Big 12: Ty Willingham

How bad were Franchione, Callahan?

May, 22, 2009
5/22/09
8:47
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

As anybody who reads this blog knows, I love all lists.

I came across an interesting list this morning at the Bleacher Report ranking the 11 worst college coaching performances of the 21st century.

It wasn't surprising that the Big 12 was solidly represented with two recent coaches who were fired after unceremonious struggles at traditional powers.

In a list that was topped by Ty Willingham from his Washington days and also included Syracuse's Greg Robinson and BYU's Gary Crowton among its top three spots, the Big 12 also was prominently highlighted with Bill Callahan of Nebraska ranking fourth and Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione coming in ninth.

Here's what the author had to say about Callahan:

"Twenty-two losses in four years. Legendary Cornhusker coach Bob Devaney lost only 20 games in his entire career at Nebraska. Frightening."

Or about Franchione:

"He wasn't that bad at Alabama (17-8), and he was pretty good at TCU and his other stops, but in College Station he went 32-28."

It's fair to remember that Callahan had taken the Cornhuskers to back-to-back bowl games in his previous two seasons, including a Big 12 North title in 2006. But his team's defensive struggles were a factor he couldn't overcome.

And Franchione, who qualified the Aggies for three bowl games in his final four seasons before he was fired, had his moments as well. He left with a two-game winning streak over Texas, becoming only the second coach in school history to leave with an existing multi-season winning streak over the Longhorns.

The other was Jackie Sherrill.

But his admission of selling "state secrets" through his VIP Newsletter eventually pulled his program down.

Today, few fans of either program were sorry to see Callahan and Franchione go.

But it was still interesting to me to see them ranked among the biggest coaching flops in recent history. While they struggled building their programs, I don't know if I would necessarily go that far.  

Lunchtime links: 'Tis the season for coaching speculation

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
1:50
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin:

Ty Willingham's forced resignation at Washington earlier this week has prompted some early stories about potential replacements with Big 12 connections. What a better topping to spice up this lunchtime collection of links?

  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bryan Burwell writes that leaving Missouri for Washington makes little sense for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel -- even if the Husky program once might have been considered Pinkel's "dream job." The Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter writes that a more logical candidate might be Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who is familiar with Washington president Mark Emmert and athletic director Scott Woodward, who both worked with him at LSU. 
  • Former Kansas defensive coordinator Bill Young can't get away from the struggles his old defense is facing this season. Young told J. Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star that playing tougher Big 12 opponents has been a big cause of the unit's sputtering early performance.
  • Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander relayed the grisly details of his Aug. 31 stabbing to Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler. Alexander missed four games but is back in the Sooners' rotation for Saturday's game against Nebraska.
  • Oklahoman beat writer Scott Wright writes that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's dream job is now turning into one of the best ones in college football.
  • Even Kansas State coach Ron Prince's own sons are asking him when the Wildcats will beat Kansas, Wichita Eagle/Kansas City Star beat writer Jeffrey Martin reports.
  • Colorado offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich has made some noticeable changes after the Buffaloes were shutout last week by Missouri -- the first blanking of a Colorado offense in 20 years.

Lunchtime links: Pelini's restoration

October, 22, 2008
10/22/08
1:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few links for your lunchtime pleasure. Check out the last one especially. I think you'll enjoy it.

  • Nebraska players credit coach Bo Pelini for keeping the team together after two rough early losses to start conference play, the Omaha World-Herald's Mitch Sherman writes.
  • Texas has a developing team chemistry unique for a national championship challenger, the Austin American Statesman's Kirk Bohls writes.
  • Injured Oklahoma linebacker Ryan Reynolds plans to petition the NCAA for an additional season of eligibility, the Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson writes.
  • Mike Sherman is defending a decision to punt facing a fourth-and-15 situation with about five minutes left last week against Texas Tech. That conservative decision, the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwerneman writes, has got Aggie fans talking. Meanwhile, coacheshotseat.com has Sherman No. 3 with a bullet this week among the listing of coaches most likely to be fired, trailing only Auburn's Tommy Tuberville and Washington's Ty Willingham. 
  • Missouri was expected to have a much improved defense this season with 10 starters back. Instead, the Tigers have struggled trying to use a complicated defense with more blitzes and stunts, Kansas City Star beat writer Mike DeArmond says.

Big 12 coach zooming up hot seat rankings

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
5:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The good folks at CoachesHotSeat.com do more than merely collect the top continuous grouping of story clips each day. They also maintain a hot seat list that judges the relative job prospects of all 120 FBS coaches.

