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If you were a free agent coach, which job would you want most in the BIG-12?
We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach?
Pros: Texas offers the complete package: Great school in a great town with great tradition. Also, it’s located in a state that treats high school football like a religion. One more thing: Texas has its own television network.
Cons: Texas has a ton going for it (see above), but last season’s 5–7 record proved that the program is not immune to losing. And while Texas is a recruiting power, there are three other BCS conference schools in the state, and virtually every other national power dips into Texas to recruit as well.
Final Verdict: It’s easier said than done — just ask David McWilliams and John Mackovic — but everything is in place to win big on a consistent basis at Texas.
Pros: Oklahoma has been a dominant force in college football dating back to the late 1930s. The program has consistently been able to dip into Texas and steal more than its share of elite players on an annual basis. The new-look Big 12, with no Nebraska and no conference title game, offers an easier path to a national championship for OU.
Cons: The state does not produce enough talent to stock the Sooners’ roster with the type of players needed to compete for championship. Recruiting at a high level out of state is a must.
Final Verdict: Not every coach has won big at Oklahoma — John Blake went 8–16 in three seasons (1996-98) — but it is clearly one of the marquee jobs in the nation. Winning a national championship is well within your reach.
3. Texas A&M
Pros: Texas A&M’s facilities are among the very best in the nation. Kyle Field is a bit on the old side and it could use some renovations for fan amenities, but as far as the facilities for recruiting — football complex in the south end zone, the indoor practice facility — A&M has very few rivals. The Aggies also have one of the most spirited student sections in college football.
Cons: Despite Texas’ surprising setback last season (5–7 record), Texas A&M will have a difficult time being anything but the third best program in the Big 12.
Final Verdict: Texas A&M is a very intriguing position. It has everything you would want in a job — great facilities, strong following, tremendous recruiting base — but the competition in the Big 12 is fierce. If you win at A&M, you will have earned it.
4. Oklahoma State
Pros: T. Boone Pickens is a very wealthy man, and he’s a big fan of Oklahoma State football. As a result, the Cowboys boast some of the best facilities in the nation. And these facilities help the O-State coaches tap into a fertile recruiting ground in nearby Texas.
Cons: Since Oklahoma State joined the Big Eight in 1960, the Cowboys have finished ahead of Oklahoma four times. And in those rare cases when Oklahoma State is having the better season — like 2009 — the Pokes still have to deal with the mighty Texas Longhorns. The moral of the story? The competition in the Big 12 is almost insurmountable.
Final Verdict: In a vacuum, Oklahoma State would be a wonderful place to coach, but if you have your sights set on competing for a national title, Stillwater might not be the place for you. There’s a reason the school has only won one conference title since the mid-1950s.
Pros: Missouri has an underrated recruiting base. There is a solid crop of instate talent every year, and Mizzou does a decent job landing players from Texas and Illinois.
Cons: It’s been tough to win consistently at Missouri. Dating back to the days of the Big Eight, the Tigers have only had five winning seasons in league play since 1983. Also, the new-look Big 12 will make Missouri’s schedule more challenging; the Tigers will now have to face Oklahoma and Texas every season.
Final Verdict: Missouri is a good job — but not a great job. You can average eight wins per season and go to decent bowl games, but the Tigers aren’t much of a threat to contend for Big 12 titles more than once every five or six years.
6. Texas Tech
Pros: Texas Tech has been one of the most consistent programs in college football over the past 20 years. The Red Raiders have been .500 or better in league play — SWC and Big 12 — 22 times in the past 25 seasons. The school has recently invested in the program with an $84 million renovation to Jones AT&T Stadium.
Cons: While the program has managed to remain competitive, winning titles has been very difficult in Lubbock. The school has not won an outright conference title since 1955, when it claimed its third straight Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship. Also, recruiting to Lubbock — the outpost of the Big 12 South — can be a bit difficult.
Final Verdict: Texas Tech might be the fourth most attractive job in its own state, but it’s still a very good program that has proven it can’t remain relevant in the Big 12.
Solid athletic department but no tradition.
8. Kansas State
Bill Snyder is the only coach who has figured it out at K-State.
Struggled to be a factor since the SWC broke up.
10. Iowa State
Tough job but school has good fan support.
Other Big 12 Content:
2011 Big 12 Predictions
2011 All-Big 12 Team
The Texas Longhorns Network is a Game Changer
There are Big Expectations at Texas A&M
Conference Realignment Winners and Losers
2011 All-America Team