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State of Texas Power Rankings: Which Coach Would You Want the Most Edition

So, this is where it ends (for a lot of teams and coaches).

Texas v TCU Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/Getty Images

It is officially the silly season of college football, as the hiring and firing carousel gets in full spin. So, in honor of several Texas teams making big coaching decisions this week (and because the rankings really won’t change much this week anyway), we are ranking the programs by their head coach as we close out the regular season. Again, these are simply the opinions of one fan, and I know you won’t agree with them, so go ahead and rip me in the comments. I can take it (probably).

  1. TCU (10-2): Gary Patterson has never had back-to-back losing seasons. Not. Once. That in itself is pretty impressive, but when you factor in that any of the all of three times he has finished with a sub-.500 record he has followed that season by at least playing for a conference title, that’s unbelievable. GP is the winningest coach in TCU history, has won titles in the WAC (he was the D coordinator for most of that title season, but let’s give him credit anyway), Conference USA, Mountain West Conference, and the Big XII, taken the Frogs to three BCS/NY6 Bowls, and completely changed the trajectory of an entire university in the process. Unless you want to factor in his age, you can’t convince me there isn’t a program in the state that doesn’t have a little GMFP envy. And they should... he’s been kicking their butt for nearly two decades and appears primed to make it an even 25 years in Fort Worth with his latest contract extension.
  2. Texas (6-6): The jury is still out on Tom Herman as the head coach at Texas, but it’s hard to argue with his track record. He has won everywhere he has been on staff, leading even the likes of Rice to top offenses. He willed Ohio State, on their third QB, to a national title (partially at TCU’s expense) as the offensive coordinator after a successful stint at Iowa State, and turned his success in Columbus into the head gig at Houston. Two years, 22 wins, and a Peach Bowl victory later, he came back to the school where he got his start (as a GA) and led the Longhorns back to a bowl game for the first time in years. Though he didn’t exactly light the world on fire in year one, he has Texas back on track and is absolutely killing it in recruiting. If Herman finds the right QB for his system, watch out - it won’t be long before he has the Horns back in the conference title hunt.
  3. SMU (7-5): Chad Morris hasn’t been a hot name on the coaching carousel, yet, despite being a trendy pick to take over at Texas A&M earlier this year. His Ponies started strong but couldn’t quite get over the hump against some good teams late, and while they will be going bowling for the first time since 2012, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed in the season of as a whole. That being said, he’s an incredible recruiter, especially when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, and has literally built his program on the back of Texas players - and only Texas players.
  4. UNT (9-3): Too high for Seth Littrell? Maybe if you aren’t paying attention. Littrell will be on a lot of short lists this time next year, just watch. In year one at a moribund program he got the Mean Green to a bowl game. In year two he has them playing for a conference title. An off-shoot of the Mike Leach coaching tree, Littrell had success at Kansas (no, seriously, Kansas used to be respectable), Tech, Arizona, and UNC before heading to Denton. With an athletic department firmly in his corner and plenty of untapped resources, he has North Texas heading in the right direction in a hurry. I would absolutely take him over the guys below, I mean, he has UNT primed for a ten win season just two years after going 1-11. Though Scott Frost gets all the love, and deservedly so, what Littrell has done is almost as impressive. It will be interesting to see what happens next for Littrell... if Morris ends up at A&M, he would be a perfect fit at SMU.
  5. Texas Tech (6-6): Kliff Kingsbury won in Austin for the second straight time, saving his job in the process. Though he did everything he could to get out of Lubbock (who could blame him) by starting McLane Carter over Nic Shimonek on the road against a really good Texas defense, Shimmy talked his way onto the field in the fourth quarter and led the Red Raiders to a stirring comeback, keeping the head coach employed. A lot of Tech fans were calling for KK’s head earlier this year, but in watching the chaos of coaching searches unfold, they have to be a little thankful to have their hometown hero still on the sidelines. While it’s hard to figure out who would be better in West Texas, there are some reasons to be frustrated with Kingsbury - he has had a string of incredible talent at QB, he’s won eight games only once - and it was in his first season - and is 1-1 in bowl games in five seasons, with a third bid pending. His offense has been innovative, the skill player talent undeniable, but the fireworks haven’t led to victories with any sort of regularity. The defense seems to be finally improving under David Gibbs, but if he can’t get over the hump in 2018 with as many as 20 starters returning, the Red Raider natives will assuredly be restless once again.
