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Ranking the Big Ten's College Football Coaches for 2018

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Urban Meyer, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

The Big Ten might have the best collection of head coaches among Power 5 leagues for the 2018 season. Ohio State's Urban Meyer takes the top spot in Athlon's Big Ten coach rankings, but Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Penn State's James Franklin aren't far behind. And the depth in the league extends to Wisconsin's Paul Chryst and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald in the next tier, followed by Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, Purdue's Jeff Brohm and Nebraska's Scott Frost.  

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin

Success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn't have the resources of the nation's elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

How did we compile the rankings for the Big Ten coaches? For starters, it's an impossible task. However, we tried to weigh every possible factor into this ranking. This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn't provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky.

Every team has different built-in resources available, and hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. Those factors, along with career biography/resume, success in developing talent and landing prospects on the recruiting trail factored into the ranking. Additionally, how well programs value staff (is the head coach better as a CEO or hands-on approach) and the facilities or program resources matter into forming an outlook of how coaches have performed at different stops throughout their career.

Again, wins and the overall body of work to this point are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they have accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking. Athlon's editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences. Here are the results for Big Ten: