Voting for the Big 12's Coach of the Year is going to be hard

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

A lot of my e-mail the last few weeks has asked me about who I'll be voting for in the Heisman Trophy balloting. And yes, for the record, I won't cast my ballot until the week after the Big 12 championship game. That will give me ample time and multiple chances to inspect my choice in several upcoming games.

But an even harder choice in my mind will be who I'll be voting for as the Big 12's Coach of the Year. I think there are a bunch of good candidates out there and the final three weeks of the season will definitely impact my choice for this award, too.

If I had to make my ballot today, here are, in my mind, the ranking of the top candidates.

1. Texas Tech coach Mike Leach: It's hard to argue against anybody who is 10-0 at this point of the season. The Red Raiders were supposed to be good this season, but not this good.

2. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy: A quick show of hands from anybody who thought the Cowboys would be 9-2 at this point of the season, please? Gundy has taken an active role on the offense and astutely let Tim Beckman take over the defense. Not many coaches would willingly trust their aides like Gundy did. And the thing is, the Cowboys will likely be better with a more accomodating schedule next season.

3. Texas coach Mack Brown: He's done an awesome job of taking advantage of monster seasons from Colt McCoy and Brian Orakpo, when he's been healthy. And other than that, Brown has cobbled together a team that nearly made history as the only team to ever beat four top-12 teams. And he's done that with a defense that features two freshmen safeties and a running back-by-committee attack. The Longhorns will be better next season, too.

4. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini: Sure, he's lost his temper a couple of times in some celebrated sideline eruptions. And his team has been undisciplined at times. But he's got the Cornhuskers playing hard and have played like the best team in the North the last couple of weeks. I bet he wishes the Missouri game had come at the end of conference schedule rather than at the beginning.

5. Baylor coach Art Briles: He's turned the entire attitude at Baylor around after only 11 games. They still haven't made a bowl trip yet, but Robert Griffin and a cast of other top players will be returning. I like their chances to go bowling if they make some astute scheduling choices and build on Griffin's nucleus with another couple of strong recruiting classes.

6. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops: Might be a tad low, but his ranking will skyrocket if he can get a sweep of his next two games. It would hard to argue about his worthiness if the Sooners make history with the first three-peat in conference history.

I'll reserve my final vote until after the season concludes. But if making that choice is anywhere as excruciating as this vote was, I'm not looking forward to the process.