Texas Football: Analyzing Where Mack Brown Ranks Among Current Big 12 Coaches

Chris Hummer@chris_hummerAnalyst IAugust 1, 2012

Texas Football: Analyzing Where Mack Brown Ranks Among Current Big 12 Coaches

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    The Big 12 is the home of the country’s best group of coaches, and Mack Brown, for what he's done in his time with the Texas football team, is near the top of that list.

    Brown is the dominant figure in the Austin community. He's the most famous person at the school and could probably be mayor if he wanted to take a break from coaching.

    His popularity is due to the success he's brought to the 40 Acres. He's led Texas to a 10-win season almost every year he’s been there and has had success on the largest of stages

    That is highlighted by the pinnacle of his career, the Longhorns victory in the 2005 national championship game.

    However, due to back-to-back subpar seasons from the Longhorns, Brown’s stock has fallen nationally.

    While much of this criticism is deserved—five- and eight-win seasons are unacceptable in Austin—people tend to forget just how good of a coach he is.

    Still, the Big 12 is one of the most competitive conferences in America and posting a pair of down years hurts your standing as the alpha dog in the coaching arena.

    So, let's power rank the top coaches in the Big 12 and see where Mack Brown lands.

10. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

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    Having Paul Rhoads at No. 10 proves just how extraordinarily deep the Big 12 is with head men, because Rhoads has had an excellent first three years at Iowa State.

    He has gone 18-20 in that stretch while leading the Cyclones to two bowl games.

    This is an unbelievably impressive feat at Iowa State.

    He coaches in a state with a weak recruiting base, and not only that, the Cyclones are considered to be second fiddle behind their Big Ten rival Iowa.

    Plus, the Cyclones have to compete in the Big 12, arguably the best conference from top to bottom in the nation.

    However, he’s succeeded by bringing a level of toughness to the program and, more importantly, establishing a belief that they can win.

    This idea came into fruition late last year, when the Cyclones scored a monumental upset over No. 2 Oklahoma State, spoiling the Cowboys’ perfect season and bid for a national title.

    Rhoads has quickly emerged as one of the most underrated coaches in college football. And with his steeled, no-nonsense demeanor, you can expect him and his football team to continue to find success.

9. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

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    Dana Holgorsen is coming off one of the best first years by a head coach in college football history, after he led West Virginia to an Orange Bowl win.

    Actually, just saying a win isn’t doing it justice, the game was a rout.

    The Mountaineers destroyed the ACC champion Clemson Tigers 70-33, instantly putting Holgorsen and quarterback Geno Smith on a national pedestal.

    Still, despite his immediate success, he's only done it for one season, which is why he finds himself at No. 9 on this list.

    He's a brilliant offensive mind—he was the Mountaineers offensive coordinator before he stepped into the head coaching role after Bill Stewart was forced to resign—but Holgorsen is still learning the intricacies of the defensive side of the ball.

    For that reason, and the fact that he's yet to coach a down in the Big 12 as a head coach, has him all the way down at No. 9 on the list.

    However, if West Virginia repeats its 2011 performance in 2012, Holgorsen will quickly start to ascend the ladder.

8. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

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    It wasn't long ago when Tommy Tuberville was considered one of the top coaches in the nation at Auburn.

    Now, he's near the bottom of the coaching pecking order in the Big 12.

    This is crazy, because he hasn't even done a bad job at Texas Tech.

    He has a 13-12 record over his two years in Lubbock, but he had a rough 2011 season. The Red Raiders went 5-7 and missed a bowl for the first time since their 2006 campaign.

    Not only that, it was Texas Tech's first losing season since 1992.

    The sub .500 record can be traced back to the Red Raiders five-game losing streak to end the season, which cost Tech a bowl game and Tuberville a lot of traction in the Lubbock community.

    However, Tuberville hasn't forgotten how to coach—he led Aubrun to a perfect record in 2004 after all—but he has to get Texas Tech back to its winning ways if he hopes to keep his job.

    Guess the shadow of Mike Leach looms pretty large, huh?

7. Charlie Weis, Kansas

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    Kansas' new head man finds himself at No. 7 on this list, and before anyone points out he hasn't coached a down for Kansas, remember, he led Notre Dame to back-to-back BCS bowls.

    Plus, his fingers are also pretty heavy—well, outside of his obvious girth—with his four Super Bowl rings from his time in the NFL.

    Weis is one of the top offensive minds in the nation, in the pros and college alike, and should provide the Jayhawk attack with an immediate spark.

    He's a proven commodity in the football world and brings a respectable presence to Kansas—something that is desperately needed at a school that went 2-10 last season and failed to win a single conference matchup.

    It will take Weiss a while, but he has the track record to support the claim that he's the guy to turn the program around.

    Kansas isn't the easiest place to recruit, but when Weiss walks into a young man's living room and waves his four rings around, it's hard to say no.

    Expect Weiss to have Kansas back to a level of respectability in a few seasons. 

6. Art Briles, Baylor

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    Nationally, Robert Griffin III dominated headlines last season.

    But his star power overshadowed the incredible job that Art Briles has done in turning around the Baylor program around.

    Before Briles arrived in Waco, the Bears had not had a winning season since 1995. Now, Baylor is coming off of back-to-back bowl appearances and the school’s first 10-win season since 1980.

    Much of that success stems from RG3, but people have to remember that Briles was the one who convinced him to come to Waco so they could rebuild together.

