Anybody can do power rankings. Anyone and everyone will have some sort of ranking of college football coaches. Simply ranking coaches without much explanation is easy and far too common.

Instead of doing that, we went into detail about the tenures of every B1G coach. We looked at their biggest win, their most embarrassing loss, their top recruiting class and most importantly, why they were ranked where they where. We’ll go in depth with each coach until we get down to No. 1.

With that in mind, let the #B1GCoachRank debate begin:

Coach — No. 9 Mike Riley (Nebraska)

Record — 6-7 (3-5 in B1G)

Record vs. top 25 — 1-1

Where team was when he was hired — Good, not great. At Nebraska, that’s not good enough.

Bo Pelini was fired after seven seasons of nine-plus wins. There are probably only a handful of programs in America that would deem that a fireable offense, and Shawn Eichorst considered Nebraska one of them.

So that presents two sides of the coin for an incoming coach. On one hand, there should be plenty of talent and tradition to build on. On the other, those are some high — possibly unattainable — expectations to meet.

That’s not easy to walk into. But despite the fact that Nebraska players were outraged over the firing, there weren’t a ton of major transfers. Riley inherited the core of a nine-win team. That, coupled with a favorable schedule, set the bar high for 2015.


Biggest win — Nov. 7, 2015 vs. No. 7 Michigan State

Whether or not Brandon Reilly should’ve been an ineligible receiver, Nebraska handed eventual B1G champ Michigan State its first loss in stunning fashion. That was after everyone had basically written the Huskers off following one of the worse losses in school history (we’ll get to that).

Ironically enough, it might’ve been different than any win in the Pelini era. Besides the fact that it was Nebraska’s first win over a top-10 team since joining the B1G, the circumstances were different. That game didn’t have the same pressure that Nebraska’s primetime showdowns against top-10 teams had in the Pelini era. The Huskers finally had nothing to lose, and it showed.

There might’ve been a few extremists who suggested that it saved Riley’s job. I don’t really believe that. That win was about Nebraska having one night where it wasn’t worried about staying in the hunt for a division title. It was almost like Nebraska won on a buzzer-beater in the NCAA Tournament.

Most embarrassing loss — Oct. 31, 2015 vs. Purdue

The history books might forget that Nebraska was decimated by injury. Tommy Armstrong didn’t play, DeMornay Pierson-El tore his ACL in the first half and Nebraska had injuries all over the defense. As a result, the Huskers allowed 55 points to a Purdue team that hadn’t won a B1G game in over a year.

The final score actually made it look closer than it was. Nebraska needed a 29-point fourth quarter just to get within 10 of the lowly Boilermakers. The Huskers had lost five games by 13 points coming into West Lafayette, but the “we’re just unlucky” argument went out the window that day. It also marked Nebraska’s worst nine-game start in over 50 years.

Husker fans didn’t take to it very well. Some called for Riley to be fired, others gave away their future tickets as Halloween candy. Fortunately for Riley, Eichorst voiced his support in the following days, which quieted any notion of a one-and-done scenario.

Best recruiting class — 2017

You could go either way on this one. You certainly could argue that Riley’s 2016 class, which featured five four-star commits and finished No. 25 nationally, was his best.

I gave the 2017 class the nod for the progress already made and the potential of what it can turn into. The Calibraska movement is real. Commitments from Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and Tristan Gebbia solidified that. The addition of an East Coast talent like Avery Roberts was big, too. But Riley has a serious foundation out West that could lead to a top-15 class.

Nebraska’s three biggest targets are all five-star recruits. Cornerback Darnay Holmes (Gebbia and Johnson’s Calabasas High teammate) and receivers Joseph Lewis and Tyjon Lindsey are all high on Nebraska. That’s a credit to Keith Williams, who has been dominating the California recruiting circuit.

Riley doesn’t have those commitments yet, but landing two of those three would certainly make Nebraska’s 2017 class special. Right now, it appears that Riley is on his way to doing that.


What could get him fired — Because of Riley’s aforementioned recruiting ties, he could probably keep his job with another six-win season. I know. That sounds crazy. That doesn’t happen in Lincoln. Well, at least it hasn’t since Bob Devaney was running the show in 1968.

The thought of Riley keeping his job after spending another November spent fighting for bowl eligibility might seem radical for some. That wouldn’t have happened with Pelini.

But patience — yes, patience — is key. Riley has a longer leash because he’s Eichorst’s guy. Eichorst’s time at Nebraska will be based on Riley’s success, unlike Pelini.

In other words, Riley probably isn’t going anywhere. He would have to suffer a few more Purdue-like losses, miss a bowl game, lose out on top recruits and struggle to keep the current ones, and maybe a postgame meltdown or two would get him fired.

But don’t bank on the mild-mannered Riley doing that.

Why he’s at No. 9 — Quick question for you…what does Riley have in common with Mark Dantonio and Urban Meyer? They all beat top-10 teams in 2015. Not even Jim Harbaugh did that.

Here’s another question…what does Riley have in common with D.J. Durkin, James Franklin, Harbaugh and Meyer? They all have at least four four-star 2017 recruits committed. The entire B1G West only has three combined.

That’s the positive.

See if you can name this one…who is the only B1G coach with a loss to Purdue on his résumé? Well, that would also be Riley.

What about this…who is the only coach in the B1G who lost six regular season games by single digits? That would be Riley. In fact, Nebraska and Georgia Tech were the only Power Five teams to accomplish that dubious feat.

So what does that all mean?

It’s a middle-of-the-pack ranking for a guy who has been quite mediocre so far. Riley’s positives are flashy — a top-10 win and a major recruiting pipeline — but the negatives so far have been painful. There are still questions about his late-game management. He obviously still has more experience in those situations than any first-year coach in the B1G, so deserves to be ranked better than all of them.

But Riley hasn’t established consistency at Nebraska yet. His team also doesn’t have an identity. Coaches like Kevin Wilson and Paul Chryst are ahead of Riley because they handled adversity better than Riley in 2015.

How does Riley move up on this list? He can start by getting Nebraska back to the level that Pelini left it at.


No. 14 Darrell Hazell

No. 13 Chris Ash

No. 12 Lovie Smith

No. 11 D.J. Durkin

No. 10 Tracy Claeys

No. 9 Mike Riley

No. 8 — TBA