College Confidential

Texas Tech’s Kingsbury tops Big 12 coaches in this unusual ranking

Kliff Kingsbury had the best playing career among Big 12 coaches, according to an ESPN ranking.
Kliff Kingsbury had the best playing career among Big 12 coaches, according to an ESPN ranking. AP

Either ESPN’s latest coaching rankings is a brilliant idea or the college football folks in Bristol have way too much time on their hands as they count down the still far away start of the 2016 season.

You’ve seen plenty of coaching rankings, but probably not like this — ranking the college football coaches by the prowess as players. There’s 129 coaches ranked with each one’s high school, college and, when applicable, pro careers taken into account.

Let’s just say TCU fans should be glad that coach Gary Patterson develops players better than anybody developed him. OK, that might not be fair to Patterson’s coaches. Maybe he was just born to coach.

Patterson comes in at No. 99 with Adam Rittenberg of ESPN having this to say about Coach P’s, um, letter-less playing career:

“The Rozel, Kansas, native played two seasons (1978-79) at Dodge City Community College before transferring to Kansas State, where he walked on as a linebacker and safety. He didn’t letter in two seasons at K-State.”

Patterson ranks one spot ahead of Kansas coach David Beaty, who played for Division III Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., and two spots higher than West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who played wide receiver for Air Raid orginator Hal Mumme (and his assistant Mike Leach) at NAIA Iowa Wesleyan from 1990 to 1992. Kansas State’s Bill Snyder ranks No. 118.

But don’t think the Big 12 is full of coaches who couldn’t play the game. There’s actually a pretty rich history here of gamers. In fact three of the top 13 spots go to Big 12 coaches. Starting with No. 13 is Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, a four-year starter at defensive back for Iowa and a two-time All-Big Ten honoree.

Coming at No. 8 is Stoops’ Bedlam rival, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, a prolific passer for the Cowboys in the late 1980s.

By now, you can probably guess the highest-ranked Big 12 coach as a player. It’s none other than the coolest coach in the league, who also might be getting his team in shape to soon contend for a conference title.

Yep, who else, but Texas Tech quarterback and current Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury. Here’s what Rittenberg had to say about Coach Cool:

“Kingsbury played a key role in Texas Tech’s air raid craze, and he set 17 NCAA records and 16 Big 12 records as the Red Raiders quarterback. He earned Big 12 offensive player of the year honors and won the Sammy Baugh trophy in 2002. Kingsbury’s NFL career didn’t pan out, and he spent time in NFL Europe and the CFL.”

The coach who was responsible for Kingsbury’s mind-blowing numbers? Leach. Those were his first years in Lubbock, and Kingsbury go the Air Raid offense flying. Now half the Big 12 is running some variation of Leach’s offense.

So what about the pirate’s playing career? Eh, not so great. He comes in dead last at No. 129.

As for other notable Big 12 coaches, Texas’ Charlie Strong came in at No. 84 and Baylor’s Art Briles checks in at No. 79. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is No. 25.

Who’s No. 1? Click here.