How does realignment affect Big 12 coaches' job security?
The 2021 college football season didn't figure to be an incubator for Big 12 coaches on the hot seat. What will conference realignment's impact be on coaches' job security?
Let's see. Lincoln Riley is a made man at OU.
Same with Matt Campbell at Iowa State.
Gary Patterson's statue outside Amon Carter Stadium says all you need to know about his place at TCU.
Mike Gundy has survived some rough times but emerged as solid as ever at OSU.
Steve Sarkisian at Texas and Lance Leipold at Kansas are in their first seasons.
Chris Klieman seems to be just what Kansas State wants. Neal Brown remains quite popular at West Virginia.
Dave Aranda is in Year 2 at Baylor. Matt Wells is in Year 3 at Texas Tech.
I suppose Wells would be the coach with the hottest seat in the Big 12. His Red Raiders are 8-14 after two seasons. But the latest conference realignment meteor — OU and Texas headed to the Southeastern Conference — leaves the remaining Big 12 schools in limbo and should make those athletic directors leery of a quick trigger on coaches.
Frankly, the remaining eight schools are not going to have the discretionary income to just pay off coaches who have fallen out of favor. And if big-time boosters are in the mood to hurry along a coach's exit, there will be some fundraising pressure on said donors, reminding them of the financial need to keep the athletic department running as usual.
Wells has four years remaining on a contract that pays him about $3.6 million annually. As the market goes, that's not outrageous money.
In the past, if Tech wanted to make a change — as it did when AD Kirby Hocutt fired Kliff Kingsbury after the 2018 season — it rounded up the money and swallowed the contract.
But if Tech wants to fire Wells, could the unsettled future give Hocutt pause? It should.
These are serious financial times for the remaining Big 12 members. The indiscriminate payoffs to coaches have been considered a part of doing business, but that can no longer be considered automatic.
Coacheshotseat.com ranks college football's coaches in terms of job security. No Big 12 coach is considered in trouble. The four highest-ranked Big 12 coaches are No. 30 Brown at West Virginia, No. 35 Aranda at Baylor, No. 37 Wells and No. 39 Klieman at K-State.
Every school has a breaking point at which firing a coach is cheaper than keeping an unpopular coach. When fans vote with their absence en masse, athletic directors have no choice. That's what happened to Gary Gibbs at OU in 1994.
But no Big 12 school is there. And with the uncertain financial future, Big 12 administrators and even boosters might realize their coach is someone they can live with a little bit longer.