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Top 12 Big Ten Football Coaches of All Time: Woody, Bo, or Urban at number one?

Publish Date: 04/30/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Big Ten Football has an illustrious past dating back to the start of the twentieth century. This is an intense and extensive list to do, as there are far more than just ten great coaches in the history of the Big Ten. Plus, you got guys coaching right now like Jim Harbaugh, who could someday find themselves on this list. Current coaches are not eligible for this list.

10) Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin

Barry Alvarez was the Wisconsin Badgers’ coach from 1990 to 2005. During his tenure, the Badgers compiled a record of 118-73/4 while he led them into 11 bowl games, including eight wins.

Alvarez was an outstanding coach and had many great players at his time, like Ron Dayne.

Video: Barry Alvarez: Three Decades of Excellence

Barry Alvarez: Three Decades of Excellence

9) Clarence Munn, Michigan State

From 1947 to 1953, Clarence Munn served as the Michigan State Spartans’ head coach. He led the Spartans’ record of 71-16-3 as head coach.

He won a Big Ten Title and won 2 National Titles during his time with the team. Munn is a legend at MSU.

Video: Clarence Biggie Munn MSU Hall of Fame induction speech 1992 football

Clarence Biggie Munn MSU Hall of Fame induction speech 1992 football

8) Jim Tressel, Ohio State

Since taking over in 2001, Tressel turned the Buckeyes into a National contender again. He compiled a great record with the Buckeyes that was marred in the end by scandals.

He has received many awards as a coach and is a successful bowl game coach. He led the Buckeyes to seven Big Ten Titles and one national title. Tressel was a great Big Ten coach and built his own legacy.

Video: Raw: Tressell on players' shoulders

Raw: Tressell on players’ shoulders

7) Bernie Bierman, Minnesota

Bernie Bierman was the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ head coach from 1932-1941 and 1945-1950. Bernie enjoyed a remarkable run as a coach, compiling a record that was 93-35-6.

He won six conference championships and five national titles during his career. Bierman was an outstanding coach and is almost unknown.

Video: Champions of the Past: 1941 Gopher Football

Champions of the Past: 1941 Gopher Football

6) Amos Alonzo Stagg-University of Chicago

Amos Stagg was one the greatest football coaches ever to coach the game. He was a Pioneer with an excellent record.

Stagg was a coach for the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago participated in the Big Ten conference for some time. Stagg’s record with Chicago was 224-112-27.

His teams won seven conference championships, and he was a national champion. He is truly a legend.

Video: Coaching great Amos Alonzo Stagg celebrates his 100th birthday in Stockton, Calif...HD Stock Footage

Coaching great Amos Alonzo Stagg celebrates his 100th birthday in Stockton, Calif…HD Stock Footage

5) Joe Paterno, Penn State

Paterno might be number one if we counted all the years he coached, but we judge these coaches by what they did in the Big Ten. In the Big ten, Paterno found success, but in the end it’s hard to even rank Paterno because of how his career ended.

Video: Penn State honors Joe Paterno on 50th anniversary of his first game

Penn State honors Joe Paterno on 50th anniversary of his first game

4) Fielding Yost, Michigan

Yost served as the Michigan Wolverines’ head coach from 1901-1923 and again from 1925-1926. He held a record of 165-25-10 and won six national titles.

He was a successful coach in the beginning years of the Wolverines’ existence and helped to build a strong foundation that allowed them to become the successful program they are today.

Video: U of M Coach Fielding Yost at Practice

U of M Coach Fielding Yost at Practice

3) Bo Schembechler, Michigan

Schembechler was the Michigan Wolverines’ coach from 1969-1989. He led the team to a record 194-48-5 and 13 Big Ten Titles during that period.

Michigan was in the top 25 in all but one of Bo’s years there, and he never won a National Title.

Video: The TEAM

The TEAM

2) Urban Meyer, Ohio State

Meyer is an all-time great college football coach; too bad he falls way short as a man.

After a great stint at Florida, Meyer moved on to Ohio State, won a National Championship, and had the Buckeyes in the running to win it almost every year he was there.

Video: How Urban Meyer Built Ohio State

How Urban Meyer Built Ohio State

1) Woody Hayes, Ohio State

From 1951 to 1978, Hayes was Ohio State Buckeyes head coach. He had a record of 205-61-10 with the Buckeyes and won 13 Big Ten titles and 5 National Titles.

Hayes was an outstanding coach and one of the most important in Buckeye’s history. It did not end well for Woody, but it does not change the fact that he was one of the greatest college football coaches that ever lived.

  • 238-72-10 Win/Loss
  • 1957 AFCA Coach of the Year
  • 5 National Championships
  • 13 Big ten Championships
Video: Woody Hayes - The Football Coach (BBC, 1978)

Woody Hayes – The Football Coach (BBC, 1978)

Honorable mention

Robert Zuppke, Illinois

From 1913-1941, Zuppke was the Illinois Fighting Illini’s head coach. Zuppke has been the greatest coach in Illini history and deserves this title.

He held a record of 131-81-12 with the Illini and won four national titles.

Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State

Duffy’s record at Michigan State University was 109-65-9. Duffy was there from 1954-1972 and was the most successful MSU coach.

He led the Spartans to four national titles and brought back the program’s dominance in a state once dominated only by Wolverines.

Hayden Frye, Iowa

Frye energized the hawkeyes program and got them back to the Rose Bowl in 1982 and in 1986 behind the arm of Chuck Long.

 

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