My hat is off to the voracious rptgwb of Rock M Nation for bringing this story to my attention. Tim Griffin, ESPN's Big 12 blogger, got bored while driving through Texas yesterday (that's a shock) and decided to try and figure out which Big 12 schools are the best coaching destinations.
Here is No. 10:
10. Baylor -- Receives a small boost over the other schools because of its proximity to the rich Texas recruiting base. The school faces some unique challenges as the smallest school in the conference, along with its private-school status. Some might believe it's an impossible job, although Wake Forest's Jim Grobe has been successful in similar situation in the ACC. They always will have the daunting challenge of sticking with the South Division superpowers. But the Bears will have a new state-of-the-art football facility that will open soon. And if you really like Dr. Pepper, this would be your the place.
And here is No. 11:
11. Kansas State -- Bill Snyder turned this program into a national power, transforming it in the most remarkable turnaround in modern college football history. But Snyder started to change the culture when KSU was in the Big Eight and not the Big 12. Its remote location in the North Division makes it difficult to recruit. But it can be done -- it's just not very easy. You just better know your way around the junior colleges in Kansas.
I'm not entirely sure where to begin with this, but I'll start with Tim's points before bringing in my own.
Apparently Baylor is a better destination, in part, because of its proximity to the rich Texas recruiting base. That may be true, but it didn't make a bit of difference with LaDainian Tomlinson, and he was only over at Waco's University High School, which is less than a mile from Floyd Casey Stadium. My current school, the University of Houston, has had far more football success in recent years than Baylor, and that's living off the scraps of Houston-area talent left over after Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma have their pick.
After several sentences extolling Baylor's disadvantages, Griffin gets to his next point, which is Baylor's new state-of-the-art practice facility. I'm sure it's nice, but K-State has one of the largest indoor practice facilities in the country, and will be spending a bunch of money on facility upgrades. That's a bunch of money being spent on facilities that are already nicer than Baylor's. I know. I've been there. But I do love me some Dr. Pepper!
So Griffin thinks Baylor is more desirable than K-State because a) it's in Texas, and b) it has nice facilities (or will soon). Here's why it's not a better destination than K-State.
Culture of Winning/Tradition
It has been 13 years since Baylor had a winning season in football. In case that didn't sink in on you, I'll say it again. It has been thirteen years since Baylor had a winning season in football. I was in fifth grade. The high school players Baylor is recruiting right now were probably about three. As in, three years old, not three-star players.
Think about that. For thirteen seasons, Baylor has not managed to win more football games than it has lost. That's not a slump. That's an era. And if you doubt that a long history of losing makes things difficult, I suggest you read this article. When you suck for as long as Baylor has sucked, everybody in and around the program is affected by it.
In the amount of time since Baylor last managed to field a team that finished better than .500, K-State has won a Big 12 title, won its division three times, played in two BCS bowls (OK, it was the Bowl Alliance in 1997, whatever), and finished with 11-win seasons six times. Nobody is arguing that our tradition and culture of winning only goes back about 15 years, but the depth of our tradition and culture of winning compared to Baylor's is like comparing a puddle to Lake Baikal.
Griffin notes that Waco is in the middle of Texas, which produces more good high school football players than it does assholes, no small feat in the One Star State. I already addressed this above, but it bears repeating: despite location, good football players do not go to Baylor. Tomlinson turned down Baylor to go to...TCU. In fact, in the 13-year period I mentioned at length previously, I would be more than willing to bet K-State has taken more "impact" players out of Texas than Baylor has. We've backed off the Texas pipeline under Ron Prince, for some reason, but during Bill Snyder's heyday, he was all over Texas (Ell Roberson and Josh Buhl, to name but two). Actually one impact player would be more than Baylor has had.
As for Manhattan versus Waco, I really shouldn't get into that argument, but I will. Manhattan is a pretty little college town tucked in the scenic, if rather empty, Flint Hills. Waco is a shithole on I-35. If the beautiful buildings of Baylor were not located in Waco, I'm not sure why anyone would live there. I might visit to go to George's once or twice, but that is it. I have seen nothing redeeming about Waco in my three trips there.
Also, Griffin downgrades K-State for its "remote location" but didn't downgrade Texas Tech for being in Lubbock? He writes, and I quote:
Lubbock's isolated location might be a negative to some, but the locals seem to love the place.
No doubt, Manhattan is out there. It's a two-hour drive from Kansas City and a two-hour drive from Wichita. But in my life experience, Lubbock is only a rumor. I believe it exists, because Seth over at Double T Nation tells me it does and because I Mapquested it a little bit ago. Apparently, it's a mere five hour drive from Dallas. As far as the locals loving the place, ask your typical K-State alum what they think about Manhattan. If they're remotely like me, they love the place.
I am not arguing that K-State should be considered the top job in the Big 12. Frankly, this ranking is so subject to bias and individual tastes that I'm not sure it's even worth making. I think that's evident when Griffin has to start two of his rankings with "[f]or the right person," this might be a great job. But I simply cannot sit by and permit such a flawed argument placing Baylor ahead of K-State to stand unopposed.