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One Size Fits All?

By Sean McDaniel, Mustang Public Schools superintendent

Thank God Oklahoma has some of the brightest and most passionate legislators on the planet!  If not for legislators who ask sincere questions, ask for input from those who would be most affected by proposed legislation and take action to advance or in some cases halt legislation, many, many lives might be altered in a very negative way.

During the 2014 legislative session, Rep. Katie Henke took on a fight that she could have just as easily turned down. In a professional and diplomatic manner she penned and promoted House Bill 2625, and in doing so took on not only several of her counterparts and colleagues in the Legislature, she took on the leadership of the state Department of Education as well.

The stakes were high. Hundreds and hundreds of Oklahoma’s third-graders would have been retained based upon a single assessment and/or their failure to meet any number of possible exemptions. Proponents of this “one-size-fits-all” mandate espouse that third-graders should be retained if they are unable to demonstrate that they can read at grade level. They typically use a variation of the slogan: “If they can’t read, they can’t do anything else.”

The slogan, though, is incomplete. It’s a no-brainer that reading is important. What most proponents fail to acknowledge is that reading skills are developed over time with sound instruction and a commitment from parents and teachers to an intensive process that results in reading proficiency. To place a deadline at the conclusion of third grade equates to a complete lack of understanding of the vast amount of research that speaks to the development of reading skills. Certainly, a third grade end-of-year assessment can add to the body of evidence that should be considered when discussing the retention of a student, but to use a single assessment as the end-all is dangerous.

In Mustang, a very straightforward and simple exercise was conducted in order to determine the potential impact of the third grade retention law. Because educators understand that reading is a developmental process and that students progress at varying rates, the results of the exercise surprised no one. Progress for all 2012-13 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders in the Mustang district who scored unsatisfactory on the third grade reading test when they were in third grade were examined.

A total of 89 students from the three grades scored unsatisfactory when they were third-graders on the third grade reading test. These 89 students, along with their parents, would have faced the real possibility of retention and many of them would have been retained. Fast forward to 2012-13. Fifty-four of the original 89 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders scored at least limited knowledge on the state assessments as fifth-, sixth- or seventh-graders. In fact, 23 students of the original 89 scored proficient or advanced as fifth-, sixth- or seventh-graders. Additionally, of the 35 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders and again as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders, 24 of them actually showed progress at a 41 point average growth rate from their original unsatisfactory score as third-graders to their unsatisfactory score as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.

At the very least, what this data seems to suggest is that students do indeed progress at varying points in time, particularly when sound instructional strategies are in place and effective instruction is occurring. When making decisions about retention, academic progress is a significant piece of the conversation and must be considered; however, it is a piece that was missing entirely from the third grade reading law.

An important question to ask is what has been done for the 35 students who scored unsatisfactory as third-graders and again as fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders in 2012-13 – particularly the 11 students who have not shown progress?  The answer to this very important question is critical. In Mustang, like in many other districts, there are individual learning plans in place for every single one of these students. Teachers and administrators, along with members of each schools’ support staff, know exactly what the areas in need of improvement are for each child. Teachers receive training on research-based strategies that are being incorporated in the classroom for each child and these strategies are monitored for effectiveness and modified or changed as necessary.

The truth is, every struggling student was very likely identified by a team of educators as far back as kindergarten and a variety of measures have been and will continue to be taken until each student is proficient in reading. It is not an accident, nor is it a coincidence, that students continue to show progress in Mustang. The idea that one single pass or fail score based upon a single assessment, at a single point in time in the spring of a student’s third grade year determines whether or not to retain a child is not the answer. HB 2625 is the answer, as it places the decision whether or not to retain back into the hands of the educators and the parents.

We are grateful for legislators like Katie Henke who do more than simply take up a cause. Anyone can do that. Rep. Henke took up a cause, provided evidence to support the cause and fought until she had persuaded others that this cause was worth the fight. Thanks to her and to others who studied and listened carefully, Oklahoma students are the winners.


