College Football: Tom Osborne and the 25 Greatest Coaches in Big 12 History

Reid OvermanCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2011

College Football: Tom Osborne And the 25 Greatest Coaches in Big 12 History

0 of 25

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Big 12 has a history of great teams led by great coaches.

    The conference itself has five teams in the top 25 for most college football wins all-time, only behind the Southeastern Conference.

    It has a combined 18 national titles between every team, including three since it's creation in 1996.

    Before the Big 12, the conference was known as the Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight, and some of the recent teams came from the Southwest Conference.

    The success of the programs is mainly due to their coaches, and where kudos are due, kudos are given. 

    Here are the 25 greatest football coaches in Big 12 history (in no particular order).

Grant Teaff (Baylor)

1 of 25


    Record: 128-105-6

    Conference Titles: Two

    Before Teaff's arrival at Baylor, the team went 7-43-1 in the previous five seasons. After only two years, Teaff's Baylor team won eight games and captured the southwest conference title.

    That same year Baylor beat Texas after a 17-year drought of losses to the Longhorns, and that come-from-behind win is now known as the "Miracle on the Brazos," referring to the Brazos river near Baylor. 

    If you don't call that a turn around, I don't know what is. 

Gary Barnett (Colorado)

2 of 25

    BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Gary Barnett of the Colorado Buffaloes looks up at the clock during a loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on November 25, 2005 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado.  Nebraska upset Colorado 30-3.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/G
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images


    Record: 49-39

    Conference Titles: One

    After a couple successful seasons at Northwestern University, Barnett took his knowledge to Colorado, and led his first team to a postseason victory in the Bowl. 

    It was only two years after that when Barnett took his team to a No. 2 national ranking before a BCS scandal took Nebraska over Colorado when the Buffaloes beat Nebraska 62-36 a week before.

    He went 10-3 and took the Big 12 conference title, before losing in the Fiesta Bowl in the same year. Barnett also won the Big 12 North Division four times out of his seven years. 

    Although his name stands around Colorado as a coach with scandals, fans cannot overlook the success that Barnett had. 

Fred Folsom (Colorado)

3 of 25


    1895-1902, 1908-1915

    Record: 77-23-2

    Conference Titles: 10

    Now, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were not as many football programs as there is today. 

    But Folsom still stands as one great coach for the University of Colorado, and after 10 conference titles in 15 years—including three undefeated seasons—the football stadium's field was renamed after Folsom in honor of his contributions to the university. 

Earle Bruce (Iowa State)

4 of 25

    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated


    Record: 36-32

    Conference Titles: None

    Now, Earle Bruce really made his mark at Ohio State after his career at Iowa State. 

    But, he is one of only nine coaches at Iowa State who even had winning seasons.

    He won the Big 8 Coach of the Year award two years in a row (1976, 1977), and was inducted into the Iowa State hall of fame, eventually including the college football hall of fame. 

    His success started at Iowa State, and clearly Ohio State saw something that they liked. 

Mark Mangino (Kansas)

5 of 25

    KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 28:  Head coach Mark Mangino of the Kansas Jayhawks looks on during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Arrowhead Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images


    Record: 50-48

    Conference Titles: None

    Although Mangino never won a conference title, he still stands as arguably the best coach in Kansas football history. 

    With his 50 victories, he is the second winning-est coach in Kansas football history.

    In his second season, he led the Jayhawks to their first bowl game since 1995, and in 2004, his victory over Nebraska 40-15 terminated the 2nd longest losing streak in NCAA history dating all the way back to 1969. 

    After a successful season in 2007 and an Orange Bowl victory, Mangino beat Iowa State to become the first Kansas coach with a winning record since 1966. 

George Sauer (Kansas)

6 of 25



    Record: 15-3-3

    Conference Titles: Two

    Sauer led his Kansas Jayhawk team to two conference titles in the two years that he coached. In his second year he took them to the Orange bowl, and ranked 12th nationally at the end of the year. 

