As we celebrate Thanksgiving and head into the final week of the college football season, here is a somewhat serious, yet somewhat not serious list of things all Big 12 fans should be thankful for this year.
1. Bill Snyder
If this is really it for the legendary head coach, we should all take a moment to be thankful for what he built at Kansas State and how difficult it was to do. I’ve been critical of Snyder this season, but that doesn’t take away from what was a legendary, honorable and incredibly impressive run at a place that was considered the worst job in college football when he took it over. Without Bill Snyder, does Kansas State still have a football program? Is Kansas State in the Big 12?
2. Matt Rhule
Also on a serious note, regardless of whether or not Baylor beats Texas Tech on Saturday to become bowl eligible, the Bears won one game last season and have five this season, two and a half years after the program was decimated by the sexual assault scandal. Rhule has bought into the Baylor community 110%, has recruited incredibly well, been very transparent, and Baylor fans should be grateful for him (although it seems like some aren’t, which I don’t understand).
3. Jeff Long
Hey, the guy came to Lawrence for the AD job at Kansas and he just hired his long-time friend Les Miles. That’s pretty good and it makes Kansas the only school in America with a National Championship winning head football and basketball coach. What he does remains to be seen, but he has given this program a jolt, and boy is it in desperate need of one.
4. The Big 12 Championship Game
No matter what happens next week and how it might affect the Big 12 Conference in the College Football Playoff, bringing this game back is great for the conference. Last year was a celebratory and unifying experience for the conference and its fans. We had a great tailgate and met many great fans who we all appreciate. It’s a chance for the conference to come together, get back on the national stage on the first Saturday in December, instead of playing many meaningless conference games that don’t get the attention the other Power 5 Conferences were receiving.
5. Mike Gundy’s mouth and mullet
It’s been a weird season for Gundy. He’s received a lot of criticism for playing Taylor Cornelius all season. He’s made strange decisions around media members after the transfer of Jalen McCleskey, he’s been pranked on the Big 12 teleconference and has complained about “liberals”, but through it all, he’s still Mike Gundy. He’s won two top 10 games at home and has lost head-scratching games on the road. But the mullet is still in Stillwater and the mouth that comes with it has not gone anywhere. That’s fun for the Big 12.
6. Heartland College Sports
Yea, let’s just slip this in, but we, somewhat selfishly, think you should be grateful for us and what we continue to bring to the Big 12. I started this website with literally 10 readers per day four years ago. We are now getting hundreds of thousands of readers, listeners, and viewers per month, with a podcast that has taken off, several radio affiliates, and a quickly growing YouTube page (find us in all these places!). After going through many writers early on, the past couple of years have included Derek Duke, Matthew Postins, Cameron Brock and Dave Beall. They’re all great guys, loyal to the site and what we are building, and have become friends. So I’m grateful for them and hope you are as well!
7. Bob Bowlsby
Sure, his office overreacted in reprimanded Breckyn Hager this week, but overall, Bowlsby has been a steady hand for the conference in a time of need. He’s respected across the college football landscape and has been a very good ambassador for the conference and helped it get past the conference realignment mess and a stabilizing force.
8. Matt Campbell
Every Big 12 fan should be thankful for what Campbell is building in Ames. It’s nothing short of incredible. With K-State down, KU awful, and Nebraska and Missouri gone, he’s given Big 12 fans reasons to care about what happens north of the Oklahoma-Kansas state line. But Campbell has been a story that not only Big 12 fans are into, but the entire nation has taken notice of. That’s a positive for the conference and we just hope he stays around for a very long time (please don’t retire again Urban Meyer).
9. Gordon Gee
The West Virginia University president is now the Big 12 board chairman. Thank goodness. Everyone loves Gordon Gee and we no longer have to listen to OU President David Boren get on his soapbox, occasionally hint that OU might leave the Big 12, or whatever other nonsense was on his mind on a given day. Gee is respected and is a unifier who desperately wants to see the conference succeed.
10. David Gibbs
I don’t know what the fate of Kliff Kingsbury will be if he loses on Saturday to Baylor, but I think he should keep his job and his staff should be able to remain with him. A big part of Tech’s improvement has been thanks to its defense. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs has built his unit to complement Kingsbury’s offensive style. It may not look like it when it comes to points and yards allowed, but they’ve improved drastically in many statistical categories, are forcing turnovers, and getting key stops in big moments. He’s a great fit for Tech and I hope the Kingsbury-Gibbs tandem gets another year. Oh, and the top two recruits for Tech’s 2019 class are defensive players. Who would’ve ever thought that?!
11. The Florida Gators
West Virginia can’t reach the College Football Playoff, but the Mountaineers can still win the Big 12 this season with a win over OU on Friday and then winning in Arlington next week. Without Will Grier, is any of this possible? Grier transferred from Florida after he was suspended for a year positive test stems from the over-the-counter supplement Ligandrol, and that he was not aware it was banned, while also admitting he never followed protocol to clear the supplement with team trainers. If it wasn’t for Florida’s decision, maybe Grier never leaves, and then who is quarterbacking this team?
12. Big 12 Refs
Just kidding… no one is thankful for these guys.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers, listeners and viewers. We appreciate each and every one of you!
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