NCF Nation: 20120710 jobs rank

Ranking the SEC coaching jobs

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
9:07
AM ET
The SEC has the reputation of being the toughest conference to play/coach in. But what is it like to be in charge of one of these high-profile programs?

That's where we come in. As we take a deeper look into programs around the country this week, we're looking at how each program stacks up in every conference. In the SEC, there's always a fierce arms race going on, and getting left behind can be dangerous.

Today, we're ranking each coaching job in the SEC. We considered a lot of factors, including location, tradition, support, fan bases, facilities and recruiting access.

Here's how we ranked all 14 SEC jobs.

1. Florida: For starters, Florida is all about location, location, location. It's in a state that produces some of the country's top talent and it's a state that players around the country will flock to. Thanks to Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer, Florida has become a national brand like Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame and Texas. Recent significant facility upgrades and a tremendous fan base have only helped this be the top job in the SEC.

2. LSU: It's one of just a handful of schools around the country that's considered the school in the state. Every football player in Louisiana grows up wanting to play in Tiger Stadium. Louisiana is also extremely bountiful when it comes to producing football players, and Texas is right around the corner. The facilities are top notch and the program has great tradition and a tremendous fan base.

3. Alabama: Talk about extraordinary tradition. Though there were some down years before Nick Saban took over, there's no escaping the success this program has had. Prospects from all over are drawn to Alabama. There's tremendous support inside and outside for the program, and the facilities are some of the best in the nation. This is also a school that didn't hesitate to pay Saban the big bucks when the opportunity arose.

4. UGA: There is so much talent around Athens that it's hard for Georgia not to have a top recruiting class year in and year out. Georgia's facilities are near the top of the conference, and the campus is gorgeous. The tradition and game-day atmosphere would draw anyone in.

5. Auburn: While it's constantly knocking heads with Alabama, Auburn has plenty going for it. The campus is gorgeous, the stadium is one of the best game-day venues in the league and the fan base is extremely passionate. Auburn is in the heart of recruiting central in the Southeast, and the recently updated facilities are a major plus.

6. Tennessee: While the Vols have struggled with consistency on the field lately, this is still an attractive job. Nearly $50 million was spent to build a brand-new football complex, Neyland Stadium has been spruced up over the years and the program does have a rich tradition. Though with the state not being so talent-rich, coaches are forced to target other areas in the Southeast to recruit.

7. Texas A&M: The Aggies' tradition is well-known in college football. The game-day atmosphere is one of the best in the country, there is a great alumni base, their home state is filled with elite talent and the school is huge. Now Texas A&M can sell playing in the SEC to Texas athletes. But one thing that does hang over the program is that it's still playing second to the Longhorns.

8. South Carolina: Spurrier has completely transformed South Carolina and proved he can win there. The state has an underrated talent pool, and Spurrier has made it a priority to get the best talent to come his way. The fan base is one of the most loyal ones in the country, standing by the Gamecocks even during the rougher years.

9. Arkansas: The Razorbacks are basically the pro team of the state, and Bobby Petrino's success made it a very attractive job nationally. The fan base takes great pride in its program, and recent facility upgrades have really helped draw more attention to Arkansas. However, the state isn't as rich with talent as other southeastern states, meaning the Razorbacks have to turn to other states, such as Texas and Oklahoma, for more prospects.

10. Missouri: New to the SEC, Missouri is making sure it keeps up in the arms race by upgrading and expanding Memorial Stadium. There's good tradition at Mizzou, but Gary Pinkel really turned things around and made the Tigers more relevant when he arrived in 2001. Location could be an issue for some southeastern prospects, but Pinkel and his staff are making a conscious effort to expand recruiting efforts into Georgia and Florida.

11. Ole Miss: Oxford is the quintessential college town, rich with history and a game-day atmosphere envied by many, thanks to the Grove. The campus is beautiful, and the football facilities are pretty impressive. However, consistently recruiting top talent to Ole Miss has been a major issue for coaches, as the Rebels have won nine games or more just five times since 1971 and have had 11 head coaches during that time.

