What Big Ten Football coaches could survive an epic scandal?

By ArizonaLake
Feb. 14, 2017

How many Big Ten coaches could survive drinking on the job? Are there any scandals that the current crop of Big Ten coaches could skate through? Whether it's incriminating text messages, or academic scandals, each coaching situation stands alone.

As everybody knows, there's a certain hierarchy when it comes to college coaches. As long as you're winning, it seems like the administration will bend over backwards to keep the program running smoothly. Sometimes a college coach has more power than any other representative of the university. We all know about Joe Paterno, but he's not the only one.

For example, there's no way Rick Pitino survives his first sex scandal with the Louisville Cardinals if he's just an average coach. Instead, his stellar coaching career has led Pitino into becoming untouchable. He has a (763-263) college coaching record. More importantly, Pitino won an NCAA title with the Cardinals.

Meanwhile, other coaches have not been so lucky. In 2015, The USC Trojans fired Steve Sarkisian five games into his second year as head coach. Due to drinking problems, and disturbing behavior, the former 'savior' of the Trojans became expendable. However, the Trojans were (12-6) when they fired Sarkisian. In all, Sarkisian has a (46-35) record.

Although Sarkisian's transgressions forced him out of Southern California, he quickly landed on his feet. Last season, Sarkisian became an offensive analyst for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He even became the offensive coordinator in the College Football Playoff championship game. As a result of that failed experiment, he will be orchestrating the offense for the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons next season. Talk about failing into success.

Which Big Ten Coaches could survive a scandal?

Well, it all depends on the transgression. Furthermore, it depends on the coach's cache. Currently, the Big Ten has one national title within its coaching ranks. The Big Ten also had one of the strongest seasons in recent memory. The conference finished with four teams in the Top 10. For the third straight year, the Big Ten had a team earn a College Football Playoff berth.

Nearly Untouchable Big Ten Coaches

1. Urban Meyer- Ohio State Buckeyes: During five seasons with the Buckeyes, Meyer has amassed a (61-6). He won the inaugural College Football Playoff in the 2014-15 season. Yet, Meyer might not be able to survive a wide-ranging scandal. Remember, he replaced Jim Tressel a year after the former coach lied to the NCAA about violations. Therefore, Meyer would have to mess up on an epic level to lose his job in Columbus.

2. Jim Harbaugh- Michigan Wolverines: Harbaugh is two seasons into his coaching tenure with the Wolverines. He played quarterback for the program and grew up around Ann Arbor. Currently, Harbaugh has a (49-27) as an FBS coach. He's won 20 games in two seasons. Harbaugh would have to commit illegal acts to get his walking papers from Michigan.

3. Kirk Ferentz- Iowa Hawkeyes: Kirk Ferentz has been the Hawkeyes' coach for 18 seasons. He has a (135-92) record with the Hawkeyes. Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. Ferentz has five 10-win seasons with the Hawkeyes. He also has four losing seasons with the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes have also lost their last five bowl games. Yet, Ferentz is a mainstay with the program. Brian Ferentz, his son, is entering the first season as offensive coordinator. That's all you need to know about the job security with the football program.

4. Mark Dantonio- Michigan State Spartans: Dantonio has spent 10 of his 13 years as a head coach at Michigan State. Since 2013, the Spartans have won a pair of Big Ten titles. However, Dantonio is coming off of his worst season in 2016. The Spartans only won three games in a disappointing year. Dantonio has a (108-59) record in college. He's (90-42) with the Spartans.

5. Pat Fitzgerald- Northwestern Wildcats: Fitzgerald is another coach that played at his current school. He's dealt with players attempting to unionize. During his 11-year coaching career, Fitzgerald has had two double digit win seasons. He has also had four losing seasons. Yet, it would take a monumental event for the Wildcats to push Fitzgerald out the door.

Big Ten Coaches Without Enough Clout

1. James Franklin- Penn State Nittany Lions: Franklin may have done the best coaching job in college football last season. Still, he was one bad season away from getting fired. That's right. Franklin was on the hot seat almost as quickly as he accepted the job in Happy Valley. Due to Penn State's history, they must avoid any scandals at all cost.

2. Mike Riley- Nebraska Cornhuskers: This one is a tough call. Two years ago, the Cornhuskers fired a coach for not "winning enough." So far, Riley hasn't led the Huskers to a new level. However, hope for the future seems bright, as long as the future is next season. He has a (15-11) record with the Huskers. Riley is (108-91) overall. Therefore, Riley has a better winning percentage with the Huskers than he does in his entire career.

3. Paul Chryst- Wisconsin Badgers: During his first two seasons with the Badgers, Chryst has been magnificent. He's led the Badgers to a (21-6) record and two Bowl wins. The Badgers seem to get the most out of their talent. More importantly, it seems like Wisconsin players blossom into great football players. If the Badgers would have won a couple more games, Chryst would be on the untouchable list.

4. Lovie Smith- Illinois Fighting Illini: Lovie Smith is continuing to adapt to the college game one season into his tenure with the Fighting Illini. He's 1 of 2 coaches to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl. Illinois only won three games last season, but the NFL success is worth a lot of points.

Big Ten Coaches Just Getting Started

1. D.J. Durkin- Maryland Terrapins: D.J. Durkin led the Terrapins to a Bowl game in his first season. He started the year with the No. 4 recruiting class in the Big Ten. He's already suspended players for transgressions on and off the field. If Maryland starts competing for the Big Ten East title, Durkin could become a beloved figure in the conference.

2. Chris Ash- Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Chris Ash had a rough start to his rebuilding project. The Scarlet Knights were shutout out four times. They lost nine straight games to end the season. However, the football program seems to be headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, there's more of a chance for Ash to lose his job due to a scandal than to leave Rutgers after a successful tenure. And nobody expects Ash to fail.

3. P.J. Fleck- Minnesota Gophers: P.J. Fleck built up the Western Michigan Broncos. He is also taking over for a coach that battled the current administration during the Bowl season. Will his first season become legendary? The Gophers have plenty of talent returning.

4. Jeff Brohm- Purdue Boilermakers: After a stellar stint with Western Kentucky, Jeff Brohm is bracing for his start with Purdue. The Boilermakers should produce a great offense. They have won 11 games since 2013. If Brohm is capable of turning this program around, look out.

5. Tom Allen- Indiana Hoosiers: Conveniently, Tom Allen replaced Kevin Wilson after an investigation into player mistreatment. The Hoosiers earned back to back Bowl trips for the first time since 1990-91 seasons. Therefore, Allen will be under scrutiny from Day 1.