When it comes to football, the Sunflower Slate/small-college beat encompasses, primarily, four schools from the NCAA Division II MIAA (Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State, Washburn, Emporia State), 10 schools from the NAIA-based KCAC (Friends, Tabor, Bethany, McPherson, Ottawa, Southwestern, Sterling, Bethel, Kansas Wesleyan, Saint Mary) and eight schools from the NJCAA-based Jayhawk Conference (Butler, Hutchinson, Independence, Garden City, Dodge City, Coffevyille, Highland, Fort Scott).
So that’s the framework for what I’ve done here, which is rank the Top 5 football coaches from those schools. I owe a big tip of the hat to Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel, who did something similar last week. Although Mandel did a Top 10 and Bottom 5 for Division I, which I won’t do, because making a Bottom 5 seems somewhat unfair to these coaches because their budgets and facilities are so vastly different, whereas with Mandel’s picks, those guys are all playing on a (somewhat) even playing field.
This Top 5 isn’t based on lifetime achievement (see Friends’ Monty Lewis not making the list) but instead on who the five best coaches are right now. A good track record over the last 2-3 seasons is the key, but the overall body of work is definitely taken into account.
So here you go: