Stoops takes top vote; Gundy No. 2

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Who are the top-10 football coaches in the Big 12 Conference?

By Kyle Salomon,

Now that basketball season is officially over, the college football hype machine has officially started across the state of Oklahoma.

In honor of the college football hype season, I am going to rank the Big 12 football coaches 1-10 in order of best to worst.

1. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Stoops and the Sooners went on an incredible three-game run to end the 2013 season winning two difficult road games at Kansas State and at Oklahoma State in frigid temperatures. The two road upsets propelled Oklahoma into a Sugar Bowl showdown with SEC bully Alabama, which was the two-time defending national champion and one fluke play against Auburn away from competing for a third consecutive title. OU pulled out some Sooner magic against the Crimson Tide and put a beat-down on Nick Saban and company.

Stoops has the Sooners back in the national eye as Oklahoma is a favorite to compete in this year’s four-team college football playoffs. Stoops’ eight Big 12 Conference titles, one national title and wins in every BCS game make him the clear-cut No. 1 coach in the Big 12.

2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Given his track record against Oklahoma and Texas and his sub-par bowl game record, this might be a surprising pick to some of you, but Gundy is well-deserving of this selection. Gundy has taken the Cowboys to new heights as the head man in Stillwater. Yes, he has struggled against the two Big 12 bullies, but he has taken the Pokes to their only football conference title in the school’s history. He also led the orange and black to an incredible Fiesta Bowl victory against Stanford in 2011. When Gundy took the program over, OSU fans were thrilled to get seven- or eight-win seasons. Now, Poke nation isn’t happy unless the Cowboys are winning 10 or 11 games and competing for Big 12 crowns. These accomplishments definitely warrant him as the No. 2 coach in the Big 12. After all, he is a man. He’s now 46.

3. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Snyder is one of the most underrated coaches in sports history, not just college football history, but sports history. Kansas State football was a laughing stock across the nation for decades before Snyder came in and completely changed the culture. He turned the Wildcats into perennial winners and made them competitive in the Big 12 Conference. Snyder’s first retirement came in the mid-2000′s when Ron Prince took over in Manhattan. KSU began to sink back to depths of college football, which caused Snyder to return to the sidelines and he now has the Cats back to being a feared opponent in the conference.

4. Art Briles, Baylor

If you would have told me 10 years ago that Baylor would be one of the favorites to win the Big 12 Conference in 2014, I would have called you crazy. But it’s true. The Bears are here and here to stay as long as Briles and company stick around in Waco. For the first time in school history, Baylor beat both Oklahoma and Texas in the same season in 2013 and won their first ever Big 12 Conference title. Who would have predicted this? But Briles has the Bears steamrolling right now, which is why he’s deserving of the No. 4 spot.

5. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Rhoads is one of the most underrated football coaches in the Big 12 Conference. Being at Iowa State, he lacks the resources and tradition needed to recruit top-notch athletes like Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State are able to do on an annual basis. Yet the guy still somehow has the ability to strike fear into those opponents and the rest of the Big 12. If you put a truth serum in every Big 12 coach, I promise they would tell you Ames, Iowa, is one of the scariest places to travel to in the entire conference.

6. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

No, this ranking has nothing to do with Kingsbury’s coaching ability. This ranking is all about the young coach’s dashing good looks. No, I’m kidding. He is one of the best quarterback coaches in all of college football. You think Johnny Manziel became Johnny “Football” on his own? No way. Kingsbury was a vital piece to that puzzle. The guy won seven games in his first year in Lubbock with Tommy Tubberville’s players. Imagine what he will be able to do when he gets his own recruits at his service.

7. Charlie Strong, Texas

Many of you may be wondering how I can put Charlie Strong so far down this list given his record as the defensive coordinator at Florida and as a head coach at Louisville. It’s simple. This is the Big 12 Conference. This is not the Atlantic Athletic Conference. Look at what has happened to other coaches in the conference who came from smaller conferences. Dana Holgerson has struggled mightily at West Virginia since coming from the Big East and Gary Patterson hasn’t seen much success at TCU coming from the Mountain West. Yes, Strong will have more resources and much better talent at his disposal in Austin, but as we all know from the final few years with Mack Brown, that doesn’t always equal out to wins.

8. Gary Patterson, TCU

This low ranking is not a reflection of Patterson as a football coach. The fact of the matter is, this guy can flat out coach on the gridiron. Just look at what he has been able to do while coaching the Horned Frogs. The purple and black dominated the Mountain West for years and even pulled off some miracle upsets, such as the 2005 season opener over the Sooners in Norman. But Patterson has struggled since coming to the Big 12. Beating the big boys is a lot more difficult when you have to play them almost every week during the regular season.

9. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

Holgorsen is an offensive genius. No one is questioning that, but I am going to question the man as a head football coach. Like Strong and Patterson, Holgorsen dominated a smaller conference like the Big East with the high-octane offense his teams display. However, the defenses in the Big 12 are a lot better than those that reside in the Big East and the offenses are pretty good, which expose the weak defense the Mountaineers employ. This will be Holgorsen’s final year in Morgantown.

10. Mike Stoops, defensive coordinator, Oklahoma

If some of you are crying foul at this selection, notice how I said ranking of the Big 12 football coaches, not head coaches. If anyone out there actually believes that Mike Stoops is not a better football coach than Charlie Weis, then you might need to have your head examined. Stoops was responsible for the dominant defenses the Sooners had in the early 2000’s. Since his return to Norman in 2012, he has slowly and steadily turned the Oklahoma D back into the best unit in the Big 12 and one of the best in the nation.