Big Ten Coaches Who Coach With Character

By josephsmith
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2013 college football season occurrences of exceptional coaching were very apparent in the Big Ten. That said, no staff is without plays they wish they could have back, and no conference is without instances where a coach might not only tarnish the university but also the good reputation of the conference itself. In these instances, an unfortunate fine or suspension may be placed on a team. The Big Ten was recently shaken vehemently by two scandals. What was even worse for the Big Ten was that the scandals were perpetrated at two of the conference’s premiere institutions — schools that have a recognizably successful history in football but are not defined by their success on the gridiron alone. Great coaches helped bring each team back to prominence staggeringly quickly.

The Penn State Nittany Lions are a perennial power in athletics other than football such as women’s volleyball and men’s wrestling. Unfortunately the actions of one former defensive coach affected all athletic programs, all students, and all alumni. The dishonor that took place at State College is one that need not be revisited as it has tarnished the legacy of countless individuals. However, that pales in shadow of the lives that were forever harmed because of an individual’s actions. That said, the Nittany Lions made a monumental decision when they hired Bill O’Brien as their next head coach as he has left the past in the past and unbelievably brought the program back from where no one thought it could return.

The Ohio State Buckeyes had a scandal as well in which a legendary coach in Columbus will forever wear unfortunate shame for what took place under his reign as head coach. The Buckeyes managed to hire a legendary coach in Urban Meyer who seems to have the Buckeyes on the mend as well.  Meyer is often the target of much scrutiny most likely because of the success he has seen throughout his coaching career.  This year he was criticized by some for benching star running back, Carlos Hyde early in the season for disciplinary reasons. Meyer was later criticized for disciplinary actions taken or not taken on his players for a fight they partook in against the Michigan Wolverines. This scrutiny was very unnecessary as Meyer had intentions of disciplining his players in his own way, all along.

In 2013, Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio was the winner of the coach of the year award in the Big Ten. No argument can be made against Dantonio, whose team was able to defeat Meyer’s undefeated Buckeyes and win the Big Ten championship, now heading to the Rose Bowl. Dantonio has long been a strong leader of a workman-like team who keep their heads down, mouths shut, and play some of the toughest football in the country. These are attributes that are finally getting Dantonio some of the national attention that he has long deserved. His name is even mumbled in regards to some very high profile jobs at times (University of Texas).

If two Big Ten coach of the year awards could be given this year, the second would have to be given to Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach Jerry Kill. Perhaps a more fitting award for the Golden Gophers would be coaching staff of the year award. When Kill suffered seizures early in the season, he did not stop coaching or being the inspirational leader of his team. Even when he was at home on the couch, somehow his presence was always felt and when he was able to make a physical appearance in the locker room the result was impressive as his players could not have been happier to see one man.

In Kills’ absence his staff, led by Tracy Claeys, were amazing at leading the team the same way Kill would. Even more impressive was the fact that his staff still shared the praise with their leader and as it seems none of the assistants showed interest in leaving Kill’s staff.  His personality is that magnetic. He has drawn a great staff in around him and his personality should draw great players as well.


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