Travis Ford: Big 12 coach of the year?

It's a simple formula, really.

Every struggling coach who attracts critics and negative chatter about his job status can end the madness with one simple measure.

It's easy. If you want the rumors to cease and positivity to return, you win basketball games. Then that drama disappears.

Last season, Travis Ford had a frustrated star, Marcus Smart, who shoved an annoying fan and earned a suspension. It gets worse. The Cowboys lost seven games in a row and then exited the Big Dance via a first-round loss to Gonzaga. Smart and Markel Brown turned pro. Kamari Murphy transferred. Four-star recruit Jared Terrell asked for, and was granted, a release from his letter of intent.

All of that led to this intro in the Oklahoma State section of the Athlon Sports perennial preview magazine: "Travis Ford spent the offseason rallying to rebuild his roster. Now Ford may have to rally again -- to survive the hot seat."

Survive he has. Oklahoma State beat Baylor (74-65) Monday night, its second win over the Bears this season. It was the Cowboys' fourth win in five games, a stretch that also includes a road win over Texas and a weekend victory over Kansas in Stillwater. Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology slots Oklahoma State as an 8-seed, but that could go up after Monday's victory.

Le'Bryan Nash is an All-Big 12 first-teamer. Former LSU point guard Anthony Hickey Jr. has been a positive addition. The Cowboys are playing top-15 defense and have a bunch of 15-minutes-or-less guys coming off the bench and making plays.

Ford is doing a helluva job for a guy who watched his program crumble in the offseason. So where does Ford sit in the Big 12 coach of the year race right now?

Big 12 coach of the year rankings

  1. Travis Ford (Oklahoma State) -- He lost a lottery pick (Smart), a key veteran (Brown) and other pieces from last season's lukewarm squad. The Cowboys were positioned to stumble in 2014-15, but now they're 7-5 in the league with wins over Kansas, Baylor (twice) and Texas (twice) and still have a remote shot at the Big 12 title.

  2. Bob Huggins (West Virginia) -- West Virginia lost Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Remi Dibo -- a trio that averaged more than 36.0 PPG combined last season -- and yet the Mountaineers are still in the hunt for the Big 12 title. That's unexpected, and a testament to Huggins' coaching ability. His Mountaineers force more turnovers per possession than any team in America.

  3. Bill Self (Kansas) -- He doesn't have enough fingers for this. The Jayhawks are in first place (again) and pushing for their 11th consecutive Big 12 championship ring. Iowa State's loss to Oklahoma on Monday extended KU's conference lead.

  4. Lon Kruger (Oklahoma) -- The Sooners have won five games in a row. They're at their best when they showcase the inside-outside balance few teams around the country can match. Plus, Virginia and Kentucky are the only two programs in America that have been more efficient defensively.

  5. Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State) -- The Cyclones have lost two of their past three and have clearly struggled on the road. But Hoiberg's potent, NBA-style offense gives Iowa State a chance in any matchup. He's also implemented midseason addition Jameel McKay into the mix and helped Georges Niang grow.