When Nebraska hired head coach Mike Riley in December, Riley instantly became the oldest coach in the Big Ten at 61-years of age. He has since seen his 62nd birthday.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz probably sent him a thank you card for taking the job.
At 60-years old, Ferentz is the second oldest head coach in the Big Ten. He’s also currently the conference’s longest-tenured coach, taking over the Hawkeyes in 1999. Only Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald is close to double-digits at nine seasons on the job.
Ferentz has seen his fair share of head coaches come and go in the Big Ten conference, but this time the new guys might feel a little different.
Nebraska’s Mike Riley, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst have all been major D-1 head coaches before. For all three, moving on to a better gig doesn’t seem likely if they can do one thing – win.
“They are really good coaches, they know what they are doing,” said Ferentz. “It’s indicative of the Big Ten Conference. We have great coaches in this conference. Just like we have great student athletes.”
All three new guys on the block have a better situation than when Ferentz took over his program. Iowa managed to win just three games the year before the head coach took over, and only managed to win four in Ferentz’s first two seasons. It wasn’t until 2001 when Ferentz managed to lead the Hawkeyes to an above .500 record.
“It was a different circumstance and a different environment,” said Ferentz when asked to reminisce.”