Top-30 MHS athletes: Part one

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I am doing a six-week series of columns counting down my current top-30 Mustang High School athletes. The series started this week with Nos. 26-30 on my list.

26. Madison Maxwell, senior, girls basketball

Madison Maxwell has developed into one of the top girls basketball players on the Lady Broncos roster in the past two seasons.

As a sophomore, she was thrust into the varsity rotation when fellow sophomore guard Bailey Flynn went down with a season-ending injury. The young Lady Bronco struggled at first, but eventually developed confidence and played a key role in the Bronco girls making it to the regional championship game against eventual state champion Booker T. Washington Hornets.

Her junior year campaign was much more consistent for Maxwell. She led the team in scoring in multiple games and developed a reputation for creating turnovers and leading Mustang on many fast-break opportunities throughout the season.

The slick ball-handling guard has a rare knack for getting inside the paint area and despite her smallness in size, can get the ball to the rim despite having taller defenders around commentary new.qxd

27. Sarah Kellogg, junior, girls basketball and girls golf

Sarah Kellogg is one of the bright up-and-coming young athletes at Mustang High School.

Kellogg competes in two sports for MHS. The tall, athletic junior is a reserve forward for the Lady Broncos basketball team and one of the top golfers for the Bronco girls golf team.

As a sophomore, Kellogg played the role of scrappy rebounder and defender for the Mustang girls basketball team. In numerous games, she would come in and provide a much-needed spark for the Lady Broncos.

On the golf course, Kellogg improved her game dramatically by the end of the season last year. Her game got more consistent with each round she played.

As a junior this coming year, Kellogg will play a much bigger role for the girls basketball team as well as well as being a key cog on the girls golf team.

28. Josh Vannoy, senior, boys soccer and football

Josh Vannoy is a dual sport athlete at Mustang High School and he has made his name with his right foot.

Vannoy is a defense-man on the Bronco boys soccer team, where he utilizes his size and strength to fend off offensive attacks from opponents.

On the gridiron, Vannoy does the place-kicking for the Broncos. Last season, he was consistently good on his extra points and his powerful leg gives Mustang head coach Jeremy Dombek confidence to use him when MHS needs points deep inside the opposing territory.

Vannoy will be counted on this coming year to provide leadership both on the soccer field and on the gridiron.

Look for Vannoy to have an impact at the end of a Bronco football game this fall with the clock winding down with a chance to win the game with his right foot and the ball sailing through the uprights.

29. Bailey Flynn, senior, girls basketball

Bailey Flynn would be much higher on this list, but she hasn’t seen much action on the basketball court because of the injuries she sustained her sophomore and junior years.

Flynn started every game at the point guard position for the Lady Broncos as a freshman. She made her name with her ability to knock down long-range 3-point shots and the leadership she provided at a young age.

If Flynn can stay healthy this season for the Bronco girls as a senior, she will have a big impact on the squad. As a freshman, she led the Lady Broncos to the state tournament, let’s hope she has that same kind of magic for this year’s group.

30. Lauren Sloan, senior, girls golf

Lauren Sloan came on strong late in the season for the Lady Broncos golf team this past spring.

The senior right-hander started off the year with a few bumps in the road, but from the midpoint until the state tournament, the young Lady Bronco made her name known across the state.

Sloan’s solid play in the postseason tournaments will sling-shot her into her senior season with a lot of confidence. She will be counted on to provide a lot of leadership to a relatively young team next spring for the Bronco girls on the golf course.

Salomon can be reached at

June in Scotland

By Emily Kindiger

Since I focused so strongly on my dissertation preparations in May, I tried to do a few more fun activities for June. One Danish Independence Day dinner, three trips and one competition made for an amazing month of adventures.

