Friday, January 15, 2010
Why Muschamp, Kiffin made wise choices
By ESPN.com staff
I’ve been intrigued by all the commentary in recent days about Lane Kiffin’s move from Tennessee to USC.
Fans and pundits have castigated Kiffin about his move to a job that has to rank among the top 10 in college football -- even after some of the Trojans’ pending dealings with the NCAA.
Soon thereafter, Texas assistant coach Will Muschamp was thrown into the conversation as a potential replacement for Kiffin at Tennessee. Muschamp, who is the coach-in-waiting at Texas, apparently had the chance to make an unprecedented salary for a first-time college football coach if had decided to lead the Volunteers.
Muschamp opted to stay in Texas, which I believe was a wise choice. The promise of the Longhorns’ top job, even if he has to wait on Mack Brown’s retirement for several seasons, is still is better than the Tennessee job will ever be.
And who can blame Kiffin for trading the life at Tennessee for the glitz and glitter of living in southern California? It seems like an easy choice, particularly because the USC program is a better job.
While I was talking with Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini last night, we started ticking off an informal list of the best jobs in college football. Here’s my list of the 10 most attractive head coaching positions in college football. Three of them are in the Big 12.
1. Texas: It’s got it all -- facilities, support, tradition and located within a rich recruiting base. Mack Brown has made this the nation’s best job. Muschamp would be crazy to skedaddle to Rocky Top and leave this behind.
2. Florida: Recruiting might be better than Texas and the location provides a beach lifestyle. The only trouble with this job, compared to Texas, is that Florida’s place in the SEC is a little more tenuous than Texas’ place in the Big 12.
3. Ohio State: Tradition, facilities and an unmatched place in the pecking order of the Big Ten. Some coaches would love the weather in Columbus, while snowbirds might see it lacking compared to places like those at the top..
4. USC: “Tailback U” has returned to the top thanks to Pete Carroll’s transformation. This is the football team for a southern California without an NFL franchise.
5. Alabama: Still wondering why Dennis Franchione left Alabama for Texas A&M. Another stadium expansion after this season’s national championship has made this a job that Nick Saban would willingly leave one of the NFL’s flagship franchises to return to. Considering his college allegiance, he’s a smart man.
6. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops might have the best setup in coaching considering he’s working for Joe Castiglione and David Boren. Recruiting will always be a matter of plucking Texas players and Stoops has done a marvelous job at that over the years.
7. Penn State: It will be interesting to see who follows Joe Paterno when he finally decides to hang up his whistle. This is one of the Big Ten’s best jobs with facilities and history to match. It might be daunting to follow Paterno, however.
8. Notre Dame: Still has the attention of NBC and the tradition of college football’s most storied program. Can they find the right coach to return Notre Dame to its place of dominance?
9. LSU: There’s a reason why Les Miles decided to stay here rather than pursue the Michigan job. Rabid talent base and SEC television money make this one special. And you can eat good crawfish any time you want.
10. Nebraska: The only drawback for this job is its lack of a fertile home recruiting area. But other than that, this job has got it all including one of the nation’s most knowledgeable fan bases. It’s the biggest unifier for the entire state as college football is clearly king here.
I would have a few other jobs like Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, UCLA and Florida State ranked just below these top jobs. Texas A&M would be in my top 20. Oklahoma State -- as long as Boone Pickens is financially priming the pump -- would be in my top 30.
I’m curious what the readers might think in terms of a top 10 of destination coaching jobs? Please feel free to provide your rationale to back up your assertions.