Coaching is one of the driving forces in building a national championship team or program. No matter how much talent a program has, it can’t win a national title if the coaching is questionable.
Considering how important coaches are to teams or even making preseason predictions, Athlon is taking a look at how each conference stacks up with head coach rankings for 2013.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach? How is the resume outside of their current position? These questions and more were posed to the editors at Athlon Sports, as they were asked to rank the coaches of each of the six BCS conferences. One thing to keep in mind - the record is not always indicative of where a coach should rank in a conference.
Ranking the Big 12's College Football Coaches for 2013
1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Overall Record at Kansas State: 170-85-1 (1989-2005, 2009-present, 21 years)
Snyder doesn’t get the national credit like Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, but there’s no denying he is one of the best coaches in college football. Prior to his arrival at Kansas State, the Wildcats had just one bowl appearance and recorded only one winning season from 1971-88. After Snyder’s arrival, Kansas State immediately went from a laughingstock to a consistent winner. The Wildcats won six games in Snyder’s first two seasons but recorded 10 years of nine victories or more from 1993-2003. Snyder retired after the 2005 season, but a failed three-year stint under Ron Prince brought him back to the sidelines. And just as Kansas State did in Snyder’s first stint, the program quickly emerged as a conference title contender and was in the mix to play for the national title last season. Snyder isn’t flashy, but his teams are always well-coached and prepared. As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion.
2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
Overall Record: 149-37 (1999-present, 14 years)
Stoops has been the picture of consistency and success during his Oklahoma tenure. The Sooners have won at least 10 games in 11 of Stoops’ 14 seasons in Norman and claimed the national title after the 2000 season. Under his guidance, Oklahoma has emerged as a national powerhouse once again. The Sooners have claimed at least a share of the Big 12 title nine times under Stoops and have eight BCS bowl appearances. And after a 10-3 record in 2012, which would be considered a successful year for most programs, Stoops didn’t sit idle. Oklahoma will have three new assistant coaches for 2013, which should inject some fresh energy into the program. Even though some may criticize Stoops for his 1-5 record in the last six BCS bowls, the Ohio native is still one of the nation’s premier coaches.
3. Gary Patterson, TCU
Overall Record at TCU: 116-36 (2000-present, 13 years)
Since 2000, TCU has played in the WAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Big 12. The one constant and driving force behind the conference changes and rise of TCU as one of college football’s top-25 programs of the BCS era: Gary Patterson. The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010. The Horned Frogs dominated the Mountain West from 2005-2011, losing only seven conference games during that stretch. Moving to the Big 12 is a step up in competition for TCU. But the program has a lucrative recruiting base, and Patterson is clearly one of the top-15 coaches in the nation. As long as the Horned Frogs continue to recruit well, competing in the Big 12 won’t be a problem.
4. Art Briles, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 33-30 (2008-present)
Record at Houston: 34-28 (2003-07)
Overall Record: 67-58 (10 years)
From 1997-2007, Baylor was one of the Big 12’s worst programs. The Bears compiled a 31-94 mark and did not record a bowl appearance during that stretch. Enter Art Briles. Since Briles’ arrival, the Bears have been much more competitive in the Big 12. Baylor has 25 victories over the last three seasons and has played in three consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history. Briles’ success isn’t contained just to Baylor, as he took over Houston and went 34-28 in five years with the Cougars. Two different programs, two challenging and different reclamation efforts. Considering what Briles has done on the high school level, at Houston and now at Baylor, he’s easily one of college football’s top-20 coaches going into the 2013 season.
5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Overall Record at Oklahoma State: 67-35 (2005-present, 8 years)
Even though Gundy ranks No. 5 in Athlon’s Big 12 coach rankings for 2013, there’s not much separating the former Oklahoma State quarterback from the rest of the coaches in the conference. And it’s also hard to find a coach in the nation that’s a better fit at their current program. Considering Gundy played at Oklahoma State and served as an assistant prior to being elevated to head coach, he’s the perfect leader for a program that has made significant gains over the last 10 years. After going 18-19 in his first three seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to five consecutive seasons of at least eight victories. Oklahoma State recorded a 23-3 mark from 2010-11, which included an outright Big 12 title in 2011 and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Having a booster like T. Boone Pickens certainly doesn’t hurt Oklahoma State, especially when it comes to building new facilities. However, Gundy has elevated the Cowboys from battling just for bowl berths to conference titles in just a few seasons.
