Is conference realignment good for college football? We asked the 12 great coaches (2023)

ARLINGTON, Texas - "Candid" is the default setting for Mike Gundy. So when Bedlam's rivalry withOklahomareported in the Big 12 media days last week,oklahoma stateHis trainer called when he saw him.

"The Bedlam game is over because Oklahoma opted out of the Big 12," Gundy said. "It has nothing to do with the state of Oklahoma."


Interstate opponents have met 117 times since 1904 and every year since 1910. That streak will end in 2024 when Oklahoma andTexasis leaving the Big 12 to the SEC and likely won't be turned on again any time soon based on Gundy's response when asked about scheduling the Sooners as a non-conference game. Oklahoma State has been consistent in his opinion since the OU announced his departure two years ago.

“No… The state of Oklahoma is not going to change what we do because Oklahoma chose to go to the SEC,” Gundy said. “All Oklahoma needed to do was not go to the SEC. So, it is what it is. We can get straight to the point."

conference updateit remained a dominant theme as the new Big 12 gathered at AT&T Stadium, welcomed the additions of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF, and said goodbye to Texas and Oklahoma. Commissioner Brett Yormark, who memorably declared the Big 12 "open for business" at last year's press days, acknowledged that he hasthe dominant story of his brief tenure.

"I feel like I've been talking about expansion for a year," Yormark said, before adding: "We have an expansion plan and I'm not going to get into that today."

We have always had more than 12

— Conferencia Big 12 (@Big12Conference)July 12, 2023

No power conference has been more defined by realignment than the Big 12, including the birth of the former Big Eight and Southwest conferences in 1994. So as the topic continues to emerge in a league in transition andsport in general The athleteasked several Big 12 coaches the same question during last week's two-day meeting: Was the realignment good or bad for college football?

It got a number of responses (and don'ts), but the most common refrain was that we haven't seen the last of them.


"It's not going away and it's not over," he said.houstontrainer Dana Holgorsen. "I don't know much about what's going to happen, but I bet you a paycheck it's not over."

Holgorsen noted that he has personally benefited from the realignment many times, dating the coach.texas techas an assistant a few years after joining the original Big 12, then as the head coach at West Virginia when he joined in 2012and now with houston. The roots of Holgorsen's realignment run deep, particularly within the conference, but it's been pervasive enough across the sport to affect all coaches in some way, whether they choose to address it publicly or not.

GOING FURTHER How prepared is Dana Holgorsen's Houston to make the big leap of 12?

"My job is to play the games that are on our schedule," Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. "The reality is there's an adjustment. Is that okay? So we're going to play the teams we're supposed to play in the conference they put us in. That's my opinion."

The fact that the roster has gone mainstream and largely out of the control of the coaches has led to a lot of trade offs on the good or bad front, with more of a wait and see mentality. Gundy, for example, referenced companies like Texas A&M, Missouri and Arkansas and wondered aloud how those schools felt about previous realignment moves, though he acknowledged that money will still be the deciding factor in most cases.

“At some point, whether we know this is good or bad will depend on the financial availability that the conferences provide to each school,” Gundy said. "To say now that it is good or bad, I don't know."

Like Holgorsen, Cincinnati head coach Scott Satterfield has now benefited from realignment in several stops, first as head coach attwo appalachian statewhen the show jumped from FCS to FBS in 2014. She didn't ignore this truth when she shared her thoughts on the realignment, but she also couldn't ignore the general rift and growing divide that has been created between the haves and the have-nots.


"For some it's good, for others not so much. But I think people like stability," Satterfield said.

DEEPER 'We deserve to be on a bigger stage': Inside Cincinnati's Big 12 journey

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell expressed a similar sentiment toward the Big 12 in particular. He stressed how much has changed since he was Toledo's head coach a decade ago, but after a few years, when the Big 12 was in a tenuous state, he appreciated a future prospect that seemed more secure despite the league's high profile.

"Oh, is that good or bad? Probably both," Campbell said. “However, as a conference, we have put ourselves in a very good position to be in a great position for the foreseeable future. That's really all you can ask for right now."

Some coaches couldn't help but point out the discrepancy and the burden the realignment placed on athletes.

"I don't know how we say we want the best for student-athletes, because then we have to look at some of the other things we do in terms of the amount of travel and time zones," Kansas coach Lance Leipold said.

TCUCoach Sonny Dykes noted the ridiculousness of the conference's geography: "It will be interesting to see the rivalry betweenUniversity of California at Los AngelesmirutgersI think it's a natural rivalry,” he said of the upcoming Big Ten cross country race. He also highlighted the increased pressure that travel demands can put on college athletes. He referred to training inLouisiana Techabout the WAC and the burden of traveling 2,000+ miles to play in Idaho, San Jose or Hawaii, and how this is becoming more and more common.

“If it is to fill your pocket with money, then the decisions are very easy and you have to do what you have to do and not look back. You could say, 'Well, we were 4-8, but we made a lot of money,'' Dykes said. “If that's what it's about, then congratulations. …At the end of the day, do you look at it and say the extra money was worth the nine-hour flight to play a game of volleyball? What impact is that going to have on the people who are going to have to play this game and go into the classroom and do all the things these athletes have to do?”


Among the coaches interviewed, one leaned more to the underdog side. West Virginia head coach Neil Brown joined the chorus of those waiting, but not without adding his own thoughts on the botched part of the realignment.

"It hurt the fans. The fans who love rivalries," Brown said. "There's been endless talk about Oklahoma and Texas leaving and I don't really care about that, but there are great rivalries in college football. That's where the fans get hurt. You lose those rivalries that are natural."

Brown noted that WVU's non-league schedules have been more challenging than necessary in recent years, but home and home streaks are worth paying for.penn state,Virginia TechmiPit, longstanding rivalries that were otherwise undermined by the changing landscape of the conference.

"If anyone is hurting from the changes in college football in recent years," Brown said, "it's the fans."

Editor's note:This story is partThe athleteThe Realignment Revisited series, which investigates the past, present, and future of conference realignment in college sports.Follow the series and find more conference realignment stories here.

(Foto de Brent Venables y Mike Gundy: Brian Bahr/Getty Images)


What makes a good college football coach? ›

Much of coaching college football is about to being able to connect with your players so that you can motivate them. There has to be a level of trust and respect, but it also comes down to the players caring about what you have to say. Having a good personality and the ability to talk with players is a must.

Do coaches really make difference? ›

They significantly affect points scored, points allowed, point differential and victories. Coaches are highly significant in both NBA and Division I college basketball outcomes, influencing points scored, points allowed, point differential and victories.

What do college football coaches look for in a recruit? ›

Solid Work Ethic

Show college coaches that you are motivated and resilient. While working hard on the field or court is important, it's critical to bring this drive into the classroom. Having good grades and test scores is something that is often overlooked, but plays a big role in being a well-rounded recruit.


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