This week has been a big one for college football coach rankings. We've had a number of publications unveil their versions of these lists.
CBS has been going conference by conference. On Wednesday, it rolled out rankings for the Big Ten, and I imagine some fans are going to take exception with some of these spots.
In years past, No. 1 for the conference was simple. Ohio State's Urban Meyer is one of the greatest coaches of all time, and won a recent national title with the Buckeyes.
With Meyer gone, it shakes things up a lot, obviously.
Without Urban Meyer at Ohio State, James Franklin takes over as the No. 1 coach in the Big Ten, per CBS.
Franklin has accomplished a lot in the last few years, so it is a fair choice, even if not one that might have jumped right off the page at first.
Franklin ascends to the top spot, and it makes sense. Meyer took over Ohio State in 2012, but the Buckeyes weren't eligible to for a conference title until 2013. Since then, only two other coaches besides Meyer have won Big Ten titles, and Franklin's one of them. He inherited a Penn State program that was in shambles following the Jerry Sandusky revelations, and Bill O'Brien's unexpected departure. After an (expected) slow start that saw Penn State go 14-12 in his first two years, the Nittany Lions have gone 31-9 the last three seasons, won a conference title and played in two New Year's Six bowls. Now, as 2019 begins, expectations will only get higher.
Interestingly, CBS Sports didn't give Ryan Day a ton of benefit of the doubt. While other rankings have already put him near the top of the league entering year one, CBS has him all the way down at No. 10.
Day steps into an interesting situation. To paraphrase my CBSSports.com colleague, Barton Simmons, Day is like a kid waking up on his 16th birthday to find a Bugatti in the driveway. We don't even know for sure if he can drive yet, but he's got a hell of a car to learn in. Clearly, Day is set up in the best possible situation, and while he's 3-0 as a head coach, Urban Meyer was still involved with the program. Now Day is on his own and it's time for him to put his stamp on things, and it's important to remember it's not always as easy as it might seem. People could have argued that Luke Fickell was in a good situation in 2011. He inherited a program from Jim Tressel that had gone 12-1 the season before and had won at least 10 games in every season since 2005. Fickell went 6-7 and was then replaced by Urban Meyer. As nice as Ohio State is, it's not a self-driving car.
If he is able do some big things in year one, he'll shoot up this list very quick.
The full list:
- James Franklin, Penn State
- Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
- Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
- Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
- Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
- Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
- Scott Frost, Nebraska
- Jeff Brohm, Purdue
- P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
- Ryan Day, Ohio State
- Lovie Smith, Illinois
- Tom Allen, Indiana
- Mike Locksley, Maryland
- Chris Ash, Rutgers
Big Ten fans are definitely going to have a lot to say about this.