NCAA Football: Oregon at Utah

In a recent list from Sports News’ Bill Bender, five Big 12 Conference coaches were praised as some of the top college football coaches in the nation.

Utah’s Kyle Whittingham headlined the list of Big 12 coaches and checked in as the nation’s seventh-ranked college football coach.


“Meet the top-ranked coach in the newly-realigned Big 12,” Bender said about Kyle Whittingham. “Whittingham has guided the Utes through the Mountain West Conference and Pac-12, and success has followed. Utah did not win a third straight Pac-12 championship last season, but Whittingham was still able to put together an eight-win season without starting quarterback Cam Rising. Is this the best program that didn’t make the four-team CFP? That is the power of Whittingham.”

The next coach mentioned on the list was Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy at the No. 13 spot.

“Gundy hasn’t been in the top 10 on this list since 2017, but his longevity and track record have made him a fixture in the Top 25,” Bender wrote. “The Cowboys have enjoyed 18 consecutive winning seasons, and they reached the Big 12 championship game for the second time in three years in 2023. With Texas and Oklahoma gone, this is a real chance for Oklahoma State to flex in the Big 12 for the next several seasons. A victory in the Big 12 championship game is the next elusive step.”

Following Gundy’s placement on the list are back-to-back Big 12 representatives with TCU’s Sonny Dykes and Kansas State’s Chris Klieman at No. 16 and No. 17.


Bender spoke on Dykes’ volatile two seasons with the Horned Frogs, saying, “Is this enough of a correction for Dykes? The Horned Frogs are one year removed from a run to the College Football Playoff championship game, but the sequel was a 5-7 season where some of that one-score luck ran out. Still, Dykes has four winning seasons in the last five years between the stints at SMU and TCU, and the new-look Big 12 offers a chance for the Horned Frogs to be a perennial conference championship contender. The program has thrived under that setup.”

“The Wildcats were 9-4 last season after winning the Big 12 championship in 2022, and the opportunity to be a playoff regular exists in realignment,” Bender said about Chris Klieman. “Kansas State is 13-5 in Big 12 play the last two seasons, and three of those losses were to Oklahoma and Texas. The new look will be a favorable setup for Klieman, who was 69-6 at North Dakota State before moving up to the FBS with the Wildcats.”

The fifth and final Big 12 coach mentioned on the list is Kansas’ Lance Leipold, who earned the No. 25 spot in Bender’s rankings.

“Why would a coach with a .500 career record in the FBS be in our Top 25? Consider that it has been done in Buffalo and Kansas,” Bender wrote. “The Jayhawks are 15-11 with back-to-back bowl appearances the last two seasons at a program that has never made three straight bowl appearances. Kansas is a real threat to win the Big 12 in Leipold’s fourth season. That is the reason why his name turns up any time a Power 5 opening pops up. The winning track record dating back to Wisconsin-Whitewater speaks for itself.”

While the five coaches mentioned above have more than earned their fair share of praise, the Big 12 Conference features many coaches, players, and administrators who have all played a key part in forging the path toward continued national relevance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here