Do you think it’s an accident that certain programs are repeatedly near the top of the rankings? Do you think it’s just dumb luck that the same cadre of teams continually rotate in and out of January bowl games? The answer is no. The best teams (businesses, organizations, etc) are where they are because of their leadership, or their coach.
QUICK! Name the five most dominant programs of the last decade!
OK, now think of the coaches of those teams!
You probably came up with names like Saban, Stoops, Carroll, Meyer, or Tressell. Why? Because combined, they have led their teams to a combined 32 BCS games since 2000.
- Stoops (8)
- Tressel (8)
- Carroll (7)
- Saban (5)
- Meyer (4)
So if the best coaches make for the best teams, wouldn’t the group of best coaches make for the best conference?
As a fun thought experiment, I looked at which conferences have the highest percentage of their BCS-tested head coaches. The results were surprising. Check it out:
1) Big 12–80% of coaches have coached a team to a BCS season: Stoops, Brown, Gundy, Holgorsen, Patterson, Snyder, Tuberville, and Weis.
T-2) SEC–41.7% of coaches: Saban, Miles, Richt, Chizik, and Spurrier.
T-2) ACC–41.7% of coaches: Beamer, Swinney, Johnson, Edsall, Grobe
T-4) Big 10– 33.3% of coaches: Hoke, Meyer, Ferentz, Bielema
T-4) Pac 12– 33.3% of coaches: Kelly, Rodriguez, Shaw, Wittingham.
6) Big East– 12.5% of coaches: Pasqualoni
7) Moutain West– 10% of coaches: Petersen
The Big 12 has become a second class citizen in recent years. For starters, they’ve had four teams (Colorado to the Pac-12, Nebraska to the Big 10, Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC) leave for ‘greener pastures’. They’ve lost two national championship games in the past four years. And, generally, the video game stats that are put up by Big 12 players lead people to think that defense is totally optional.
So what does it all mean?
In the short term, probably nothing. Looking ahead to the 2012-13 bowl season, the Big 12 teams might have been through a tougher season than you realize, and make for strong bowl teams.
Over the next couple seasons, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Big 12 emerge as the 2nd best conference. Of those 8 coaches, I don’t really see any of them going anywhere, as most have either achieved ‘coach for life’ type status, or are rising star coaches that seem likely to be around for a few years.
If nothing else, it means that you should find a reason to tune into some big 12 football on Saturdays.