Emily Kindiger on a lookout of the North Sea. (Photo/Courtesy)

Two of my classmates hail from Denmark, so on June 5 they invited a few of us over for traditional Danish sandwiches, a chance to try their homeland’s schnapps and to teach us about Danish independence. Traditional sandwiches are eaten open-faced with usually herring, tomato and cucumber, but other toppings such as egg are common. This type of schnapps is very different from the Swedish kind most of us Americans are used to. It’s called Akvavit (aquavit), meaning “water of life,” and has a difficult-to-describe flavor. It was definitely not something I would drink again, but I can at least say that I have tried it.

For my first trip this month, I went to the Dumfries and New Lanark area, visiting the Falls of Clyde, Drumlanrig Castle (the Pink Palace), Caerlaverock Castle (a moated triangular castle from the 13th century) and the city of Dumfries, which is the hometown of the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns. This was a stunning trip and Caerlaverock Castle was amazing because, although small, it has not been renovated since 1640.

The next trip was to the east coast of Scotland to Stonehaven, Dundee and Aberdeen. The town of Stonehaven houses Dunnattar Castle, which rests high on the cliffs, overlooking the North Sea. The view was spectacular. This castle is known for housing the Scottish crown jewels from Oliver Cromwell’s invasion during the 17th century, the phenomenal scenery and for serving as the inspiration behind the castle in the movie Brave. About an hour’s drive from here is the third largest city in Scotland, Aberdeen, which is known as the Granite City since nearly all the buildings are made from white granite. It rests on the coastline and has a beautiful beach view of the North Sea, as well.

The mudder team – Kyle Mylrea, Emily and Cassandra Zawojek. (Photo/Courtesy)

The third trip was to Oban and the Isle of Seil on the west coast. On the way, I saw Inveraray Castle in the town of Inveraray before reaching Oban, which means “the little bay.” Besides a lovely coastal view, the city is home to McCaig’s Tower — a Coliseum-like structure built by architect John McCaig in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. It was based on the Roman design, but was never finished due to McCaig’s death. After leaving Oban, I passed the Atlantic Bridge (Clachan Bridge) with links Seil to the mainland—legend says that crossing the bridge on foot brings good luck. Seil is a beautiful, small town bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and mountains. The view from the top was breathtaking, with the cliffs on one side and ocean on the other.

In between the second and third trip, two friends and I took part in a Tough Mudder Competition. The goal of competition is to get you and your team through the 12 mile, 20 obstacle course. It was originally designed for Special Forces units for training purposes, focusing on teamwork. The competition tests physical and mental limits and includes swimming through ice water, climbing steep walls, leaping off tall structures into more water, crawling under barbed wire, swinging from bar to bar, electrodes, etc. It is basically training for the military but the whole thing is covered in every type of mud imaginable: slick, clay, sticky, suction. We were covered and drenched in it throughout the whole day.

Its slogan is “probably the toughest event on the planet” and it lived up to that. Pain, cold, and exhaustion pressed our limits, and by mile eight, some of the thrill and fun of the obstacles was wearing off. However, I have never felt a larger sense of pride and accomplishment as when my team and I crossed the finish line, receiving our “finisher” headbands, pints, and shirts. Although difficult and strenuous, this competition was truly amazing and absolutely fun.

All the participants take an oath at the beginning about teamwork, camaraderie and overcoming challenges, and each person I saw held that oath highly. Tough Mudder isn’t about who crosses the finish line first; it’s about everyone (you, your team and your fellow participants) reaching this end: no one left behind.

Tough Mudder was a challenge I could not be prouder to be a part of. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever done, and I cannot wait to form another team and do another in the future. I wear my shirt and the remaining cuts and bruises with honor, pride and the greatest sense of achievement.

June was a wonderful month of adventures—and yes I have been working on the dissertation too. It was beyond my wildest expectations and I am thrilled to see what July holds in store.



Bible history class deserves study

There’s been a lot of controversy lately over a proposed Bible history class for Mustang High School.

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It’s a topic that’s generated a lot of talk and a lot of interest, with a spotlight shining brightly on Mustang Public Schools. Some supporters of the proposed class say students should be entitled to study something as important as the Bible, while detractors question whether this would truly be a history class or a veiled attempt to bring religious education into a public school district.

