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Friday, April 12, 2013
Athlon ranks the Big 12 coaches

By David Ubben

Athlon Sports ranked all 125 coaches heading into 2013, and that includes the 10 coaches in the Big 12. First on the list is no surprise and won't get any argument from me.

Kansas State's Bill Snyder checked in at No. 3, behind only Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

"As long as Snyder roams the sidelines in Manhattan, regardless of how many starters Kansas State loses, never count out the Wildcats from the Big 12 title discussion," writes Steve Lassan.

Well said. That'll be put to the test this season. Only eight starters return from last year's Big 12 title team, more than only three teams in college football.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops showed up at No. 7 on the list, just three spots ahead of TCU's Gary Patterson, at No. 10.

"The Kansas native had no FBS head coaching experience when he was promoted at TCU in 2000 but has eight seasons of 10 or more wins, including a 13-0 mark in 2010," Lassan notes.

You can't deny the growth Art Briles has developed at Baylor, and he's at No. 13 on the list after taking the Bears to three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. Things look like they're only getting better in Waco, too.

It's a little surprising to see him two spots ahead of Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy at No. 15, but you could make the case either way. Briles' job was infinitely harder than Gundy's, but you can't argue with Gundy's Big 12 title ring, the Pokes' first in about three decades.

Texas' Mack Brown is all the way down at No. 28. The past three seasons have taken their toll on his national reputation, no doubt. It's been quite a slide for the Longhorns.

"The Longhorns have the talent to win the Big 12 title in 2013. If Texas fails to surpass its 2012 win total (nine), there will be plenty of calls for a coaching change in Austin," Lassan writes.

I definitely agree with that. Huge season waiting in Austin.

Paul Rhoads is at No. 38, 10 spots lower. His reputation perhaps exceeds the actual on-field results, but his degree of difficulty in this league is probably even greater than what Briles faces. Briles at least has the advantage of being close to big-time talent in Central Texas. Rhoads' talent pool in Iowa is a lot different, and convincing guys to come north isn't easy.

Dana Holgorsen showed up at No. 50, which definitely seems low, but when you've only been a head coach for two seasons and have a five-game losing streak in one of them, you surrender some right to argue your status, I'd say. He's got a conference title and a BCS bowl win, but winning the Big East won't impress too many folks.

Kliff Kingsbury is down at No. 66, which is where I'd say all first-year coaches belong to start. Any new first-time coach has potential, but they haven't proven to be great or poor yet. Put 'em in the middle, I say.

Lassan has Charlie Weis at No. 106 after his 1-11 campaign at KU last season.

Here's the full list:
That gives the Big 12 half of its coaches in the top 15. Not bad.