    He eventually moved onto Baylor where he coached for six seasons and a 38-21-3 record, but his success in the Big 12 clearly started at Kansas. 

    In addition to being a good coach, he was an All-American halfback at Nebraska for coach Dana X. Bible.

Bill Snyder (Kansas State)

7 of 25

    PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder looks on against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on September 19, 2009 in Pasadena, California. UCLA defeated Kansas State 23-9.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    1989-2005, 2009-Present

    Record: 149-80-1

    Conference Titles: One

    Snyder took Kansas State to a whole different level of football.

    He took over the program in 1989 when the school had not won a game in 27 consecutive meetings, had only one bowl appearance in the previous 44 years, and was one of the worst football programs of all time. 

    He went on to coach his K State teams to 11 consecutive bowl appearances starting in 1993. He accumulated 12 winning seasons, and five Coach of the Year awards for the Big 8 and Big 12, highlighted by his AP National Coach of the Year in 1998. 

    He is one of the only coaches who has coached in a stadium that was named after him. 

Mike Ahearn (Kansas State)

8 of 25



    Record: 39-12

    Conference Titles: Two

    Mike Ahearn was the stepping stone to what would eventually be one of the worst college football programs in history. 

    But in all seriousness, Ahearn was possibly the only other bright side to the history of K State football. He sits in second in career wins at KSU, behind Snyder, and actually has the highest winning percentage above Snyder in K State football history. 

    At least there were a couple seasons in the past where Kansas State was effective. 

Dan Devine (Missouri)

9 of 25



    Record: 93-37-7

    Conference Titles: Two

    Devine turned Missouri around from a weaker program to a school that finished in the top 20 at the end of the season nine times over the years he was coaching, including three seasons in the top 10.

    In 1960, his team technically went undefeated, even though they had a 23-7 loss to Kansas that year that shut them out of the National Title game.

    Devine took his team to the Orange Bowl that year and clinched the victory and a fifth-place national ranking at the end of the season. 

Don Faurot (Missouri)

10 of 25


    1935-1942, 1945-1955

    Record: 101-79-10

    Conference Titles: Three

    Faurot took over a Missouri program that had won two games in three seasons and was $500,000 in debt.

    He eventually instilled the offensive style he called the "Split T." He took Missouri to four bowl games and three conference titles before eventually stepping down to become the athletic director.

    After he retired, Missouri football was in the black and the football stadium capacity nearly doubled. 

Tom Osborne (Nebraska)

11 of 25

    9 Sep 1995: Head coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska during the Corn Huskers 50-10 win over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


    Record: 255-49-3

    Conference Titles: Thirteen

    Where to begin?

    This guy did it all. In my opinion, Tom Osborne is without a doubt the greatest coach in the history of the Big 12. 

    Thirteen conference titles, three national titles, two of which were back to back.

    Eight-time Conference coach of the year, ESPN Coach of the Decade (1999), including a Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award. 

    The list goes on and on, but one thing is for sure: Tom Osborne will go down in history as one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game of football. 

Bill McCartney (Colorado)

12 of 25

    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images


    Record: 93-55-5

    Conference Titles: Three

    McCartney led the Buffaloes to three consecutive conference titles from 1989-1991, including the 1990 national title. He was three-time Big 8 Coach of the Year, including four different National Coach of the Year awards in 1989.

    He had a rough three seasons, but still was given a contract extension—and boy did Colorado make the right call. After his first three seasons he went 86-30-4 in his remaining nine. 

Bob Devaney (Nebraska)

13 of 25



    Record: 101-20-2

    Conference Titles: Eight

    Along with eight conference titles over eleven seasons, Devaney led Nebraska to back-to-back-to-back Orange bowl victories, highlighted by back-to-back national titles.

    Seven times his Cornhusker teams finished in the Top 10 at the end of the season, and only twice did Devaney and Nebraska fail to make it to a bowl game. 

    He was also National Coach of the Year in 1971.

    Devaney was the man who turned football around at the University of Nebraska. The program had winning seasons up until 1940, and over the 20 years leading up to Devaney, they only produced two winning seasons.

