Leading off the list: Who is the Big 12's best coach? And -- surprise, surprise -- Bob Stoops earned the top number of votes, 12 of the 20 respondents, with Mack Brown a distant second with 5 votes. Iowa State's Dan McCarney, the dean of league coaches, earned two votes to come in third, while Tech's Mike Leach snagged the remaining vote for fourth. (An aside: it would be interesting to have seen the results if K-State's Bill Snyder still prowled the Wildcat sideline... I'd bet that Snyder would have been right there with Brown, and maybe even in the No. 2 slot ahead of Brown.)
Now, I don't necessarily disagree with Stoops earning the top spot on the list given his overall record in Norman, which includes a national championship and two other appearances in the title game, as well as three Big 12 titles and a head-to-head advantage over Brown. But the best coach voting, coupled with Brown being picked as the No. 3 most overrated coach in the league despite winning the most recent national title(!), is instructive of the Stoops reverence and Brown antipathy that still exists among Big 12 media -- a hangover from five-straight Texas losses to Oklahoma, the 'soft' label once attached to his team and the derisive "Coach February" designation -- that I believe factored heavily into the misguided pick of the Sooners over the Horns as the preseason conference favorite (before Bomar's bust). According to Tim Griffin's write up, one respondent actually said:
"Anyone who admits on national television that he 'stopped coaching' his quarterback heading into the national championship game is crazy."
Crazy indeed. Just crazy enough to win the Rose Bowl, over the media proclaimed Best Team Ever, a team that earned some of that reputation by ripping to shreds a Stoops-coached Sooner team the year before.
So, I see Stoops' hold on the top spot as awfully tenuous. It may only be as strong as OU's '06 O-line, and perhaps UT's quarterback situation, because another down year in Norman, and another championship-caliber season in Austin should flip, or at least equalize, the voting. That is, if media members like the one quoted above step away from the altar of Stoops.
Note: OU got top billing for best offensive player (Adrian Peterson, 19-1 over UT's Jamaal Charles), best defensive player (Rufus Alexander), and MVP (Peterson). Sooner radio voice Bob Barry Sr. earned the most votes as well, but in the ignominious least-favorite announcer award. All I can say to that is, the folks who voted for Barry have obviously never listened to A&M play-by-play man Dave South, who would be better suited to a 2A high school broadcast than the (formerly) No. 2 NCAA team in the state of Texas. Credit where credit is due, though: South finished second in the voting, with five votes to Barry's six. UT's Craig Way earned top billing in the favorite play-by-play announcer category. Other interesting results: Coach Fran as the next head coach in the Big 12 to be fired; Gene Chizik as, far and away, the next Big 12 assistant to get a head coaching job and as the Big 12's best assistant coach; and, finally, Mack Brown, in a runaway, as the Big 12's best recruiter. Ya know, Coach February, and all...