College Basketball Nation: Ranking the coaching jobs 060612

Ranking the coaching jobs: The Others

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
12:00
PM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC

(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.)

Atlantic 10: No matter who the coach is, Xavier just keeps winning year after year. That would be the definition of a good coaching job -- and that's why X was the unanimous pick. VCU was the group's choice for the third spot before Butler's decision to move to the A-10 immediately prompted a re-vote. As for the bottom three, Rhode Island and GW picked up some votes but Fordham's non-stop losing, the Bonnies' remote location and Duquesne's 25-year tourney drought was too much to overcome.

The Best
1. Xavier
2. Temple
3. Butler

The Worst
14. Duquesne
15. St. Bonaventure
16. Fordham

Conference USA: Well, duh. Memphis would be No. 1 in every category that was considered. It's rich history, rabid local following, recruiting prowess and NBA arena make it a coach's dream. Problem is, the Tigers (along with No. 2 UCF) are headed to the Big East in 2013. And unfortunately for C-USA, the leftovers are more like bottom-feeders ECU, Rice and Tulane than Memphis.

The Best
1. Memphis
2. UCF
3. Tulsa

The Worst
10. Tulane
11. Rice
12. East Carolina

Missouri Valley: Wichita State got first-place votes from Fran Fraschilla and Jason King, who know the conference well, but the rest of the panel went for Creighton, which has the same loyal and large fan base but more success on the court than WSU over the past 15 years. Easily the top two jobs in the Valley, though. No question. Evidence? Five different schools received third-place votes (UNI, Illinois State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Bradley). Complete toss-up.

The Best
1. Creighton
2. Wichita State
3. Northern Iowa

The Worst
8. Indiana State
9. Evansville
10. Drake

Mountain West: San Diego State is moving to the Big West in 2013 and that's too bad because SDSU, New Mexico and UNLV are a formidable top three and have formed some fierce rivalries in recent years. The Runnin' Rebels, who have re-emerged as a monster on the recruiting trail, received all but one first-place vote (the other went to the Aztecs, something that would've been unthinkable before Steve Fisher's arrival). As for the worst, an Academy job is always a tough task and it's no surprise Air Force was a near-unanimous pick for the No. 9 spot.

The Best
1. UNLV
2. San Diego State
3. New Mexico

The Worst
7. Boise State
8. Wyoming
9. Air Force

West Coast: Saint Mary's has been a worthy challenger as of late and BYU was a great addition to the league, but Gonzaga IS the West Coast Conference and its coaching position is seen by all but one voter as the best in the league (the lone dissent went to BYU). Interesting to note: Pepperdine appeared on the bottom three of a few ballots, but also on the top three of another. As for 7 through 9 in this conference, there was really no separation between USF, USD and Portland -- or Santa Clara for that matter.

The Best
1. Gonzaga
2. BYU
3. Saint Mary's

The Worst
7. San Francisco
8. San Diego
9. Portland

THE OTHERS

America East
Best: Vermont -- The program Tom Brennan built hasn't missed a beat under Mike Lonergan and now John Becker.
Worst: Binghamton -- Maybe new coach Tommy Dempsey can turn around a program that finished 2-29 last season and is still recovering from a nasty scandal.

Atlantic Sun
Best: Mercer -- With Belmont leaving for the OVC, five jobs received first-place votes but the Bears edged out East Tennessee State.
Worst: Kennesaw State -- Another Georgia school, KSU is fairly new to Division I and failed to win a game (0-18) in the A-Sun last season.

Big Sky
Best: Weber State/Montana -- Only fitting since these two easily have been the best programs in the Big Sky in recent history.
Worst: Sacramento State -- The Hornets have a coach named Katz, but even that wasn't enough to impress the ESPN.com voters.

Big South
Best: UNC Asheville -- Back-to-back NCAA trips makes it the hottest job in the league. Just ask Syracuse.
Worst: Radford -- There was no great consensus here, as VMI and Presbyterian also received plenty of votes.

Big West
Best: Long Beach State -- Rival UCSB made it very close, but the play-anyone 49ers have thrived under Dan Monson and have created a nice little brand for themselves.
Worst: UC Riverside -- Plenty of UCs could've conquered this category, especially Davis, but the coaching job at UCR was deemed the worst.

Colonial
Best: George Mason -- With the immediate departure of VCU and the soon-to-be departure of ODU, this one was obvious.
Worst: William & Mary -- Towson has been historically bad lately, but its sparkling new arena was enough to keep it out of the CAA jobs cellar.

Horizon
Best: Valparaiso -- With no more Butler, the Drew-dominated Valpo job squeaked out a win over Milwaukee and Cleveland State among others.
Worst: Youngstown State -- Loyola and UIC have been awful on the court, but their Chicago location likely kept them out of this spot.

