This off season I had the chance to catch up with head coaches Obe Blanc and Mark Branch, who are in very different positions entering next season. Blanc recently took the reins at North Dakota State and is making his first strides as the man in charge. On the other side is Branch who will be entering his 15th year at the helm for the Wyoming Cowboys. He discussed how things have changed for him over the years in so many ways along with some memories of his first few years in Laramie.
It was the conversation with Branch that made me want to take a little trip down memory lane for the head coaches in the Big 12 Conference. I looked at when each coach took over their respective programs, who was their first All-American and/or champ, and for fun added a time capsule element by including the Billboard Music Year-End Hot 100 to see what the top song was the year they were named head coach.
Currently, John Smith is the only active coach in the conference to capture an NCAA team title. But recently, the momentum has moved to Brian Smith’s Tigers. Of the conference’s six teams that placed in the top 20, Mizzou had the best finish placing 5th in Oklahoma last year with 64.5 points. Mizzou along with Northern Colorado had the only champs last year as well. Andrew Alirez gave Troy Nickerson his first All-American and champion all in one shot as he defeated Real Woods in the finals.
But let’s go to the topic at hand. Of note, for Blanc I went with the top song during the week he took over which is coincidentally the same day. And for Roger Kish, I went back to his NDSU days for his first AA since he hasn’t had a season at OU yet.