Official Husker Locker Blog
2009 Apr 01
The Six Easiest Football Jobs in the Big 12
We decided to eschew “best” and “worst” in part because that debate automatically thrusts Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska to the top of the list and schools like Baylor and Iowa State to the bottom, based on sheer tradition.
Rather, we decided to take a bold stab at figuring out which jobs – perks and warts combined – were the kind coaches could tackle with enthusiasm and effort, and which jobs needed, shall we say, a bit more than that. Like a few a well-placed prayers to the pigskin karma saints.
Our list goes from easiest to hardest, and takes into account five categories:
Chance of “Success”
An “X” factor
Today, we run down we deem to be the six easiest jobs in the Big 12. Tomorrow, the sixth toughest.
And as we count them down, know this: None of them are what you’d call “easy.” All take 60-hour workweeks, strength, smarts, stamina and personality.
One other thing…the list partially takes into account who’s coaching the program, which, in the case of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, frankly, makes the job easier than it would have been for Snyder’s predecessor, Ron Prince, or whoever follows Snyder.
On with the countdown!
No. 12 KANSAS
Head Coach: Mark Mangino. Compensation: $2.3 millon per year, with tons of performance bonuses. Mangino gets five grand just for beating Nebraska, for example. For every game televised on ESPN that KU wins, Mangino scores ten grand.
Recruiting Base: KU has direct access to the best talent in Kansas City and Wichita, along with reasonable access to the second-tier prospects in Oklahoma. The Jayhawk State is also home to many of the Midwest’s best junior college football programs. Mangino still plucks his share of players out of Texas – that’s one of the secrets to his success – but there are more home-grown kids to choose from, too.
Administrative/Booster Support: For football, it’s better than ever, after KU finished a $33 million football complex in 2008. Basketball will always be king in Lawrence, but football is being embraced like never before.
Media/Fan Expectation: Tempered by the hulking monolith that is the basketball program, KU football is expected to compete for the Big 12 North trophy and beat its rivals, Missouri and Kansas State. Beyond that? Gravy. At least a quarter of the Big 12 programs would like a national title in the next decade. If that doesn’t happen at Kansas, nobody is losing sleep over it.
Chance of “Success”: Mangino has upped the ante and created his own success story. Still – “success” at KU is defined by eight, nine wins a year, a solid bowl game, and win over Mizzou. Would many Kansas fans have considered 2008 a “down” year? Following 2007, yes, it was. Overall? It was quite good by historical Jayhawks standards.
X Factor: Kansas football is not, and never will be, the flagship sports program in Lawrence. Outside of possibly Iowa State, it’d be hard to claim that about anywhere else right now.
No. 11 OKLAHOMA
Head Coach: Bob Stoops Compensation: Around $6 million. This includes a $3 million lump sum Stoops received recently for his tenth anniversary as OU coach and bonuses he earned last year.
Recruiting Base: It’s national, really, but Oklahoma does most of its damage at home and in Texas, routinely plucking great players from both states. Some years, OU outperforms Texas for coveted players in the Lone Star State. Stoops is a good recruiter, sure, but he resides in and near the land of milk and honey, too.
Administrative/Booster Support: Very strong. Stoops has the full support of the old guard (guys like Barry Switzer) and his athletic director, Joe Castiglione, is a proactive standout in his field. As far as facilities go, we’ll take Nebraska’s swank spread of OU’s ten-year-old digs, but the Sooners want for very little. Stoops has all the tradition, support and booster bucks he wants. He’s created a lot of success, yes. He’s also been given a lot to create it with.
Media/Fan Expectation: They’re high. Very high. But they’re not lunatic high, like they are at certain SEC programs, and the fans aren’t fickle, like they are at Texas. Sooner fans want to win. Stoops does win. But he’s not required to be a messiah (again: see the SEC).
Chance of “Success:” OU has every advantage in this regard. It’s one of the great programs, and has been since Bud Wilkinson. There’s talent. There’s tradition. There’s reasonably warm weather for recruiting purposes.
“X” Factor: Stoops’ recent run of losses in bowl games makes fan groan a little. Not that they want him to go anywhere.
No. 10 TEXAS
Head Coach: Mack Brown Compensation: Around $3 million.
Recruiting Base: None better. The best talent in the state of Texas. And most of them are rounded up by the end of spring football. UT’s recruiting budget must be equal to the military budget of Albania.
