This is the latest in Stadium’s “Conference Chain of Command” series in which we polled a handful of veteran coaches in every league to determine the best JOBS in each league, all the way down to the ones that are the most difficult.
Here are the eight categories that were utilized to determine the overall rankings.
- History/Tradition – The history of the program
- Media Exposure – Games on national television
- Game Atmosphere – Includes attendance
- Budget/Resources – Includes coaches’ salaries, recruiting budget, travel budget, private planes, cost of attendance, etc.
- Buy Games – Programs who are bought the fewest number of times will rank first
- Geographical Recruiting Base – Proximity to players
- Facilities – Not just the arena, but also practice facilities, weight room, locker rooms, etc.
- Selling Pros – Being able to sell not only NBA players, but also those who play overseas
This is how polling in the Big 12 shook out among coaches who voted, with one being the best and 10 being the worst:
1. KANSAS (69) – It’s a blueblood – with three national titles and 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles. The Jayhawks have churned out a litany of NBA players, have arguably the best home-court advantage in the entire country and have a rabid fan base. The only true downside with the job is the location and that there aren’t exactly a ton of players in the state.
Where they win: “It’s the gold standard of the league, and it’s not even close. Phog Allen and Cameron are the two best home courts in the country, and they have unlimited resources for basketball.” – Big 12 assistant coach
The knock: “The only thing I can come up with is location, and that the state just doesn’t have much talent. But honestly, it doesn’t matter for Kansas because they can recruit nationally — anywhere.” – Big 12 head coach
T2. TEXAS (52) – The program has reached three Final Fours and notched seven Elite Eight appearances. Rick Barnes went to the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, and current coach Shaka Smart has gone twice in his three years. Tom Penders (1988-1998) went eight times in 10 seasons. Texas having football money, the best recruiting base in the league and the ability to tout NBA players like Kevin Durant is why the Longhorns have been so successful historically.
Where they win: “The brand. They can recruit anywhere with a national brand, and it doesn’t hurt to be able to sell KD.” – Big 12 assistant coach
The knock: “It’s all about football. No one really cares about basketball in Austin. The atmosphere at the Erwin Center is one of the worst in the league.” – Big 12 head coach
T2. WEST VIRGINIA (52) – The Mountaineers program made the Final Four in 1959 and 2010 and has reached the Elite Eight on three occasions. Former head coach Gale Catlett (1978-2002) went to the NCAA Tournament eight times, John Beilein took West Virginia to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in his five seasons in Morgantown and current coach and alum Bob Huggins has been in the Big Dance nine times in his 11 seasons.
Where they win: “The fan base is insane. Anyone with any ties to the state roots for West Virginia. It’s like a cult following.” – Big 12 assistant coach
The knock: “Morgantown. It’s kind of a shitty place, and it’s in the middle of F-in nowhere.” – Big 12 assistant coach
4. OKLAHOMA (51) – The Sooners have a handful of Final Four appearances (1939, 1947, 1988, 2002, 2016) and have churned out NBA players like Wayman Tisdale, Blake Griffin and Buddy Hield. Billy Tubbs got things going in the 1980s, Kelvin Sampson went to the NCAA tourney 11 times in 12 years and Jeff Capel took OU twice in five seasons. Current head coach Lon Kruger reached the Final Four three years ago.
Where they win: “It’s a brand, not like Kansas or Texas, but still a brand. They’ve had some great players come out of there. Blake, Trae Young, Wayman Tisdale.” – Big 12 assistant
The knock: “It’s all about football, and the Lloyd Noble Center is severely outdated. Also, the popularity recently with the Oklahoma City Thunder has hurt OU.” – Big 12 assistant
5. OKLAHOMA STATE (47) – The Cowboys, who won a national title in both 1945 and 1946 under Henry Iba, have gone to six Final Fours in their school history. Eddie Sutton took over in 1990 and went to the NCAA Tournament 13 times in 16 seasons. Sean Sutton failed to make it in his two seasons at the helm while Travis Ford went five times in eight seasons, but was ultimately unable to get past the first weekend.