I believe a lot of the concern about the class can be traced back to its source – Steve Green and the Green Foundation. Green, of course, is head of Hobby Lobby. With the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday ruling in favor of that company’s stance on contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the debate about the MPS Bible class is sure to flare up again.

Green makes no apologies about his religious beliefs. In challenging the Affordable Care Act, Hobby Lobby stirred up a hornet’s nest on a national level, with women’s rights groups clashing with those who waived the flag of “religious liberty.” No doubt the debate over the 5-4 decision will continue for the foreseeable future. All of that aside, it is Green’s approach to religion which seems to have caused so many issues for opponents of the planned Bible history course.

The release of an early draft of the course curriculum didn’t help matters. Reading through that draft, there were things that I, as a parent, questioned – I’ll be honest. Perhaps I wouldn’t have had those thoughts if my religious leanings conformed exactly with those of the Green family, but that doesn’t really matter because the key word in that sentence was “draft.”

According to school district officials, the curriculum has undergone numerous changes since it was first presented to them. How substantial those are no one knows because they haven’t been made public. While I believe that could possibly relieve some of the questions that have been raised about the course, it’s not my place to make that decision. And it is possible that wouldn’t make a difference to course detractors at all.

There are two issues here – does the course’s content conflict with the U.S. Constitution and is this a course worthy of study by our students? Mustang Superintendent Sean McDaniel seems to be taking great pains to make sure the answer to the first question is no; he says the Green course has components that make it worth the extra trouble the district has encountered with the proposal.

My feeling as a parent is this – the course is an elective, a class which will only be taken by students who choose to sign up for it. It could be different if it was a requirement, but it is not. If parents have issues with the class, they can direct their child to abstain from signing up, and any youth not interested in it can just pass it by.

As for whether the course could be used as a tool to sermonize, that would become pretty clear pretty fast once students were actually sitting in the classroom. And while I wouldn’t be thrilled if that was the perception my son might have of the class, as long as it didn’t violate constitutional ethics, I would be OK with it. At some point, we have to allow our children to hear things we might not strictly believe – and it’s up to us to teach them to filter their lessons so they make up their own mind, no matter what the subject.

To me, one of the most neglected subjects in school is history. With the focus so strongly on testing – something not reflecting shortcomings of local teachers but poor choices by administrators not involved in our children’s day-to-day education – it seems a full education has taken a backseat to test results.

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,” said Edmund Burke. It’s time we encourage our children to study history and really learn about our past, whether it’s Bible history, knowledge of our veterans, where our country and world have been and where they could be going. If this course can be part of that, I’m all for it.


There’s no match for OU-Texas

Which is the better rivalry? Bedlam or the Red River Showdown?

By Kyle Salomon,

When it comes to rivalries in sports, you hear about the Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics or Michigan-Ohio State, but the one rivalry that trumps them all is the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas.

Now my counterpart, Patrick Osborne, believes the annual Bedlam clash between the Sooners and their bitter in-state foe, Oklahoma State, tops OU-Texas when it comes to rivalries.

Osborne will dazzle you with ideas such as the in-state brotherhood or that on-campus sites are better than the neutral site, but in reality, in no world is Bedlam ever bigger or better than the clash of crimson and burnt orange every October in Dallas.

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First, we have to look at the tradition of the rivalry. Oklahoma and Texas are consistently among the top two programs in college football. The Longhorns lead the series 60-43-5 over the Sooners, but OU is closing the gap rapidly.

Every time these schools meet, it almost always sets a clear picture for what the rest of the Big 12 football season will look like. The winner of the big game will have the upper hand to win the conference the majority of the time.

Yes, Bedlam is always one of, if not the final regular season game of the year for both OU and OSU, but only in this decade have the two Texas Logoprograms been comparable on the field. The Sooners lead the series 84-17-7. Not much of a “rivalry” if you ask me.

Next, we take a look at the venue of the Red River Showdown. The Cotton Bowl on the fairgrounds of Dallas is an historic football cathedral with a backdrop that will drop your jaw and open your eyes to true college football history.

