Big Ten Coaches Hot Seat - Part 2

Pat Fitzgerald - Northwestern
3rd Season

2006: 4-8
2007: 6-6
Total: 10-14

Pat Fitzgerald was hired after the unfortunate passing of Randy Walker. Northwestern hired him in 2006 making him the youngest Big Ten coach ever at 31. He was a player at NW in the mid-90's...a highly decorated linebacker who led them to two bowl appearances, the Rose in 1996, and the Citrus is 1997.

It is safe to say that the die-hard Northwestern fans out there, there are some out there, right?...probably really like Fitzgerald. I can honestly say that I wasn't a huge fan of playing Northwestern last year. They probably could've knocked us off.

I think Fitzgerald's job is pretty safe. He has the support of the school and the fans. And let's face it, expectations for the Wildcats are never really that high. I expect we'll see him pull off some big upsets before he's through in Evanston. When that will be, who knows...he may be off to greener pastures if he can string together some respectable bowl appearances.

Jim Tressel - Ohio State
8th Season

2001: 7-5
2002: 14-0
2003: 11-2
2004: 8-4
2005: 10-2
2006: 12-1
2007: 11-2
Total: 73-16

Forget his first year, since then he's gone 66-11. Damn you Tressel!

Sir Teflon's career at OSU has been marked by two things: He beats Michigan, and he's been able to defect any sort of controversy from himself about his thug players. Thus the name, Sir Teflon.

Of course, being a constant winner helps people forget that your players are, for the most part, idiots. As long as he keeps beating Michigan, and going to BCS title games, he could have a whole team of Clarretts and no one would care.

To the rest of the Big Ten, Tressel is hated. No one likes to play OSU. To drunk Buckeye fans though, he's God. He could not run for Ohio Governor and still win. He will be the head coach at Ohio State for the rest of time. Period.

Joe Paterno - Penn State
43rd Season

(I'd list his season-by-season records...but I just don't have that kind of time)

Total: 372-125-3

JoPa has been head coach at Penn State since 1966. He's been on the coaching staff since 1950! He's 81. 81!!! There has to be dirt or rocks that are younger than him!

He's maybe the winningest coach in DIV-1 FBS, or second to Bobby Bowden if you count Bowden's 33 wins at Howard. But this is a Big Ten we'll say he's the winningest.

There's no point to speculate when he'll retire. As senile as the old man is, he'll coach till he dies. No question about it.

A little "did you know"...he was asked by Don Canham in 1969 if he'd consider the vacant Michigan job? Or that he was offered the Pittsburgh Steelers job in 1969 also? Or that he was offered the New England Patriots job in 1972? Turned them all down.

Joe Tiller - Purdue
12th Season

1997: 9-3
1998: 9-4
1999: 7-5
2000: 8-4
2001: 6-6
2002: 7-6
2003: 9-4
2004: 7-5
2005: 5-6
2006: 8-6
2007: 8-5
Total: 83-54

Joe Tiller won a share of the conference in 2000. Since then its been hits and misses...mostly misses. Never really impressing too much, his career at Purdue has probably been a disappointment. He has been to 10 bowl games in 11 years, but lately those bowl games have been Sun, Champs and Motor City.

He's right up there with Ferentz in terms of remaining head coach life-expectancy. He's a nice guy, not a big fan of Rich Rodriguez, but a nice guy. Unfortunately, being a nice guy won't pay the bills. I don't know first hand what Purdue fans think, but if I were a lower-class Big Ten team, even I would want some fresh blood in there after 11 years of struggling, and producing only 1 decent NFL prospect, Drew Brees in 2001.

Bret Bielema - Wisconsin
3rd Season

2006: 12-1
2007: 9-4
Total: 21-5

Big Ten coach of the year right out of the gate, Bret Bielema got a lot of attention going 12-1 in 2006. And even though that only landed them 3rd in the conference that year, he made the Wisconsin faithful very happy. Last year was a 9-4 hangover that will most likely be cured this season.

Replacing Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin's Bo Schembechler...was not an easy thing to do. He had a lot of doubters. But I think this guy will be around in Madison for quite a while to come. He just needs to string together some wins over the Big Ten elite...something that has always been hard to do at Wisconsin, even for Alvarez.

They're 2008 non-conf is a joke. But they do travel to Ann Arbor in late September, and then back home to face OSU in back-to-back weeks. If they can get past one of those two, its pretty much clear sailing to another 10-win season.

***Update*** 6/3/08, 8:45AM

It has come to this bloggers attention, and for whatever reason I chose to forget, Joe Tiller has announced this will be his last year at Purdue, and that Danny Hope will be his replacement in 2009. That is all.


  1. Anonymous5:18 PM

    regarding Tiller:

    look at purdue's record before him if you think he was a disappointment. also, he's retiring after this season and danny hope has already been named purdue's coach for the 2009 season.

  2. Pat Fitzgerald will never leave Northwestern. It's his dream job, in his hometown (he grew up in Chicago), for the team he played for in college and led to two straight Big 10 championships (2 time Defensive Player of the Year), with a rabid (albeit small) fan base that loves him and an administration that is 1000% behind him. Plus, he recruits among the best of them, and NU football is on a SERIOUS upswing (although, to be fair, we've won more Big 10 titles in the past 15 years than any team other than Michigan or Ohio State) and WILL be in the top tier of the Big 10 this year. Mark it down.

  3. Anonymous9:12 PM

    You can say Paterno has lost a step and may not fully participate in coaching and recruiting but there is no way you can call him senile. Watch one of his press conferences. He has more wit than the other Big Ten coaches put toghether.

  4. Second Chaddogg. This is THE year in Wildcat Nation when we're poised for the upper tier strike. Every 3 years we do so and fans actually have high expectations. Anything less than 8-4 and fans will be disappointed. Fitz has fan support and long leash as this is really his second full season as he took the reigns with a month before the season in 2006.

  5. Technically, Paterno accepted the New England job but changed his mind after sleeping on his decision. It could be urban legend, but I think Joe suggested Bo for that Michigan opening.