6. Mack Brown, Texas
Record at Texas: 150-43 (1998-present)
Record at North Carolina: 69-46-1 (1988-97)
Record at Tulane: 11-23 (1985-87)
Record at Appalachian State: 6-5 (1983)
Overall Record: 236-117-1 (29 years)
Is 2013 a make-or-break year for Brown at Texas? It’s certainly a possibility. The Longhorns 11-15 mark in conference play over the last three years is unacceptable for one of college football’s premier programs. Brown transformed Texas into a national title contender, but it’s clear his best days as a head coach are probably behind him. Prior to coming to Austin, Brown worked as a head coach for one season at Appalachian State, three years at Tulane and for 10 years at North Carolina. In some regard, Brown is a victim of his own success at Texas. In his first 12 seasons in Austin, the Longhorns won at least nine games in every year and beat USC to win the 2005 national championship. However, since losing to Alabama in the 2009 BCS title, Texas hasn’t been the same program. The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin.
7. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Overall Record at Iowa State: 24-27 (2009-present, 4 years)
Rhoads is the textbook example of why coaches shouldn’t always be judged just by the wins and losses on their resume. Iowa State is arguably the most difficult job in the Big 12 and one of the toughest from a BCS conference. So while Rhoads 24-27 record isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s impressive what he’s been able to do during his time in Ames. The Cyclones have played in three bowl games under Rhoads, with a victory in the 2009 Insight Bowl against Minnesota. Iowa State has won two in a row over rival Iowa and under Rhoads’ watch, the Cyclones have scored upset victories against Texas and Oklahoma State. As a native of Iowa, it would take a lot of Rhoads to leave Iowa State for another program. However, as long as the Cyclones in contention for a bowl every year, Rhoads’ name will keep coming up in coaching searches for top BCS programs.
8. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Overall Record at West Virginia: 17-9 (2011-present, 2 years)
Holgorsen is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football, but his two-year stint as West Virginia’s coach has been a mixed bag of results. In his first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3 and claimed the Big East title. West Virginia capped off the 2011 season in style, gashing Clemson for 70 points in a 70-33 Orange Bowl rout. And the Mountaineers managed to ride that momentum early in 2013, starting 5-0 with exciting shootout victories against Baylor and Texas. However, the season took a nosedive with a road trip to Lubbock. West Virginia lost five consecutive games, before rallying to win the final two regular season contests of 2012. The Mountaineers played in the Pinstripe Bowl but were dominated 38-14 by former Big East rival Syracuse. So after two seasons, it’s hard to judge just how effective Holgorsen is as a head coach. He proved his mettle as an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State and helped to guide West Virginia to an average of 502 yards per game last year. However, the Mountaineers’ defense was a disaster, and the talent level on both sides of the ball needs to be upgraded to win in the Big 12. Holgorsen still has much to prove, but the 2011 season showed he is capable of elevating the program. With the transition to a tougher conference, some patience will be required in Morgantown.
9. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
Overall Record at Texas Tech: 0-0 (First Season)
Kingsbury has been on a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks and lands his first head coaching job at his alma mater. The San Antonio native had a prolific career as a starting quarterback under Mike Leach from 2000-02, finishing his career with just under 12,000 passing yards. Following his collegiate career in Lubbock, Kingsbury had a short professional stint, playing for five different teams in five seasons. Kingsbury joined Kevin Sumlin’s staff at Houston in 2008 and worked his way through the ranks, before becoming the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and guiding quarterback Case Keenum to nearly 20,000 career passing yards. Kingsbury followed Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M and produced a successful one-year stint as the offensive coordinator, which resulted in a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel). Kingsbury is young and unproven as a head coach, but he is the perfect fit at Texas Tech. For a program that never really embraced Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are in good hands with one of college football’s rising stars at head coach.
10. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 1-11 (2012-present)
Record at Notre Dame: 35-27 (2005-09)
Overall Record: 36-38 (6 years)
Weis was considered by most to be a bad hire at Kansas. So far, he’s done nothing to dispel those thoughts. Weis didn’t inherit the best roster, but the Jayhawks recorded only one victory last year and ranked near the bottom nationally in scoring offense and defense. If there was any bright spot, it was the fact Kansas was more competitive at times last year, and Weis is bringing in a handful of transfers and junior college prospects that should help this team. Prior to coming to Kansas, Weis had an extensive resume as an assistant coach, making stops in the NFL with the Patriots, Chiefs and Jets and one season as Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2011. While Weis was regarded for his work as an assistant, his five-year stint as Notre Dame’s head coach was a failure. He went 19-6 with two BCS bowls from 2005-06 but recorded a 16-21 mark in the final three seasons. Kansas could be more competitive in 2013, but Weis is not the answer to elevate the program into the Big 12 title contention.
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