Former B1G All-Americans top ESPN's ranking of current FBS coaches as players
A lot of players don’t respect coaches that never played football.
Lucky for the B1G, at least played high school ball. In fact, 13 of 14 B1G coaches played in college, too. There were even two that were All-Americans.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg compiled a ranking of all 129 FBS coaches based on how they were as players. Believe it or not, the B1G’s All-Americans came in at the top of his lengthy, but awesome ranking.
Here’s what Rittenberg wrote about each of the B1G coaches:
128. Tracy Claeys, Minnesota — “A lineman at Clay Center High School in Kansas, Claeys later attended both Kansas and Kansas State but didn’t play for either college. He was a student coach for eventual Minnesota coach Glen Mason at Kansas.”
108. Chris Ash, Rutgers — “One of three FBS coaches to play college ball at FCS Drake University in Iowa, Ash earned two letters as a defensive back.”
94. Darrell Hazell, Purdue — “Hazell played wide receiver for Division III Muskingum University in Ohio. He earned all-league honors three times and honorable mention All-America honors as a senior captain in 1985. He still holds the team’s single-season receiving yards record (803).”
92. Urban Meyer, Ohio State — “When a baseball career ended after two years in the minor leagues, Meyer went to Cincinnati and walked onto the football team as a safety. He earned a letter in 1984 and later became a student coach.”
77. James Franklin, Penn State — “Franklin starred at quarterback for Division II East Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania. He started in 1993-94, ranked sixth in total offense among Division II players in 1984 and left with 23 team records. Franklin was nominated for Division II player of the year honors as a senior.”
72. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa — “The Pennsylvania native attended Connecticut, then a Division I-AA program, where he played linebacker and was a team captain as a senior in 1976. Ferentz earned three letters.”
61. Mike Riley, Nebraska — “After quarterbacking Corvallis High School to an Oregon state title, Riley left for Alabama, where he was a reserve cornerback from 1971 to 1974. He won a national title in 1973 and lettered in 1974.”
60. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin — “Born in Madison, Chryst returned there to play for Wisconsin, where he earned three letters as a backup quarterback, tight end, linebacker and safety from 1986 to 1988.”
53. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State — “The Ohio native headed south to play college football at South Carolina, where he earned three letters as a defensive back from 1976 to ’78.”
49. Kevin Wilson, Indiana — “Wilson walked on at North Carolina and then played center and guard for the Tar Heels from 1980 to ’83. He received a scholarship after two seasons, earned two letters and played for four bowl teams.”
32. D.J. Durkin, Maryland — “The Youngstown, Ohio, native went across the state to play at Bowing Green, where he started at defensive back and outside linebacker from 1997 to 2000. Durkin led the team in sacks in 1998 and finished second in 2000. He recorded 28 tackles for loss in his career and twice served as a captain.”
15. Love Smith, Illinois — “After helping Big Sandy High School to three Texas state championships, Smith went to Tulsa, where he played for John Cooper. He was named the league’s newcomer of the year in 1976. The defensive back received all-league honors three times and second-team All-America honors in 1978. Smith still ranks fifth on Tulsa’s career tackles list (367).”
2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern — “No current coach accomplished more as a college player than Fitzgerald, a leading figure in Northwestern’s mid-1990s renaissance. He earned consecutive national defensive player of the year honors (Nagurski and Bednarik) and consensus All-America honors at linebacker. A 2008 College Football Hall of Fame selection, Fitzgerald wasn’t drafted. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent but had no pro career.”
1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan — “Harbaugh was an All-American QB at Michigan, where he won Big Ten MVP honors and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1986. His career pass efficiency mark (149.6) led the NCAA for 12 years. He was a first-round draft pick and played portions of 15 seasons in the NFL. He earned Pro Bowl and AFC Player of the Year honors in 1995.”