Ivy
Best: Princeton -- This one was extremely tight -- old rival Penn and rising Harvard were right there -- but Princeton received just enough first-place votes.
Worst: Dartmouth -- Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House the last time the Big Green danced in March.

MAAC
Best: Siena -- The Saints haven't been able to find their footing post-Fran McCaffery, but our voters still consider this the top spot in the MAAC.
Worst: Canisius -- This school went to three straight NCAA tourneys from 1955-57 and have been back exactly once since.

MAC
Best: Ohio -- Jim Christian left what was about to become a Big 12 job (TCU) for one that has produced three tournament wins over the past three seasons.
Worst: Central Michigan/Northern Illinois -- Trey Zeigler couldn't save CMU. Ricardo Patton couldn't save NIU.

MEAC
Best: Norfolk State -- Hampton would've won this last year (and almost did this year), but it's hard to argue with the recruiting boost that comes with a historic 15-over-2 victory over Missouri.
Worst: Maryland-Eastern Shore -- It's not all that easy to get to Princess Anne and it's not all that easy to get people to notice.

Northeast
Best: Quinnipiac -- The Q still hasn't made an NCAA tournament, but its arena/financial backing has no equal in the NEC -- and it's not even close.
Worst: Bryant -- Fairleigh Dickinson garnered plenty of "support" here, but Bryant is just too new and too unproven to be anywhere but last at the moment.

Ohio Valley
Best: Murray State -- New kid on the block Belmont will surely challenge the Racers, but Murray's proud tradition, fan support and reputation as a coaching cradle still makes this the easy choice as the OVC's top destination.
Worst: SIU-Edwardsville -- The UT-Martin job is pretty thankless too, but at least the Skyhawks can sell Lester Hudson on the recruiting trail.

Patriot
Best: Bucknell -- Lehigh owns the headlines after its upset of Duke, but our voters still consider Bucknell the top post in the Patriot.
Worst: Army -- Academy jobs in basketball are tough. There's no way around it. The Black Knights have never been to the NCAA tournament.

Southern
Best: Davidson -- The Wildcats and Charleston both garnered strong support here. There's a reason the CAA is making some calls.
Worst: The Citadel -- It was unanimous.

Southland
Best: Oral Roberts -- Texas-Arlington and its nice new arena would've pick the pick, but the Mavs are off to the WAC (and then the Sun Belt). So it's the newbies from Tulsa.
Worst: Central Arkansas -- Local kid Corliss Williamson has a large hill to climb.

SWAC
Best: Southern -- The hard truth is, there really aren't any "good" jobs in the SWAC -- just some that are better than others.
Worst: Alabama A&M -- The hard truth is, there really aren't any "good" jobs in the SWAC -- just some that are worse than others.

Summit
Best: Oakland -- No more Oral Roberts, so the we'll-play-anyone Golden Grizzlies were the easy pick here. But are they long for the Summit League? They've made no secret of wanting to be Butler's replacement in the Horizon.
Worst: Missouri-Kansas City -- This honor probably would've gone to Southern Utah, but it's off to the Big Sky. So UMKC it is.

Sun Belt
Best: Western Kentucky -- Tradition. Fan support. Basketball-mad state. A school that cares. North Texas is charging hard, but WKU is still the class of the Sun Belt.
Worst: Louisiana-Monroe -- This probably has as much to do with ULM's 3-26 record in 2011-12 than anything else.

WAC
Best: Utah State -- The Aggies, with a remarkable 13 straight postseason appearances, are entering their final season in this quickly dying conference.
Worst: San Jose State -- Basically a coin flip with Idaho, but SJSU is headed to the Mountain West soon, so ...

Ranking the coaching jobs: Big Ten

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:50
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

(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. Indiana: It's easy to forget that just a few years ago, Indiana was still mired in a decade-long identity crisis. No more. Tom Crean has the Hoosiers rolling on the court, closing ranks on top recruits in the state and boasting some of the best and newest facilities in the country to boot. The Big Ten's historic blueblood is the most enviable job in this conference -- and it's been a long road back.

2. Ohio State: Many will question the Buckeyes' ballot placement above Michigan State (and understandably so), but it's hard to argue with what Thad Matta has built in Columbus. The Buckeyes have great facilities (and a suddenly vibrant home crowd), and in Matta's tenure have annually turned over some of the best talent (from Greg Oden and Mike Conley to Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger) in the entire country.

3. Michigan State: With only the rarest of exceptions (see: 2011), Tom Izzo cranks out national contender after national contender, the trademark being one of the nation's most consistent programs. The Breslin Center remains one of the nation's best arenas, and the Izzone packs it to the hilt. And the state of Michigan remains fertile recruiting ground.