Administrative/Booster Support: Some would call DeLoss Dodds the nation’s most powerful athletic director. He’s sure one of them. In defense of Brown, he’s done a really good job winning back his share of boosters after the long, dark period after Darryl Royal retired. Then again, it was Brown’s predecessor, John Mackovic, who got the unpleasant job of bluntly telling those boosters UT’s facilities were woefully out of date. Brown walked into a better situation than Mackovic left when he was fired.
Media/Fan Expectation: We know some Texas fans, and, outside of rubbing OU’s nose in it, the goals are sometimes fuzzy. UT will cherish Vince Young and the national title he won for the Longhorns for the next century. But do they blame Brown for the one loss that blemished an otherwise terrific 2008? Success doesn’t always bring out the fans anyway, as witnessed by the occasional empty seats in UT’s stadium.
Chance of “Success”: Right up there with OU. Texas has all the advantages. At this point, any number of coaches – say, Will Muschamp – could be plugged into that job and coast on fumes for five years.
“X” Factor: The University of Texas has more beautiful women on its campus than any other in America, in one of the nation’s best college towns. It helps.
No. 9 KANSAS STATE
Head Coach: Bill Snyder Compensation: 1.85 million
Recruiting Base: The same as Kansas, except that Snyder leans much more heavily on the JUCOs.
Administrative/Booster Support: Basically, Snyder will get the “Joe Gibbs” treatment. He’s already performed “The Miracle in Manhattan” and if he carves out a modicum of success, any setbacks will just be blamed on Ron Prince’s three years at KSU. Snyder runs that town, and he’ll make darn sure the Wildcats schedule three or four wins per year.
Fan/Media Expectations: A respectable program. Coaches who don’t have to run stadium stairs.
Chance of “Success”: Pretty good, if 7-5 is the standard, and we don’t really see Kansas State doing much better than that in whatever time Snyder chooses to put into this second act.
“X” Factor: Snyder will need one year, and maybe two, to clean up the mess Prince left behind. And he won’t have Stoops and Mangino to help him do it.
No. 8 TEXAS A&M
Head coach: Mike Sherman Compensation: $1.8 million
Recruiting base: The central/southern part Texas seems pretty sweet to us. The Aggies make a killing in NASA country (that’s Houston). A&M probably draws a little too much talent from a 100-mile radius, for that matter.
Administrative/Booster Support: Aggies are plenty competitive, and will spend top dollar to win in almost every sport. Athletic director Bill Byrne is no less competitive, even if his zeal in the past, including at Nebraska, was for non-revenue sports that could inch him closer to a Sears Directors Trophy. Still – at A&M, excellence is the standard. Another season like 2008, and Sherman might be gone very soon.
Fan/Media Expectation: For a solid decade, A&M was the premier program in Texas. Getting there again is a top priority, and it’s not completely out of the question, either. The Longhorns are due for a dry spell. Oklahoma, on other hand…we don’t see the Sooners going anywhere. The fans at A&M are terrific. The closest to Nebraska fans, in fact.
Chance of “Success”: Ten wins, a Big 12 South crown and bragging rights over UT are a lot to ask for right now. Maybe a little too much to ask. But the Aggies are committed, support is entrenched, and the area talent is rich. This is fertile ground for winning. Sherman has no excuses, really, because Dennis Franchione didn’t exactly run the program into the ground.
“X” Factor: A&M is making the painful transition from option zone read to West Coast Offense with a former NFL coach. Ask Nebraska how well that turned out.
No. 7 TEXAS TECH
Head Coach: Mike Leach Compensation: $2.3 million
Recruiting Base: Leach has made inroads into central and the Texas Panhandle to go along with the football-rich region of West Texas.
Booster/Administrative Support: It’s no great secret that Leach and his athletic director aren’t great chums. But Leach won the war of public opinion in a recent contract dispute, and let’s just say wasn’t the proletariat that turned the tide, but the Tech bourgeoisie. The Red Raiders just finished a $84 million renovation to Jones Stadium.
Media/Fan Expectation: Leach seems to win eight every year – 11 in 2008 – and fans don’t seem too riled up if he can’t win the big games, which he rarely does. He’s brought more publicity to Lubbock than anyone since Buddy Holly. Yeah, even more than Bob Knight.They love the big pirate-lovin lug.
Chance of “Success:” Every four years or so, Tech might be able to climb that national title mountain like it did in 2008. Otherwise, since fans seem content with nine wins and a fun offense each year – and the Wes Welkers and Michael Crabtrees of the world are still willing to enroll – chances are pretty good, we’d say.
“X” Factor: Leach makes this job easier for himself, because Leach is Texas Tech. We pity, really, the coach who must follow him.
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