 9-4/5-4

Eight wins (2)
Bill O’Brien, Penn State: 8-4/6-2
John L. Smith, Michigan State, 2003: 8-5/5-3

Seven wins (4)
Jim Tressel, Ohio State, 2001: 7-5/5-3
Bill Lynch, Indiana, Indiana, 2007: 7-6/3-5
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 2007: 7-6/3-5
James Franklin, Penn State, 2014: 7-6/2-6

Six wins (5)
Nick Saban, Michigan State, 1995: 6-5-1/4-3-1
Lou Tepper, Illinois, 1992: 6-5-1/4-3-1
Luke Fickel, Ohio State, 2011: 6-7/3-5
Mike Riley, Nebraska, 2015, 6-7/3-5
DJ Durkin, Maryland, 2016: 6-7/3-6

Five wins (3)
Bobby Williams, Michigan State, 2000: 5-6/2-6
Danny Hope, Purdue, 2009: 5-7/4-4
Bill Cubit, Illinois, 2015: 5-7/2-6

Four wins (3)
Jim Colletto, Purdue, 1991: 4-7/3-5
Terry Hoeppner, Indiana, 2005: 4-7/1-7
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 2006: 4-8/2-6

Three wins (7)
Gary Barnett, Northwestern, 1992: 3-8/3-5
Randy Walker, Northwestern, 1999: 3-8/1-7
Jerry Kill, Minnesota, 2011: 3-9/2-6
Rich Rodriguez, Michigan, 2008: 3-9/2-6
Lovie Smith, Illinois, 2016: 3-9/2-7
Glen Mason, Minnesota, 1997: 3-9/1-7
Gerry DiNardo, Indiana, 2002: 3-9/1-7

Two wins (5)
Jim Wacker, Minnesota, 1992: 2-9/2-6
Cam Cameron, Indiana, 1997: 2-9/1-7
Ron Zook, Illinois, 2005: 2-9/0-8
Tim Beckman, Illinois, 2012: 2-10/0-8
Chris Ash, Rutgers, 2016: 2-10/0-9

One win (5)
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin, 1990: 1-10/0-8
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 1999: 1-10/0-8
Darrell Hazell, Purdue, 2013: 1-11/0-8
Tim Brewster, Minnesota, 2007: 1-11/0-8
Kevin Wilson, Indiana, 2011: 1-11/0-8

Zero wins
Ron Turner, Illinois, 1997: 0-11/0-8

Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer

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


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