  6. Houston (7-4): It’s pretty unfair to judge Major Applewhite off of just one year, especially a year that saw his team go deep into the depth chart at several key positions, including QB. He will skyrocket up this list if he develops D’Eriq King into a serviceable to good mid-major QB, and based off of his most recent performance, it appears that could be well on its way to happening. Applewhite’s biggest challenge is recruiting - Tom Herman was an absolute master at maximizing Houston talent and getting kids to buy-in to playing in the American Conference, but that fell off considerably when he left. Major put together the fourth best class in the conference in 2017 when Herman left, and is on pace for basically the same result a year later. It’s a far cry from the top 40 classes the Grill Master was able to sign. We will see if Applewhite can get Major returns in 2018, but if not, he could be on the move. Houston has far too long a history of developing top sideline talent to put up with losing for long (and yes, seven wins is a disappointment for a Cougars squad stacked with Herman’s players).
  7. The Football Team in Waco (1-11): Matt Rhule inherited the most impossible situation in college football; with a scandal swirling, every recruit but one bailed on their commitment. Somehow, Rhule salvaged a top 40 class in year one, mostly by hiring every high school football coach in the state of Texas. He’s on pace to better than in 2018 coming off of a one win season, and seems to have found his future QB in true freshman Charlie Brewer - who he poached from SMU. Rhule’s offense is a long way from the glory days, but his teams still have a lot of young skill talent, a tough, hard-nosed defense, and plenty to build on. They might not compete for a Big 12 title any time soon, but bowl eligibility in 2018 seems a reasonable expectation.
  8. UTSA (6-5): The shine might be off of Frank Wilson this off-season after back to back six win seasons, but the former SEC assistant (Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU) still has time to turn the Roadrunners around. UTSA is a bit of a sleeping... well, maybe not giant, but tall person... and winning there isn’t impossible. He’s a known quantity as a recruiter and could walk into about any program in the country and get an assistant job in an instance based on that reputation alone. But running a program and coaching a position are a long way from each other, and starting your head coaching journey at a solid mid-major program isn’t easy. Wilson needs a little more time, but I won’t be surprised to see him move up the ranks in short order.
  9. Texas State (2-10): Everett Withers has stirred up plenty of controversy in his two seasons at Texas State, namely bashing the players he inherited and at times alienating the “fan” base. But for all that, he has just four wins across two seasons coming off of a pair of nine win seasons at James Madison. Withers’ pedigree is impeccable - he has had success at several levels including the NFL, but the Bobcats present a different set of challenges and a bigger rebuild than anywhere else he has been. While his talent as a lead man is certainly great, the results at this stop are lacking. This off-season will make or break his most recent stop; if he can rope in some talent, he can make a quick turnaround and have Texas State on track.
  10. Rice (1-11): David Bailiff was fired at the conclusion of Rice’s one win season, and that seems almost unfair. Bailiff had led the Owls for 11 years, winning ten games twice (something A&M hasn’t been able to do in that time span!) and making four bowl games - the last being in 2014. Sure, it’s easy to argue that he had run his course in Houston, but after getting his team through the devastation of the flooding (something that occurred while they were in Australia), it seems almost unfair to let him go now. Rice is a tough job - it’s in one of the most talent-rich areas of the state, but steep admission requirements and middling facilities make it a challenge - it will be interesting to see who they come up with.
  11. UTEP (0-12): Another coach-less program, the Miners are an interesting challenge themselves, as they are situated in the middle of nowhere and don’t exactly have a history of success, with their last bowl victory coming in 1967. And now, coming off of a winless season, the challenge is greater than ever, so finding the right fit is crucial. UTEP will likely go the young up-and-comer route, with names like Graham Harrell (UNT Offensive Coordinator) , Ty Detmer (BYU OC), and Phil Longo (Ole Miss OC) all mentioned as candidates. Someone can win in El Paso, and hopefully the Miners find out who that person is. And soon.
  12. Texas A&M (7-5): When you don’t have a coach, you get ranked last (yes other teams on this list don’t have coaches either, but I am enjoying myself). After firing Kevin Sumlin, most Aggies expected Jimbo Fisher to come to College Station begging for a job. The program with HIGH EXPECTATIONS and exactly two ten win seasons in the last 20 years, no conference titles since 1998, no division titles since 2010, no BCS/NY6 titles, period - but hey they won a Natty in the 30’s! - could be left in the lurch if Jimbo chooses to stay in Tallahassee. The wish list that started with Gary Patterson, Chris Peterson, James Franklin, and Fisher now has names like Chad Morris, Justin Fuente (nope), Mike Leach (LOL), and Les Miles (careful, Reveille probably pees on the grass inside Kyle Field) on it. I would say there’s a better chance than not that Fisher heads West, but man, it will be hilarious if he says no.