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Which Big 12 Coach Has The Hottest Seat Going Into The 2024 Season?

Big 12 Coach

All those April showers still cannot cool the hottest of hot seats for head coaches in college football. The Big 12 is going to look new, again, for the 2024 season. While Spring ball is a time for hope and optimism, the pressure to win now always looms large. So, is there a Big 12 coach who is on a seat hotter than the rest? Or is there some relative stability for a conference that will greatly benefit from an expanded playoff in 2024?

*The number in parenthesis represents the 2024 season for the total number of years the coach has been at the school. For example, new hires who have not coached a game for the team yet his name will have a “1” next to their name.

Arizona – Brent Brennan (1)

Arizona was primed to join the Big 12 as a dark horse contender with Jedd Fisch building up the program in a hurry. But he left to take the Washington opening, Brennan was hired in January after the first portal period was over. However, Brennan scored an early victory keeping most of the roster in Tuscon, including quarterback Noah Fifita.

Heat Check: New coach means no chair to sit in, got too much going on.

Arizona State – Kenny Dillingham (2)

Dillingham came into the Sun Devils job last year with plenty of buzz. And then just weeks before the season started, the university issued a one-year bowl ban. The move by the university really stung because more than 50 new players were not a part of the program when the alleged infractions occurred. It also meant the players couldn’t transfer. Not a single Big 12 coach is having to deal with a mess like this. Dillingham gets a mulligan for his year one.

Heat Index: Coach’s chair from 2023 only had three legs. He had to fix it just to have a chair to sit on.

Baylor – Dave Aranda (5)

In the 2021 season, Baylor won the Sugar Bowl and a total of 12 football games. In the three other seasons in which Aranda has been the Bears head coach, they have won a combined 11 games. This program has been trending in the wrong direction at a very steep decline. There is not a hotter seat for a Big 12 coach going into the 2024 season.

Heat Index: The ovens baking at the Czech Stop actually would cool down Aranda’s seat. Welding gloves are required to touch it.

BYU – Kalani Sitake (9)

With BYU joining the Big 12 last season, it appears the Cougars are reverting to the mean. In 2020 and 2021, BYU posted 10+ win seasons. In the other six seasons with Sitake at the helm, they have won 9, 4, 7, 7, 8, and 5 games. BYU had recently tried to play a sudo-Pac 12 schedule, but last season’s full Power 5 schedule tested their depth in ways they hadn’t previously experienced. Missing a bowl for the first time since 2017 stings, but there is no major pressure on Sitake.

Heat Index: A comfortable patio chair kissed by the first warm day of Spring.

Cincinnati – Scott Satterfield (2)

It was an ugly first year for Satterfield in the Big 12. His 3-9 campaign is only the 5th season in the last 17 in which the Bearcats failed to win at least nine games. The fit with Satterfield seemed odd from the start. Another non-bowl season and this fan base will grow impatient in a hurry.

Heat Index: A cheap office chair that’s been sat in for four straight hours.

Colorado – Deion Sanders (2)

The Coach Prime experiment is a must-watch television. What he, and Colorado, did in the first month of the 2023 season was undeniably electric. But they haven’t won a football game since October 7th. Then we learn Sanders has not taken a single-in home visit for a high school recruit. Their 2024 recruiting class only had 10 high school commits and ranked 107th. His sons are doing the transfer portal recruiting, not the coaches. All signs point to Sanders not being around Colorado long, on his own accord. So his seat might be cool from the administration, but he appears that he is not sticking around for long-term growth.

Heat Index: Colorado made him a custom La-Z-Boy seat that has climate control built into the chair. But because it’s not Louis Vuitton, Sanders isn’t going to sit in it very long.

Houston – Willie Fritz (1)

The Cougars have the basic infrastructure in place to be a player in the new Big 12. Just three seasons ago, it appeared that Dana Holgorsen was just the man to make it happen. A lot has changed since that 12-win campaign in 2021. What Fritz did at Tulane was incredible. Now, as a new Big 12 coach, can he awaken the sleeping giant that many believe Houston to be?

Heat Index: Just like Brennan, he is too busy to even think about sitting in a chair.

