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Big 12 is full of iconic football coaches

So why is the league so putrid in 2013? Have these Rushmore coaches overstayed their welcome?
by Berry Tramel Modified: October 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: September 30, 2013

Bill Snyder and Gary Patterson bring their football games to our land Saturday. Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats are in Stillwater; Patterson's TCU Horned Frogs in Norman.

They will arrive at the stadium by bus. But it would not be inappropriate if they entered the stadium like Cleopatra, aboard a chair-bed carried by dedicated servants.

Snyder and Patterson are no less iconic than Cleo herself. Snyder's name adorns the stadium in Manhattan. TCU has a glittering new stadium built exclusively on Patterson's success.

But Snyder and Patterson are not much more iconic than the coaches on the other sideline. Mike Gundy is the biggest winner in OSU history; Bob Stoops could be the same at OU by the end of October.

In fact, throw the beleaguered Mack Brown on the list, and half the Big 12 is coached by guys headed for a statue on campus.

Snyder, Patterson and Gundy have the most victories in their school's history. Stoops and Brown are bearing down on Barry Switzer and Darrell Royal, respectively, for the same record.

So why is our league so putrid in 2013? Have these Rushmore coaches overstayed their welcome?

No one in their right mind believes that about Stoops, Gundy, Patterson or Snyder. Most of the free world believes that about Brown, but he's only 20 percent of the club.

So coaching's not the problem. In fact, coaching stability is one of the best things the Big 12 has going for it.

Wouldn't the Big 12 be better off if Mike Leach still was at Texas Tech, Mark Mangino still was at Kansas and Rich Rodriguez still was at West Virginia? In 2007, Mangino had Kansas in the Orange Bowl and Rich-Rod had the Mountaineers in national title contention. In late November 2008, Leach had the Red Raiders No. 2 in the nation.

So the Big 12 needs more coaching stability. Not less.

That advice will not fly in Austin, where barring a remarkable turnaround Brown appears finished, and further news Monday about athletic director DeLoss Dodds' soon retirement won't help.

As it stands now, four Big 12 coaches have been on the post at least 13 years.

That's an amazing number. The other five conferences with automatic BCS berths combine for seven head coaches at least 10 years on the job.

The SEC has two of 14 (Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Georgia's Mark Richt). So does the ACC (Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Wake Forest's Jim Grobe). The Pac-12 has one (Oregon State's Mike Riley). So does the Big Ten (Iowa's Kirk Ferentz) and the American Athletic Conference (Central Florida's George O'Leary).

Yet here is the Big 12 with four such coaches, and Gundy, in his ninth season, is close behind.

K-State won the 2012 Big 12 title. OSU won the 2011 Big 12 title and was picked to win in 2013, though that clunker in Morgantown has deflated expectations. OU is ranked in the top 10. TCU entered the Big 12 more competitive than West Virginia, for no reason other than the man in the corner office.

TCU and Kansas State are heavy underdogs Saturday. But their coaching is unassailable. Their schools would never trade Patterson or Snyder.

“What adjective can I use for him?” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte told me in summer 2012. “He's truly been our iconic figure. He put our university on a platform to tell our story coast to coast.”

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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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