Evaluating the Best Coaching Jobs in the Big 12Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 16th, 2013
Will Leitch over at SportsOnEarth.com gave us his top 25 jobs in college basketball last week. And while there are a few things we would change (Wichita State and Temple seem too high, whereas Michigan seems too low), the list was close to perfect. His criteria was spot on too, as you can see here. Building upon his idea, we thought we would try our hand at a Big 12 list of college basketball jobs. As Leitch explains, the list isn’t necessarily a rundown of the best programs, although that often comes with having a top job. It instead comes down to a simple question: Where would we want to coach if we had our pick of the litter in the Big 12?
- Kansas: Kansas was #2 overall on Leitch’s list and is undoubtedly the best job in the Big 12. It has one of the best fan bases in the country and the athletic department will pay a successful coach as much as anyone.
- Texas: Texas hasn’t been great in a while, but it is still a top 10 job nationally with seemingly unlimited resources at its disposal and the benefit of in-state recruiting. Fans can be apathetic with respect to hoops, which could be a plus or a minus depending on the success of the coach. Stress about basketball is rarely an issue in Austin, as Texas hoops fans don’t seem to mind a coach who puts together an occasional winner without ever really challenging for a national title. If you can take advantage of everything Texas has to offer as a head coach, you could set yourself up for your career.
- Oklahoma State: With more tradition than any Big 12 school not named Kansas, the Cowboys play in an historic arena (just look at the name if you don’t believe it) and have fans that show up in droves when you win. Billionaire donor T. Boone Pickens helps to make this a solid job as you’ll never have to worry about flying commercial or scrounging for donations to buy practice gear.
- Oklahoma: There hasn’t been a lot of recent success, but Oklahoma gets the edge over the following Big 12 schools because of its tradition. A good recruiter can lure talent to Norman, and the resources are among some of the best in the Big 12 thanks to a nationally-relevant football program keeping the bank account flush with cash.
- Iowa State: This job #1 on current head coach Fred Hoiberg’s list. The fans are as passionate for basketball as they are for football — maybe moreso — and there aren’t that many power conference schools where that is the case. The job is still in Ames, though, so recruiting remains an issue. And with a stark lack of historic success (one Final Four in 1944, two Elite Eights all-time), the Cyclones job wouldn’t be the most talked about job opening in the Big 12.
- Baylor: Before Scott Drew arrived in Waco, Baylor had gone 60 years without a Sweet Sixteen. This says a lot about the impressive turnaround orchestrated by Drew, but it doesn’t mean another coach would be dying to coach there after he leaves. The fans can be fickle, there isn’t much history beyond the Drew era, and Waco is not an easy place to which to recruit. But there is enough momentum to help a new coach begin his tenure there, and recruiting in Texas never hurts.
- West Virginia: John Beilein took the Mountaineers to the Elite Eight in 2005 and current head coach Bob Huggins made it to the 2010 Final Four, but the move to the Big 12 couldn’t have made the job attractive to potential suitors. No conference road trips, no conference rivalries, and the closest Big 12 away game is nearly 900 miles away in Ames. It’s just not a good marriage, and the program will suffer for it.
- Kansas State: Former head coach Frank Martin took the Wildcats to four NCAA Tournaments in five seasons, including an Elite Eight in 2010, but he quickly left for the South Carolina job after alleged disputes with athletic director John Currie. Kansas State remains one of the toughest places at which to recruit in the country, and having Kansas 80 miles to the east doesn’t make things any easier.
- Texas Tech: It’s true that Texas Tech has recently (since the turn of the century) hired two high quality coaches in Bob Knight and Tubby Smith. But Knight was damaged goods and likely wanted a quiet place where he could sway the administration into hiring his under-qualified son to replace him, which worked. Similarly, Smith is near the end of his career and was fired from his last job. He was somehow able to get a six-year deal to likely end his career in Lubbock, but those are two unique circumstances that do not necessarily make Texas Tech a good basketball coaching job.
- TCU: TCU is a Mountain West school in the Big 12 because of football, but playing in the talent-rich Dallas-Fort Worth area isn’t the worst thing in the world. The Horned Frogs and coach Trent Johnson landed four-star center Karviar Shepherd from… Dallas. If you can recruit the local area well, you can be competitive at TCU.