The stadium holds a capacity of 92,000 people with 20,000 or 30,000 more crazed OU or UT fans outside the stadium watching on the big screen. The game always takes place in the middle of October, which is always in the middle of the Texas State Fair. It’s simple, you take one of the craziest and most fun state fairs across the whole country and put a football game of that magnitude right in the middle of it, you have yourself one heck of an atmosphere.

However, with all that being said, possibly the coolest thing about the venue at OU-Texas is the split right down the middle of the stadium. One side of the stadium is completely doused in crimson and the other side is filled with burnt orange. There is not a better site in all of sports.

Remember what former Ohio State and NFL star running back Eddie George told former OU and NFL star Roy Williams in his first OU-Texas experience. “Yeah, this is a lot bigger than Ohio State-Michigan. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Those words say it all.

While the on-campus site argument is valid from Osborne, the 60,000-seat stadium in Stillwater just wouldn’t quite compete with the atmosphere in Dallas. Perhaps if OSU could actually fill up the stadium for a Bedlam game he might have an argument. Then again, when it comes to the Red River Showdown, it takes a backseat to no other rivalry. Just ask Eddie George.

When it comes to rivalries, Bedlam tops them all

Which is a better rivalry? Bedlam or the Red River Showdown?

By Patrick Osborne

With the college football season rapidly approaching, it seems like the perfect time to talk about what is the better rivalry, the Red River Showdown or Bedlam?

Bedlam, the annual matchup of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, wins this battle. Although Bedlam does not have the same pageantry or tradition as Oklahoma and Texas, it is the better rivalry all around.

As an Oklahoma fan who attends Oklahoma State, I’ve seen both sides of this great rivalry. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of defeat and the joy of victory in both crimson and cream and orange and black.

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I’ve been to the Red River Showdown and I’ve been to Bedlam, I’ll take Bedlam any day of the week. Unlike the other rivalry, Bedlam leaves all the lasting memories on each respected school’s campus.

The Dallas experience for OU and Texas is one of a kind, but nothing beats making the drive to Stillwater or Norman in hopes of seeing your school get the big win in the other school’s house. Neutral sites will never compare to on-campus matchups.

Location isn’t the only thing that makes a rivalry great, and it isn’t the only factor that defines this one. No matter what sport, Bedlam is always fun.OSU Logo

Who can forget Bedlam football? The Ice Bowl round two was amazing, or heartbreaking, depending on which color you wear.

I was there for Bedlam basketball in Gallahger Iba Arena. After the big win, shouts of Boomer Sooner could be heard during the singing of the alma mater by the OSU students. The response was simple – sing louder. So, of course, naturally the shouts returned louder as well.

My first experience of Bedlam wrestling, the sport that gave the rivalry its name, came this past year during my first year at OSU. GIA was rocking, crimson and cream and orange and black combining to make an unforgettable atmosphere and experience. It was pure Bedlam at its purest state.

I can go on and on about my Bedlam experiences as a Sooner and Cowboy, but that would just lead me to the same point. It’s different than OU and Texas, but there is just as much hatred in this rivalry.

OU is that annoying big brother who always thinks they are always better than you and finds a way to get a win on a lucky break. OSU is that increasingly growing little brother who is tired of being pushed around and wants everyone to know it.

At the end of the day they are still brothers of the state of Oklahoma, but when it’s go time neither wants to lose to their brother. They hate their brother so much during the fight because they know losing means a year of hanging their head when they see the other brother.

That’s what makes this rivalry so special. We know the other guy. We work with that Cowboy. We are married to that Sooner. There’s nowhere to hide after a loss and plenty of places to gloat with a victory.

Bedlam is defined as a place or situation of noisy uproar and confusion, and anytime these two schools meet you can plan on plenty of uproar and confusion. Bedlam is bedlam.

Coalition members make future brighter

Canadian County Coalition of Children and Families recently held its “first annual” awards banquet, acknowledging those among us who have shined in their efforts to help children and their families.

