Colleague Travis Haney named his top 10 underrated coaching jobs of 2012 earlier this week. No. 10 on his list is Baylor's Art Briles.
Briles, though, was No. 3 on my list to end the season, behind Bill Snyder and Gary Patterson. Which were the Big 12's most underrated coaching jobs this year? I'm glad you asked, friends.
1. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: Sometimes, folks don't understand how hard it is to win in the Big 12 without great quarterback play. Rhoads has done it in both of the past two seasons. This year, in a super-deep Big 12 with really only one easy win, Rhoads navigated Iowa State to six wins in the conference while starting three different quarterbacks throughout the season. That's frustrating for a coach, and Rhoads had a difficult task. He still helped push the Cyclones into a bowl game for the third time in four seasons. Amazing work.
2. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: Speaking of quarterback issues, Gundy navigated his own issues. He had to replace a pair of first-round picks in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, and his starting quarterback, Wes Lunt, suffered a knee injury in the third game and had to be replaced by J.W. Walsh, who eventually suffered a leg injury of his own. Then Lunt came back and got concussed. Enter Clint Chelf. OSU's QB spot was a zoo this year, and the secondary was a bit disappointing, but OSU still won seven games, despite a frustrating season-ending loss to Baylor that cost the Cowboys a lot of ground in bowl selection.
3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: Yes, Stoops had the most talented team in the Big 12 this year, but winning eight consecutive games in the Big 12 isn't easy, especially when you start 0-1 in league play. Stoops got his team off the ground after a terrible finish to the 2011 season and a rough loss at home to begin Big 12 play this year to still win a share of the conference. No, Oklahoma wasn't a national title contender this season, but went 10-2 with its two losses coming to teams in the top five. That's pretty impressive, even if it's at Oklahoma.