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Thursday, March 17, 2011
Big 12's best campus coaching combos

By staff

Colleague Bruce Feldman took on the task of ranking the nation's best coaching duos in football and basketball. Michigan State comes in at No. 1 on his list, but two Big 12 teams made the top 10.

On this, the holiest of all hoops days, we let the roundball make another appearance on the football blog.

Here's what Feldman had to say.
No. 3: Texas Longhorns

Mack Brown also helped bring a once-great program back up to the top of the mountain. Before coming to Austin, Brown led UNC to No. 4 in the nation, and prior to last season's 5-7 debacle, he had a run of six top-six finishes in the previous nine years. Rick Barnes, UT's hoops coach, has led the Horns into the NCAA tourney every year since he arrived in 1998. UT has been to a Final Four and to the Elite Eight three times.

No. 9: Missouri Tigers

This might be the most even pairing of two coaches at a single school on this list. Mike Anderson won at UAB and he's winning at Mizzou, where he's led the Tigers to 77 wins over the past three seasons (including an Elite Eight run in 2009). Gary Pinkel's work is even more impressive given the mediocrity of things when he arrived in Columbia. He built the program up to "decent," then up to "very good," as they've won 40 games over the past four seasons.

You'll need ESPN Insider to see Feldman's full list, but what about the rest of the Big 12? I'd agree with Feldman's first two Big 12 programs, but here's how I'd rank the rest of the league:

Note: Since they don't have basketball coaches, Texas Tech and Oklahoma won't be on the list.

3. Baylor Bears -- Art Briles and Scott Drew

Scott Drew and Art Briles have both built big things out of difficult situations at Baylor. Drew got his team to the Elite Eight last season and Briles made the program's first bowl game since 1994 last season. Most importantly, both are transcendent recruiters, closing the talent gaps traditionally separating Baylor from the rest of the league.

4. Kansas State -- Bill Snyder and Frank Martin

Snyder's credentials speak for themselves, but he got the Wildcats back in a bowl game for the first time since 2006 in his second season back at the helm. He also helped the team get its only Big 12 title in 2003. Martin's hire was widely panned as a desperate move to keep Michael Beasley at the time, but he got the Wildcats to the Elite Eight last season and back in the tournament this year. The suits in Manhattan look pretty good now for making that hire, especially after Martin won the Big 12's coach of the year award in 2010.

5. Kansas -- Bill Self and Turner Gill

The jury is still out on Gill, but Self carries Kansas here as one of the game's best coaches. He's helped Kansas win seven consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles and a national championship in 2008. Gill still has to get some credit for turning Buffalo from a dead-end job to MAC champions before coming to Lawrence.

6. Oklahoma State -- Mike Gundy and Travis Ford

Gundy has the Cowboys on the rise with 29 wins in three seasons, and Ford had Oklahoma State in the tournament in both of his first two seasons before falling to the NIT in 2010.

7. Texas A&M -- Mike Sherman and Mark Turgeon

Turgeon got Wichita State to the Sweet 16 before coming to Texas A&M, but has yet to do the same with the Aggies. He gets some credit for winning a game in the tournament in all three trips, though. Sherman won two playoff games in six seasons as coach of the Green Bay Packers, but was fired after his first losing season, a 4-12 campaign in 2005. He finally got Texas A&M over the hump for a winning season in 2010, going 9-4 in his third season.

8. Iowa State -- Paul Rhoads and Fred Hoiberg

Rhoads might be the most underrated coach in college football, and he earned plenty of respect by getting Iowa State into a bowl game in his first season after a 2-10 campaign in Ames under Gene Chizik the year before he arrived. Hoiberg, however, went 16-16 and 3-13 in conference play in his first season as a head coach this year.