12. Mississippi State: Starkville can be a little out of the way for people, and like Ole Miss Mississippi State is having to try to keep top Mississippi talent away from the likes of Alabama and LSU. The fan base is very loyal, and the program has seen a bit of resurgence since Dan Mullen's arrival. The school is also breaking ground on a new $25 million football facility.

13. Kentucky: The football program will always be in the shadow of the basketball program. Even though Rich Brooks turned things around, it's hard to sustain that when Kentucky has to go out of state so much for recruiting and has to do a lot of projecting with prospects. Before last season, the Wildcats went to five straight bowl games, and recent upgrades to the Nutter Training Facility have players excited.

14. Vanderbilt: The high academic standards leave coaches without the opportunity to recruit some of the top prospects, and Vandy only has been bowl eligible five times in school history. While the administration drug its feet on facilities for so long, the school agreed to upgrade facilities, including adding a new multipurpose practice facility, when James Franklin received a new contract last fall.
If you had your choice, which Big East head-coaching job would you want?

Despite the naysayers out there, the league has plenty of good options. As part of our coaching series this week, I have ranked the coaching jobs in the Big East from best to worst. Here are factors I took into consideration when doing these rankings: location, budget, facilities, long-term growth and program potential.

Keep in mind this is a ranking of the jobs themselves, not the head coaches.

1. USF: Why the Bulls? Location plays a huge role in why I have this job tops in the Big East. USF is in the hands-down best recruiting area of any team in the league. The Bulls have new facilities, pay well (Skip Holtz just got a $2 million a year contract) and are in a state that is crazy about football.

2. Pitt: The Panthers are also in one of the best recruiting areas, being able to mine Pennsylvania and Ohio for talent. They do have a winning tradition and top-notch facilities and a history of turning out first-round NFL picks. Plus, a move to the ACC now means they have a guaranteed tie-in to a major bowl game.

3. Louisville: While the area is not rich in talent, coach Charlie Strong has done an excellent job getting into Florida. The Cardinals have excellent institutional support, good facilities and pay well (Strong is the highest paid of the Big East public school coaches). Though there is no NFL team to compete with, there is another major sport on campus that traditionally draws more attention.

4. Cincinnati: Another huge plus with location, as this is a program that can naturally recruit a talent-rich state. Coach Butch Jones also has done an excellent job building a pipeline into Florida. The recent winning tradition is huge, with two BCS appearances. Financial support isn’t as high as other Big East schools, and Nippert Stadium needs upgrades/expansion.

5. Rutgers: Recruiting the tri-state area has been big for the Scarlet Knights, especially in big years for New Jersey. Their facilities are nice, and they have won in recent years. But they still have to fight for publicity in an NFL-heavy area, and attendance at home games dipped to No. 5 in the league last season.

6. Syracuse: The Orange also have to look outside New York to try to fill their recruiting base. The facilities are getting a much-needed upgrade, though fan support has been lacking. This is program that has done well historically but fallen into a slump. Hopefully a move to the ACC can jump-start consistent success.

7. UConn: The Huskies are in a tough spot in Connecticut, an area that isn't brimming with top-level recruits. They have to compete against some major players for talent. The facilities are nice, but this has been a program traditionally overshadowed by men's and women's basketball.

8. Temple: The Northeast has been a tougher area to recruit in recent years, and nobody really knows how Temple is going to fare now that it makes its move back into the Big East. Facilities got a huge upgrade but still have a ways to go. Fan support has to get better.

Ranking the Pac-12 coaching jobs

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
9:00
AM ET
It's difficult to rank coaching jobs, but that's what we've been asked to do this morning for the Pac-12.

Is a coaching job all about the money? Is it about the prestige of the program? Is it about potential? Is it about location? Stadium size?

It's probably about all of those things.

1. USC: It's the prestige program in the Pac-12. A top-five job nationally. And the only top-five job located in an A-list city.

2. Oregon: The Ducks have become a national power. Great facilities. Sugar daddy booster in Nike boss Phil Knight. Cool town, too.

3. Washington: The Huskies have money and are willing to spend it. Renovation of Husky Stadium also helps. Will winning come next? The Huskies fall behind the Ducks because they have not been to a BCS bowl since the 2000 season.

4. California: The Bears have substantially upgraded facilities and were willing to give Jeff Tedford a fat contract. And you can't beat the Bay Area.

