Big 12 Coaches Stock Report: Who's Safe, Who Isn't and Who Deserves an Extension
On Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News reported that Baylor head coach Art Briles had agreed to a 10-year extension through the 2023 season. In the process, it all but officially eliminates Briles from any coaching carousel conversation.
It's hard to say Briles hasn't earned it. In nearly six seasons, he's morphed Baylor from a Big 12 bottom-dweller to a program on the cusp of a possible national championship appearance. With the brand of Baylor football as visible as it has ever been, the Bears look like they'll be in good hands for a long time.
But in light of the Briles news, it's time to take a look at which coaches in the Big 12 are safe, which ones aren't and which ones should be locked down with an imaginary, Bleacher Report-approved extension of their own.
Mack Brown, Texas
2013 Record: 7-2
Overall Record with School: 157-45
The Skinny: Brown has been under fire for a large part of the past couple of seasons because of an underachieving record. That's what happens when you're one of the highest-paid coaches in the country (H/T USA Today) at a program with infinite resources. Eight or nine wins a year isn't going to cut it.
2013 became especially tough when the Longhorns got off to a 1-2 start and Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, something he probably should have done after the '12 season. However, Texas is on a 6-0 run despite numerous injuries to some of the team's best players. That should count for something, yet the topic of job security keeps coming up.
"Nick is a friend and he's done a tremendous job at Alabama," Brown said. "Nick's not trying to get my job, I mean, I know Nick. So I don't have to worry about that. And if I do my job, there won't be any job to be open to get, so I think that's the other thing."
That, in a nutshell, is where Brown is in his career life cycle.
The Outlook: Let's assume Texas finishes the regular season with nine or 10 wins. What does new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson do? With so many injuries, it's difficult not to be at least a little impressed with the job Brown has done. At the same time, he should have the depth and talent to keep winning anyway.
The question Patterson must ask himself is if he feels Brown is the future of Texas football, and is the program able to return to the highest level under him?
The Verdict: Not safe.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
2013 Record: 8-1
Overall Record with School: 75-36
The Skinny: Prior to the 2012 season, when Oklahoma State won eight games, the Cowboys had never regressed in the win column under Gundy. Even then, with the injuries and rotation at the quarterback spot, you could make a point that last season was one of Gundy's best coaching jobs in Stillwater.
That kind of success has reportedly resulted in other programs eyeing the former Cowboys quarterback. Gundy appeared especially close to leaving last year, but he remains with his alma mater. The question is for how long?
The Outlook: There are some truly spectacular coaches in the Big 12 and Gundy might be the most underrated of them all. The Cowboys are in the middle of the Big 12 title hunt and should be competitive in their final three games against Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Gundy also deserves credit for making sound hires—hires that get those assistants hired elsewhere. Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia) and Todd Monken (Southern Miss) have all coached under Gundy. And while getting rid of long-time defensive coordinator Bill Young was an interesting move, the Cowboys defense has thrived under Glenn Spencer this season.
As long as Gundy is the head coach of Oklahoma State, this program should be in good shape.
The Verdict: Contract extension.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
2013 Record: 4-6
Overall Record with School: 21-15
The Skinny: Holgorsen was one of the hot, up-and-coming names a few years ago when West Virginia scooped him up as the "head coach-in-waiting" to former coach Bill Stewart. The situation in Morgantown was understandably awkward and eventually resulted in Stewart tendering his resignation following a controversy with Holgorsen.
But Holgorsen had immediate success with West Virginia, taking the Mountaineers to the Orange Bowl and laying 70 points on Clemson. However, the 2012 team, which was in its first year in the Big 12, limped to a 7-6 record after beginning the year 5-0 with national championship aspirations. West Virginia is 6-12 since that undefeated start a year ago.
The Outlook: It's not immediately rosy. Then again, switching to a new conference has taken its toll on WVU. Recruiting depth has to take a front seat, and it could be a couple of years before the Mountaineers see the results. It doesn't help that Holgorsen is considered a great offensive mind, yet West Virginia has struggled offensively in 2013. What's more is that all three of WVU's quarterbacks—Ford Childress, Paul Millard and transfer Clint Trickett—were recruited by Holgorsen.
But the defense, which was historically awful a year ago, has improved with Keith Patterson being promoted to defensive coordinator. Patience isn't always what fans want, but it's needed here. Besides, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck is still in Morgantown after reportedly being the front-runner for the Texas AD spot. He's not going to can his big hire after three years.
The Verdict: Safe, for now.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
2013 Record: 7-3
Overall Record with School: 7-3
The Skinny: Kliff Kingsbury is a cool cat. He's brought some confidence back to a program that was obviously missing it under Tommy Tuberville. Like Holgorsen, Kingsbury has had a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks, spending time under Kevin Sumlin at Houston to Texas A&M.
Kingsbury fits in perfectly at Tech, his alma mater. He's known to go for an onside kick here and there and pull some trick plays out of nowhere. His players feed off his cool and collected demeanor. No matter the score, the Red Raiders play like they have a chance to win.
The Outlook: It's possible (probable?) that Texas Tech finishes the regular season on a five-game losing streak. Still, there are plenty of first-year coaches who would take seven wins in a heartbeat. Freshmen quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb have shown flashes that indicate they'll be good for years to come. It's early, but Tech looks to be in good hands with Kingsbury.
The Verdict: Safe.
