The countdown to the 2017 college football season is already underway, as spring practices and position battles for spots on the depth chart for all 130 teams across the nation are already in progress in offseason workouts.
The Big Ten closed the gap with the SEC last year in the race to be college football’s No. 1 conference, and the league is in great shape as spring ball opens for 2017. Ohio State and Penn State should be among the nation’s frontrunners to win it all next year, while Michigan and Wisconsin will also rank in many preseason top 10 lists.
Ranking the college football and basketball head coaching tandems for the Power 5 conferences is no easy assignment. But that’s what Athlon Sports has set out to do this offseason, as spring practice is just starting around the nation for all 130 teams and tournament time is approaching for teams on the hardwood.
The Big Ten isn’t hurting for talent in its coaching ranks. The duo of Tom Izzo and Mark Dantonio ranks as the best in the conference, but Ohio State (Urban Meyer and Thad Matta) and Michigan (Jim Harbaugh and John Beilein) round out a strong top three. And the conference also features some up-and-coming duos, including Minnesota, Northwestern and Penn State.
College football’s 2016-17 coaching carousel featured 21 changes and several big-time hires. Texas (Tom Herman), Minnesota (P.J. Fleck), Oregon (Willie Taggart) and Purdue (Jeff Brohm) were just a few of the biggest winners from this year’s cycle.
Recruiting is the foundation for winning national championships, competing for CFB Playoff berths or winning at a high level in college football. While recruiting rankings aren’t 100 percent accurate, there is plenty of truth in the rankings and evaluations by the experts. It’s no secret what a program needs in order to win big at this level.
Finding or developing a quarterback is no easy task for any college football coach. This position is one of the hardest to evaluate in high school, and quarterbacks often transfer early in their career in search of more playing time if they are entrenched behind a proven starter. Needless to say, quarterbacks are the position likely providing the most headaches for coaches throughout the year.
Recruiting may be the lifeblood of a college football program, but developing the incoming talent and maxing out the potential of a roster is a big reason why some coaches thrive and others will fail. At Ohio State, Urban Meyer and his staff continue to excel in both categories, which is why Ohio State routinely has the most talented roster in the conference.
The 14 teams in the Big Ten rarely recruit a hefty number of junior college prospects each season, but there are a handful of names joining the conference expected to make an impact in 2017. Ohio State lost three key members from its 2016 secondary, and former Alabama cornerback Kendall Sheffield should compete for a starting job after a year in the junior college ranks.