Where they win: “History of tradition, a passionate fan base and great facilities. It has more history than anyone else in the league besides Kansas, and it’s not even close.” – Big 12 head coach
The knock: “The building is way too big, and they don’t have a basketball facility. Like Oklahoma, OSU has been hurt by the Thunder’s recent success.” – Big 12 assistant coach
6. IOWA STATE (38) – Hilton Magic is real. It began with Johnny Orr, who got the program rolling in the 1980s, and continued with Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy. The Cyclones’ success was placed on hold until Fred Hoiberg led Iowa State to four NCAA Tournaments in five seasons. Fan support is terrific for a program that has only gone to one Final Four (1944) and has reached the NCAA tourney just nine times since 2000.
Where they win: “Fan base for sure. Hilton Magic. It’s second in the league behind Kansas. Fans travel and support it. Hilton Coliseum is the real deal.” – Big 12 head coach
The knock: “Definitely location. There’s a reason Fred Hoiberg went heavy on transfers and coaches have gone big with JUCOs. There’s just not much talent in the state.” – Big 12 assistant
T7. KANSAS STATE (35) – There’s a proud tradition in Manhattan, where the Wildcats have gone to four Final Fours and 13 Elite Eights, with one coming this past season under Bruce Weber. K-State has produced quality NBA players – Rolando Blackman and Mitch Richmond, to name a few. They’ve also had some terrific coaches, like Tex Winter, Frank Martin and Lon Kruger. The only coaches from recent history who weren’t successful at K-State were Tom Asbury and Jim Wooldridge.
Where they win: “Great tradition that goes back a long way, and a fan base that definitely supports it. The atmosphere is really good at Bramlage.” – Big 12 head coach
The knock: “Location is tough. Not many players in the state of Kansas, so you have to get on a flight and find kids – and unlike Kansas, it’s tough for K-State to beat other in-state schools for kids in their backyard.” – Big 12 assistant
T7. TCU – The Horned Frogs may not have as much success as the others in the league, but they have been to four Sweet 16s (the last appearance coming way back in 1968). TCU has made just one NCAA tourney appearance since 1988, which came last season under Jamie Dixon. While TCU’s been in the Big 12 since 2012, the school has bounced around between leagues like the WAC (1996-2001), C-USA (2001-2005) and the Mountain West (2005-2012).
Where they win: “Location and resources. It’s a sleeping giant that has the best recruiting base in the league, and the facilities are phenomenal.” – Big 12 head coach
The knock: “No tradition and a lack of historical conference affiliation.” – Big 12 assistant coach
9. BAYLOR (31) – Scott Drew has pushed the Bears to the NCAA Tournament seven times since 2008, but there wasn’t a ton of success prior to this stretch. From 1951 to 2008, there was just a single tournament appearance (1988 under Gene Iba). Although the facilities and game atmosphere are at the bottom of the league, there will be a new arena in Waco soon that will help Drew and his staff.
Where they win: “It’s in the middle of Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. All are three-hour drives or less.” – Big 12 head coach
The knock: “The facility. It’s brutal. And you’re in Waco, which isn’t exactly Dallas…or Houston…or San Antonio.” – Big 12 assistant coach
10. TEXAS TECH (30) – The Red Raiders reached the Elite Eight for the first time last season under Chris Beard. They’ve had NCAA Tournament appearances – 16 in all – but not much high-level success. Bob Knight led the program to three tourney berths during his tenure with the Red Raiders, but this is still a program that has its challenges, including a lack of tradition on the hardwood.
Where they win: “Cool college town. People hammer Lubbock, but it’s not a bad college town at all. And the facility is really nice, it’s just too big.” – Big 12 assistant coach
The knock: “Lubbock and the lack of tradition. Lubbock is still in the middle of nowhere.” – Big 12 head coach