The Big Ten is all about depth. After all, it's called the Big Ten but currently boasts 14 schools and will soon have 16 (and maybe more!) before you know it. That depth is certainly reflected in how we at CBS Sports ranked its coaches.
In our overall Power Five coach rankings, published earlier this offseason, nobody from the Big Ten cracked the top five spots. However, while the conference lacks a top-five presence, it has five coaches ranked in the top 15, eight in the top 25 and 12 of the top 40. It's a testament to the conference's tradition as well as overall spending power.
But while that's how Big Ten coaches compare to their Power Five counterparts, how do they compare to one another? That's what we're here to go over today. As you'd expect, coming off the COVID-shortened campaign of 2020 and a 2021 season that saw surprising results, there's been some significant shakeups in our Big Ten coach rankings this year. While the No. 1 spot remains the same, every other coach in the conference saw their position change.
Complete Power Five coach rankings:|
|Ryan Day (6 overall): Ohio State didn't win the Big Ten last season, but it's going to take more than one year without a conference title to knock Ryan Day off his perch in the conference. Many will argue this is too high a spot for Day, considering the program he inherited, but you cannot argue that he hasn't done a fantastic job maintaining what was in place. The Buckeyes will once again enter the 2022 season as the favorite in the Big Ten and a favorite to win the College Football Playoff. People will give you that benefit of the doubt when you've gone 23-1 in-conference since taking over. Last year: 1 in Big Ten|
|Jim Harbaugh (9 overall): Well, aren't we all just prisoners of recency bias? After the Wolverines had a disastrous COVID campaign in 2020, our voters ignored the first five years of Harbaugh's tenure at Michigan and assumed he'd forgotten how to coach. One Big Ten title and College Football Playoff appearance later, and he's back at No. 2 in the Big Ten and the top 10 of our Power Five coach rankings. The Wolverines lose a lot from last year's team but still enter the season as one of the biggest obstacles between Ohio State and a Big Ten title. Last year: 7 in Big Ten|
|Kirk Ferentz (13 overall): Consistency is harder and harder to come by in this sport, and Ferentz has delivered it in Iowa City for nearly a quarter of a century. The Hawkeyes are coming off a Big Ten West title and won 10 games last year, giving Ferentz a bit of a boost, though the failures of Penn State and Northwestern last year play a role here as well. Still, no matter what happens with the Hawkeyes in 2022, you can count on Ferentz being ranked in the top five again next summer. Last year: 4 in Big Ten|
|Paul Chryst (14 overall): I don't know if Chryst moving up a spot from No. 5 to No. 4 will be enough to get Wisconsin fans to stop yelling at me about him being perennially under-appreciated in our rankings, but it's a start, right? The irony is that the Badgers failed to win the West for the second consecutive season last year, so you'd think his reputation would suffer. Still, like Ferentz, he's benefitting a bit from the fall of a couple coaches who were once ahead of him. Last year: 5 in Big Ten|
|James Franklin (15 overall): Franklin needs a bit of a makeover in the minds of our voters. He'd long been considered one of the top coaches in the sport, but his rep is suffering a bit after going 11-11 over the last two seasons and only 8-10 in the Big Ten. The good news for Franklin is Penn State is poised for a rebound in 2022, and based on how fickle our voters can be, that might be enough to restore him to his prior place in our rankings. That said, if Penn State doesn't rebound, well, there are a few coaches behind him on this list capable of jumping him. Last year: 3 in Big Ten|
|Pat Fitzgerald (21 overall): Fitzgerald's ranking is a lot like his Northwestern program. While he's done far too much in Evanston to suffer significantly in our overall Power Five rankings, he's gone up and down within the conference. After winning the Big Ten West in 2020, Fitz climbed to No. 2 last year. Then the Wildcats went 3-9 and 1-8 in the Big Ten, and he falls four spots to No. 6. It's hard to know what to expect from the Wildcats this year, and we could just as easily see Fitzgerald climb again or fall further. Last year: 2 in Big Ten|