4. Michigan: Like Indiana, the Wolverines languished for years after the Ed Martin booster scandal, but a new renovation (thanks in part to UM's massive athletics budget, one of the program's underrated advantages) has refreshed a once-dour Crisler Center just in time for John Beilein to truly hit his stride on the path to Big Ten and national title contention.

5. Wisconsin: Bo Ryan wins. His latest season -- one capped by a thrilling Sweet 16 loss to top-seeded Syracuse -- was his 11th at the school, and the 11th consecutive in which the Badgers have finished tied for at least fourth place in the league. In the course of this consistent winning (and because of it), Wisconsin has leveraged some other nice built-in advantages: a strong athletics program, a vibrant capital city home, etc.

6. Illinois: The strength of the Illinois program has been subject of no small amount of debate since the firing of Bruce Weber and the subsequent search. John Groce has suffered through a couple of early-days defections, but the facts remain thus: The Illini have an intense fan base and brutal home arena for opponents, and reside short drives away from Chicago and Indianapolis, two of the nation's top five or so prep talent hotbeds. There is always plenty of potential here.

7. Purdue: Matt Painter's sustained run of success -- remember, before the Robbie Hummel injuries, this was a No. 1 seed -- has long since proved his ability to maintain his proud alma mater in the Big Ten. He also, after a brief flirtation with Missouri last spring, earned a major commitment from the university to improve its basketball facilities and increase its support for travel costs and other expenses. Much of those improvements are already in place as Painter steps into the post-Hummel era.

8. Minnesota: Tubby Smith has had a string of tough luck in his days at Minnesota, mostly in the form of injuries, occasionally in the form of suspensions. The Gophers enjoy a strong fan base and an abode at The Barn, one of the more affably charming arenas you'll ever see. The location is a double-edged sword; Minneapolis is a great city but a freezing cold one. On the program's own merits (taken with a dash of history and tradition), we'd say the Gophers are ranked about where they should be.

9. Iowa: As a program, can the Hawkeyes ever make a leap? The glory days of Tom Davis and some recent national relevance under Steve Alford aside, Iowa has always been a decent but nowhere-near-elite program, with a fan base that has a tendency (especially in recent seasons) to prefer spring practice to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But when the Hawks can retain Iowa's best talent, and the program builds to an even marginally successful level, Carver-Hawkeye can rumble.

10. Northwestern: You know the drill: Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament. That alone makes it worthy of falling to the bottom of this list. Even Nebraska has been to six. Northwestern has been improving and banging its head against the proverbial NCAA door under Bill Carmody for more than a decade, with only near misses to show for it, thanks to academic standards but also outdated facilities like Welsh-Ryan Arena. There is potential here, most of it unrealized.

11. Nebraska: This spring, a Nebraska fan took out a full-page, attention-grabbing ad in a local paper, demanding more support for the men's basketball program. The Cornhuskers -- historical doormats and Penn State-level stepchild to football -- may actually be getting around to it. In addition to a new practice facility, Nebraska is getting a glimmering new arena, the centerpiece of a downtown Lincoln revitalization effort. That alone likely kept them from the No. 12 spot. New head coach Tim Miles is young and energetic. Change is in the air. Failing that, Nebraska may just ... always be Nebraska.

12. Penn State: We'll let ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil handle this one: "For years the basketball team has been a little sister of the poor stepchild to football, a winter afterthought given all the tending and care of a vegetable garden positioned in the middle of a nuclear field. Administrative support waffles between tepid applause and casual indifference." Yeeeeah ... what she said. Until Penn State isn't shuttering basketball practices for Bon Jovi rehearsals, it's going to be tough to stay afloat in this league.

-- Team blurbs written by Eamonn Brennan

Ranking the coaching jobs: Big East

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:40
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

(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.

-- Team blurbs written by Dana O'Neil

Ranking the coaching jobs: Big 12

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:30
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

(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. Kansas: Only a handful of programs in the country can match the Jayhawks when it comes to tradition, fan support and overall prestige. The job pays exceptionally well -- Bill Self makes $3 million -- and attracts national-level recruits on name alone. Allen Fieldhouse is the top home-court advantage in college basketball, which is one reason KU boasts a national-best 22 straight NCAA tournament appearances and eight consecutive Big 12 titles. Former coaches Larry Brown and Roy Williams are both in the Hall of Fame, and Self eventually will be, too.

2. Texas: Stalking the sidelines for a state school in the middle of some of the nation’s most fertile recruiting ground would be a dream job for most any coach. The Longhorns, who tout 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances, are a national brand and have the ability to lure prospects from all across the country and even Canada. Texas is the only school in the league that has mounted a consistent threat to Kansas for the Big 12 crown. Because it’s a football school first, the coach of this program might not face the same type of scrutiny as those at similar-sized programs.