While it was gratifying to see people like Dolores Sanders-Alvarez, Billie Linam and others acknowledged, we need to also stop and thank people who every day put their hearts on the line as they work to make better lives for children and youth who have had to deal with situations far beyond their years.

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The coalition probably isn’t known to many outside their own “community,” but it should be. Many of its members work long hours, and do a lot in their own time, to improve the situation for area children. They don’t have an 8 to 5 job they leave at the door; the situations they see and the children they literally help save are a testament to their dedication and caring.

It is people like Ann Parkhurst, Cedric Mills, Rosemary Klepper, Jenny Kellbach and so many others – their fight to help others is something that not only helps those directly involved. They make our communities a better place to live, they raise our standard of living.

Organizations like Gary E. Miller Canadian County Children’s Justice Center and Youth and Family Services are filled with others – many of them coalition members – who work to make the world a better place for the smallest and youngest of us. Michael Ellison has talked to thousands of students about bullying and how it can be prevented. He has helped countless students who have been a victim of other students’ cruelty – and in the process, has most likely helped our county avoid tragedies we see on the national news.

Special Judge Bob Hughey, like his predecessor and namesake at the children’s justice center, Gary Miller, see horrors they can’t even discuss in cases that involve children’s welfare. He makes decisions, day in and day out, that will impact families. Those decisions can be difficult – who wants to actually take a child from his or her parents? But sometimes that cannot be helped and Hughey takes that responsibility on his shoulders. It’s something I wouldn’t want to have to do.

The justice center sees the best and worst of families. They help children and youth who cannot help themselves, but they also work with youth who have lost their way. They may have trouble in school, an addiction problem, started in on criminal activity – Hughey and his staff work to try to turn those kids around, before their actions permanently scar their lives.

Turning lives around is a big part of Dee Blose’s life. The Youth and Family Services director celebrates every milestone, every positive as if it was her own child’s. And the children she and her staff deal with really are their own, through extension. Whether it’s a new playground, a program to help disabled adults or just helping families get through bureaucratic hurdles, these people display dedication and caring every single day.

As the saying goes, the children are our future. We are lucky – and we should thank – all of these people who work each day to make that future a bit brighter.

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

Our granddaughter is in special education and Special Olympics and we have enjoyed all of the recent stories about these kids and who they are. It is difficult for the families sometimes because our loved one’s struggle is not seen by many people and people don’t realize how hard they work or how much they go through every day. It’s only through the hard work of people like Cherie Miller and her teachers that our granddaughter has grown and achieved so much.

She was once a very isolated and quiet girl. Now she has blossomed into a beautiful and outgoing person who is happy and content. Thanks to people at the school district and to those at the Mustang News, we now aren’t the only ones who know that.

We are very happy to see that the newspaper is looking at all of the positive things in Mustang and the school district. It is very nice for us to be able to show a newspaper and say to people, “That’s our girl,” just like football and athletes’ parents can do. They are athletes and they really are special. They’re a great group of kids and we appreciate this recognition. Keep up the good work.

Ed Barnes, Mustang

Stoops takes top vote; Gundy No. 2

Big 12 Logo

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.

Stoops No.1; Briles takes second

Big 12 Logo

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

By Patrick Osborne,

As football season rapidly approaches, it seems like the right time to look at the Big 12 Conference and rank all 10 coaches from worst to best.

10. Charlie Weis

Still new to the Big 12, Weis has yet to do anything major at Kansas. The Jayhawks have posted 1-11 and 3-9 records under Weis in his first two seasons, only one of which was a conference win. Weis has only one bowl win in his career, the Hawaii Bowl when at Notre Dame.

9. Dana Holgorsen

Remember this guy, Cowboy fans? In his three seasons at West Virginia, Holgorsen has seen a steady drop not only in talent but also wins. After the move to the Big 12 from the Big East Conference, Holgorsen has won just six of his first 12 conference games. He has one Big East title but nothing to his name so far in the Big 12. Without a solid season this year for the Mountaineers, Holgorsen could be job searching come December.

