September 1st – Southern Mississippi
Coach: Ellis Johnson
Johnson enters into his first season as head coach after being the defensive coordinator at the University of South Carolina. During his time with the Gamecocks, he would considered one of the best defensive minds in the nation paired with Steve Spurriers offense. During those four years, the Gamecocks finished in the Top 15 nationally, three times. Including a ranking of number four overall in 2011.
Mora is entering into his first year of head coaching at the college level - he was a defensive assistant at Washington in 1984. What Mora does bring to the table is coaching experience at the professional level, serving as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. Mora is a defensive minded-coach, working as a secondary coach, or defensive coordinator for every team he coached on before becoming a head coach. Mora has had success in the NFL, leading multiple teams to the play-offs as head coach, and hopes to bring that success to the college level.
Malzahn enters into his first year as head coach at Arkansas State, after being a top assistant coach on three different NCAA FBS teams over the past six years. Malzahn makes his way back into his home state of Arkansas after being the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Auburn the past three years. Malzahn brought a unique style of offense to Auburn, which led to an outstanding 2010 season where they broke multiple school records, went undefeated, and won a National Championship. Malzahn was also able to coach Heisman Award winner Cam Newton, and helped lead him to become the No. 1 overall draft pick. Malzahn hopes to bring this kind of success to Arkansas State for years to come.
September 22nd- Idaho State
Kramer is entering into his second season as head coach at Idaho State. He was put in charge with the expectations of rebuilding the football program, and since he took over the team has progress on the field, academically, and in the surrounding community. The Bengals offense broke multiple single season and single game school records, led by Kevin Yost (quarterback), and Rodrick Rumble (wide receiver). Before Idaho State Kramer coached for fellow Big Sky Conference schools Montana State and Eastern Washington. He is one of five coaches in the history of the Big Sky Conference to win Big Sky Coach of the Year three different times.
Bielema will be entering into his 7th season as head coach for Wisconsin, where he has posted a 60-19 (.759) career record. He has led his team to two Big Ten conference championships, and has been ranked in the AP Top 25 at the end of the year on five different occasions. In 2012 Wisconsin will be looking for their fourth straight 10-win season and its 10th straight appearance in a bowl game. Although coaching for just six seasons, Bielema is already ranked third all time for wins by a Wisconsin head coach. Before becoming head coach at Wisconsin he was an assistant coach for the Badgers for two years. In the eight years he has coached at Wisconsin, the team has gone 50-4 at home, and will be riding a 16-game winning streak at home entering the 2012 season.
Meyer returns to his home state of Ohio to enter into his first year as head coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes. During his 10 years as head coach, Meyer has racked up a .814 winning percentage which puts him at 10th best all time, and he as recorded two national championships. Wherever Meyer goes he seems to succeed, going 17-6 at Bowling Green, 22-2 at Utah, and 65-15 at Florida. He has also proven to be able to groom talented quarterbacks wherever he goes, Tim Tebow at Florida and Alex Smith at Utah. All of this adds up great for Ohio State who is one of the power houses in the Big Ten, and has a young talented quarterback in Braxton Miller.
Fitzgerald has been head coach for the Wildcats for seven years, and was a football player for them when he attended Northwestern in the mid-90’s. Throughout his career at Northwestern, as a player and coach, Fitzgerald has shown an expectation of excellence from himself and all of those around him. He has been known as an enthusiastic players coach that will participate in linebacker drills, to demonstrate proper tackling, and will teach the entire incoming freshman class the right way to sing the school fight song. Fitzgerald was named as the Big Ten coach of the year in 2008, and has led his team to five consecutive years of bowl eligibility.
Hoke is entering his second season as head coach for the Wolverines. During his first year he led his team to an 11-2 record and a victory in the All-State Sugar Bowl. After leading his team to an outstanding season, Hoke was named the Maxwell Football Club Colligate Coach of the Year, and was a finalist for three other Coach of the Year awards. Hoke, along with legendary Michigan coach Fielding Yost, is the only coach to have a 10+ win in his first year. Before coaching at Michigan Hoke was a head coach at San Diego State and Ball State, where he amassed a 47-50 combined record.
Dantonio is entering into his sixth season as head coach for the Spartans, and in that time he has been able to shape and mold that program into a national powerhouse, and now year in and year out Michigan State seems to be in the race for a Big Ten Championship at the end of the year. Under Dantonio Michigan State has been to a school-record five consecutive bowl games, and have recorded back to back 11 win seasons for the first time in school history. In the past four seasons this team has totaled 24 victories in the Big Ten, which is most of any team in that time span. Dantonio holds a 44-22 (.667) record, which is more wins than any other Michigan State coach in the their first five years. The Spartans have been ranked in the USA TODAY POLL for 29 straight weeks, thanks largely to the fact that they have won 22 of their last 27 games.
O’Brien enters into his first year as Penn State’s head coach, and is left with a program that has been hit hard by NCAA penalties. He looses 10 scholarships each of the next four years, and has had multiple star players leave to go play somewhere else already. But if you talk to anyone close to the program they will tell you that no one is better for the job than O’Brien, who has remained strong and positive throughout the process, and even with all the losses he is still expecting to win. Before taking the Penn State head coach job, O’Brien was a member of the New England Patriot’s coaching staff, and was an important part to their Super Bowl winning teams.
Kill is entering into his second season as the Golden Gophers head coach. Last year he took over a struggling Minnesota team and led them to a 3-9 record, but was able to obtain key Big Ten victories over Iowa and Illinois at the end of the year. Before coming to Minnesota Kill spent three years coaching Northern Illinois, and was able to lead the Huskies to a 23-16 record and three consecutive bowl games. Kill’s overall head coaching record stands at 130-82, and has never left a program with a sub .500 record.
November 23rd - Iowa
- Josh Harvey -
Ferentz is entering the 14th season of his head-coaching career at Iowa, and has been coaching in the Big Ten longer than any other current Big Ten head coach.. He was named as the Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2009, which was the third time in eight years that he received that award. In 2011, Ferentz led the Hawkeyes to the Insight Bowl, which was his 10th bowl appearance at the University. He currently has a 6-4 record in bowl games, and his six wins puts him tied for third all-time among Big Ten coaches.