ARLINGTON, Texas – Coaching college football can be a zero-sum game: Win, or get fired. Skyrocketing salaries present a very real pressure, but the overall financial investment that schools, athletic departments and boosters have made in their teams’ futures only increase the stakes.
That pressure may produce an inherent temptation to win now, at all costs, rather than to just color in the lines and patiently build a foundation and an enduring winning culture.
“You hit the nail on the head right there,” new Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells said at Big 12 Media Days. “I know what I signed up for. I know exactly what I signed up for. You have to balance that.
Wells isn’t the only one who knows that. The Big 12 has four new coaches in 2019 – 40 percent of the league’s 10 head men – and the hyper competitive nature of the industry means some of them may be tempted to cut corners or bend the rules for quicker on-field results.
“Or cheat,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “Just call it what it is.”
With so much turnover in the Big 12 over the last three years, it’s worth examining how the league’s coaches approach their own individual situations.
- At Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley inherited a high-pressure job on a team used to success. As Barry Switzer used to say, he now must simply feed the monster.
- At Baylor, Matt Rhule arrived with a bucket and a mop, spending the last two years cleaning up the mess left behind by Art Briles and others while he fortified the foundation in Waco.
- At Texas, Tom Herman was tasked with turning a perennial underachiever into champ finally living up to its blueblood reputation.
- At Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy goes into his 15th season trying to fight complacency – starting with his own.
To read the rest of John E. Hoover’s report for Sporting News, click here:
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.