Big 12 mailbag: How the Big 12 coaches rank

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Happy Friday. Here are some of the better e-mails and questions I received this week.

Brian Gardner from Seattle writes:

Hey Tim, could you use your extensive political power with ESPN to get some Big 12 games to actually be shown on ESPN out in Seattle? I'm a Nebraska transplant that has had to deal with both the Virginia Tech and Oklahoma games not being included in our broadcasting packages out here. I know I'm in Pac 10 territory, but an angry USC beatdown of ASU this weekend doesn't seem like it's even worth watching. Also, I love your column. Being way out here it helps keep me connected into the Big 12. Your weekly rankings of the teams are great, but what about a current ranking for the coaches up to this point in the season?

Tim Griffin:

First, thanks for the compliment. But my power at ESPN and four quarters might be able to get you a cup of coffee in the lunchroom in Bristol.

My suggestion would be to invest in ESPN GamePlan, which does a good job of bringing a lot of out-of-market games into all areas across the country. For example, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game this week is available on ESPN GamePlan. I think it’s well worth the cost because you get to see games all day long.

Interesting question about the coaches. Here would be my ranking of the jobs that coaches in the Big 12 have done to this point in the season. I reserve my option to switch them before the end of the season, but heading into this week’s games this is what I see.

Here's how I would rank them on what they have accomplished to this point of the season.

1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State – Proving it again with another Manhattan Miracle.

2. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State – Most amazing thing is how hard the Cyclones are playing.

3. Mack Brown, Texas – Has the league’s best talent, but he’s had to manage it.

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – No surprise he’s kept the wheels on for the Sooners despite amazingly bad run of injuries.

5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – He’s done a good job of coaching the Cowboys without Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter for most of the season.

6. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M – Young Aggies have responded to his motivational ploys. And he one-upped Leach, which the A&M former students enjoy.

7. Mike Leach, Texas Tech – He’s done a good job coaching around his quarterback injuries, but he hasn’t won much respect from his players’ girlfriends.

8. Bo Pelini, Nebraska – Cornhuskers have a fearsome defense, but have looked unprepared on offense.

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri – Some drop-off was expected with all of the new players, but a three-game losing streak is still too much.

10. Mark Mangino, Kansas – Has the best personnel of any of his previous teams, but the team’s recent slump has him making some treacherous personnel choices.

11. Art Briles, Baylor – Griffin’s injury was a killer, but the Bears haven’t come close to winning in the conference.

12. Dan Hawkins, Colorado – Burning Hansen’s redshirt and then taking him out of the game two weeks later was the sign of a desperate coach.

Ric from Boston writes:

In reference to your post earlier today about cross division scheduling...In my opinion, the Big 12 missed a golden opportunity to strengthen their schedules by not adding a ninth conference game. In this scenario, each team would play four teams from the other division. Every two years, they would drop two of those teams and pick up the other two that they did not play the previous two years. In this way, each school plays all the other division schools four times in six years; equally home and away. Thus, in any 12-season span each team has played every other division team eight times rather than six times, as occurs now. The best part of this is that, no matter which team is up or down in the other division, it minimizes the number of times that any team misses out on the two strongest teams from the other division. This certainly would lend strength toward arguing the difficulty of going undefeated in the Big 12.

Tim Griffin:

I agree with you. I received a lot of e-mails about that post and different readers’ idea to better make things equitable. I still like the idea of every team playing every other team every season. But I think that makes too much sense – we’ll never see coaches and administrators go along with that. It will be interesting to see what the conference’s board of directors finally comes up with.

Tommy Morris from Denver writes:

I like the idea of Colorado playing Texas every year. Aside from the utter dominance they'd have on the Buffs as of late. You're right when you say that Coloradoans don't have an affinity for Texans. That's because they pollute our ski slopes with bright orange hunting clothes and Dallas Cowboys Starter jackets from 1994.Do you think that CU has the resources and wherewithal to get back to at least the level they were at in the early part of the decade? Meaning, they compete for a Big XII North Championship year in/out, and consistently make bowl games. I know Dan Hawkins isn't the guy, so if they get the right personnel, how long would it take to turn them around?

Tim Griffin:

I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed that at the ski slopes, was I?

But as far as your point goes, the North has never appeared so wide open. Look at the turnarounds at Kansas State and Iowa State. I think both have benefitted from outstanding coaching, which I think is the most important variable that determines whether a team will be strong or not.

Colorado should be able to return to that level with the right coach. Hawkins has shown little in his first four seasons with the Buffaloes to indicate he’s the right fit. But he was one of the hottest commodities nationally when he arrived from Boise State.

I don’t think it would take too long to turn things around. And the reason why is because of the quick turnarounds at KSU and ISU this season. Colorado could be in the same position with the right leadership and personnel.

Robert Heyde of Bellevue, Wash., writes:

Tim, you know that you stopped covering Baylor about six weeks ago when we sustained the most devastating injuries of any team in the country, but could you please tell us if Robert Griffin was able to get the injury redshirt for this season?

Tim Griffin:

Griffin’s injury underscores why he was the most valuable player in the league – as far as his team’s relative needs. There was such a drop-off after he was hurt that the Bears were doomed for this season as soon as the injury occurred.

The Baylor athletic department hasn’t done anything officially, but shouldn’t have any trouble convincing the NCAA of an injury redshirt. That would effectively give Griffin three more seasons of eligibility.

And the big question for Coach Art Briles will be whether he can lure defensive players to build around while Griffin remains. This was a team that could have success this season because of Griffin, and also because of veteran defensive leadership from players like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake and the arrival of Phil Taylor. Baylor needs to find some defensive talent that will go along with Griffin over the next several years if they want to snap that bowl drought.

I still think that Briles is the right coach to do it. He’ll just have to look at this season was a temporary setback.

Ben from Fort Worth, Texas, writes:

Tim, who do you think would win between TCU vs. Texas? Because I’m getting sick and tired of hearing from the stubborn TCU fans that they think Texas is overrated. Even though I try to tell them, they just won’t listen. I would really like for you to answer the question because never in a day would TCU be able to beat Texas. Thanks!

Tim Griffin:

Ben, actually I think this TCU team is better positioned to be competitive with Texas than any of Gary Patterson’s previous teams. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the way they run the ball, play defense and play special teams. Andy Dalton is sixth nationally in pass efficiency. Jeremy Kerley is one of the nation’s most versatile special-teams players. And Jerry Hughes is one of the nation’s best defensive players. I think this is one of Mack Brown’s best teams, maybe trailing only his 2005 national championship squad. And I think the Longhorns would have to work hard to beat TCU this season.

If they were playing on a neutral field, I’d make the Longhorns a favorite by about seven points. But it would be a great matchup. And I’d love to see if the Horned Frogs would be able to run the ball against Texas. Likely, they wouldn’t. But if they could, it might give them a better opportunity to sneak out with an upset that most might expect.

That's all the time I have left for this week. Keep the cards and e-mails coming. And watch my video blog. I’ll be answering some of your questions there, too.