5. Stanford: The Cardinal have moved up based on the past two seasons, and a big part of that happening was a willingness to recognize the importance of football. Academics are both a plus (smart players) and a minus (only smart players get in). And again, you can't beat the Bay Area (especially if you can afford it).

6. UCLA: A lack of recent success knocks the Bruins down a bit. Also, football remains second to basketball in Westwood. Still, the potential to win is here. And so is the Southern California market.

7. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are tired of being called a sleeping giant, and they have to compete with pro sports for fickle local fans' attention. Still, if ASU starts to win again, it could fill up the conference's fourth-biggest stadium.

8. Arizona: The basic knock is Arizona is a basketball school. Underrated stadium experience, though. Further, capable athletic director Greg Byrne is fully focused on doing everything he can to make the football program successful.

9. Utah: Moving up in the world because of a pair of BCS bowl wins this decade and a jump to the Pac-12. It's also notable the school has anted up to retain coach Kyle Whittingham and his assistant coaches. Second-smallest stadium in conference, though.

10. Colorado: Cool stadium in a great town and a history of success that suggests the Buffaloes can win and win big. Coach Jon Embree, however, is the lowest-paid coach in the conference. And state laws limiting multiyear contracts are an issue for any head coach trying to hire and maintain a staff.

11. Oregon State: The Beavers, at present, are struggling during Oregon's rise. Reser Stadium seats only 45,674, and coach Mike Riley is the second-lowest-paid coach in the conference.

12. Washington State: Mike Leach would obviously disagree with this ranking -- "Why Washington State? Well, that's a stupid question," he said during his first news conference as Cougars coach -- but Martin Stadium is the smallest in the conference (32,248 capacity), and Pullman is the most isolated town in the conference. Of course, Leach's $2.25 million salary and some Martin Stadium upgrades have the Cougs moving in the right direction.

Ranking the Big 12 coaching jobs

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
9:00
AM ET
Our series on coaches marches on today. Today, we're looking more at the coaching jobs themselves, and less about the men who currently reside within them.

Who has the Big 12's best? It all factors in history, facilities, recruiting base, fan base etc. What are the best jobs in the league? Here's how I'd rank them.

1. Texas: Ready-made recruiting base. The Longhorns are the flagship program in a state full of talented kids who (most of them, anyway) would die for an offer to wear the burnt orange. They've got a big fan base and college sports' biggest budget. What more could you ask for? Oh, a crazy awesome city surrounding your campus? Texas has that, too; this is arguably the best job in the nation.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners are a national power with a huge fan base and lots of money. Being just under three hours up the road from Dallas pays off in recruiting, too. Winning isn't automatic here (ask John Blake), but it's a lot easier than at most places. The gap between these two and the rest of the league? Enormous.

3. Oklahoma State: Ain't nothin' wrong with a sugar daddy. T. Boone Pickens has helped elevate this program off the field and Mike Gundy turned it into a big winner on the field. OSU's facilities are impeccable, and its proximity to Texas allows it to reel in some top talent from the state.

4. West Virginia: This is the only team on our list that truly has an entire state behind the program. That pays off, even if it's a small one like West Virginia. Being a historic winner helps, too. Big 12 membership will pay off in facility upgrades soon, too.

5. Texas Tech: Tech's facilities are nice and the Red Raiders often get first dibs on the declining-but-still-underrated talent in West Texas. Winning big is possible, and the rowdy fan base provides a nice home-field advantage. Look out for that wind and lack of an indoor facility, though. Lubbock has a reputation as a small town, but it's actually one of the league's biggest with a population of well over 200,000. It's not the prettiest city, but there's more there than most think.

6. Baylor: Waco's proximity to the metroplex makes it a nice draw for recruits, and though the city isn't a huge draw, the campus is nice and the facilities are strong. A small fan base is the biggest negative. It's never fun for coaches or players to play home games in atmospheres that feel like neutral-site games. It happens too often at Baylor.

7. TCU: TCU has the same problem as the Bears, and we'll see if Big 12 membership fixes its home field getting flooded by opposing fans in Texas. Being located in the DFW metroplex is huge, and the facilities are in the process of a major upgrade that will be done soon. Gary Patterson winning for a decade gives this job a big upgrade for the next guy, too.

