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Big 12 Coach Rankings: A Surprise For Texas Tech's Joey McGuire?

Texas Tech's Joey McGuire is ready to build something special with the Red Raiders in 2022 and beyond.

The Big 12 is changing fast. No, this isn't about the conference realignment, departures of certain schools, and the future of expansion. Coaches that once were staples of the conference have departed for greener pastures over the last five seasons.

Lincoln Riley is now out west with the intent of bringing a national title to USC. Gary Patterson is now coaching as an analyst at Texas following a two-decade run at TCU.

Longtime Kansas State coach Bill Snyder will be gone four years this fall. Meanwhile, Texas, Texas Tech, and Kansas continuously have been looking for a long-term answer at head coach since the days of Mack Brown, Mike Leach, and Mark Mangino, respectively.

The list is set to change next year with the arrival of BYU's Kalani Sitake, Central Florida's Gus Malzahn, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, and Houston's Dana Holgorsen, but which coach has earned the right to be called No. 1 entering 2022?

Here are RedRaiderReview's Big 12 coach rankings following media days:

10. Joey McGuire - Texas Tech

McGuire comes in last due to experience. Not only has have never been a head coach at the FBS or FCS level, but McGuire has also never been a coordinator. That said, the veteran high school coach ran Cedar Hill like a lower-level college during his 14 seasons at the helm.

He also is regarded as one of the top recruiters in the state. Buy stock on McGuire and the Red Raiders' future now before it's too late.

9. Brent Venables - Oklahoma

Much like McGuire, Venables has never been a head coach. Unlike McGuire, the longtime Clemson assistant has been regarded as one of college football's top defensive minds since his days on Bob Stoops' staff in the 2000s. During his time at both schools, Venables has helped defenses finish top 10 nationally while also keeping his team in the running for 10-plus win seasons and appearances in the College Football Playoff.

Venables was only willing to leave his coordinator role for the right job. He'll be fine on the recruiting trail, but what about on the field as the final decision-maker?

8. Neal Brown - West Virginia

If there's one coach in the conference on the hot seat, Brown's the choice by default. Two underachieving seasons in Morgantown is not what fans were expecting from the former Troy coach when hired. He very well could be coaching for his job after losing more than 20 players to the transfer portal.

The good news is the Mountaineers have a new offensive coordinator in Graham Harrell and perhaps the best quarterback in the conference with former Georgia starter JT Daniels. Will the duo be enough to get West Virginia over the hump and back into contention?

7. Steve Sarkisian - Texas

He has to prove it this year. Some might consider this too low, but after fizzling in the second half of games, Sarkisian and his "All Gas" slogan ran out of gas while the fanbase ran out of patience. The first-year coach finished with the worst record for a new play caller since 1937 while also leading Texas on its worst losing streak since 1956.

Sure, adding quarterbacks Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning helps, but winning in the recruiting battle is one-half of the job. Winning games on the actual field is the second part and a requirement on the Forty Acres.

So far, Sarkisian has proven that he can be a nine-plus win coach once since taking over at Washington in 2009.

6. Sonny Dykes - TCU

At the Group of Five level, Dykes might end up being one of the top names. He led SMU to a 30-18 record during his five seasons and the first 10-win season since 1983. He also did a great job winning not just in recruiting but also in the transfer portal with proven talent.

For now, Dykes has to prove he can show similar potential in the Big 12. During his time at Cal, he went 19-30 and finished above .500 once. He has experience in the conference, coaching for Texas Tech and TCU for seven seasons. Dykes also has the upper hand in recruiting the DFW area, thus giving the Horned Frogs an advantage.

5. Lance Leipold - Kansas

For starters, Leipold beat Sarkisian head-to-head, giving him the advantage. Second, he's won everywhere he's been since his early days at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. In eight years with the Warhawks, he posted a 109-6 record while winning six DIII national titles. At Buffalo, Leipold led the Bulls to three winning seasons and a Top 25 finish in 2020.

The Jayhawks were also competitive in games against Oklahoma, TCU, and West Virginia to go along with the win over Texas. That hasn't happened in over a decade. Keep an eye on the Jayhawks to improve in the coming years thanks to Leipold's coaching.

4. Chris Kleiman - Kansas State

Klieman is a proven winner. He won four national titles at North Dakota State and lost four games in five total seasons. Outside of a down COVID-19 year, he's won eight games per season in Manhattan since being hired in 2019.

The Wildcats are expected to be a dark horse in the conference this season with the arrival of quarterback Adrian Martinez. Klieman has improved the program each year, not just on the recruiting trail but also in on-field production. By this time next season, Kleiman might be at the top of this list and the face of the Big 12's future.

3. Matt Campbell - Iowa State

As a leader, few would match Campbell for the top spot. As a coach? The 2022 season will be telling just how great his potential can be in Ames. One season after leading the Cyclones to an AP top 10 finish, the luster wore off, leading to a 7-6 finish, with five of the six losses coming by one score.

Iowa State enters a new era of football. Gone are players such as Mike Rose, Greg Eisworth, Charlie Kolar, and Breece Hall. Enter new faces such as running back Jirehl Brock, receiver Joe Scates, and defensive back Anthony Johnson. Was 2020 a one-year wonder, or will Campbell keep Iowa State in contention with conference realignment?

2. Dave Aranda - Baylor

The quiet ones are always the trickiest to figure out. The Big 12 figured out last December that Baylor is back and Aranda is the main reason why. His coaching style is unorthodox. His cool, calm demeanor won't work at every program, but it excels in Waco.

Baylor is coming off its first 12-win season in program history. While the Bears are replacing a plethora of talent, they still remain the favorite to win the conference entering 2022. The reason? Aranda. And in a new conference realignment, who's to say he isn't the next Gary Patterson or Bob Stoops?

1. Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State

With Patterson out in Fort Worth, Gundy is now the Godfather of the Big 12. He's the longest-tenured coach in the conference and the most proven in terms of wins. The Cowboys have posted 16 consecutive winning seasons — seven of which have ended in 10-plus wins. OK-State also has also finished in the Top 25 rankings nine times, twice inside the top 10.

Gundy is as consistent as they come. He's arguably a top 10 coach in the sport and continues to send talent to the pros. Riley is off to the Pac-12, leaving the top spot open among coaches. Gundy takes the title for 2022 and there isn't really a close second. 

You can follow Cole Thompson on Twitter at @MrColeThompson

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