    He also hired Tom Osborne as his offensive guru, which led to one of the greatest coaches of all time. 

Dana X. Bible (Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas)

14 of 25


    Record: 185-65-19

    Conference Titles: Fourteen

    Over a span of nearly 30 years, Dana Bible took 14 conference titles between three different programs. 

    In his 1919 campaign with Texas A&M, his Aggie squad went undefeated and outscored its opposition 275-0. While he was at Texas, he helped revolutionize the T formation with University of Chicago coach Clark Shaughnessy and Frank Leahy of Notre Dame. 

    His contribution to football has been recognized in the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Big 12 will always remember him as a great coach. 

Frank Solich (Nebraska)

15 of 25

    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 8:  Head coach Frank Solich of the Nebraska Cornhuskers questions head linesman Dave Alexander after the Cornhuskers lost possession on a fumble that rolled into the endzone for a touchback for the Kansas Jay Hawks in the second qu
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images


    Record: 58-19

    Conference Titles: One

    Solich was an assistant coach under Tom Osborne for 19 years, and took over the reigns as Osborne practically handed it to him. 

    In his six seasons as head coach, he surpassed Devaney (53) and Osborne (55) with 58 wins total. He took his 2001 team to a national title, which was questionable under the newer BCS system that had recently been instilled in which Nebraska leaped over No. 3 Colorado (whom they lost to 62-36 a few weeks earlier) and No. 2 Oregon, and then got handled by Miami in the title game. 

    Still, Solich sits as a well respected Big 12 coach, and without a doubt he was successful. 

Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma)

16 of 25


    Record: 145-29-4

    Conference Titles: Fourteen

    Along with 14 conference titles, including 13 consecutive titles, he snagged three national championships and had 13 undefeated seasons in the Big 6, Big 7, Big 8 conferences. 

    Wilkinson accumulated 13 seasons where his Sooner teams finished in the AP Top 10 at the end of the season, including a postseason record of 6-2. 

    His 1955 Oklahoma team is arguably considered as one of the greatest football teams ever, regardless of the era. 

    He is also part of four coaches at the University of Oklahoma with over 100 wins. 

Barry Switzer (Oklahoma)

17 of 25

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images


    Record: 157-29-4

    Conference Titles: 12

    He is only one of two coaches to ever win a college football national title and then go on to win a Super Bowl. 

    He displayed dominance at Oklahoma through the 16 seasons as head coach. Three national titles (should have been more if not for Fairbanks' sanctions), 13 bowl game appearances through 14 seasons, and 11 seasons in the Top 10 at the end of the season, including 10 seasons in the top five. 

    Switzer's Oklahoma team's were a powerhouse, and even after his move to the NFL, he showed truly how great of a coach he really is. 

Bob Stoops (Oklahoma)

18 of 25

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Bob Stoops looks on while taking on the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images


    Record: 129-31

    Conference Titles: Seven

    Along with Stoops' seven conference titles, he's claimed a national title in just his second year as head coach, along with two national Coach of the Year awards (2000, 2003). 

    He currently holds the longest home winning streak at 33, and has only lost two games in Norman. 

    He took the Sooners to three more national championships in 2003, 2004, 2009, but falling short in all three of them.

    Stoops is frequently questioned about his success in the postseason, but one thing is for sure: He sure knows how to get there.

    Nine out of the 12 seasons that Stoops has been under the reigns, the Sooners have finished in the top 20 at the end of the year. 

    You've got to wonder, how does brother Mike feel about all the talent and success going to his older bro Bob?

Chuck Fairbanks (Oklahoma)

19 of 25

    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated


    Record: 52-15-1

    Conference Titles: Three

    Fairbanks' career at Oklahoma may now be overshadowed by the allegations and sanctions that he left behind for successor Barry Switzer to deal with. 

    Nonetheless Fairbanks took over the helm after a sudden death to head coach Jim Mackenzie, and never turned back.