    Now, Briles is without his star, but the team is still set up for success in the future.

    Their recruiting base is strong in the Lone Star State, and Briles has done an amazing job in establishing a winning culture in Waco.

    Life after RG3 has the potential to be rough, but Briles has the skills and abilities to keep Baylor on a winning track.

5. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

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    All Bill Snyder did in his first tenure with Kansas State was transform one of the worst programs in college football into a legitimate national power.

    Before Snyder arrived on the scene in 1989, Kansas State was a laughing stock. But in his 16-year run on campus, the Wildcats grabbed at least a share of the Big 12 title four times and appeared in a pair of BCS bowls.

    Then in 2005 he decided to hang it up.

    But as it turns out, Snyder couldn't stay away from the game. And in 2009, at the age of 69, he returned to the sidelines for the Wildcats.

    Not much has changed with him either. 

    He's still has the same fire on the sidelines, and his no-nonsense attitude has once again returned K-Sate to national prominence.

    Last season he led the Wildcats to a 10-3 record, and the team narrowly missed a BCS berth.

    At the end of the 2012-13 campaign Snyder will be 73, and if his performance the last few years is any indication, he can coach till he's 83.

4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

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    He's a man, and he's 44.

    It doesn't have quite the same ring to it as his 'I'm a man, I'm 40" rant from 2008, but that's OK—he’s no longer solely known for that outburst.

    Last season, Gundy led the Cowboys to their best season in school history.

    Oklahoma State went 12-1 and defeated Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and narrowly missed out on a national championship appearance in the process.

    On top of that, Oklahoma State defeated in-state rival Oklahoma for the first time in eight years, finally making Bedlam a two-sided affair.

    Gundy and company will be starting fresh in a lot of ways in 2012. They have a freshman quarterback at the helm, Wes Lunt, and their superstar receiver Justin Blackmon is gone too.

    Still, Oklahoma State has enough talent to remain a Top 25 team.

    Gundy has been one of the most underrated coaches in college football the last few years. But if the Cowboys continue to play at this level, Gundy will continue his steady rise up the coaching hierarchy.

3. Mack Brown, Texas

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    With a national title to his credit and a 141-39 overall record at Texas, it's almost unbelievable that Brown would only be the third ranked coach in the Big 12.

    But that's how deep of a conference it is. 

    With as many top-flight programs and coaches as there are in the Big 12, no one can afford to fall off their usual standards, which is what Brown has done the last two seasons.

    In 2010, Brown had his first losing season since his 1989 campaign with North Carolina. In 2011, the Longhorns didn't do much better, finishing with an 8-5 record, well below Texas’ normal standards under Brown.

    These two poor showings are the reason Brown has fallen on this list. But all of that aside, he’s still an incredible coach.

    He's had success everywhere he's been, and Brown is probably the best recruiter in the country.

    Plus, Brown has shown the ability to adapt his coaching style to fit his players, from the Horns run-heavy attack during the Ricky Williams era to Texas pass-happy spread attack when Colt McCoy was at the helm.

    This skill is a vastly underrated aspect of Brown's coaching repertoire. When you couple that with his ability to recruit and his friendly disposition, it all equals to Brown coaching in Austin until he wishes to stop.

    He may sit at No. 3 on his list today, but with the talent he has on his roster and the unbelievable recruiting pool he has to dip from in the Lone Star State, Brown could easily be at the top again in a year or two.

2. Gary Patterson, TCU

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    Perhaps the best way to describe the job that Gary Patterson has done at TCU is to say 2011 was a down year for the Horned Frogs—only thing is, they won 11 games.

    That's how good Patterson has been in Fort Worth.

    He's won at least 10 games in eight of his 11 years at TCU while absolutely dominating Conference USA, winning five championships in that stretch.

    Most impressively, though, he's elevated the Horned Frogs to a national power.

    They've been in the middle of the BCS hunt in almost every season since 2005, despite being in a non-power conference, with TCU appearing in a pair of BCS bowls during that stretch and capping it all off with a victory over Wisconsin in the 2011 Rose Bowl.

    However, helping TCU earn admission into a "big six" conference might be his biggest accomplishment.

    Ten years ago no one was even thinking about TCU football.

    Now, their consistently in the top 25 in the polls, and they even take recruits away from the Texas' and A&M's of the world.

    However, the Big 12 will be a much different beast for Patterson, whose defense-first philosophy clashes with the spread-happy conference.

    Plus, it will be a much tougher week-to-week test for TCU.

    But, if Patterson can find consistent success in in the Big 12, he won't just land atop the conference's power rankings. He'll be in the running for best coach in the nation. 

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

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    Since Stoops arrived at Oklahoma in 1999, the Sooners have been the most consistent team in the country.

    They've had 10 double-digit win seasons in that stretch, and have appeared in a ridiculous eight BCS bowl games, including their national title victory in 2000.

    Still, Stoops is often criticized for his inability to win the big games—the Sooners are 1-5 in their last six BCS appearances.

    However, there isn't a school in the country that wouldn't take the level of success Stoops has had.

    Sure, they've been beaten in a few big games, but they always get there. And having a chance to win and losing is much better than not getting there at all.

    Oklahoma will always be near the top of the Big 12 standings with Stoops at the helm, and it will be tough for any coach to knock him off his mantle as the top coach in the conference any time soon.