The University of Kansas missed out on the home run candidate in Mike Leach when he took the head coaching job at Washington State but that does not mean the right coach isn't still out there to be had. One of the biggest issues facing whomever the new coach may be isn't as simple as just rebuilding the KU program but the fact that he enters a time when it has never been harder to win in the Big 12.
One benefit but possibly a major hindrance to the new coach at Kansas is that conference realignment taught every school within the Big 12 the importance of football. Each school is now investing the money and resources to field a competitive product on the field each Saturday. This has not always been the case since the formation of the conference.
It also appears that the collection of head coaches that now make up the Big 12 has never been stronger. In looking at the list you simply cannot find a coach who appears to be a complete bust as there are no longer guys like Terry Allen, Larry Smith and John Blake manning the sidelines.
The school closest to KU's campus is K-State and they have in charge possibly the 2011 national coach of the year in Bill Snyder who has long been a enemy of the Jayhawks. While Snyder won't be at KSU for 10-15 years he does not appear set to retire again anytime real soon. The new coach at KU will have to come in and fight Snyder for the minimum number of recruits each year coming out of the state.
Moving over to Iowa State you have Paul Rhoades who has the Cyclones bowl eligible yet again and in his brief time at ISU has helped engineer wins over Nebraska, Texas and #2 ranked Oklahoma State. With Rhoades growing up in Iowa it seems he will be there for the long haul as he has the program on the upswing.
Moving down to Oklahoma you have to look no further than Bedlam this year as Mike Gundy has the Cowboys up and running with the help of some money from a famous booster. Over in Norman it seems that Bob Stoops has made the decision to stay at OU for the foreseeable future which is bad news for the rest of the conference. The Big 12 title may run through Stillwater & Norman for years to come.
The State of Texas provides maybe the only other uncertain job situations in the conference besides KU. At Texas Tech the heat is slightly being turned up on Tommy Tuberville as the Red Raiders have crashed and burned down the stretch this season after pulling possibly the upset of the year in winning at OU. Even though Tuberville's team has struggled this year, he is still the same coach who led Auburn to a 13-0 record in the SEC in 2004 and he had the Red Raiders in a bowl game in 2010 so he is no idiot.
There have been some rumors in recent days that Mack Brown might be stepping down at the University of Texas but these have been shot down by numerous people. The thought is though that Brown is not long for the head coaching position as everyone can remember the Longhorns having named Will Muschamp as the coach in waiting a few years ago before he bolted for the coaching position at Florida. While one would assume that the Longhorns could go and hire virtually any coach they wish and be successful this is not 100% certain as John Mackovic proved during his up and down tenure in Austin.
Who would have ever thought that the most stable head coaching positions of Big 12 schools within the state of Texas would be at Baylor and TCU. First off who would have guessed that TCU would ever be in the Big 12 but that has been discussed plenty in many other articles.
In Waco, Art Briles has resurrected the Baylor program thanks to the help of a special player in Robert Griffin III. While it is still to be seen if Briles can keep the Bears in an elevated position in the conference once Griffin leaves it is hard to bet against him at the moment. Meanwhile over at TCU, Gary Patterson has built the Horned Frogs program up to a point where they have played in the Fiesta and Rose Bowls the previous two seasons and in essence made the Big 12 recognize them. One would have to assume that while the competition level will definitely spike for Patterson and his team he will have the ability to amp his recruiting up playing in the Big 12 so it seems he should be set at TCU for years to come.
The last school to enter the Big 12 is West Virginia and they also seem set at head coach with former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorson now in charge. In his first season at WVU he has led the Mountaineers to a first place finish in the Big East and a Top 25 ranking. Holgorsen is renowned as an offensive guru and he has spent numerous time in Big 12 country working at places like OSU, Houston and Texas Tech so he should feel comfortable going and recruiting the area.
So not only does each school have a proven winner at head coach or an up and comer who seems destined for success but add in the reality of round robin scheduling to the mix. In previous times a new coach coming in at Kansas might be able to get a little lucky and avoid having Texas or Oklahoma on his schedule. For an example of this, look no further than Columbia, MO where the Missouri Tigers enter the SEC next year but likely will not have to face Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide or Les Miles and LSU.
This is not to say that the new head coach at Kansas faces an impossible task but whoever Dr. Zenger at KU decides to hire he better be ready for a challenge not seen before in the Big 12's history.