Where Oklahoma Sooners football coaches rank among the all-time Big 12 Conference hires

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The Big 12 Conference formed prior to the 1996 college football season. There have plenty of head coaches that have made their mark in the conference.

The Athletic’s Sam Khan Jr and Max Olson ranked 38 total coaches (subscription required) with three Sooners making the list, starting with John Blake.

John Blake (1996-98)

John Blake Oklahoma Sooners
John Blake Oklahoma Sooners

(Image courtesy of Getty Images)

No. 31 Overall

What The Athletic Says…

Blake, who died in July, arrived after Howard Schnellenberger’s ill-fated 11-month stint as the Sooners head coach. A former OU player under Switzer, Duncan hired him from Switzer’s Dallas Cowboys staff. He was beloved by Sooners players, but it didn’t translate to on-field success. His record marked the worst three-year stretch in program history, and the Sooners didn’t have a winning record in any of those years. He was dismissed following the 1998 season. He is credited, though, with helping to recruit players who contributed to OU’s 2000 national championship team.

John Blake never saw the success that the other two Oklahoma coaches on this list were able to reach. However, his recruiting help pave the way for the last national championship for the Crimson and Cream. He finished with a 12-22 record during his three seasons at the helm with an 8-16 conference record.

Next, the brightest young offensive mind in college football

Lincoln Riley (2017-Present)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

No. 3 Overall

What The Athletic Says…

Transitions don’t get much more seamless than Stoops to Riley. At the ripe age of 33, Riley took the great foundation that Stoops left and built upon it. He led the Sooners to Big 12 championships and New Year’s Six bowls in all four years and to the College Football Playoff in three. Two of his quarterbacks were Heisman Trophy winners (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray) and another was a runner-up (Jalen Hurts). The major remaining items on the checklist for Riley, now 37, are winning a Playoff game, then a national championship.

It is no easy task following a legend like Bob Stoops who handed the keys to Riley after the 2016 season. In that time Riley produced three College Football Playoff appearances, two Heisman Trophy winners, and another finalist for the award. The only obstacle preventing him from hopping into the top two would be a national championship trophy, both coaches ahead of him have done that. His record to date is 45-8 with a 30-5 conference record.

Finally, the Hall of Fame head coach

Bob Stoops (1999-2016)

Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT

No. 1 Overall

What The Athletic Says…

“Big Game Bob” ruled the Big 12. He won more Big 12 championships (10) than he lost home games (nine). He averaged 10 wins per season, took the Sooners to four national championship games and won one. He has the most wins in Sooners history, 33 more than Barry Switzer. When Stoops took over, the Sooners hadn’t finished with a winning record or in the Top 25 the previous five seasons. Only twice in his 18 seasons did the Sooners finish unranked, and his worst record was his first, a 7-5 mark in 1999. The Sooners’ continued success, four years after his retirement, speaks to the foundation he built.

The best coach in Big 12 Conference history is without a doubt “Big Game” Bob Stoops. He finished his career with 10 Big 12 Championships, a BCS National Championship, another BCS Championship game appearance, as well as a College Football Playoff appearance. His final record sits at 190-48, 121-29 in the Big 12. After 18 seasons, no one has seen the success in the conference that Stoops did, passing Barry Switzer for all-time wins in school history. A big reason why he is now a Hall of Fame coach.