Iowa State – Matt Campbell (9)

Campbell is going to have a statue outside of Jack Trice Stadium one day. All he has done is lead the program through the greatest heights Iowa State has ever achieved on the football field. Yet, Campbell has not had a single season with double-digit wins. He bounced back nicely in 2023 after a four-win 2022. This is a program and fan base with realistic expectations. Campbell had the opportunity to leave years ago and stayed. It is going to take at least consecutive seasons of sub-.500 football before they even turn on his seat warmer.

Heat Index: A swinging porch bench on an early fall morning with just a hint of crispness blowing across Ames rocks Campbell as he sips his morning coffee.

Kansas – Lance Leipold (4)

We can count on one hand the number of coaches across college football who have done a better coaching job than Leipold in the last two seasons. The Jayhawks were being asked to be kicked off the Power Five island for a full decade. Leipold has Kansas not playing the role of scrappy underdogs. They fulfilled that role for all of one season. Kansas now is in a position to compete for the Big 12 title in 2024.

Heat Index: Leipold’s seat is colder than what used to be those vacant metal bleachers at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in November when 100 people would come to watch Kansas lose by 45 to Kansas State. Except his seat is fully supportive of his entire body and has a warm, heavy blanket if it gets too chilly.

Kansas State – Chris Klieman (6)

Big 12 football runs through the state of Kansas in 2024, words that no one could have ever envisioned in 2021. Klieman has things humming along quite nicely in the Little Apple. If he wasn’t replacing a Big 12 coach who just so happens to have his name on the stadium, he might also be in line to get a statue erected while he is still coaching the Cats.

Heat Index: The Wildcats time warped a chair from February 13, 1905 in Lebanon, Kansas that was sitting outside all day. But they have also provided multiple pillows and blankets with a cup of hot chocolate.

Oklahoma State – Mike Gundy (20)

When Oklahoma State lost, at home, to South Alabama in week three of the 2023 season, we KNEW this was it for Gundy. He had a nice 19-year run, but things both on-and-off the football field made it appear that he was going to be asked to resign. Instead, they win seven of their last eight and played for the Big 12 conference title. How many times must we all sleep on Gundy as an elite college football coach?

Heat Index: Gundy sits on John Dutton’s saddle. It’s always at the ready, and when Gundy saddles up, the temperature cranks to 100 in a hurry. But it has been sitting in the cold stable since the end of the 2023 season.

TCU – Sonny Dykes (3)

TCU played for the national championship two seasons ago. A regression was expected in 2023, but maybe not as bad as it ended up being. Dykes’ third year could go a long way to keeping his seat cool.

Heat Index: An outdoor barstool at a nice Mexican cantina on a late May afternoon in Fort Worth.

Texas Tech – Joey McGuire (3)

McGuire’s year two graded out closer to what most would have expected for a year one season. But McGuire’s two full recruiting classes have held true to his Texas high school roots. He is also getting top-tier talent from the state as well. All that said, the honeymoon phase is officially over. Red Raider fans would like to see a healthy quarterback, an improved offensive line, and closer to an 8/9 win campaign than a 6/7 win season.

Heat Index: His seat is housed at the Holly Hop Ice Cream Shoppe on 34th Street with a sundae waiting for him.

UCF – Gus Malzahn (4)

Malzhan’s squad took a step back in the win column in UCF’s first season in the Big 12, but they were competitive all season. UCF’s recruiting in 2024 and early returns in 2025’s class places them near the top of the Big 12. Malzahn is under zero pressure (however one might define zero pressure in college football).

Heat Index: He sits in an oversized floating chair that is making its rounds around the 470-foot-long lazy river officially known as “Recovery Cove.

Utah – Kyle Whittingham (20)

The Utes have two Pac-12 titles (RIP) in their last three seasons. They essentially won eight games without a real quarterback last year. Whittingham’s squad enters the Big 12 as one of the favorites to win the conference in 2024. There is a good chance his name is going to go on the stadium when he is done coaching.

Heat Index: His seat is colder than any ski lift in Utah, but as comfortable as a Patagonia fleece.

West Virginia – Neal Brown (6)

No Big 12 coach entered 2023 on a hotter seat than Brown. He was coaching for his job last year and did not disappoint. As a result, he signed an extension through the 2027 season. However, he still needs to show that 2024 is more of the norm than what his first four seasons produced.

Heat Index: Brown’s seat is as hot as a freshly baked pepperoni roll that’s been sitting on the counter for 15 minutes.

Big 12 Coach
Photo courtesy: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports


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