While there are many ways to improve a football squad in just one season, executing that task is what separates the men from the boys.
Three head coaches found their squads listed as members of 247Sports’ most improved teams in 2023 list, with the three teams being the Iowa State Cyclones, Texas Longhorns, and the Oklahoma Sooners.
Matt Campbell and the Iowa State Cyclones were the first Big 12 team to show up ranking sixth on the list. 247Sports’ Carter Bahns explained his reasoning for the inclusion saying, “Considering that Matt Campbell guided Iowa State to five of its best seasons of all-time in consecutive years before taking a step backward last fall, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. A closer look at the Cyclones’ 4-8 campaign reveals that seven of those losses came by single digits and six finished as one-score games. With better execution and luck in 2023, there is no reason why Iowa State should not be able to return to bowl eligibility, especially given that its defense should again be among the best units in the Big 12.”
The second team to pop up was Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Longhorns who received some major props in discussing quarterback Quinn Ewers. “The “Is Texas back?” storyline is exhausted by now, but 2023 appears to be the year in which the Longhorns finally have what it takes to compete at the highest level again. Talent has never been the issue, of course, but it is an even greater strength this year as a healthy Quinn Ewers could easily prove to be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, if not the country. The pressure to return to championship contention is at an all-time high with Texas set to move to the SEC next year. Can Steve Sarkisian handle it?”
Oklahoma was the third and final team to check in on the list as the fourth team on 247Sports radar, with Bahns mentioning that it may be too soon to judge head coach Brent Venables by saying, “It is entirely possible that Brent Venables is not up to the task and that his tenure as Oklahoma’s head coach goes down as a disappointment. At the same time, it is true that one year is far too small a sample size to judge his leadership abilities. Yes, the Sooners are coming off their worst season in 25 years, but with each of their final four losses coming by exactly three points, they were well within striking distance of tacking on a few more victories. If those close games break their way in 2023, Venables’ first year at the helm will look like nothing but a blip on the radar.”
The three Big 12 heavyweights all three have a chance to contend for a title in the 2023-24 season in the event that each squad can stay healthy and get a few lucky breaks to go their way. The Longhorns were recently ranked to finish first in the Big 12 preseason poll with Oklahoma and Iowa State following behind at third and tenth, and while the majority of preseason polls end up missing the mark by the season’s end, the three teams mentioned have definitely improved in 2023.