It's not surprising that a Big 12 coach has cracked the top five. But it might surprise you who tops this week's list from the Big 12.

Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is listed in fifth place on the most recent poll of those coaches with the hottest seats. Sherman is topped, in order, by Ty Willingham of Washington, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, Greg Robinson of Syracuse and Joe Glenn of Wyoming.

Sherman has struggled during the Aggies' 2-3 start. But I would be surprised if he's the Big 12 coach with the most tenuous job security.

That might be Kansas State coach Ron Prince, who is ranked 34th on the list after his 3-2 start. I guess CoachesHotSeat.com is factoring in Prince's contract extension he received  before the season, although those can be broken -- just ask former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan.

It sets up a delicious matchup Saturday in College Station between the two coaches with the shakiest job status, according to the Web site. It will be interesting to check the site next week to see how things have changed after the KSU-A&M game. 

Here's a list of Big 12 coaches and their ranking on Coaches Hot Seat.com's list.

Mike Sherman, Texas A&M          5

Gene Chizik, Iowa State             25

Ron Prince, Kansas State           34

Dan Hawkins, Colorado              55

Bo Pelini, Nebraska                   61

Art Briles, Baylor                       81

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State     94

Mark Mangino, Kansas              98       

Mike Leach, Texas Tech           114

Mack Brown, Texas                  115

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma            117

Gary Pinkel, Missouri               119

Sherman and Chizik are both judged by the Web site to be on the hot seat. Prince is considered on the edge of the hot seat. The rest of the Big 12 coaches are considered safe.  

Interestingly, Pinkel is perceived to have the second-most secure job of any coaches in the country, other than defending national champion Les Miles at LSU.

I don't know how accurate this list really is, but it is an interesting conversation piece.

Rare four-star, nonconference tilt tops Big 12 viewers' guide

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
11:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN's Tim Griffin

Here's the latest four-star viewer's guide for the games of the weekend. Plan your honey-dos and set your tape recorders accordingly.

A ranking of four stars indicates must-see television, and maybe even a game tape to be savored by more devoted viewers. Three-star games are worth the investment in time. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates. And one-star games are indications that your time might be better spent at the grocery store or playing with the kids. All games will be played on Saturday unless otherwise noted.

Four-star game

Kansas at South Florida (ESPN/8 p.m. ET, Friday) -- Both teams will be trying to prove their national legitimacy in a battle between old Bill Snyder disciples Mark Mangino and Jim Leavitt.

Three-star games

Iowa State at Iowa (Big Ten Network, noon) -- Hard to believe that the game for the Cy-Hawk Trophy is one of only four this week matching 2-0 teams.

Arkansas at Texas (ABC, 3:30 p.m.) -- Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles aren't roaming the sidelines like the good ol' days, but Mack Brown hasn't forgotten the thumping that the Razorbacks gave his team in Austin in 2003 in their last trip.

Oklahoma at Washington, (ESPN, 7:45 p.m.) -- Bob Stoops didn't like his last trip to the northwest when he was jobbed by a Pac-10 officiating crew in Oregon. This game should be easier, particularly with Ty Willingham's job status being an open question in Seattle these days.

Two-star games

Washington State at Baylor (FSN, 12:30 p.m.) -- This matchup is intriguing only because a judgment can be made about the relative strengths of the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences when its worst teams meet.

Nevada at Missouri (PPV, 12:30 p.m.) -- Rangy Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick gave Texas Tech fits last week. It won't be quite as easy in Columbia, particularly with top Nevada running threat Luke Lippincott out for the season with a knee injury.

New Mexico State at Nebraska (PPV, 7 p.m.) -- This has some entertainment value as New Mexico State mad scientist Hal Mumme and talented QB Chase Holbrook faces the Nebraska secondary. How much will the Cornhuskers miss Barry Turner? And how much will the Aggies be a mystery in their first game of the season?

SMU at Texas Tech (FSN, 7 p.m.) -- Wonder if there might be a few passes at Jones SBC Stadium in this one? Tech has dominated the series, winning the last 12 games since SMU's six-game streak from 1981-86.

One-star game

Missouri State at Oklahoma State (FCS, 7 p.m.) -- Don't expect the Cowboys' talented offense to show much mercy against Terry Allen's Missouri State team. The Bears have never beaten a Big 12 team in nine previous games.

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