Coaches are what make football fun for me. I love seeing two masterful coaches strategize against each other whether it’s a blowout, video game scoring see-saw, or my beloved defensive battles. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching athletes enact the coaching plans, but the X’s and O’s are why I keep coming back. Unlike the NFL, colleges are more likely to try anything to see how it works. For my first coach rankings, I chose the conference that was created at the time I became most interested in football which included all of my favorite teams at the time: the Big XII.
My grading of coaches has to do with the current picture. Bob Stoops won a championship in 2001. That was 2 1/2 years before I got married… 10 years ago. My ranking of Bob Stoops has to do with the past couple of seasons.
The second criteria is the history of the program they are taking over. What Mike Gundy has done with Oklahoma State is nothing short of amazing. However, Les Miles helped set a stable (playing wise) program for Gundy to inherit.
Finally, I will rank how I think they would fit in any other program. Some coaches thrive at small schools and choke at big ones while others do just the opposite. Former Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is a great example of the former. The latter is a bit harder to find. The best example I can think of is Todd Graham of Arizona State. He did pretty darn good at Rice and Tulsa, but choked at Pitt. I would consider Arizona State, historically, a bit lower on the totem pole than Pitt. Anyways, there is my criteria. I’m looking forward to the disagreements.
So how can a ten team conference have a coach ranked twelfth? Coach Holgorson is a leach (no offense to his former boss Mike Leach). Like so many coaches before him, he does great with a previous coach’s recruits, but does hardly anything since. If trends continue, Holgorson will have one win in his final season at WVU. Sadly, I thought the former coach was a bad hire, but the Holgorson hire just shows you that a splashy hire is meaningless if they can’t coach.
Well, that is how bad it has been for Kansas. Ever since Mangino left, Kansas has just stunk. It really shows how much Mangino got out of the recruits he could get. Turner Gill and Weis just don’t cut it. Charlie has a 4-20 record (1-17 conference) in two years and it doesn’t look to be much better. Kansas did play a stellar game against a bruised OU team in 2013.
Rhoads is the kind of guy you want to cheer for. He seems to be a decent human being, his program is clean, and he is loyal. He might even be a great coach stuck in a sinkhole of a position. I fear 2014 will be his last season. There really isn’t much more to say.
(Tie) 6. Gary Patterson, TCU
Patterson is one of my favorite coaches. He is loyal to a fault. He is an excellent coach, brings the most of out of his recruits, and loves his defenses. With Mack Brown leaving Texas, Patterson is now the 2nd most tenured coach in the Big XII behind Bob Stoops. To put Patterson at 6 should say a lot of how good the coaches are in the conference. If Patterson would have gone to any of the power conference schools, I am sure his teams would be in close competition to be conference champions.
I like Mike Leach. I think he got a raw deal when Tech fired him. When they hired Tuberville, I was disappointed. The job is basically a sinkhole job, which is why Tommy T. left a power conference to go to the conference formally known as the Big East. Kingsbury was one of Leach’s top quarterbacks in college. Kingsbury helped mentor Case Keenum and Johnny “Football” Manziel, two record setting quarterbacks. Though my disdain for Tech is great, I loved the Kingsbury hire and am excited to see what will happen over the next couple of years. He would be higher on my list, but his resume as a head coach is still pretty slim.
The Big XII really should be called the loyal coach league. Seven of the ten coaches have been offered bigger and better paying jobs yet have stuck with their teams. 4 of the top 5 coaches fit this description (Strong being the odd one out). Gundy is OSU. He is one of the few quarterbacks I watched play quarterback live. What Gundy has done and will continue to do with a second tier program is nothing short of amazing. My heart aches for him to be an OSU lifer or get a more prestigious program and win bigger, more consistently.
If Gundy is OSU, Bill Snyder is the Big XII. Barry Switzer once said, “He’s not the coach of the year, he’s not the coach of the decade, he’s the coach of the century.” He took a program in K-State that was horrible and built it up once into a Big 8 and Big XII power. Then he retired after a couple bad seasons. The next coach didn’t work out too well and Snyder once again made K-State a force to be reckoned with. I have no idea if Snyder could ever win at another school, but he loves Manhattan, KS, and that is his home.
Despite having het coached a game in the Big XII, his total salary is in excess of 9 million dollars for his first season with incentives to be even more. Not only does this make him the highest paid coach in professional sports, it puts a pressure on him that no coach has ever had (4-time national champion coach Nick Saban will make about a million less than Strong this year). Strong did great with weak recruits in Louisville. He brought his own recruits in and played them and did really well with them. Strong is the reason Urban Meyer has 2 national championship rings as opposed to zero. Strong also demands his players to be men. His hire makes the Big XII a stronger conference (no pun intended).
Briles is a wild card for me. If he isn’t coaching a school in Texas, I don’t know how well he would do. However, he is coaching a school in Texas. He is coaching the one team that used to make Kansas look good. Briles has done, with apologies to David Cutcliffe at Duke, the impossible. He has brought a private Christian school from bottom to the competitive top in one of top three conferences in college football (behind the PAC-12, tied with the SEC).
The 2nd best coach in college football who has coached more than three seasons. Nick Saban is number 1. Gus Malzahn will probably be tied for second in two years. I have already written an article regarding Stoops here, so I won’t rewrite it in this blog.
Tell me how much I don’t know what I’m talking about. Would love to hear it. 🙂