Since I started covering the Big 12 Conference back in 2016, there have been plenty of coaches coming and going over the last few years. In fact, we have seen head coaching changes at every school in the conference outside of TCU and Oklahoma State. However, not every school has a Gary Patterson or a Mike Gundy type of head coach. Sometimes change at the top is needed and with today’s win now or be fired attitude, picking the right man to lead your program is more crucial than ever. A good hire can set your program up not only for current success but success in the future for the next man. On the flipside, a bad hire can wind up costing a program year of misery with each misstep that is taken.
I wanted to have some fun and rank the top five worst Big 12 football head coaching hires since 2012. Keep in mind, schools typically hire new coaches in late December, so the rules are, if 2012 was your first year as a head coach at a Big 12 school, you are eligible.
1. Les Miles (Kansas HC 2019-2020)
One may argue that someone else could have been worse but when I think about the whole Les Miles experiment at Kansas, it was a massive failure. Les was well past his prime when he was hired by former AD Jeff Long and basically got the job because they were “buddies”. Miles went 3-9 in his first season as head coach before going 0-9 in 2020. As bad as a winless season was, getting fired a few months later for misconduct dating back to his days at LSU was even worse. This whole thing seemed like a desperate attempt to get donors on board and instead, it ended up being a train wreck. But hey, at least Kansas got Lance Leipold, right?
2. Charlie Weis (Kansas HC 2012-2014)
Speaking of train wrecks, welcome Charlie Weis to this list of failed coaching hires. Weis was brought in after Turner Gil was a total bust at Kansas and instead of fixing the Kansas football program, Weis made it worse. Not only did he make it worse, but he also set it up for years of failure down the road due to poor decisions and taking up every JUCO player he could get his hands on instead of recruiting high school talent to develop over time. Of course, we all remember the “You see that pile of crap out there?” recruiting pitch which seemed to be perfect for a guy who buried a football program. Charlie would coach just a little over two seasons after being fired a few games into the 2014 season. He would finish his time in Lawrence with a 6-22 record.
3. Charlie Strong (Texas HC 2014-2016)
Love him or hate him, Charlie Strong was a good man. He tried to bring values and rules to the University of Texas but in the process, ended up failing miserably when it come to on field results. Strong would never win more than six games in a single season in Austin and after missing a bowl game in back-to-back years, was let go after the 2016 season. He finished his time at Texas with an overall record of 16-21 and will go down as one of the worst coaching hires in Texas football history.
4. David Beaty (Kansas HC 2015-2018)
This is the third Kansas coach on this list. You see a pattern here? It’s not all David Beaty’s fault though. He took over after Charlie Weis damn near killed the program and was fighting a steep uphill batter throughout his time there between the lack of talent of scholarship players. In his four years in Lawrence, Beaty had an overall record of 6-42 and while Kansas did get better talent wise, there simply weren’t enough wins to back it up. If we are being honest, if Kansas knew how the Les Miles tenure was going to work out, I am sure they would have rather kept David Beaty. Also, I think it’s funny that his first Big 12 win came against Charlie Strong which ended up being the final straw for Charlie Strong’s time at Texas.
5. Tom Herman (Texas HC 2017-2020)
I thought about maybe putting Matt Wells here but since he is just going into his third season at Tech, I would put Tom here ahead of him. Herman did help take the Texas program up a notch and did have more help along the way in terms of upgrades to facilities. Now, I know Tom did win a Sugar Bowl and make a Big 12 title game appearance, but the lack of consistency is what did him in. Herman went 15-10 in his last two seasons in Austin and never could get back to the Big 12 title game which is something that is expected at a school like Texas. Perhaps what was even more concerning was his coaching during conference play. In his four seasons, Herman only won more than five conference games once (2018). Texas was wildly inconsistent week to week in the Big 12 while Herman was there and after four years, he was out.