The Big 12’s trade of Missouri and Texas A&M for West Virginia and TCU appears to be a small downgrade as far as basketball is concerned.
Although the league loses a consistent Missouri and newly solid Texas A&M, the Big 12 will upgrade its coaches.
West Virginia’s Bob Huggins and TCU’s Trent Johnson have more than twice as many career wins than outgoing coaches Frank Haith and Billy Kennedy and 30 more NCAA Tournament wins.
Most of that belongs to the Hall of Famer Huggins, but Johnson, with 226 career wins and five Tourney victories, alone has more than either Haith or Kennedy.
West Virginia and TCU have major adjustments ahead of them in the Big 12, but at least on the bench the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs have a leg up on some of the competition.
Here are our rankings of the Big 12’s top basketball coaches for 2012-13.
Note: Coaches are ranked on a mix of past accomplishments with consideration for career trajectory over the next five seasons or so. Rankings take Xs and Os acumen and recruiting prowess into account along with success in the regular season and postseason.
1. Bill Self, Kansas
Overall record: 476-158 (33-13 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Kansas: 269-53 (124-24 Big 12)
Great players come and go in Lawrence, but Self is leading one of the most consistent winners in the country. Thomas Robinson replaces the Morris twins, the Morris twins replaced Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich, Collins and Aldrich replaced Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers. Despite the turnover, Kansas has won a share of the Big 12 in eight consecutive seasons, four consecutive outright titles and five of the last seven Big 12 Tournament titles. Self once had the stigma of losing early in March, but Kansas is 17-4 in the NCAA Tournament, including the 2008 title, in the last five seasons.
2. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Overall record: 638-242 (27-20 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at West Virginia: 120-56 (52-29 Big East)
Huggins’ 2011-12 season was a good lesson in perspective. The Mountaineers went 19-14, including 9-9 in the Big East and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. For some programs, that’s a success. For Huggins, it was one of the worst seasons of his career. The .500 conference record was the first time Huggins failed to post a winning conference record since his first season at Akron in 1984-85. It was only the fourth time in his 27 years in Division I he failed to win 20 games. His 710 career wins, including 71 in the NAIA, are the most among active coaches without a national championship.
3. Rick Barnes, Texas
Overall record: 544-271 (20-20 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Texas: 342-137 (158-63 Big 12)
The Barnes’ era can be confounding, but it’s at least consistent. Since 2004-05, Texas has had eight players drafted in the first round, including four lottery picks. But the Longhorns reached the Sweet 16 only twice in eight years. In addition, Texas hasn’t won an outright Big 12 title since 1998-99 and has never won the Big 12 Tournament. That said, Texas never struggles to bring in talent nor struggles to get to the NCAA Tournament. Barnes’ 17 consecutive Tournament appearances is tied with Mike Krzyzewski for the longest active streak and is six short of the all-time record held by Dean Smith.
4. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Overall record: 494-320 (14-13 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Oklahoma: 15-16 (5-13 BIg 12)
After facing NCAA sanctions under two coaching staffs, Oklahoma made the astute hire in Kruger. Although he’s rarely mentioned as one of the game’s elite coaches, he’s one of the nation’s best rebuilders. He revived troubled programs at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV before landing at Oklahoma. If Kruger can navigate recruiting sanctions at Oklahoma, he could be the first coach to lead five different teams to the NCAA Tournament.
5. Scott Drew, Baylor
Overall record: 177-135 (6-3 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Baylor: 157-124 (52-86 Big 12)
In 2003-04, Drew assumed one of the toughest jobs in college basketball history following Dave Bliss’ exit in disgrace. Baylor hasn’t operated at full strength until the last five seasons, where the results have been mixed. The Bears reached the Elite Eight twice in the last three seasons -- an incredible feat considering Baylor had gone to one NCAA Tournament in 53 years before Drew’s arrival. However, the other three of the last five seasons have been marked by second-half collapses. Considering the influx of talent to Waco, Baylor could deliver more consistent results.
6. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
Overall record: 39-27 (1-1 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Iowa State: 39-27 (15-19 Big 12)
“The Mayor” had a long track record as an NBA player and in professional front offices but no experience as a head coach. Despite Hoiberg’s personal popularity, the hire of the former Cyclone was a bit puzzling. As it turns out, Hoiberg is a pretty good coach, sharing Big 12 Coach of the Year honors with Bill Self last season. Iowa State improved from 3-13 in the Big 12 to 12-6 in his second season. Iowa State’s 23 wins last year was the most since 2001. Now, Hoiberg will have to prove he can win without Royce White.
7. Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Overall record: 313-155 (11-8 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Kansas State: first season
Weber went 89-16 overall and 39-9 in the Big Ten in his first three seasons at Illinois, a run that included a trip to the 2005 national championship game. He never hit those heights again in his final six seasons at Illinois. He had trouble winning consistently at Illinois, a job that could be one of the best in the Big Ten. Weber could benefit from a fresh start at Kansas State, but he’ll have to overcome the reasons -- poor chemistry, lackluster recruiting -- his tenure went sour in Illinois.
8. Trent Johnson, TCU
Overall record: 226-186 (5-5 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at TCU: first season
After successful tenures at Nevada and Stanford, Johnson stepped out of a geographical comfort zone in the Southeast at LSU. The Tigers went 27-8 overall and 13-3 in the SEC in his first season in 2008-09, but the success was short-lived. LSU won five conference games the ensuing two seasons. Johnson saved face with trip to the NIT last year before getting ahead of the hot seat talk by taking the TCU job. The Horned Frogs likely will struggle in the Big 12, but Johnson already built a winner from a moribund program with Nevada. Still, the learning curve is a little steeper in the Big 12 than in the WAC.
9. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Overall record: 203-170 (1-3 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Oklahoma State: 80-55 (31-35 Big 12)
Ford is entering the fifth season of a nondescript tenure at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have never been awful under Ford (6-10 in the Big 12 in 2010-11), but they’ve never been great either (9-7 in each of his first two seasons). Oklahoma State could have one of the best homecourt advantages in the country, but the Cowboys haven’t given Stillwater many reasons to fill Gallagher-Iba Arena with raucous crowds.
10. Billy Gillispie, Texas Tech
Overall record: 148-108 (3-4 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at Texas Tech: 8-23 (1-17 Big 12)
Not many coaches have had a career arc like Gillispie. He was a miracle worker at UTEP and Texas A&M, taking the latter to the Sweet 16 in 2007. He was greeted with open arms at Kentucky, but that dissipated in less than two years. He went 40-27 in Lexington, including a first-round NCAA Tournament exit in his first season and an NIT bid in his second. He returned to Texas last year to oversee the Red Raiders’ worst season since 1990-91. If there’s any glimmer of hope, it’s that Gillispie went 6-24 in his first season at UTEP and 24-8 the second.