8. Kansas State: Bill Snyder did the impossible and turned K-State into a power (albeit briefly), but no one else seems to be able to win in Manhattan. It's a tiny town in central Kansas, and unless you're arguably the greatest coach in the history of the game, nobody else has been able to consistently win there. The fan support is outstanding and way underrated, but taking the job has to give any coach pause, even if Snyder's done everything he can to make the program a winner for the next guy.

9. Kansas: An apathetic fan base that seems more interested in basketball is the biggest problem with the KU job. It's the only school in the Big 12 that prefers the roundball. Mark Mangino proved you could win big there, but even he had trouble winning consistently. The stadium is quiet and underwhelming, but its proximity to Kansas City offers some nice payoff in recruiting -- if you can beat out Mizzou.

10. Iowa State: Iowa State holds the distinction of being the only truly "little brother" program in its own state, and that lands it at the bottom of our list. ISU is way north in the Big 12, and in a state that has little football talent. Best of luck convincing top Texas talents to sign up for Iowa winters. Feign offense at the "little brother" tag, but Iowa has 11 conference titles, 22 consensus All-Americans and a Heisman Trophy. Iowa State has two titles, three All-Americans and no Heisman. It's not close. Iowa's also won 14 bowl games, compared to three for ISU. That said, Paul Rhoads is doing an unbelievable job in Ames. So did Dan McCarney.

Ranking the ACC coaching jobs

July, 10, 2012
7/10/12
9:00
AM ET
ESPN.com’s week-long coaching theme continues today with a look at the best coaching jobs in the country, and those on the rise. Who’s got the best gig in the ACC? It’s a no-brainer to say that Duke coach David Cutcliffe has the toughest job in the league. Would you rather coach at Miami and Florida State, though, where the pressure to win a national championship hovers over you every season? Or would you rather quietly plug away at a place like Virginia, trying to win the ACC and build something special? It’s debatable. Here’s one version of the best coaching jobs in the ACC:

1. Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer has proven the Hokies can be national title contenders, and established Virginia Tech as the premier program in the state. The state is loaded with talent, the players can qualify, and Lane Stadium sells itself, especially on a Thursday night.

2. Florida State: This storied program is also in a recruiting hotbed, and it’s willing to spend the money needed to be a national title contender. Beating Florida is a must, of course.

3. Clemson: This is another program where talent and money aren’t problems, and it’s got one of the best game-day atmospheres in college football. Just don’t lose to South Carolina.

4. Miami: It shouldn’t be difficult to lure in top talent to sunny South Florida, and the tradition is already in place. It’s quite an upgrade for a coach coming from, say, inner-city Philadelphia, but you're coaching under a microscope, don't have a stadium on campus, and don't always have the finances.

5. Georgia Tech: Must. Beat. Georgia. In recruiting, on the field and everywhere in between. Otherwise, it’s a top 25 program in the city of Atlanta that has consistently been in the hunt for the Coastal Division title.

6. NC State: The facilities are first-class, the game-day atmosphere is great, and there is plenty of talent in the state to recruit. This can be a consistent top-25 program, and is a job on the rise.

7. North Carolina: Usually this would be higher on the list, but because of the academic black eye the university has suffered, this has to be a tough place to coach right now. Apparently, it's not too difficult to recruit, though.

8. Virginia: There are plenty of in-state recruits to choose from, the campus is beautiful in the fall, and there is lots of potential for growth.

9. Wake Forest: Jim Grobe likes to say he has a “recruiting puddle” at Wake, so you have to know how to find talent and develop it in order to have a chance here.

10. Boston College: You’ve got to like the cold, and have to accept the fact the program is overshadowed by the local pro sports and even the school’s hockey team. It’s a tough task to change that perception, and to convince the bowls your fans will travel.

11. Maryland: Randy Edsall said this was his dream job, but not a lot of coaches want to live in College Park and compete with the Redskins and Ravens for fan loyalty.

12. Duke: If it were easy to recruit here, it wouldn’t be so hard to win. This program is still haunted by its recent history of losing, and until it shakes that shadow and gets back to bowl games consistently, it will be one of the least desirable coaching jobs out there.
Our week-long series on college football coaches continues with a look at the best jobs in the country.

