The Sporting Blog from The Sporting News decided to followup on their "Top 50 Coaches" with their "Mount Failmore: Worst. Coaches. Ever." And guess who led off the list: none other than our own beloved Billy C. Yes, Bill Callahan got a nomination for massive suckage at both Nebraska and Oakland. No question that he was a failure as a head coach, but I got to thinking: was he THAT bad?
And frankly, no. In fact, I started to think about bad Big XII coaches, and I don't even think he's at the top of that list.Looking around the Big XII, I can come up with several other coaches that I'd rate as even bigger failures than Bill Callahan. Leading the list would have to be John Blake at Oklahoma. Yes, he does deserve a little credit for recruiting much of the talent that Bob Stoops molded into a national championship team, but the Sooner program was in disarray during his tenure. My favorite memory was musical offenses in 1997 as he desperately tried to rearrange the deck chairs on his Titanic each week.
Not to be forgotten is John Mackovic at Texas. Yes, he did manage to win the inaugural Big XII championship, but all that did was buy him a year before being shown the door. Texas A&M might end up with two entries on this list with Dennis Franchione being a solid lock on the list, and Mike Sherman campaigning hard to join this group. Iowa State's Gene Chizek might have ended up on this list, but Auburn inexplicably hired him away before he could do any further damage in Ames.
Ron Prince at Kansas State is another name I'd put on the list ahead of Callahan. He followed the Callahan plan of alienating everybody around him, leaving no goodwill around him to balance out a lack of production on the football field.
Besides Mike Sherman, one has to wonder if Dan "Ten Wins" Hawkins might yet earn a spot on this list. (His opening loss to Montana State seemed to be a foreteller of future suckage.) Oklahoma's Howard Schnellenberger came to mind right away, but his results at Miami, Louisville, and Florida Atlantic more than make up for that. (I then also remembered that Schnellenberger's OU tenure was in the last season of the Big 8, making him ineligible anyway.)
But if we expand this list beyond football, there is no question which coach should rate as the worst coach in the Big XII: Baylor's Dave Bliss. It wasn't so much the suckage on the court; the Bears only made post-season play once, and even that was in the NIT. It wasn't even the rampant cheating by paying players and covered up positive drug tests. No, it was the outrageous coverup of the murder of Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson. Bliss received a ten year ban from the NCAA from ever coaching again (not that any school would dare hire him again), and Baylor ended up having to play a skeleton schedule with no non-conference games in the 2005-06 season.
Yes, Bill Callahan was bad at Nebraska. But no where near THAT bad. My take is that Callahan's name appears here not because of suckage, but rather for the high profile visibility of his suckage. (The man did win one Big XII North title in four years at Nebraska.)