This article is not going to be about how Ohio State has taken upon the personality of Coach Urban Meyer. Ohio State fans, and college football fans everywhere, will generally acknowledge that Coach Meyer is one of the best coaches in college football. Ohio State does not have to worry about the positive direction of the football program under Coach Meyer.
The rest of the B1G? I will be charitable when I say, "Ugh".
Big Ten has lost its last 10 games vs non-Big Ten Power Five teams, including losses to WVU, Iowa St, TCU, Washington & Notre Dame on Sat.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 16, 2014
There are so many theories that are being offered up for the decline of B1G football - population shifts to the Southern areas of the country. Oversigning of recruits by other conferences, most notably from the SEC.
My theory? It all starts with the coaching, or lack thereof.
For example, here are some of the names who were B1G coaches in 2004: The aforementioned Jim Tressel. Lloyd Carr, who shared the national title in 1997, and won five B1G titles during his tenure. Joe Paterno, who won two national championships while at Penn State (1982, 1986), and could have arguably won others, such as the 1994 season. Joe Tiller, who won the B1G title in 2000 and led Purdue to the 2001 Rose Bowl. Barry Alvarez, who built Wisconsin football into a top program and won three B1G titles. Glen Mason, who made every school he coached at into a competitive team (Kent State, Kansas, Minnesota). Randy Walker, the winningest coach in Miami University football history and the man who helped to make Northwestern competitive via the spread offense.
Now think about who is on the sidelines today: Only a few truly respected coaches, such as Coach Meyer. James Franklin has won at Vanderbilt, and will win at Penn State. Mark Dantonio won the B1G in 2013 and his Michigan State team ranked fourth in the nation at season's end.
The reality is the rest of the conference have entrusted their programs to individuals who are not necessarily in-demand on the coaching front. I believe Darrell Hazell of Purdue has potential, but will Hazell be able to turn Purdue around? Pat Fitzgerald may have done all he can at Northwestern. Jerry Kill may have done the same at Minnesota. I believe Brady Hoke is demonstrating to fans of That Team Up North what is meant by The Peter Principle. And Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, who has been the team's head coach since 1999, has a contract that makes it virtually impossible to be replaced. Tim Beckman of Illinois has taken a bad situation from Ron Zook, and somehow made it worse.
December is usually when programs determine to replace their head coaches. Based upon the dismal performances and reputation of B1G football in 2014, do not be surprised if the axe falls more frequently than ever before. What remains to be seen is if the respective B1G institutions decide to open up their checkbooks to truly bring in quality coaches, like other conferences seem to be willing to do to be relevant within the college football landscape.