What makes a job great? Tradition, administrative/fan support, facilities, recruiting location, championship expectations, recent track record, college town and brand name all play key parts. Most Big Ten schools can be viewed as destination jobs for certain coaches, but only a select few are destination jobs for most coaches around the country.

In ranking the Big Ten's coaching jobs, I placed the most emphasis on the following four factors: tradition, facilities, recruiting location and recent track record. As a reminder, this isn't a ranking of Big Ten coaches, but of the jobs they occupy.

Here's the rundown ...

1. Ohio State: There's a reason Ohio State can go through a year like 2011 and then hire a coach like Urban Meyer. Most programs would have been in big trouble. From winning tradition to tremendous facilities to a location in the Big Ten's most fertile recruiting state, Ohio State has it all. It is one of the sport's best brands.

2. Michigan: No Big Ten program has greater long-term tradition than Michigan, and Brady Hoke and his assistants are showing just how dangerous the Wolverines can be on the recruiting trail. Recent facilities upgrades -- stadium, indoor practice facility -- have made Michigan an even better position and certainly a destination job for many coaches.

3. Penn State: Football is king at Penn State, and despite the recent scandal, this remains a very appealing job. Penn State has the facilities, the administrative support and good tradition on the field. While the school's location isn't ideal, Bill O'Brien's success on the recruiting trail amid the turmoil proves Penn State can still attract top talent.

4. Nebraska: The job isn't as attractive as it was during the glory years, but Nebraska still has first-class facilities, incredible administrative/fan support and a tradition of winning at the highest levels. The drawback is recruiting location, making Nebraska a tougher sell when the program isn't among the nation's elite.

5. Wisconsin: There's no way Wisconsin would be anywhere close to the top five before Barry Alvarez arrived in 1990. But Alvarez made Wisconsin relevant, and Bret Bielema has continued the success. Although Wisconsin is lacking in facilities (soon to be improved) and recruiting location, its recent track record has been exceptional, and Madison is an easy sell to prospects. The Wisconsin brand is very strong these days.

6. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio is showing just how good this job can be if occupied by the right man. The Michigan State job always has had appeal because of the program's tradition and recruiting location. The recent facilities upgrades (completed and ongoing) and stability in the athletic department (AD Mark Hollis) bump the job up a few notches.

7. Iowa: There are inherent challenges at Iowa, mainly a less than favorable recruiting location in a state that doesn't produce many high-level FBS prospects. The fan support is tremendous and Iowa has some tradition and a solid recent track record under Kirk Ferentz. Long overdue facilities upgrades enhance the appeal of the job.

8. Illinois: There are definite pluses, namely upgraded facilities and a location in a good state for football recruits. But Illinois still is known as a basketball school, and the program's most successful period came before World War II. Although the Illini have made some questionable coaching hires, the program's inconsistency raises questions about the quality of the job itself.

9. Purdue: It's a very close call between Purdue and Minnesota, but the Boilers get the nod. Purdue has a stronger recent track record, and while both programs face recruiting challenges, Purdue is more centrally located. Like Illinois, Purdue fights the "basketball school" stigma, although Joe Tiller made this a more appealing job with his successful tenure.

10. Minnesota: TCF Bank Stadium makes this a much more attractive job, as a head coach can sell on-campus football in a terrific facility. But Minnesota has some significant recruiting challenges, administrative support is so-so and the program's inability to win a Big Ten title since 1967 would give some coaching candidates some pause.

11. Northwestern: What used to be the worst job in major college sports is much better these days, and the team's historic run of success since 1995 boosts the job's appeal. But Northwestern still faces challenges with its lofty academic standards. It has the worst facilities and smallest crowds in the Big Ten, and the delay in announcing a major facilities upgrade raises questions about administrative support.

12. Indiana: The Hoosiers lack tradition and have very little recent success to boast about. IU's facilities are improved but not near the top of the Big Ten, and it isn't located in a great state for recruiting. The "basketball school" perception never looks more accurate than with Indiana, although the program lured one of the nation's top assistants, Kevin Wilson, to be its head coach in 2010.

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