3. Baylor: The school everyone said didn’t belong in the league is suddenly its most successful member. Every single Baylor sport qualified for postseason play in 2011-12, and the Bears set an NCAA record for combined wins in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. The key for the Bears is location. Waco is located 90 minutes away from both Dallas and Austin, and only three hours from Houston. That’s appealing to recruits who want to stay close to home. The school’s emphasis on family and religion is also a plus for most families. Facilities are top notch as well. The one area of concern is fan support. The Bears were a top-10 team for most of last season, but often played in a half-empty arena.

4. West Virginia: The Mountaineers were in the Final Four two years ago, and are led by one of the most high-profile coaches in the game in Bob Huggins. It’s also the alma mater of Jerry West, whose silhouette is featured on the NBA logo. A rowdy fan base makes WVU Coliseum one of the tougher places to play in college basketball. Morgantown’s relative proximity to cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. and Baltimore is huge when it comes to recruiting. Huggins makes more than $2 million per year.

5. Oklahoma State: Proximity to Texas, and what can be one of the nation’s top home-court advantages (when it's full) makes winning at a high level possible in Stillwater, where the Cowboys reached the Final Four in 2004. In recent years, Oklahoma State has gone head-to-head with schools such as Kansas for recruits and won the battle multiple times. The job pays well and the facilities are great, thanks in part to the generosity of mega-donor T. Boone Pickens. The fans can be somewhat fickle. When the team is struggling, as it has recently, the support dwindles significantly.

6. Oklahoma: Billy Tubbs and Kelvin Sampson proved you can win -- and win big -- in Norman. Both coaches led the Sooners to the Final Four. Oklahoma, though, hasn’t had much success since Sampson left for Indiana in 2006 -- with the obvious exception of the Blake Griffin-led Elite Eight trip. The rarely full Lloyd Noble Center has been anything but intimidating in recent years and, other than Griffin, the Sooners have struggled to lure the type of top-tier recruits that used to consider their program. Much like it is at Texas, the basketball squad takes a backseat to the football team -- and some would say to the women’s basketball team, too.

7. Kansas State: Frank Martin led the Wildcats to 117 wins from 2007-2012, the most by any Kansas State coach in a five-year period. All of a sudden, a program that was a conference doormat for so long is now on solid footing for new coach Bruce Weber. When it’s full, Bramlage Coliseum is one of the 10 toughest places to play in the country, and probably ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 behind KU. Speaking of the Jayhawks, Kansas State has defeated its in-state rival just twice in Manhattan since 1983. The Wildcats will always struggle to attract the type of high-level recruits that sign with Kansas. Still, this isn’t a bad job. Far from it.

8. Iowa State: Larry Eustachy won a Big 12 title with the Cyclones, so don’t let anyone tell you this program can’t achieve success at a high level. Fans at Hilton Coliseum have been itching for a winner for nearly a decade. The environment in the arena is often referred to as “Hilton Magic.” Second-year coach Fred Hoiberg has relied on transfers to make the program competitive again, but there are enough prospects in Iowa and its neighboring states to change that trend soon. The harsh winters might detract recruits and, even though it features the Big 12’s best restaurant in Hickory Park, Ames isn’t one of the country’s most happenin’ towns.

9. TCU: The Horned Frogs have made the NCAA tournament just once since 1998, and have the Big 12’s worst arena in Daniel Meyer Coliseum. Fan support is sorely lacking for a program that hasn’t been able to land top-tier prospects from the DFW area. TCU’s affiliation with the Mountain West Conference might have contributed to that, as most top players want to compete in one of the six power conferences. TCU is in one of those now in the Big 12. We’ll see if it can capitalize on the recruiting trail -- and on the court under new coach Trent Johnson.

10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have appeared in the NCAA tournament four times in the past 10 seasons, but they fell off a bit in recent years under Pat Knight, who was probably thrust into a job for which he wasn’t ready. United Spirit Arena is an excellent facility, and Red Raiders fans have proven they’ll support a winner -- but not so much when the times are tough. And the times have been tough lately. It’s possible to build a winning program in West Texas, as schools like Texas Tech and UTEP have proven in the past. The problem is that Lubbock is significantly further from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio than Waco, Austin, Ft. Worth and College Station. Recruits from those cities might be tempted to stay closer to home.

-- Team blurbs written by Jason King

Ranking the coaching jobs: SEC

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:20
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.

