2012 Big 12 Coaches
The Hot Seat Factor, Part 2
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12 Coaching Analysis & Hot Seat Status, Part 1
Picture this. You’re a beleaguered athletic director with an opening at the top of the football organizational chart. Your checkbook is open, and your fan base is glaring at you with unwavering anticipation. Which of the
Big 12's current head coaches would you put in charge of the program for the next five or so years? Knowing that your own job hangs in the balance, to which man would you entrust your future?
This is NOT necessarily a ranking of how good the head coaches are. This is a ranking based on who would be best to take over a program and build it up, so age is a major factor. A coach might be legendary, but he might not have another five years of greatness left. So with that in mind, who are the top candidates to run your program?
10. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Age shouldn’t play a factor in this since Snyder managed to pull off another rebuilding job at 72, but will he be the Kansas State legend still be the head man at 77? The second act to his career has been nothing short of amazing, and while he started from a better place than he had to deal with in 1989, he proved he could still get it done. Now, the Wildcats could quickly go to 5-7 if they don’t win all the close games they managed to win in 2011, but it doesn’t matter; his legacy has been rebuilt after struggling in 2004 and 2005.
He’s still not able to bring in the top-shelf recruits with Kansas State always recruiting to a type, and whomever follows in his footsteps needs to be stronger than Ron Prince, but for now, Snyder is still going strong and he has the nucleus back to have another great season.
Hot Seat Status: The stadium is named after the guy’s family. If he wants to coach until he’s 85, he can. However, like he did in the mid-2000s, if he senses he has lost his touch, he’ll know when to step aside. There is no Kansas State football without him, and considering this isn’t Ohio State or Alabama when it comes to superpower legacies, there’s no real expectation that anyone can ever overshadow his accomplishments.
9. Charlie Weis, Kansas
Notre Dame might have an overinflated opinion of itself and what it can be as a power program, but still, there was no excuse to lose to Navy and the 3-9 2007 season was an all-timer of a disaster. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was given a host of four and five-star talents as the Florida offensive coordinator and did nothing with them. Kansas wanted him, though, and is hoping he’ll be able to bring a decided schematic advantage to Lawrence to turn things back around after the Turner Gill disaster.
Can he recruit? He was able to get one or two stars to South Bend, but his overall classes were a bit lacking. Can he press the flesh and get out there to be a good spokesman for the program? He won’t have to do it nearly as much as he did at Notre Dame. At 56 he’s still a relatively young coach, and he’ll get time to try to turn things around, but he has to prove he can run a program and be more than just a great coordinator.
Hot Seat Status: Things are so down after Gill that Weis will get at least two years of leeway before he has to come up with a big year. However, after what Mark Mangino showed could be done with the program and the offense, Weis will have pressure to create an offense that’ll make the Jayhawks interesting.
8. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Real Sports episodes and accusations aside, he got a raw deal at Auburn getting shipped off after one awful 5-7 2008 season. Of course, the program came up with a BCS championship two years after he left, but he also got Auburn to a national title level in 2004 with a 13-0 season. He won at least a piece of the SEC West five times over a six-year span, and then finished second twice before the 2008 crash, but the program wanted to move on. Unfortunately, he’s not quite having the same success at Texas Tech.
He’s in a bit of a rough spot in Lubbock. A large segment of the fan base still can’t understand why Mike Leach is now the head coach at Washington State, and Tuberville had to come in and try to keep what Leach did offensively. The problem is that Leach is Leach, and no one runs the high-octane spread passing game like he does. The offense hasn’t been as effective, but it hasn’t been bad. The bigger issue is a defense that suffered a slew of injuries and was miserable last year, even by Big 12 standards. After last year’s slide into the abyss after the win over Oklahoma, it’s win or else time.
Hot Seat Status: Tuberville is a winner and he’s a good head football coach, but he might not get the time needed to change Texas Tech around. Worse yet, he’s not going to be able to put his own stamp on the program, still living in the shadow of Leach. The next coach will have the buffer factor of being the coach who comes after the popular coach, while Tuberville will probably be better as a Frank Solich type who’d rock at a lower-level program. However, he can change things around in a big hurry with one good year. 7-5 keeps him around, but 8-4 would be better.
7. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Rhoads is doing far more with the Cyclones than Gene Chizik did. The Auburn head coach famously parlayed a 5-19 run in Ames into a big-time, national-title gig, and Rhoads might soon be on his way to bigger and better things if he can keep on doing good things with Iowa State. Even though he doesn’t have the talent to work with of some of the other Big 12 teams, he’s been able to come up with some nice seasons and some shocking upsets like last year’s season-changer against Oklahoma State. At just 45, he’s just getting started.
Two losing seasons in three years might not be anything to get excited about, but he has gone to two bowl games and the 5-7 2010 wasn’t all that bad, barley missing out on going bowling with a late loss to Nebraska. He’s great at getting his teams to always play hard, motivation is never a problem, and he manages to do a lot with less. However, it would be interesting to see what he could do with a bigger program and some top-shelf recruits.
Hot Seat Status: He’s getting paid relatively well making over $1 million a year, and he’s an up-and-comer young coach that Iowa State would love to have around to grow with the program. Would one big year be enough to put him on the short lists for bigger jobs? Probably, but he might be in for a bit of a rebuilding season. He can afford a clunker of a year, or even two, if there’s hope on the horizon.
6. Mack Brown, Texas
Brown hasn’t received nearly enough credit for what he has done with Texas. Yeah, now the place can open up the doors and sign all the elite in-state prospects it wants, and yeah, it’s Texas, the monster empire with its own network and all the attention that goes with being the big football school in the big football state, but it’s Brown who brought all of those things back to Austin. Remember, even with a Big 12 title under John Mackovic the program wasn’t the consistent superpower that Texas was supposed to be. And then Brown showed up and everything changed.
But Brown is turning 61 this year and there have been persistent, but unfounded, rumors for years about how he’s planning on retiring soon. The program lost Will Muschamp to Florida because Brown didn’t show many signs of slowing down, but now the production and the wins aren’t there like they were when he won ten games or more in nine straight seasons. At this point, could he go to another school and recruit like he can at UT? Probably not, but he’s obviously not going anywhere else. The question now is whether or not he can return the program to its lofty status.
Hot Seat Status: He’s never going to be fired, but another mediocre year isn’t going to cut it. There’s no excuse to be this mediocre with the talent level across the board. On straight four and five-star prospects, few can match the hauls that Brown has brought in, making the 13-12 record over the last two years stunning. It’s time to get back into the national title chase again, and if he can’t do it, Texas will eventually bring in a coach who can. It’ll all be thanks to what Brown has created.
12 Coaching Analysis & Hot Seat Status, Part 1