Gary Patterson, TCU
2013 Record: 4-6
Overall Record with School: 120-41
The Skinny: Though TCU has only been in the Big 12 for two seasons, Gary Patterson is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the conference. And there's a reason. From 2005-11, the Frogs won at least 11 games six times. Patterson took TCU to back-to-back BCS bowls following the 2009 and '10 seasons. He's been committed to TCU and it's hard to imagine the Frogs in a BCS conference without Patterson.
However, the Big 12 has been less kind to the Frogs. Seven wins in 2012 should be considered a success considering starting quarterback Casey Pachall missed most of the year attending to personal issues and the defense was basically new. But, TCU is 4-6 this season and fighting for bowl eligibility.
The Outlook: Despite being at TCU for 13 years, there's no reason to even think about replacing Patterson. Yes, '13 has been an uncharacteristically tough year for the Frogs, but like West Virginia, TCU's transition to a more complete conference is going to take time. Patterson knows this and he's building for the long haul.
The question is whether another school sees Patterson in a transition and tries to make a move.
The Verdict: Contract extension. Patterson needs time to build up the program once again
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
2013 Record: 1-8
Overall Record with School: 25-35
The Skinny: Rhoads is a no-nonsense, defensive-minded coach who came to Iowa State from Auburn, where he was the defensive coordinator for one season. He's also an emotional leader and it shows; his players would do just about anything for him. Rhoads loves Iowa State, and for the most part, Iowa State has loved him back.
Ames can be a hard place to win, but it's been an especially tough season for the Cyclones in 2013. A lethal combination of close calls from officials (Texas, anyone?), injuries and lack of talent have resulted in just one win. Specifically, there have been some grumbles about offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham.
Rhoads may need to do something about the offensive problems after the season.
The Outlook: This is Rhoads' fifth season at Iowa State and he's never done better than the 7-6 record he had in his first season in 2009. While a .500 record won't get you fired too often at Iowa State, the Cyclones will definitely need to bounce back in 2014 and go back to a bowl game.
Rhoads inked a 10-year contract extension a couple of years ago. His buyout, should he be fired, is $500,000 annually for the remainder of that contract. Unless the Cyclones really fall on hard times, it's hard to see the administration pulling the plug so quickly on Rhoads.
The Verdict: Safe.
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
2013 record: 5-4
Overall Record with School: 175-89
The Skinny: Simply put, there is no coach in the Big 12 who has had a more profound impact on his school than Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Need proof: there's a Bill Snyder statue outside of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Known as "The Wizard," Snyder gets great results out of teams that are probably overachieving year after year.
2013 started off on the wrong foot. The Wildcats, seven months removed from a Fiesta Bowl appearance, lost the season-opener to FCS opponent North Dakota State. Through the first six games, K-State had only two wins. However, and in pure Snyderball fashion, the Wildcats have steadily improved to become one of the hottest teams in the conference.
The Outlook: This part is easy. Snyder can coach however long he wants. He's earned it, and just as importantly, he knows when to step away if things go south. He did it once already in 2005.
The Verdict: Safe, contract extension, it doesn't matter. He's not going anywhere.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
2013 Record: 7-2
Overall Record with School: 156-39
The Skinny: No Big 12 coach has had more national success than Bob Stoops. Oklahoma has won eight Big 12 titles, shared or outright, under him, as well as a BCS championship. Only three times during Stoops' 15 full seasons have the Sooners ever dipped below 10 wins in a season. Few programs during that same time span could touch those numbers.
However, there's a chance OU may not get to 10 wins this season. Awaiting the Sooners are road games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State, two teams playing well at the right time. Additionally, there's been growing discontent with offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, documented most recently by Tulsa World columnist John E. Hoover.
The Outlook: Stoops is only one year behind Mack Brown in terms of length of stay at his current job, and look what position Brown is in. Point being, and as B/R's own Michael Felder opines, Stoops will one day find himself in that same position. It's not because Stoops can't coach, but rather because that's what happens when a coach stays in one place long enough.
Stoops may need to make some adjustments on the offensive coaching staff if he's to take any heat off of himself. A failure to do so, or a failure to see improvement on offense, could result in an anxiousness in Norman that hasn't been there since the John Blake years.
The Verdict: Safe, for now.
Charlie Weis, Kansas
2013 Record: 2-7
Overall Record at School: 3-18
The Skinny: Kansas hasn't won a Big 12 game in three years. For that, you'd have to go back to 2010 when the Jayhawks beat Colorado—who is no longer in the conference, by the way—52-45. KU's football nightmare predates Weis, who was hired in 2011. Still, in 18 games and at $2.5 million a year in annual salary, Weis hasn't done much to change things for the better.
Such an undertaking was going to take time, but not even one conference win? West Virginia or Iowa State may need to help with that. Otherwise, it's going to be an uncomfortable offseason in Lawrence. If there's an offseason for Weis in Lawrence.
The Outlook: It's...not good. Beyond the losing, Kansas hasn't shown the offensive improvement you'd expect from a coach like Weis. The Jayhawks' roster isn't filled with Tom Bradys, but Weis did bring in two transfer quarterbacks—Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps—who haven't panned out.
If Weis' job isn't on the line after the 2013 season, it probably will be in 2014. But it's a delicate situation. On one hand, it's an athletic director's job to hire the right coach. On the other hand, no coach is going to want to go to Lawrence if he knows the cut-off point is two years. Furthermore, how many more coaches can Kansas financially afford to go through until it finds the right guy?
The Verdict: Not safe.