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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ranking the Big 12 Coaches

Tom Dienhart recently provided his rankings of the Big 12 head coaches. Dienhart’s list looked like this:

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
2. Mack Brown, Texas
3. Bill Callahan, Nebraska
4. Mike Leach, Texas Tech
5. Mark Mangino, Kansas
6. Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M
7. Dan Hawkins, Colorado
8. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
9. Guy Morriss, Baylor
10. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
11. Ron Prince, Kansas State
12. Gene Chizik, Iowa State

It’s hard to argue with the top two coaches listed, although some might question the order of Stoops and Brown. I’d give the edge to Stoops right now based on what he did last season alone. In addition, his national championship came without the benefit of Vince Young. Clichéd statement for sure, but its not without at least some merit.

For me, the surprise actually comes with our own Bill Callahan at third, or first among coaches who haven’t won a national title. According to Dienhart:
“Give him kudos for daring to change the culture in option-football mad Lincoln. It hasn't gone smoothly, but Callahan has the Huskers poised for a breakthrough. No one knows the game better than Callahan, the only Big 12 boss who has coached a Super Bowl team.”
Yes, Callahan has a Super Bowl on his resume, but the bottom line at this point is a 22-15 record (13-12 vs. Big 12) during his three-year stint in Lincoln. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s the right man for the job, but I would have ranked Mike Leach ahead of him at this point. Leach has helped change the Big 12 from a power-running conference, into one of the more pass-happy leagues in the country.

The rest of the list seems pretty straightforward. Mangino, Franchione and Hawkins make up a pretty good second tier of coaches. A&M fans will question Mangino over Franchione, but hey, he’s phat. I would probably flip Pinkel and Gundy. Gundy is on his way up, while Pinkel seems to be on the perpetual hot seat in Columbia. Besides, Gundy will no doubt benefit from the free-spending of Boone Pickens.

Prince and Chizik round out the list due to their lack of experience. Although neither had prior head coaching experience, Prince still seems like the bigger gamble of the two.