Baylor Bears

Why Each Big 12 Football Fan Should Be Thankful For Their Head Coach

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Christian

With Thanksgiving week upon us, there is plenty to be thankful for this time of year. No matter how rough of a year it has been, I believe everyone can find something, personally and professionally, to be thankful for. But what about our favorite football team? Some may say there is no reason to be thankful for their head coach. I bet you I can find a reason for optimism, and that’s exactly what I will do with this piece as I give you a reason each fan base should be thankful for their head coach.


Dave Aranda, Baylor

Dave Aranda is as steady as they come in terms of poise and demeanor. Plus, he led the team to a Big 12 Championship last season in just his second year on the job. While this season has been a disappointment to some degree, if games at West Virginia (Shapen injury) and TCU (miracle) turn out slightly differently, this season might look a lot different for the Bears. Aranda seems like one of the real genuine guys in college football and Baylor is lucky to have him.

Matt Campbell, Iowa State

OK. The Cyclones are 1-7 in Big 12 play. But if you’re an Iowa State fan and you’re not still grateful for Matt Campbell, I can’t help you. I really can’t. You need professional help. What this man has done to put Iowa State on the map is incredible. And anyone who tells you they saw it coming is a liar. Iowa State is a legit brand, putting dudes in the NFL and has baseline expectations of a bowl game every season. Campbell won’t get there this season, but given six of seven losses are by one score or less, 2023 could surprise lots of folks.

Lance Leipold, Kansas

If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need me to explain why Kansas fans should be grateful for Lance Leipold. 6-5. First bowl game in 14 years. It’s beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. And Leipold has a new contract. Next up.


Chris Klieman, Kansas State

K-State fans seemed like they were 50-50 on Klieman heading into this season. They weren’t sure if he was a guy who could lead this team to becoming a Big 12 contender given his 13-14 Big 12 record after three years on the job. But now, Klieman finally has the roster he’s been building for and his team is ranked in the Top 15 and one win away from a trip to a Big 12 Title game. He’s a perfect fit for Kansas State and if he takes this team to Arlington next week, he will officially be out of Bill Snyder’s shadow.

Brent Venables, Oklahoma

Well, Venables has struggled beyond anyone’s wildest expectations this season. It took OU until Week 12 to become bowl eligible. But, Venables is re-building a culture at OU that it arguably lacked down the home stretch of Lincoln Riley’s tenure. Plus, he’s recruiting at an incredibly high level and is going to bring in defensive talent OU hasn’t seen on its campus in a good two decades. Heck, just last weekend OU hosted up to seven five-star prospects. That is blue blood type stuff. It hasn’t been the year OU fans wanted, but turning on Venables now is not the play.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

I know, I know, he can’t be Oklahoma (3-15). But Mike Gundy has seven ten-win seasons during his time in Stillwater. OSU had three of those prior to his arrival dating back to 1899. In his 18 seasons, the Pokes have seven. His 17 bowl appearances are one more than the Cowboys had in program history (16) before he became head coach. He was one-yard from a Big 12 title last season. Yes, the offensive line needs an overhaul, but the idea that OSU fans should not be thankful for Mike Gundy is crazy talk.


Sonny Dykes, TCU

Year 1: 11-0. Big 12 Championship appearance. College Football Playoffs in sight. Two wins to go. And finally an offense worth watching in Fort Worth. What more is there to say?

Steve Sarkisian, Texas

Sark has the program trending in the right direction after an abysmal Year 1. They’re heading into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to reach the Big 12 title game if Texas beats Baylor and Kansas State loses to Kansas. Sark is crushing the recruiting trail, highlighted by 2023 QB Arch Manning, arguably the best quarterback prospect in years. He will need to show continued gains in 2023 and beyond, but there’s reason to believe in Steve Sarkisian.

Joey McGuire, Texas Tech

Without a semblance of an offensive line, Texas Tech is bowl eligible and is able to win with either a high-flying offense or a strong defense (see 14-10 vs. Iowa State last weekend). Joey McGuire is Texas football through and through and feels like the perfect fit for Lubbock, especially in the wake of the Matt Wells debacle.


Neal Brown, West Virginia

His buyout is big, but at least it’s not Jimbo Fisher big. That’s what WVU fans can be thankful for.

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