Athlon ranks every coaching job in the Big 12
Looking for an indication that the Big 12 is a really good league? Kansas State, a school that has won at least 10 games nine times since 1995, is ranked ninth on our list of top programs in the Big 12. Looking for an indication why the Big 12 is a step or two behind the other top conferences in the nation? Oklahoma State was our pick as the No. 3 program in the league. That’s no knock on the Pokes, but it’s pretty clear that the Big 12 isn’t as stout at the top as the SEC and Big Ten for sure and possibly even the ACC and Pac-12. Still, it’s a good league with a lot of depth.
Ranking the jobs for every FBS conference is no easy task. After all, the rankings are subjective based upon numerous factors, but 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, ability to recruit talent — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach?
Ranking the Big 12 Coaching Jobs
Recent history suggests this is a lost cause — the Jayhawks haven’t won more than four games in a season since 2009 — but it should be noted that KU was ranked in the postseason AP top 10 in the 2000s (2007 under Mark Mangino) and 1990s (1995 under Glen Mason). It’s difficult, but it can done in Lawrence.
9. Kansas State
This might seem low for a program that has had only seven losing seasons since 1991, but it’s a tough job due in large part to its remote location and relatively poor recruiting base. We are about to find out if a coach not named Bill Snyder can win at K-State.
8. Iowa State
There are some qualities that make this is a great place to coach — loyal fans, good place to live — but it’s been very difficult to sustain success at Iowa State. Only once in the last 90 years have the Cyclones had three straight winning seasons (the final three years of the Earl Bruce era in the mid-1970s).
Waco is a bit remote, but its location in the middle of Texas means you have access to players in Dallas and Houston, two of the biggest cities in the nation. Winning consistently has been a tough task, but the right coach can get it done at Baylor. Having a new stadium doesn’t hurt, either.
Thanks to the jump from the Mountain West to the Big 12 and a significant commitment from the university (that included a renovated stadium), TCU has become a far more desirable job in the past decade. The Horned Frogs have been ranked in the final AP top 10 six times in the past 11 years.
5. Texas Tech
Texas Tech is an interesting program. It’s in a remote location, but Lubbock isn’t exactly a small town (population 250,000). It’s a big state school, but it’s at best the third-best program in the state. Recruiting can be a challenge as well since Dallas is a five-hour drive. Bottom line: There’s a lot to like — and a lot that makes this a tough job.
4. West Virginia
West Virginia will always be a strange fit in the Big 12, but you can be a consistent winner in Morgantown. There are no pro sports to share the spotlight with; the Mountaineers are the only game in town. The state doesn’t produce a ton of talent, but you are close to large population bases in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.
3. Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy deserves a ton of credit, but it’s probably not a coincidence that Oklahoma State’s improved play on the field — the Pokes have been ranked in the final AP poll seven times in the last 11 years — has coincided with the enormous financial commitment to the program made by T. Boone Pickens. Oklahoma State will never be more prestigious than Oklahoma or Texas, but it’s a program that has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years.
Not every coach has won big at Oklahoma, but it is clearly one of the marquee jobs in the nation. That state doesn’t produce a ton of talent, but this program has consistently been able to dip into Texas and steal more than its share of elite players.
Texas offers the complete package: Great school in a great town with great tradition. It’s easier said than done — just ask Charlie Strong — but everything is in place to compete for national championships at Texas.