(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. Kentucky: No school in the country has as loyal and passionate a fan base -- the Big Blue fans will camp out for practice. Kentucky’s job pays as much if not more than any other job in the country. Local talent in the state isn’t an issue since UK recruits nationally. There have been blips in recruiting, but that was on the coach, not on the school. If the right coach is in place, Kentucky can and should be in contention for any player it wants, regardless of locale. Rupp Arena could use some more frills (and will get plenty in the near future), but it has history and is as loud as any arena. The Joe Craft Center is a top-notch practice facility. And the Wildcats are coveted by tournaments and television executives looking for a ratings winner.

2. Florida: Billy Donovan has made UF the second-best job in the SEC. Florida has always been a solid destination for recruits. There is talent in the region, but the Gators can and do recruit nationally. The school is a big-time draw with its football program a national name. The fan base gets up for big games and the O-Dome can get rocking for special opponents. Athletic director Jeremy Foley is easily one of the most respected administrators in the country. He takes care of his own and rewarded Donovan with one of the richest contracts in the country after his two national titles. The Gators have their own practice facility that is more than enough for their needs. Expect Florida, coming off back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, to remain a national program.

3. Missouri: The Tigers immediately leap into the top three in the SEC. The fan base is passionate and Mizzou Arena will be one of the toughest places to play in the SEC. The salary structure at Missouri can be an issue due to the budget constraints at the school. You’re not going to see Mizzou outbid other schools for a coach. The Tigers will never be able to compete with Kentucky and Florida in salaries, but the facilities can match the two schools. Mizzou is also in a hot recruiting territory with the ability to draw from St. Louis to Chicago to the Southeast, as well as Texas.

4. Tennessee: The Vols have traditionally been able to recruit, but talent-rich Memphis is six hours away from Knoxville and the Tigers are an institution there, so that can be a tough nut to crack. Thompson-Boling Arena was remodeled a few years ago and has the look of an NBA facility -- and the surge in fan interest that began under Bruce Pearl has continued as the Vols were again among the nation's leaders in attendance during Cuonzo Martin's first season. The athletic programs at Tennessee are usually high end, but it's been a rough go lately. Still, the commitment to winning in men’s basketball is much more apparent at UT than it was before this past decade. This has become a solid job.

5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks have a rich talent area that it can draw from in the region. Arkansas also has as rich a basketball tradition of any program in the SEC outside of Kentucky. The fan base, when there is a worthy product on the floor, can be as passionate as any in the country -- their traveling party in the 90s was truly a sight to see. Bud Walton Arena gives Arkansas one of the toughest homecourts in the country, let alone in the SEC. Arkansas has also been willing to pay its coaches well. This should always be a top-five job in this conference.

6. Vanderbilt: Vandy is one of the few schools in the conference where basketball is a high priority. The high academic standards does mean recruiting is a little trickier, but it also ensures the Commodores remains unique. Getting talent to Vanderbilt, which recruits nationally, hasn’t ever really been an issue. Memorial Gym may be quirky, but it also can be a nuisance to opposing teams. The fan base has been superb in creating a chaotic atmosphere. Salaries are competitive, but never going to be elite in the SEC.

7. Georgia: The talent in the region has been there for years, but the competition for it has always been intense. Getting players to stay in Georgia is a tough sell with so many options. Basketball has had its moments in Athens, but it’s never going to be No. 1. The facilities aren’t top-notch in comparison to the rest of the league, either. Salaries are competitive, but never going to be in the upper echelon. UGA will have its moments of success, but expecting the Bulldogs to be an NCAA tournament team on a regular basis is unrealistic.

8. LSU: Getting players in the area to come to Baton Rouge hasn’t been much of a problem. Louisiana has plenty of players for LSU and others (see: the 2006 Final Four team). But basketball is always going to be playing a deep second in the athletic department. LSU had its run under Dale Brown and had a few runs of success since. Alum Johnny Jones will attempt to rekindle that era, but he’s going to be at a program where modest success should be celebrated not scorned.

9. Texas A&M: The Aggies were brutal as a basketball destination until Billy Gillispie helped revitalize the program with Mark Turgeon continuing to make the Aggies relevant as an NCAA team. Now Billy Kennedy has to do the same in the SEC. The arena upgrade was a must and if the fans continue to support this program at a high level then this job has a chance to climb a lot higher than No. 9 in this league. The fan base is more committed to the program than some of the others mentioned above. Texas is a feeder ground for plenty of programs and the Aggies should be able to get their share. If you’re looking for a program and job that could become more coveted in the future in the SEC, this could be this one.

10. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have the program of record in the SEC -- in football. The basketball program has been dwarfed for years by its big brother in pads, and rightfully so. Alabama fans tend to pay attention to the sport in the time wedge between the last bowl game and spring football. That puts even more pressure on Alabama to be relevant during those months. Getting talent to Tuscaloosa hasn’t been an issue. Salaries have improved, but aren’t going to be at the top in the SEC. The facility has never been a home run, but it has improved over the years.