8. Kliff Kingsbury

This season proved good looks don’t get you everything for the first-year head coach. After a quick 7-0 start to the season, the Red Raiders finished by losing their last five games of the regular season. Although the Red Raiders showed a lot of promise, even during the five-game losing streak, it’s still unknown how good Kingsbury really is. Going into just his second season, he’s still working with other coaches’ players. With that said, Kingsbury looks like he could grow into a solid coach with great quarterbacks every year. Just look at what he did with Johnny Manziel while at Texas A&M.

7. Paul Rhoads

Anybody want to sign up for those wacky Thursday or Friday night games in Ames, Iowa, to play Rhoads and the Cyclones? Cowboy fans, how confident are you every time Oklahoma State travels to Jack Trice Stadium? Although he has a 27-36 record at Iowa State, with the players he has and has to coach against, this is not bad at all. Rhoads always finds a way to put out a competitive team even though he’s outmatched in nearly every game.

6. Bill Snyder

The Kansas State athletic department should seriously consider renaming the team the fighting Bill Snyders. Snyder is Wildcat football and Wildcat football is Bill Snyder. How many coaches get to coach in a stadium named after them? Although he only has two conference titles, Snyder has a 178-90-1 record while at Kansas State. Snyder always has one of the classiest and hard-working teams in the conference and rarely fails to compete. It would be nice to see the man Wildcat fans adore get one more conference title before his time in Manhattan is up.

5. Gary Patterson

I can’t help but like a guy who isn’t afraid to wear purple. He has a 120-44 record in his 13 seasons as the Horned Frogs leader including the memorable Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin in 2010. Although his teams have gone 4-5 and 2-7 in their first two seasons in the Big 12, I’m going to give Patterson a little more time. By a little more time, I mean this season. The Horned Frog leader is known for his stingy defense and his team’s ability to embrace the underdog role. The time to win is now for Patterson and TCU.

4. Mike Gundy

I wanted to put the man behind America’s brightest orange higher on my list but I couldn’t. At Oklahoma State, Gundy has posted a 77-38 record in his first nine seasons. Under him, the Cowboys have won one Big 12 conference title and a bowl win for the ages in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl against Stanford. Although Oklahoma State is now consistently one of the top teams in the Big 12, Gundy comes in at number four for his lack of big wins. Gundy has just one win against in-state rival Oklahoma, and always seems to find a way to lose the big game. Cowboy fans might not want to hear it, but it’s time for Gundy to Cowboy-up and start finding a way to win that big game.

3. Charlie Strong

Let me be the first to welcome Coach Strong to the Big 12. Welcome to the post-Mack Brown era, Longhorn fans. Although he has yet to coach a single Big 12 game, Strong posted an impressive 37-15 record at Louisville. The Cardinals were known for their discipline and hard work while under Strong, and won one of the biggest games in school history when they beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Strong completely turned around the Louisville football program and I expect him to do the same in Austin.

2. Art Briles

Baylor is no longer the doormat we all used to look forward to playing thanks to the coaching of Briles. He has a 44-32 record in six seasons as the Bears leader, and has brought the team to new heights every year. Briles did what most Big 12 fans thought was never possible when he won the Big 12 title after knocking off Oklahoma and Texas in the same season. Baylor looks to be in great hands as long as they can keep Briles under contract.

1. Bob Stoops

Big game Bob, welcome back. Remember when OU wasn’t supposed to win another game going into the Kansas State and Oklahoma State stretch? Remember when they did, then went on to win the Sugar Bowl against Alabama? Sooner fans will. In his 15 seasons at OU, Stoops has posted a 160-39 record and is now the all-time wins leader at the school where Barry Switzer coached. He went to all four BCS bowls, has won eight Big 12 titles and has one national title. With the kind of consistency where he’s never gone worse than 7-5, Stoops is without a doubt the best coach in the Big 12.