    Following a successful career in Norman which included three conference titles and a second-place national ranking in 1971 after a Sugar Bowl victory, he left to the NFL and set stepping stones for some of the best coaches to come in Parcells, Cowher and Belichick. 

Lynn Waldorf (Oklahoma State, Kansas State)

20 of 25


    Record: 34-10-7

    Conference Titles: Four

    Lynn "Paddy" Waldorf started out his career at Oklahoma A&M (Oklahoma State), before heading towards Northwestern and finishing up at California. 

    He moved on to Kansas State after his five seasons at Oklahoma State, and won a Big Six Conference Championship, which remained as the last conference title for the program up until 2003 (69 years). 

Darrell Royal (Texas)

21 of 25


    Record: 167-47-5

    Conference Titles: Eleven

    The year before Royal took over as head coach at Texas, the Longhorns went 1-10 in 1956. In 1957, Royal led them to a Sugar Bowl berth, and from there on, Texas was on the map. 

    He has three national titles to his name and four Coach of the Year awards, as well as the Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award.

    He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame, and the Texas Memorial Stadium is now known as the Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium—and for good reason, too. 

Mack Brown (Texas)

22 of 25

    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns during a game against the UCLA Bruins at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


    Record: 133-34

    Conference Titles: Two

    The career at Texas for Mack Brown is highlighted by his national championship run in 2005 with the victory over USC in what is one of the greatest national title games in history.

    In five of the first eight seasons under Brown, the Longhorns fell to Oklahoma, ruining their chances at a title run each year, which many have felt should have been better seasons due to the success of the recruiting classes that Brown was accumulating. 

    There are more years to come for Mack Brown, but as of now he is still of the greatest coaches to ever coach in the Big 12. 

Fred Akers (Texas)

23 of 25

    30 Sep 1989: Coach Fred Akers of the Purdue Boilermakers holds his head during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Ross Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana . Notre Dame won the game 40-7.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images


    Record: 86-32-2

    Conference Titles: Two

    Akers' career is highlighted by his seasons in 1978 and 1984, where he had a chance to take national title's home to the Texas program, but failed to do so. 

    He sits as one of the most winning-est coaches in Texas history, which is top five all-time in school football total wins. 

    Most critics were harsh on Akers, as he had to replace Darrell Royal, and at the same time he was battling Barry Switzer over at Oklahoma. 

    I'll cut him some slack. 

R. C. Slocum (Texas A&M)

24 of 25

    COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 21:  Head coach R.C. Slocum of the Texas A&M Aggies rips his hair out during the NCAA football game against the Virginia Tech Hokies on September 21, 2002 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. The Hokies won 13-3. (Photo
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


    Record: 123-47-2

    Conference Titles: Four

    He is the winningest coach in Texas A&M history with 123 wins to his legacy. 

    Throughout his 14 years, Slocum never had a losing season, and he led Texas A&M to become the first school to go undefeated through conference play in three consecutive seasons in the Southwestern Conference. 

    He also made Kyle Field one of the toughest places to play, and only lost 12 games through his 14 seasons at A&M.

    He was the fastest coach to reach 100 wins over any other active coach at the time, and his winning percentage topped Darrell Royal's at Texas. 

    Slocum also sent over 50 Texas A&M players to the NFL through his 14 seasons at the helm. 

Mike Leach (Texas Tech)

25 of 25

    AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Mike Leach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during play against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images


    Record: 84-43

    Conference Titles: None

    I had to give Tech some love, and I feel Leach deserves it. 

    Leach led his Raiders to some insane passing numbers and high-scoring games, which featured a 70-35 victory over TCU in 2004, where TCU led 21-0 with eight minutes left in the second quarter before Texas Tech let loose and the Horned Frogs were doomed.

    Along with what is known as the greatest comeback in history in the Holiday Bowl a few years later against Minnesota, not one single college football fan can remember the last second pass from Harrell to Crabtree to beat Texas in 2008. 

    He was selected as Big 12 Coach of the Year by the Associated Press before his "indefinite suspension" in late 2009 for allegedly giving a former player a concussion.