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Big 12 football: Iconic coaches abound

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm •  Published: July 17, 2013

during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and Iowa State University (ISU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
during a college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and Iowa State University (ISU) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Some time in the 2013 season, Bob Stoops will catch Barry Switzer as the all-time victory leader among OU football coaches. Either that or Stoops will self-combust. Stoops has 149 wins (149-37) over 14 seasons; Switzer was 157-29-4 over 16 seasons. So Stoops should not only catch Switzer but pass him. Nine wins isn’t too much to ask, I don’t think, from this mysterious Sooner squad.

But the victory chase got me to thinking. Stoops. Bill Snyder. Mike Gundy. Mack Brown. Gary Patterson. Half the schools in the league have iconic coaches; men who might someday be immortalized by a statue, if their university embraces that kind of art. Let’s go school-by-school:

OU: The only school in America with four 100-win coaches. No matter where you want to rank Stoops among Switzer and Bud Wilkinson, Stoops is a giant in Sooner history. Here are the standings: 1. Switzer 157-29-4, 2. Stoops 149-37, 3. Wilkinson 145-29-4; 4. Bennie Owen 122-54-16.

OSU: Gundy reached the summit last season, surpassing Pat Jones as the Cowboys’ all-time victory leader, which Jones famously predicted would never happen, by Gundy or anyone else, for both victories and defeats. Gundy has 67 OSU wins; is that the lowest record total of any major-conference school? I’ll try to check that out later for another blog. Anyway, here are the OSU standings: 1. Gundy 67-35; 2. Jones 62-60-3; Jim Lookabaugh 58-41-6; 4. Cliff Speegle 36-42-3.

 Texas:Might we be having the current Stoops discussion about Mack Brown next season? Mack is 17 wins shy of Darrell Royal (speaking if icons). A couple of nine-win seasons would propel Brown to the top. Of course, if Mack peels off a 9-4 season in 2013, Texas might run him off just to keep him from passing Royal. The Texas standings: 1. Royal 167-47-5; 2. Brown 150-43; 3. Fred Akers 86-31-2; 4. Dana X. Bible 63-31-3. (Dana X. Bible is my all-time favorite name for a football coach. That’s another blog I need to do.)

Kansas State: Here’s yet another blog I could do. Who ranks second to KSU on the list of schools with the biggest discrepancy between their No. 1 and No. 2 coaches? Bill Snyder broke the KSU victory record 18 YEARS AGO. You could look it up. Mike Ahearn, who got a cool fieldhouse named for him, won 39 games from 1905-10. Then KSU mostly stunk for 80 years. The KSU standings: 1. Snyder 170-85-1; 2. Mike Ahearn 39-12 (what? No ties for a guy who coached before World War I? The guy was a magician.); 3. Vince Gibson 33-52; 4. Charles Bachman 33-23-9.

TCU: Gary Patterson set the Horned Frog record last season. He entered the 2012 season tied with Dutch Meyer, who coached Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien. You can debate Stoops. You can debate Gundy. You can debate Mack. But you can’t debate Patterson, same as you can’t debate Snyder. Patterson and Snyder are the greatest coaches in their schools’ history. The TCU rankings: 1. Patterson 116-36; 2. Dutch Meyer 109-79-13; 3. Abe Martin 74-64-7; 4. Francis Schmidt 45-6-5. (45-6-5! Schmidt coached 1929-33, then was followed by Meyer. No wonder Dan Jenkins wrote about growing up in Fort Worth in the Depression, following TCU football, and called it “When the Frogs Were Princes”).

So there are the icons. Here is where the other Big 12 coaches stand in their quest for such status:

Baylor: Art Briles has the best chance to join the club. The revival he’s staged in Waco shows no sign of slowing down. But Briles has a long way to go to catch Grant Teaff both in wins and in status. Teaff was Bill Snyder in Baptistland. Baylor’s rankings in wins:  1. Teaff 128-105-6; 2. Morley Jennings 83-60-6; 3. John Bridgers 49-53-1; 4. George Sauer 38-21-3.

Kansas: Charlie Weis (1-11 in his debut season) has a long way to go. Or does he? I got my answer to that Gundy question rather quickly. Maybe it’s Kansas with the lowest total ever for its leader. KU rankings: 1. Bert Kennedy 53-9-4; 2. Mark Mangino 50-48; 3. Glen Mason 47-54-1; 4. Jack Mitchell 42-44-5. Hey, maybe that’s why KU fired Mangino. It didn’t want him to surpass old Bert Kennedy, who coached from 1904-10. Or maybe KU fired Bert himself, to keep the Jayhawks from becoming a football school.

Iowa State: I checked out the Cyclones with no good guess for who would be No. 1. So I went with Dan McCarney. And I was right. By a bunch. McCarney’s 56 wins are the ISU record by 14. Another school that comes nowhere near Gundy and OSU. The ISU standings: 1. McCarney 56-85; 2. Clay Stapleton 42-53-4; 3. A.W. Ristine 36-10-1; 3. Earle Bruce 36-32. Bruce is the only Iowa State coach since World War I with a winning record. A heck of a coach. But Iowa State loves Paul Rhoads. He’s 24-27 in four seasons and has a shot to rank No. 1 if he’ll stay at least five more years.

West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen enters Year 3 in Morgantown, where Don Nehlen coached 21 years and won 149 games. Holgorsen has a ways to go.

Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury is just getting started, but he’s got a ways to go. Tech has no 100-win coaches, but the Red Raiders have three 75-win coaches. The standings: 1. Mike Leach 84-43; 2. Spike Dykes 82-67-1; 3. Pete Cawthon 76-32-6; 4. Dell Morgan 55-49-3. And Tech has two more coaches with at least 44 wins. Six Tech coaches been on the job at least nine years. It’s a pretty stable job.






by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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