Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Ranking the coaching jobs: Big East
By ESPN.com staff
It's Coaches Week on ESPN.com and today we're going conference by conference to rank the best and worst coaching jobs, as voted on by 14 of our writers and television analysts.
A few important notes: This is not an attempt to rank the programs or their histories. A school's tradition was taken into account, of course, but more emphasis was given to recent years and how hard or easy it is for a new coach to win there. Current recruits don't remember much beyond, what, 2008?
When voting, our 14 panelists were asked to take into consideration facilities, expectation level, athletic budget, wins and losses, recruiting base, fan support/pressure and all of the other factors that go into determining the "best" jobs in the ever-crazy profession of college basketball coaching.
In short: If you were an agent and every single job was open in a particular conference, where would you direct your client? Where would you tell him to avoid if there are better options?
There's no right or wrong answer of course. These rankings are very much up for debate and we're sure you'll do so in the comments section. But at the very least, this polling of 14 people clued into the inner workings of college basketball offers a glimpse into how the coaching position at your favorite school is perceived on the national scene.
(Editor's Note: Realignment makes the college landscape a confusing one these days, but for the purposes of this poll, panelists were asked to vote based on what each conference would look like for the 2012-13 season.)
1. Syracuse: Take away the snow, and what’s not to like about Syracuse? With a ready-made fan base, a home court that sets attendance records and a rich tradition, the Orange are the class job of the league. The caveat: What happens when Syracuse heads south to ACC country?
2. Louisville: Some might be surprised to see the Cardinals this high, but consider the fact that Louisville offers a brand-new palace to play in, big budgets that currently have Rick Pitino among the highest-paid coaches in the nation and a passionate fan base with the backdrop of a basketball-mad state. Great tradition. Great job.
3. Connecticut: The program that Jim Calhoun basically built is a giant, with name-brand recognition, tradition and success. The Huskies don’t have the best facilities in the business, but Gampel is charmingly difficult for opponents and nearby Hartford offers a bigger arena. The only question: Will UConn be as viable post-Calhoun?
4. Georgetown: This is a basketball school first and foremost, which is why the Hoyas outrank plenty of their football-playing brethren. With a rich tradition of excellence, a deep recruiting bed to work from in the Beltway and a pro arena to call home, Georgetown remains an excellent job.
5. Pittsburgh: With one of the toughest home gyms in the country, the Panthers have built a reputation of blue-collar success. There is football money to cull from, but hoops does pretty well on its own merits thanks to a string of savvy hires.
6. Villanova: Nova is not an easy job, not with Catholic school financial burdens and an on-campus facility that is odd looking at best. But it isn’t a bad job either, not with Philadelphia’s ripe recruiting, a new practice facility and a reputation that has gotten a new shot of relevance over the past decade.
7. Notre Dame: This will always be a good job because it’s Notre Dame. The name recruits itself and the money certainly is there. But the Irish of the hardwood will always remain second banana to the Irish of the pigskin. Sometimes that’s not awful -- it gives you a chance to hide when things aren’t pretty -- but it makes it a touch more challenging.
8. Marquette: Packed with its Catholic-school brethren, Marquette is just like the rest -- a school with a solid history, a strong following, a good arena and less money to spend. That the Golden Eagles have been allowed to go the junior college route has helped tremendously.
9. St. John's: The great thing about St. John’s? When the Red Storm are winning, everyone is a fan. The bad thing about St. John’s? When the Red Storm are losing, there’s plenty of other options. Blessed with NYC roots and the Garden, there is much to love about being the head coach of the Johnnies, but it is a job where you have to vie for attention every day.
10. Cincinnati: The problem for Cincinnati? It still doesn’t scream Big East. Never did. Never will. The fans are supportive and the city atmosphere is welcoming but it is one of those schools that you can sort of easily gloss over -- or worse, forget -- when rattling off the conference members.
11. Rutgers: This should and could be a better job -- good facilities, football-aided budgets and New York City a quick train ride away make Rutgers sound awfully appealing. The catch: The Scarlet Knights have basically zero in the way of tradition or name-brand recognition. Until Rutgers gets over the hump, it will remain a should-be-better job.
12. Seton Hall: The Pirates have gotten a boost from the new Prudential Center, a better home court than the Meadowlands offered. But with no on-campus presence and too many people vying for New York City talent, Seton Hall has had to climb its way back up the ladder of success.
13. Providence: Catholic school budget, remodeled-but-still-not-great facilities and a location that puts it in direct competition with the likes of Connecticut for recruits makes Providence a tough, tough job. There is a basketball community there interested in backing the Friars, but building a consistent winner will be tough. Ed Cooley's latest recruiting class has provided hope, though.
14. DePaul: This should be a better job, what with Chicago as the backdrop for recruiting. But thin budgets and a tradition of struggles have all but obscured what once was a program with a great reputation for success.
15. South Florida: Stan Heath has done a terrific job making the Bulls relevant, but USF remains a basketball job in a football-mad state. Perhaps adding Central Florida, giving the Bulls some sort of geographic logic to being in the Big East, will help.