Week one of the 2023 college football season is fast approaching. Most of the analytical angles are covered, and there are plenty of places to find minute-to-minute depth chart updates or changes to the betting lines. But here’s something that might prove—well, if not exactly predictive, at least interesting about the conference in which five of Texas’s Division I schools play: last week, college football insider Brett McMurphy shared the favorite musical artist of each Big 12 head coach.
There are a few unexpected swerves from the wider field. If you hear someone bumping Bob Marley on Brigham Young’s Provo, Utah, campus, it could be a stoned freshman or head coach Kalani Sitake. Meanwhile, University of Central Florida head coach (and Irving, Texas, native) Gus Malzahn is a little more new wave than expected—his favorite band is the Cars. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy turns out to be a bit funkier than you’d imagine, based on his mullet: he’s an avowed Prince fan. There’s also some Van Halen and a whole heap of country on the list, with Kane Brown, Zach Bryan, Luke Combs, Kenny Chesney, and Cole Swindell completing the favorite artists of the coaches based outside Texas.
But here in the Lone Star State, the coaches have some eclectic faves. Let’s get into it!
Houston Cougars Head Coach Dana Holgorsen: Post Malone
Dana Holgorsen is 52 years old. He grew up and played college football in Iowa, and he’s been prowling the sidelines at Houston since 2019. That doesn’t fit the typical profile of a Post Malone fan, but Holgorsen is an unconventional fellow. He’s the rare non–Hulk Hogan individual to rock a skullet, a humble iconoclast who learned the ropes under Texas Tech innovator Mike Leach. We’ve always assumed he marches to the beat of his own drum, but it turns out that he’s actually been moving to the stuttering loops of “Better Now” instead. If the Cougars, headed into their first season in the Big 12, can recapture the form they had in 2021, when Holgorsen led the team to a 12–2 record, we expect you’ll hear “Sunflower” from out of the windows of the team’s bus as it leaves the stadium. If this season is a repeat of last year’s disappointing campaign, you’re more likely to hear the faint, haunting melody of “I Fall Apart” emanating from Holgorsen’s office during late-night film-review sessions.
Baylor Head Coach Dave Aranda and TCU Head Coach Sonny Dykes: Dave Matthews Band
What does Dykes, who led the Horned Frogs to the national championship game last season in his first year on the job, have in common with Baylor’s Dave Aranda, whose promising 2021 season gave way to a disappointing 2022? Well, for one thing, they were both alive in the nineties, and they had two ears connected to a heart. How do we know this for a fact? Their shared favorite musical act is Dave Matthews Band, the Virginia-based jam ensemble that formed in 1991 and sold 17 million copies of its first three albums. Sometimes you just get a feeling inside that can only be expressed by a few guitars, drums, a violin, a saxophone, a mandolin, and a front man’s distinctive, if indecipherable, yowl—and both Aranda and Dykes have clearly been through it.
It’s likely that TCU will come back down to earth in 2023—when you’re following an inspiring run to the national championship game, almost every outcome will represent some kind of backward step. Baylor, meanwhile, appears more likely to bounce back than to continue to sink. Perhaps Dykes and Aranda will pass each other along the way, AirPods in, each tapping his toes to the beat of “Ants Marching.” They’ll give each other a quick nod, then continue on their ways. Real Dave fans know.
Texas Head Coach Steve Sarkisian: Tupac Shakur
Steve Sarkisian struggled mightily in 2021, his first year in Austin, and while 2022’s 8–5 season was something of a rebound, he could well join Charlie Strong and Tom Herman on the list of short-tenured Longhorns football coaches if he flounders this year. He’s been an enigma since arriving in Texas: anyone who feels they can confidently answer the question of whether Sark is good or bad is trying to sell you something. One thing that’s not enigmatic about Sarkisian, though? His affinity for Tupac Shakur.
The list of white guys in their late forties who grew up in Southern California and love Tupac is basically just a list of every white male baby born in SoCal after 1973. There’s nothing wrong with that—Tupac’s a legend, after all—but this is the least surprising coach-musician pairing imaginable.
Texas Tech Head Coach Joey McGuire: George Strait
Actually, strike that! Joey McGuire’s George Strait fandom is even less surprising. The Red Raiders, at the beginning of McGuire’s second season in charge, have the potential to be sneaky good if quarterback Tyler Shough can stay healthy, but there’s nothing sneaky about a 52-year-old dude from Tarrant County loving King George.