Based on the way this conference has gone over the last 10 years, it’s easy to tell who is number one. The gap is closing between one and two though. A few newcomers to the league could continue to rise the ranks as they’ll look to take over the top spot when Texas and OU depart for the SEC.
10. Matt Wells
Record at Texas Tech- 8-14
The only thing I think Matt Wells has going for him is signing Sunny Cumbe to take over at offensive coordinator. The Red Raiders are closer to Kansas than they are the rest of the Big 12. Offense is always a spot that Texas Tech has shined at but last year they looked lost. If Cumbe can get the most out of Tyler Shough, Wells may save his job. I’m skeptical and think the seat could get very hot by the end of the season.
9. Dave Aranda
Record at Baylor- 2-7
Dave Aranda had it tough in his first year at Baylor. The Bears were one of the teams hit hardest with Covid. They continued to fight so in year 2, we could see a step forward. It is going to take some time though because they cupboard is pretty bare.
8. Lance Leipold
Record at Kansas- 0-0
I have questions about Lance Leipold at Kansas that I’m sure will be answered quickly in 2021. His Buffalo teams probably should have won two MAC titles but were unable to get over the hump. There are only a couple games where the Jayhawks will be favored and they come at the beginning of the season. He has to show that he can creat
7. Chris Klieman
Record at Kansas State-12-11
Klieman knows how to creat a good culture in a program and get his guys ready for big games. They’ve taken down Oklahoma twice already during his tenure. The next step is consistently beating the lower half of the conference in order to move up the rankings. Can he develop Skylar Thompson into more of a passer to grow the offense in 2021?
6. Steve Sarkisian
Record at Texas- 0-0
Steve Sarkisian steps into a great situation at Texas. He showed what magic he can do with the level of talent at Alabama. Texas also has a lot of talent that Tom Herman was not able to produce wins from. Can he have the same type of success we saw from the 2019 and 2020 Alabama offenses or will it be a repeat of what we saw in his time at USC?
5. Neal Brown
Record at West Virginia- 11-11
Despite only having a .500 record since becoming the head coach, I think what we have seen from Neal Brown already gives good reason to put him high on the list. He has already shown in two and a half off-seasons that he can recruit to WVU better than his predecessor. This year will determine if Brown has earned this spot because it is time to win games with the pieces he has in place.
4. Mike Gundy
Record at Oklahoma State- 137-67
Mike Gundy is the longest-tenured head coach in the Big 12. He has used his high powered offenses to get himself one Big 12 title. One knock on Gundy is the difference in those offenses since the departure of long time offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich.
3. Gary Patterson
Record at TCU- 177-74
Patterson just beats out Mike Gundy in these rankings because of his ability to provide a consistent product on both sides of the ball. He struggled out of the gate in the Big 12, but once he was able to recruit at a Power 5 level, he’s put his team in the top half of the Big 12 most years. He needs to find a quarterback moving forward to transform that offense back to what we’ve seen in years past.
2. Matt Campbell
Record at Iowa State- 35-28
Iowa State is one of the darling picks to win the Big 12 and sneak into the College Football Playoff mainly due to the success of Matt Campbell. Campbell has received a bunch of calls from the NFL and college levels, but he decided to stay put to see things out with this year’s group.
1. Lincoln Riley
Record at Oklahoma- 45-8
Is anyone surprised? Not only is Lincoln top of the Big 12, he is easily one of the top five coaches in the country. Oklahoma has taken what it had with Bob Stoops and rose to new levels where they have appeared in two of the last three college football playoffs. He has also never been in a non New Years Six bowl during his tenure. The next step is to win one of those playoff games and this year, he might have assembled the team to do it. His offenses have consistently picked apart the defenses in the Big 12. And now they have an elite group on defense led by Alex Grinch.