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Big 12 Football: Head Coaching Grades for the 2023 Season

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman

With college football ending soon, it is time to go back and review how these head coaches did this past season. I was never much of a student myself, but I am familiar with how grading works. Instead of being the student, I will be the one handing out grades this year, and let me just say, some of these coaches in the Big 12 need some help.

Texas HC Steve Sarkisian

Record: 12-1

Grade: A+

Every year that I have done head coaching grades, Steve Sarkisian’s grade has improved. He talked about Year 3 being the “show-me year” and he was certainly right. Texas finished the regular season winning 11 games and capped it off with their first Big 12 title since 2009. Now his team has a chance to win a national championship if they can win two more games.

 

Oklahoma State HC Mike Gundy

Record: 9-4

Grade: A

Four losses is a lot to get an A, but I felt like Mike Gundy did some of his best coaching this season. His team was picked to finish seventh this year and at one point everybody was talking about if he could even coach anymore due to a 2-2 start and a 33-7 loss to South Alabama. Then, he proved everyone wrong and found himself coaching in another Big 12 title game. That’s worth an A.

Oklahoma HC Brent Venables

Record: 10-2

Grade: A-

This may not be where Sooner fans want to be, but there were some clear signs of progress in Norman in Year 2 of the Brent Venables era. The defense took a major step forward and they looked much-improved offensively as well. Oklahoma is still a work in progress, but I believe Venables is the right man for the job.

West Virginia HC Neal Brown

Record: 8-4

Grade: A-

I went back and forth between grades, but I ultimately ended up giving Neal Brown an A-. His team was picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 at Media Days in July and ended up winning eight games in 2023. Actually, if not for a Hail Mary loss to Houston, they’d have finished 9-3 with a chance to win their tenth game during bowl season. Still, this was an outstanding job by Brown, who has certainly earned another year in Morgantown.

 

Kansas HC Lance Leipold

Record: 8-4

Grade: B+

It’s been 15 years since Kansas won eight games in the regular season and Lance Leipold was able to do that in just his third season in Lawrence. After getting Kanas to a bowl game last year for the first time since 2008, he is going bowling once again. This team has a real case to call themselves the second-best team in Kansas history since 2000 only behind the 2007 team. Watch out folks, because Kansas football is back.

Iowa State HC Matt Campbell

Record: 7-5

Grade: B+

Just when you count out a guy like Matt Campbell, he comes back swinging. There was a dark cloud over this program all offseason and most people didn’t think this team had a chance at making a bowl game. Yet, Campbell went out and won seven games with a chance to make it eight with a Liberty Bowl win over Memphis.

Kansas State HC Chris Klieman

Record: 8-4

Grade: B

I picked Kansas State to go back to Arlington this season and that didn’t happen. I thought Kansas State would win at least nine or ten games this season, but I guess eight wins isn’t too shabby. It was a bit of a disappointing season from Chris Klieman’s group, but getting to nine wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011-12 would still be fantastic.

 

UCF HC Gus Malzahn

Record: 6-6

Grade: B-

Out of all the new schools in the Big 12, UCF was the only one to become bowl-eligible. People don’t realize just how big of an adjustment going from the Group of Five to a Power Five conference and for UCF to get to a bowl game is truly a big deal. Sure, they could have won a couple more games but with the way this season went, getting to a bowl game is not bad at all.

Texas Tech HC Joey McGuire

Record: 6-6

Grade: C+

If Joey McGuire taught me anything this year it is that everything doesn’t run through Lubbock. I had high expectations for this team, and it didn’t help that Joey was talking about a Big 12 championship either. For Texas Tech to finish with a .500 record is a complete disappointment.

TCU HC Sonny Dykes

Record: 5-7

Grade: C-

After playing in the national championship game a year ago, TCU didn’t even make a bowl game this year. I know they lost a ton of production from the 2022 team but not making a bowl game is completely unacceptable and Sonny Dykes knows it.

BYU HC Kalani Sitake

Record: 5-7

Grade: C-

This was one coach I couldn’t quite figure out. Sometimes BYU would look like a top five team in the conference and sometimes they looked like the worst team in the conference. Due to the inconsistency, I decided to give Sitake a C-.

Cincinnati HC Scott Satterfield

Record: 3-9

Grade: D

I probably could have gone with an F here, but I decided to cut Scott some slack as a new member of the conference. Was Cincinnati ready to compete in the Big 12 this year? No, and to be fair it was his first year as the head coach there. He’s going to need some time but hopefully, we can start seeing some positive results next season.

Baylor HC Dave Aranda

Record: 3-9

Grade: F

Outside of Dana Holgorsen, I don’t believe any coach had a worse season in the Big 12 than Dave Aranda did. Last year I gave Dave a bad grade and it only got worse this year after winning just three games. In his last 16 games as a head coach, Dave Arana is 3-13. One more bad grade and he will likely be fired.

Houston HC Dana Holgorsen

Record: 4-8

Grade: F

Is there any other grade here besides an F? Dana Holgorsen was fired after Houston went 4-8 this season. If this season was a test, Dana Holgorsen would have signed his name at the top and turned it in without answering a single question. At least the Cougars now have a new coach who can hopefully turn things around.

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