Top 10 coaching jobs in football
The football gods grant you one wish: You can coach any NFL or college team in the country.
Here's your top-10 cheat sheet (with five honorable mentions thrown in for free):
1. Green Bay Packers
The statues of Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau stand outside the best stadium in the NFL. (Yes, you read it right: the best stadium in the league -- perfect sight lines, perfect football atmosphere, no dome.) And you can't swing a chin strap at Lambeau Field without hitting something connected to the Packers' championship tradition.
Management is stable, supportive and committed to success. And whenever the franchise needs some extra walking-around money for, say, stadium expansion, it simply sells more shares of the worst financial investment on the planet: Packers common stock.
This is a franchise that cares deeply about winning, about its fans, about giving its coaches the best chance of getting their own statues.
2. University of Texas
When they hand you the coaching keys to the Longhorns' football program, you get the most expensive car on the lot.
According to research done at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, Texas' football program is worth $805 million -- more than the Forbes-calculated value of the Jacksonville Jaguars ($770 million), St. Louis Rams ($780 million) and Oakland Raiders ($785 million). In other words, the Longhorns aren't sweating the $5.35 million salary they pay Mack Brown. Or the $25.9 million (U.S. Department of Education figures) they spent on the program in 2011.
If you can't win at Texas, then you ought to consider another profession. The school and Austin are drop-dead gorgeous. You usually get first pick of the state's lonnnnnng list of quality recruits. And it doesn't hurt to have your very own Longhorn Network. Every conceivable advantage awaits.
3. New England Patriots
Two words: Robert Kraft.
The smart, respected and instinctive Patriots owner knows how to run a business (second only to the Dallas Cowboys in franchise value -- $1.635 billion, according to Forbes), but better yet, knows how to hire good people, support them and then get out of their way.
As a head coach, what more could you want?
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4. Notre Dame
The Packers of college football. Or are the Packers the Notre Dame of the NFL?
The point is, Brian Kelly has shown what happens when you correctly leverage the power of your football brand. Notre Dame has its own TV network, a national recruiting network, 125 years of football tradition and facilities that rival or exceed those of its peers. The diploma means something, too.
As always, it's about getting players -- and ND's academic standards can eliminate some prospects. As does the winter weather. It is a program with high visibility, high expectations and its share of quirks.
But when properly operated, it is also a formidable program.
5. New York Giants
Coaching the Giants can age you, break you or define you. But if you win there, you'll never have to worry about the first sentence of your obit.
You'll need Kevlar to handle the New York media and an ownership and front office willing to go to the NFC East mattresses against the likes of free-spending Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. You're on your own for the Kevlar, but generally speaking, Giants management knows what it's doing. Thank you, Jerry Reese.
Anyway, it's the New York Football Giants. You want tradition, pressure, the league's biggest stage? Then this is where you want to be.
It doesn't have the prettiest campus, the best stadium or the most populous recruiting base. But what it does have is an aura, a houndstooth history deep in championships. "Roll Tide" isn't a saying; it's a way of life. You either believe or you don't.
Bama isn't for everybody. Nick Saban has succeeded there because his intensity and expectations somehow exceed those of a fan base that doesn't take L's for an answer.
No athletic department spends more on its football program ($36.9 million in 2011) than Alabama. You are given every tool in the box to win. If you do, you become a coaching icon (and very, very rich), as Saban has become. If you don't, you become an appetizer on Paul Finebaum's radio show.
Surprised? Don't be.
In the cutthroat SEC, there's a lot to be said about an LSU program that almost always gets the best players in the recruiting-rich state. Plus, the Tigers can cherry-pick in Texas, Alabama and, of course, Australia.
Les Miles might be called the Mad Hatter, but he isn't stupid. He did his square dance with Arkansas, but at the end of the day, he knew LSU could show him the money and give him the best opportunity to win a national title. Plus, there are few places where football matters more than at LSU.
8. Michigan/Ohio State
Sorry, these two programs are connected at the thigh pads. In many ways, they're mirror images of each other when it comes to giving a coach the best chance to succeed.
Monetary value? Michigan is No. 3 at $618.6 million, Ohio State No. 7 at $520.9 million.
Football expenditures? Ohio State spent $34 million in 2011; Michigan spent $23.6 million.
Huge fan bases? Check marks for both. Huge recruiting bases? Check marks for both. Huge national exposure? Check marks for both.
That Team Up North and Ohio have more in common than Wolverines and Buckeyes fans would like to admit. But they can agree on this: These are two of the most sought-after coaching jobs in the country.
Have you ever spent any quality time with Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley? I have. He basically spends every waking moment trying to figure out how to help his coaches win.
You need better facilities? He'll do everything he can to make it happen. You need an increased budget for recruiting? For assistant coaches? For support staff? For whatever? Talk to Foley.
Foley is demanding, but the results on his watch have been nothing short of spectacular. So, yeah, you probably want to work for him if you're a football coach interested in a national championship.
And did I mention there are about a gajillion quality recruits in the state? And that from a financial standpoint, Florida football revenue and overall program value easily overshadow those of Florida State and Miami?
10. Houston Texans
Texans owner Bob McNair doesn't generate the publicity wattage of the Cowboys' Jones, but within the NFL industry, McNair is admired, respected and a little bit feared.
Cash flow isn't a problem for McNair. Better yet, he spends his money wisely.
McNair isn't afraid to show loyalty or patience. (Gary Kubiak can tell you all about it.) And the Texans' front office is peppered with real pros.
The next five: USC, Oklahoma, Chicago Bears, Georgia, Oregon