July is list month too. Everyone is making lists. There are lists everywhere. Top ten games of all time. Top games to see this coming season, the best quarterbacks all around the nation. Which quarterback would look best as an Elvis impersonator..... well, I haven't seen that one yet but maybe it's a good one for the last week in July.
Well, here's our list - the list of Big 12 Coaches Most Likely to be Fired at the end of 2007, complete with explanations!
12. Mack Brown - Texas
There are a lot of people who believe Mack Brown to be over-rated and that without Vince Young, Brown would have never won a national title. Year in, year out, Texas has more athletes than the vast majority of teams but before Young they could never get over that hump named Oklahoma. The point is that they did. Longhorn fans can live off their title for a few more years unless they start to lose to the Aggies and Sooners on a yearly basis. Colt McCoy willl make sure that doesn't happen.
11. Bob Stoops - Oklahoma
Bob Stoops is a better coach than Brown. He proved it last season when he won the Big 12 without a quarterback, his stud running back hurt, and not much depth on his offensive line. Thanks to Bill Callahan's recruiting prowess, he won't have an experienced quarterback this season either and he's still the most likely candidate to win the Big 12 in 2007.
He is second on this list due to the NCAA violations and continuing problems at Oklahoma. It seems like old times, but Stoops has to figure out how to clean up the problems. Don't forget that it was the OU administration who forced Barry Switzer to resign.
10. Gene Chizik - Iowa State
He's just starting out, so he's free to do what he wants. It'd be best if he concentrated on finding offensive lineman who will block for Brett Meyer so he can get the ball to Todd Blythe and they can pick up some wins in Chiznik's first season. I don't envy Chizik. People really liked Dan McCartney. Hell, I liked Dan McCartney. Even Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard liked McCartney and cried when he fired him. Ames is a tough place to recruit, a tough place to field a winning team.
9. Ron Prince - Kansas State
One year in and the Wildcats showed a lot of improvement at the end of 2006, upsetting Texas and. Prince chased off a lot of players early last season and this year he might miss some of the experience they would have provided. Since you had to ask - I believe that Ron Prince will be around Manhattan for some years to come. I hope so, he's an easy guy to hate.
8. Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State
Year two for Mike Gundy. He's one of their own, and he's not doing so bad. Okie State has infused a boatload of cash into the program. They're recruiting well. Their offense is scary good (sometimes), and their defense, well, it remains to be seen whether or not they can be consistently good. Gundy has a good contact and it's rather clear that Oklahoma State wants to build on him and see what they can do.
BTW, is there some kind of law at Okie State that says they have to have a receiver named 'Woods' on the team? What up with that?
7. Dan Hawkins - University of Colorado
2-10 his first season - anything better will be seen as an improvement and it will be hard for Colorado to do worse than two wins. Gary Barnett felt vindicated about 2006 even though he's the one that ran the program straight into the ground - figure that. The Hawk will do better this season so he'll be okay. The question isn't how soon he'll be fired. It's how soon he figures out that coaches don't fit into Boulder's culture, rather Boulder's culture sucks them into a tarpit-like hell from which there's little escape. It remains to be seen as to whether Hawkin's reign will be a comedy or a tragedy.
6. Guy Morriss - Baylor
It's Morriss' fifth season in Waco. He won a school-record three Big 12 games last season and I expect that Baylor fans would like to see the Bears step up to the next level. The problem is that their wins will come at the expense of other programs and I don't see anyone in the Big 12 besides Iowa State who'll compete for the cellar with them.
Baylor is such a tough coaching position, I can't imagine them sticking with Morriss for a few more years just to see what he can do.
5. Mike Leach - Texas Tech
Ah, Mike Leach. The check is in the mail, I'll see you in church and don't you ever change! What would Big 12 writers do without Leach? What would everyone do without Leach? He's a maniacal guy that doesn't belong anywhere else but as the leader of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It'd be nice if he'd hang on to a close game in 2007 - he could really screw up the Big 12 South, even though this year the Big 12 South might be naturally screwy anyway.
4. Bill Callahan - University of Nebraska
It's year four for Bill. He's shown steady improvement and he won't get on the hot seat this season unless there's some nasty blow-outs. This is not beyond the realm of possibilities if the Husker suffer a few key injuries where depth is lacking (i.e. running back). Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson's job could be on the line along with Callahan's, so it'll be at least another year before the seat gets too hot to sit on. Callahan had four shots at winning big games last season and he lost all four of them, despite being close in games against Texas at home and Auburn in the Cotton Bowl.
3. Dennis Franchione - Texas A&M
Beating Texas last season might have saved his job, but he's certainly not been the world-beater everyone thought when he came to College Station. This is year five for Coach Fran. By this time, the Aggies should be contending for the Big 12 South despite the juggernauts of Texas and Oklahoma. If he can't get it done this season, there's reason to believe that athletic director Bill Byrne won't sit around and wait despite the fact that Byrne is the one that hired him away from Alabama.
2. Mark Mangino - University of Kansas
It's Mangino's sixth year as a head coach. The records stand at 2-10, 6-7, 4-7, 7-5, and 6-6. 2-18 in road games in the Big 12. The last minute losses of 2006. It's not so much that Jayhawk fans are expecting huge things from their football program - it's that they might be getting tired of his act.
1. Gary Pinkel - University of Missouri
Experienced quarterback in Chase Daniels. Incredible receivers in Rucker and Coffman. Gary Pinkel hasn't won the Big 12 North during the period of Nebraska, Kansas State, and Colorado rebuilding. The Huskers rebuilding process isn't quite done while the Wildcats and Buffaloes are behind. If Pinkel doesn't win the Big 12 North this year, when will he?
The good news for Pinkel is that Mizzou has been stuck in this position for years - they may have grown accustomed to expecting above average but not great performances from their football team. If you need further evidence, firegarypinkel.com currently commands a bid of $150 while firebillcallahan.com carries $250. Maybe something like 8-4 will let him keep his job. It shouldn't, but it might given Missouri's history.
There you have it. Someone will get fired this season. If I had to bet, I'd bet on Franchione or Mangino, but I'm not a betting man (a gambler, yes, but not a better). The Big 12 is fairly even across the board this year, so someone losing it at the end of the season is more probable than not.