11. Mississippi State: MSU is one of the few schools in the bottom part of this list where basketball is very much relevant. Football has had its time in the spotlight but the basketball program has been successful enough, and certainly newsworthy, to generate interest. The Bulldogs haven’t had any problems securing NBA-level talent. And the Hump can be one of the loudest arenas in the league. The problem is the salaries are never going to be too high in Starkville and the perception of one of the smallest and more remote college towns can push this job down a few notches. Mississippi State had trouble replacing Rick Stansbury with a comparable head coach. The Bulldogs went for an assistant in Rick Ray. He may turn out to be a huge hit, but he was an obscure choice for what had become a consistent winner in the SEC.

12. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have gone through a revolving door of sorts, trying to settle on a longtime head coach to ensure the program matters nationally, let alone in the SEC. South Carolina is football-first. The facilities are improving and so are the salaries. There is a renewed commitment. Frank Martin wouldn’t have left Kansas State if he couldn’t make more money the way he did this spring. But luring talent to Columbia has never been an easy chore. The Gamecocks, who haven't won an NCAA tournament game since 1973 (how crazy is that?), have a way to go to become one of the best jobs in the league.

13. Auburn: The Tigers have had a few moments of relevance since their run of success in the mid-80s -- with an emphasis on the word few. Building a new arena was a major commitment upgrade and likely prevented Auburn from finishing last in voting. But the fans haven’t been flocking so far. They need a winner. Tony Barbee is recruiting well, but he has his work cut out for him to pack the arena and ensure that Auburn becomes one of the better jobs in the SEC.

14. Ole Miss: The Rebels play in what has never been a beloved arena. The Tad Pad is basically a dump. The state of Mississippi produces plenty of talent, but keeping and luring elite, NBA-level talent has always been an issue. Salaries for the coaches aren’t close to the top of this league. And as a result winning has been extremely difficult on a consistent basis. Ole Miss hasn't been dancing since 2002, the longest drought in the conference.

-- Team blurbs written by Andy Katz

Ranking the coaching jobs: Pac-12

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:10
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.

(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. UCLA: This job might have lost some of its luster in recent years, but it’s still the best in the Pac-12 and one of the top gigs in America. UCLA’s legacy, established with 11 national titles, has been preserved through its ongoing success. This coming season -- with the help of the nation’s top recruiting class -- UCLA should regain its perch atop the Pac-12. It’s an easy sell for recruits. Sure, L.A. can be a tough scene for a losing team. But when the Bruins are winning, there’s always a great vibe in Pauley Pavilion. A refurbished Pauley won't hurt. Few drawbacks of running this program.

2. Arizona: Like UCLA, the past few years don’t define the lure of this post. The Wildcats added another top-10 recruiting class in 2012, proof that elite players still view Tucson as a top destination. A new practice facility is just another asset the program can use to lure players to the program Lute Olson built. Sellout crowds are the norm. The Wildcats haven’t won the national championship since 1997, but they’ve managed to assemble squads that contend. Sean Miller makes more than $2 million per year, and he’s earned it by re-assembling the program with talented recruiting classes. He’s in a good spot.

3. Washington: The Huskies have managed to create a niche in the Pac-12, accruing NBA-level players and competing against the Pac-12’s best. Retention has been an issue for U-Dub, but it will continue to draw top players based on the reputation that Lorenzo Romar has established during his tenure. The state’s top school has access to an underrated market in Seattle, where numerous current and soon-to-be NBA players were raised. There’s certainly viable competition nearby with the other Pacific Northwest schools, including Gonzaga, pursuing the same talent. But Romar has a good job that offers the tools necessary to build a program.

4. California: The school’s academic standards limit the pool of players it can recruit. But the Bay Area has a decent recruiting scene, and the Bears are just six hours away from Los Angeles, where Pac-12 all-conference performer and Cal wing Allen Crabbe was raised. Cal, however, has to fight off UCLA, Arizona and other national powers for L.A.’s best. But it’s managed find its own space within the Pac-12 and earn multiple NCAA tourney bids in recent years. The school’s commitment to basketball was exemplified by the completion of the $57.5 million Haas Pavilion in 1999. Fan support hasn’t been great, but the pros outweigh the cons for the position currently occupied by Mike Montgomery.

5. Oregon: The first problem with this job is that you have to coach on that hideous floor. But there are certainly some benefits, too. See: Nike and money. When Phil Knight, Nike’s chairman, loves your program, you get trinkets such as the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena, which opened last year. But that booster power has led some to believe that Knight yields a little too much power. In 2010, the eligibility of a few players was questioned during an NCAA investigation related to illegal benefits. But young players love fancy stuff -- and Oregon has a lot of fancy items to lure talented players. The Ducks have struggled recently, but they’ll always invest in basketball with Knight in the background. That’s a plus for any coach, including Dana Altman, who signed a 7-year, $12.6 million contract when he arrived in 2010.

