The worst jobs in college football

Originally Published: August 16, 2013
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com

Taveon Rogers, Cory CampbellScott Cunningham/Getty ImagesSuccess has proven elusive for New Mexico State football for more than 50 years.

Some coaching jobs seem hopeless.

But an optimist could consider once-woeful Oregon State. The Beavers suffered through 28 consecutive losing seasons from 1971 to '98. Nearly three decades of futility. This past season was their fifth time finishing with a top-25 ranking since 2000, when they were ranked fourth.

So there's always a ray of hope, even at these schools we consider the worst jobs in college football.

Before we insult six programs and six coaches, let's get one thing straight: Being a head coach at the FBS level is a pretty good gig, at least in terms of compensation. The lowest-paid coach on this list makes $360,000 a year. The highest-paid? $2 million. Further, getting someone to hire you to lead 85 young men on scholarship probably means you aren't a rube who struggles to figure out which shoe goes on which foot.

But these jobs require mental fortitude.

Without further ado -- or hand-wringing! -- here are our Subaltern Six, listed from worst to worster.


6. Kentucky


Coach: Mark Stoops (first year)

Last year's record: 2-10

Winning seasons this millennium: 5

Why this is a bad job: It's tough being a bad football team at a storied basketball school in a hoops-mad state. It's even tougher when that bad football team plays in the SEC. The Wildcats haven't won an SEC title since 1976 and their last year with a winning conference mark was 1977. There have been some winning records, most notably under Rich Brooks, who produced back-to-back 8-5 finishes and bowl wins in 2006 and 2007. That shows a really good coach, as Brooks undoubtedly is, can produce a winning record in Lexington, particularly with a favorable nonconference slate. But being competitive in the SEC is another matter -- see finishing with two or fewer conference wins in nine of the past 13 years. The Wildcats were ranked for eight weeks in 2007, in large part due to a 5-0 start. Their last AP ranking before that? 1984. Finally, the Wildcats played in front of an average of 49,691 fans last year, which was only 73.5 percent of capacity at Commonwealth Stadium, by far the worst percentage in the SEC and seventh worst among FBS teams.


[+] EnlargeIndiana Hoosiers fans
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThese optimistic Hoosiers fans hoping for a Rose Bowl appearance in 2012 insead witnessed a 62-14 loss to Wisconsin.

5. Indiana


Coach: Kevin Wilson (5-19, two years)

Last year's record: 4-8

Winning seasons this millennium: 1

Why this is a bad job: Indiana is much like Kentucky: A bad football team at a storied basketball school in a hoops-mad state. Indiana, which last won at least a share of the Big Ten title in 1967, has lost to state, er, rival Ball State two years in a row. The Hoosiers last went to a bowl game in 2007 -- a 49-33 loss to Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl -- but even that year they went 3-5 in conference play. In fact, the Hoosiers' best conference record since 2000 was 4-4 in 2001. During that span, they won only one Big Ten game seven times, and went 0-8 in 2011. The program had some success in the early 1990s under Bill Mallory, posting four winning seasons, but that came to an end in 1995, and things have been pretty much awful since then.


4. Akron


Coach: Terry Bowden (second year)

Last year's record: 1-11

Winning seasons this millennium: 4

Why this is a bad job: In 2005, Akron won the MAC championship game -- in thrilling fashion, by the way, over Northern Illinois -- its first and only conference title in school history. The Zips have gone 1-11 three consecutive years, their last winning season coming in that glorious 2005 campaign. Further, InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, capacity 30,000, was filled with only an average of 9,275 fans per game last year, which ranked second to last among FBS teams. On the positive side, most 2013 preseason projections have the Zips finishing ahead of Massachusetts, a recently promoted FCS team, in the East Division. Finally, while we certainly respect the "Polymer Valley," the average temperature in January is 24.8 degrees.


[+] EnlargeKibbe Dome
Courtesy of University of Idaho The Kibbie Dome, predominantly made of wood, also serves as Idaho's basketball arena.

3. Idaho


Coach: Paul Petrino (first year)

Last year's record: 1-11

Winning seasons this millennium: 1

Why this is a bad job: Idaho in the 1980s and 1990s was a Big Sky power, but its move up to FBS football has been mostly a disaster. In nine of the past 13 seasons, with five different coaches, Idaho has won three or fewer games. Three times this millennium, it's gone 1-11. Robb Akey went 8-5 in 2009, but that's the lone bright spot, and his already acrimonious in-season firing became litigious when the school decided not to pay off his contract, thereby inspiring Akey to file a lawsuit. The quaint Kibbie Dome seats only 16,000, but only 12,582 showed up for home games last year, a total that ranked 121st in the nation. Finally, Idaho is playing as an independent this year after the WAC disbanded as a football conference. It will join the Sun Belt in 2014, which will mean a lot of airline miles playing teams from the Southeast and Texas.


2. Eastern Michigan


Coach: Ron English (10-38, four seasons)

Last year's record: 2-10

Winning seasons this millennium: 0

Why this is a bad job: In 1987, Eastern Michigan went 10-2 and won the MAC championship. In 1995, it went 6-5 under Rick Rasnick. In 2011, the Eagles went 6-6. That's about all the positive we have for you. The Eagles haven't posted a winning season since that 1995 campaign, and since then they have won three or fewer games 11 times. Last year, they ranked last in the nation in attendance with 3,923 having plenty of room inside 30,200-seat Rynearson Stadium. And poor Ron English. The former -- and highly respected -- Michigan defensive coordinator probably wanted to rip his eyes out last season watching the nation's worst run defense, which surrendered 267 yards per game, 26 yards more than anyone else. It doesn't help that Ypsilanti is just eight miles away from far more affluent Ann Arbor, home to Big Blue.

1. New Mexico State


Coach: Doug Martin (first year)

Last year's record: 1-11

Winning seasons this millennium: 1

Why this is a bad job: Under Warren B. Woodson, New Mexico State won the 1960 Sun Bowl, finished 11-0 and earned a final No. 17 AP ranking. It hasn't played in a bowl game or been ranked since. Its best season since 2000 is a 7-5 finish in 2002 under Tony Samuel. Its most recent coach, DeWayne Walker, left the Aggies to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive backs after going 10-40 in four seasons. New coach Doug Martin was 29-53 from 2004 to '10 as head coach at Kent State. Last year, the Aggies ranked 102nd or worse in 12 of 17 major NCAA statistical categories, and their average margin of defeat was 25.4 points per game. In 2012, the Aggies averaged 14,247 in 30,343-seat Aggie Memorial Stadium. Moreover, like Idaho, New Mexico State is playing as an independent this fall because of the WAC's demise and will join the Vandals in piling up airline miles going forward.

Ted Miller | email

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