Today we ranked the Pac-12 coaching jobs -- an inexact science to say the least.
ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach took another angle: Underrated coaching jobs. And he tapped two from the Pac-12: Stanford and Washington.
Here's what he had to say:
Stanford: Stanford is the perfect model for mixing athletics and academics. Despite facing tougher admission standards than a lot of other schools, the Cardinal have won 23 games the past two seasons. Former Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh, now coaching the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, instilled a blue-collar work ethic, and David Shaw, his former assistant and replacement, picked up right where he left off. Shaw's best sales pitch? Offering recruits an education that's worth about $58,000 annually.
Washington: The Huskies won a national championship under coach Don James in 1991, so there's no reason they shouldn't be more competitive in the Pac-12. Coach Steve Sarkisian, a former USC assistant, has expanded UW's recruiting base into California. Husky Stadium is finally getting a face-lift, so the Huskies will play this season at the Seattle Seahawks' CenturyLink Field. The $250 million project will remove the lower bowl of Husky Stadium and add a 40,000-square-foot football operations center, including a weight room and meeting rooms.
First off, when Mark writes about Stanford having "tougher admission standards that a lot of other schools," what he meant to say is admission standards that are higher THAN EVERY OTHER SCHOOL PLAYING FBS FOOTBALL.
I like these picks. Of course, "underrated" suggests a lot of things. Mostly I see it as a measure of a good place to be where you have a chance to win but a little less win-or-else pressure.
But are "underrated" jobs destination jobs? Or are the competitiveness and ambition -- required qualities in big-time college sports -- too overwhelming to prevent an eye from wandering. Sure, some guys who win big stick around second-tier jobs -- Boise State's Chris Petersen and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer being two -- but it seems the vast majority of coaches are committed to the climb.
For most highly competitive sorts, they want to go to the most prestigious program, one that gives them the best chance to win national championships on a regular basis. And they'd want to see their name atop lists of highest paid coaches.
For some, though, there are other considerations, such as putting down roots and quality of life. And, perhaps, toning down the win-or-else reality of several big-time programs.
It will be interesting to watch Shaw at Stanford, his alma mater, and Sarkisian at Washington over the next few years. Shaw has been adamant that he already has his dream job and has no interest in going elsewhere. But what if he wins a national title and gets a call from the NFL? Same could be said of Sarkisian. Would he turn down the NFL? Heck, would he turn down, say, Florida if it ever became available?
My feeling is both are presently content at their "underrated" programs. But you learn in this business to never say never.