6. Stanford: In 1998, Stanford reached the Final Four, so it can be done. The program has to identify players that can meet its rigid academic standards, but with its mediocre success in recent years, there’s never a guarantee that they’ll choose the Cardinal. Still, there’s comfort for a head coach who knows his athletes will be equally invested scholastically. It’s a West Coast school that tries to hold its own in the Pac-12 each year. Maples Pavilion buzzes for big games, and the Cardinal continues to balance its identity as the Pac-12’s leading brainiac.

7. USC: The stain of the recent sanctions stemming from O.J. Mayo’s first and only year with the school left a mark. The Trojans vacated every win from the 2007-08 campaign as a result. That was just another barrier for a program that’s dwarfed by USC football and basketball power UCLA. But the Trojans are in Los Angeles, where a multitude of elite prospects reside. So there’s always potential for growth. But it’s still a tough position with all of the competition and the negative perception of the program created by the recent scandal. The program has a beautiful, fairly new arena ... but does anyone care?

8. Colorado: The Buffaloes compete in a conference that consists of West Coast schools. It just doesn’t fit with the rest. Sure, you can get lucky and grab a top-50 recruit or two, but the program lacks the constant stream of West Coast talent that its league’s superiors possess. A new practice facility should be a draw for prospects, and Tad Boyle has done a nice job on the recruiting trail so far. And last season’s Pac-12 tournament title and NCAA appearances could be a boost, too. Still, competing for the league’s title each year could be an ongoing challenge.

9. Arizona State: Well, right now, this is one of the worst jobs in the country. Instability has plagued the program since its last NCAA tourney bid in 2009. Multiple players, including former standout Trent Lockett, have decided to transfer. Herb Sendek is on the hot seat after accruing 22 wins in the past two seasons. That’s only hindered any hopes of catching up with in-state rival Arizona, a program back on the rise. It’s definitely one of the league’s worst jobs right now.

10. Utah: Here’s the bright side. Utah has achieved the financial gains it anticipated with a move to the Pac-12. But its 3-15 league record last season showcased the chasm between Utah and Pac-12’s best. Luring top prospects to Salt Lake City is a difficult task. And conference affiliation only goes so far. But Utah has signed NBA-level players in the past that have fueled its 27 individual NCAA tournament runs. Right now, however, the Utes seem so far from their Pac-12 peers.

11. Oregon State: This is a tough position for many reasons. You’re not the top priority in the region. Oregon is stronger in almost every category we were asked to base this on. Craig Robinson, and future program leaders, face an uphill battle selling recruits on the Beavers. The program was a power in the 80s, but the school has faced a multitude of budgetary problems in recent years, and OSU hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1990.

12. Washington State: The worst job in the Pac-12 earned that reputation with its ongoing struggles to rise in the standings. The Cougars had some success under the Bennetts, but with just six NCAA tournament bids, the program is still searching for ways to break through and compete in the Pac-12. That’s a tough task with in-state schools Gonzaga and Washington succeeding in recent years. It’s No. 2 to football and rarely registers on the national radar. Not a great job.

-- Team blurbs written by Myron Medcalf

Ranking the coaching jobs: ACC

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:00
AM ET
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.

Full breakdowns of the rest of the Big Six conferences can be found here: Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

(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. North Carolina: When you’re the head coach at North Carolina, you don’t recruit, you pick. The Tar Heels have remained atop the game’s elite with plentiful resources, one of the nation’s strongest fan bases, top-5 attendance and a brand that continues to grow through continued postseason success. It’s a rare year when the Heels don’t contend for the national title. Says a lot about the post Roy Williams currently occupies.

2. Duke: Mike Krzyzewski has turned the Blue Devils into a powerhouse over the past 30 years. The fruits of his labor? Duke, a private school that’s gone blow-for-blow with rival North Carolina for decades, has appeared in 11 Final Fours under Coach K. The Cameron Crazies wreak havoc on the opposition with their fiery, invasive support for their favorite squad. And as one of the nation’s giants, elite players pray for a chance to compete for the Devils. Plus there’s a $5 million salary for your troubles.

3. Maryland: As head coach at Maryland, Mark Turgeon has access to one of the most fertile recruiting regions in the country. The Beltway is stocked with talent. And the area’s top program is always in a position to draw those players. The Terrapins finished 14th nationally in the NCAA’s most recent report for annual attendance. Yes, Gary Williams exited following a successful stint that didn’t end well. But the resources, support and potential prospects always position Maryland’s staff for ACC contention and national relevance each year.