|P.J. Fleck (23 overall): Fleck would probably be the first person to tell you that he's something of an acquired taste, and his brand of coaching and leadership isn't for everybody, but it's getting harder and harder to argue against the results. Some were quick to write off the Gophers as a one-hit-wonder when they followed an 11-2 mark in 2019 with a 3-4 record in 2020, but Minnesota came back to go 9-4 last year and 6-3 in conference. The Gophers should start the 2022 season ranked in the major polls, and will once again be a legitimate contender in the West. He's raised the floor of the program, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him cracking the top five here next summer. Last year: 8 in Big Ten|
|Mel Tucker (24 overall): We've got a climber on our hands! Tucker's first season at Michigan State went poorly, but he walked into the program late in the hiring cycle and was immediately greeted by a pandemic. His first "normal" campaign went very well as the Spartans won 11 games, boasted a Heisman candidate on offense and won a Peach Bowl while finishing the season ranked in the top 10. Now we wonder if they can do it again. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a slight step back in 2022, but overall, Tucker strikes me as a star on the rise in the conference. Last year: 13 in Big Ten|
|Jeff Brohm (30 overall): Brohm led Purdue to its best finish since 2003 as the Boilermakers went 9-4 and capped the year off by beating Tennessee in an all-time thriller of a Music City Bowl. Still, it's tough to know what to expect from the Boilermakers in 2022. While last season was outstanding, it was also the first time Purdue had won more games than the prior season since Brohm's first campaign in 2017. Considering the number of key players Purdue has to replace, the 2022 season might give us our best indicator of how successful this program can be under Brohm. Last year: 12 in Big Ten|
|Greg Schiano (36 overall): Few places have proven to be tougher to win at than Rutgers, and that's only become more true since the program joined a division with Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. Still, while the overall results haven't come, it's hard to argue that the Knights haven't become a better football program since Schiano returned. Rutgers won five games last year, the most it's won in a single season since going 8-5 in their Big Ten debut (2014). If Schiano gets Rutgers to a bowl game this year, he will leap a few coaches ahead of him here. Last year: 9 in Big Ten|
|Bret Bielema (38 overall): Bielema exceeded expectations in his first season at Illinois, nearly getting the Illini to a bowl game and picking up a couple of tough road wins against Penn State and Minnesota. Also, after starting the year 1-4 with some embarrassing losses, the Illini went 4-3 down the stretch and were in every game save for a 24-0 shellacking by Wisconsin. While a bowl game in 2022 isn't the expectation outside of Champaign, it's probably not as far out of reach as many realize. Last year: 10 in Big Ten|
|Tom Allen (40 overall): Allen plummets this year after surprising so many in 2020. The Hoosiers were the Cinderella story of the Big Ten's COVID year, going 6-2 and finishing the season ranked in the top 15. They followed it with a 2-10 record in 2021 and didn't win a Big Ten game. In fact, they weren't even close in most of their conference games. While they hung tough in losses to Michigan State and Maryland, their other seven Big Ten losses came by an average of 30.6 points. Once that glass slipper falls off, putting it back on is tough. Last year: 6 in Big Ten|
|Mike Locksley (50 overall): Locksley had his best season at Maryland last year, but with the coaching depth in this conference, it's hard to climb out of the basement with a 7-6 season. Still, the Terps have reasons to be optimistic in 2022, and their offense should continue to be one of the most potent in the Big Ten. That gives them a shot against nearly everybody on the schedule every week. Last year: 14 in Big Ten|
|Scott Frost (53 overall): As if Frost needed anything else to worry about these days, he begins the 2022 season ranked last among Big Ten coaches. His seat is about as hot as hot can get as the Huskers find themselves in desperate need of a successful season. And that might not be as big a leap as you'd think. While Nebraska finished 3-9 last year, it was a better team than the record indicates, and if the Huskers can tighten up a few areas (special teams, hello), a bowl game should be well within their grasp. Whether that's enough to save Frost's job is anybody's guess at this point. Last year: 11 in Big Ten|