4. NC State: Let’s start with the bad. Every elite player that NC State’s head coach covets -- especially those within the Carolinas -- is probably interested in UNC and Duke, too. It’s always tough competing against a pair of titans right in your backyard. But North Carolina State has positioned itself for more success going forward. Next season, the Wolfpack could run the ACC with C.J. Leslie returning and Rodney Purvis joining the squad. With a professional arena to play in and the talent in place, it’s a great time to be head coach of the Pack.

5. Virginia: Owning the state will be a tougher task with VCU’s ongoing surge and pending move to the Atlantic 10. But Tony Bennett still managed to snatch the 20th-ranked recruiting class in the country this season. The Cavaliers are holding their own despite the multiple competitors for talent within its own state. John Paul Jones Arena is a beautiful facility, but Virginia’s attendance numbers haven't been great since it opened it 2006. Still, a solid job for an energetic and patient coach.

6. Florida State: This is a football school. Basketball will always be second at Florida State. And that’s a perception that every recruit and current player must acknowledge. They play their home games at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center, a venue that’s been frequented by Broadway shows, monster truck events and concerts in the past. But a recently added practice facility gives the hoops program an exclusive home and attractive marble for prospects. The program has witnessed some of the largest attendance increases in the country in recent years, and last season’s rally to the top of the ACC standings proves that a coach can win there. Sustaining that success, however, is a much greater challenge.

7. Georgia Tech: There are so many pros and cons associated with being located in the heart of Atlanta, another proven hub for elite prospects. The team has appeared in one national title game and two Final Fours, but Paul Hewitt’s fall from 2004 national title game to his firing in 2011 highlighted some of the challenges with the program’s coaching gig. The athletic department’s indecisiveness about Hewitt’s fate suggested instability within the entire department. The program bled financially as attendance dropped -- not surprising in a metro area packed with pro teams -- and continues to seek a solid footing in the ACC. They’ve dropped ticket prices for their move to the new McCamish Pavilion next season in hopes of drawing more fans and additional revenue. This isn’t on many “dream job” lists.

8. Wake Forest: The forgotten tenant of Tobacco Road, Wake Forest faces a variety for challenges each season. The poaching of the region’s talent by North Carolina and Duke. High-level -- and often unrealistic expectations -- for a fan base that craves to compete against the Tar Heels and Blue Devils every year (see: NC State). Although the team has a strong history of success, it has struggled to continue that legacy since the death of Skip Prosser in 2007. Dino Gaudio started strong but finished poorly. Jeff Bzdelik will enter next season on the hot seat. But the Deacons did sign a top-25 recruiting class, a sign -- confirmed in the past -- that the program is still capable of drawing elite players.

9. Clemson: Oliver Purnell left Clemson to take a low-tier Big East job, despite three straight NCAA tournament appearances and a $1.6 million salary. What’s wrong with the Tigers’ gig? For starters, Littlejohn Coliseum seats 10,000 and they can’t fill it. You can recruit enough talent to compete but the top tier has proved to be elusive for the program’s leaders (just one Elite Eight appearance and 11 NCAA tourney bids total). Plus, Clemson basketball persists in the shadows of the school’s football program. Purnell and others hit walls during their time with the program. Tough spot for any coach.

10. Virginia Tech: A similar pool of issues for the Hokies. No. 2 compared to its successful football program. Struggles maintaining fan interest. A multitude of recruiting issues based on the regional competition. But Jim Weaver’s recent handling of Seth Greenberg’s firing dropped this gig on the ACC’s pecking order. The athletic director’s disorganized press conference and explanation put a stain on the program. James Johnson is a familiar face but definitely not the home run Weaver promised. The top candidates probably ran when he called.

11. Miami: The arena is on campus. It’s always warm, so weather is never an excuse. Yet, they won’t come. Average attendance for Hurricanes games during the 2010-11 season: 3,936 (capacity at BankUnited Center: 8,000). And if you’ve ever attended a non-FSU-Miami game, it feels like less. The program's six NCAA tournament bids are the fewest in the league. The school, a traditional power in football, has never found an identity in basketball, proof that the tropical air doesn’t guarantee an attractive position.

12. Boston College: It’s easy for the Eagles to lure top-ranked players ... in hockey. Basketball is a different story. The program’s leaders have had varied levels of success in recent years. From 2001-09, the program made seven NCAA tournament appearances, including the 2006 Sweet 16. But the Eagles have failed to put together a run that would move BC’s head-coaching post up this list. The Eagles averaged just 4,700 at the Conte Forum last season and it's hard for this program to gain any attention in a city wild about its pro sports. Not surprising that native son Nerlens Noel didn’t sport a Boston College hat on signing day. John Wooden would have trouble rebuilding BC. It’s a difficult position for any coach.

-- Team blurbs written by Myron Medcalf

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