Lou Holtz once signed a contract with the University of Minnesota that allowed him to leave the school without penalty if Notre Dame ever offered him the job of coaching its football team. And sure enough, when Notre Dame did, Holtz left. People in Minnesota still are upset about that, but who can blame Holtz for wanting to coach under the Golden Dome? Some jobs just demand to be taken whenever they're offered.
What are the most prestigious coaching jobs in North American sports? It's like asking what are the best teams, but not quite. You probably couldn't slip a clipboard between the difference in the winning traditions of Kansas and North Carolina, but sometimes, as Roy Williams decided this week, the coaching position is even more prestigious than the program.
Sure, it wasn't easy for Williams to leave Kansas, the returning players or the incoming recruits. But if a coach were tied to those three, he never would be able to leave any job without a pink slip. The timing is never good, but like Holtz before him, Williams owes no apologies. Some job offers should come with a free pass.
And these are those, the 10 most prestigious coaching jobs in North American sports. You get offered any of these gigs and you can leave your current post no questions asked.
|We were left holding our heads also after Curtis Strange's dismal decision-making in the 2002 Ryder Cup.|
10. Ryder Cup captain
Why it's so prestigious: You're in charge of a squad that the richest and most powerful people in the country consider more important than the 101st Airborne Division. Half the time, you get a free trip to Europe. You get to coach a team that has Tiger on it. And you don't have to deliver your own pep talks, since the president does the honors.
Drawbacks: Payday can be a little underwhelming.
9. Tennessee women's basketball coach
Why it's so prestigious: Because any men's basketball program should have such a proud winning tradition. With apologies to what Geno Auriemma has done at UConn and despite what his Huskies did to Tennessee in the championship game last week, the Lady Vols are still the top women's program.
Drawbacks: No matter how many titles you win, no one is using up all the toner fluid copying off office brackets for your tournament.
8. Ohio State football coach
Why it's so prestigious: Last year's national championship didn't hurt, but Ohio State football already had a long and glorious history (with the exception of that little incident in the 1978 Gator Bowl). The state is football crazy and, unlike Texas, Michigan and just about everyone else, there isn't another major college rival in the state (sorry, Bowling Gree). That makes you the only game in town. And if you do really, really well, they may even give you the greatest honor in sports -- dotting the "i" in script Ohio.
Drawbacks: A 10-2 season is a good way to get your ass fired. And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't lose to Michigan.
7. Any high school coach, anywhere
Why it's so prestigious: Because kids look up to you. Because more than most others at the school, you have a chance to mold and teach a student. Because in small towns (and even in some large cities), you often can be the focus of the community. Because no matter your record, someone will call you "Coach" for the rest of your life.
Drawbacks: Phone calls from angry parents demanding to know why you don't play Jason or Jennifer more.
6. North Carolina men's basketball coach
Why it's so prestigious: Only Kansas can match your school's rich basketball history. Aside from the recent Matt Doherty era, your program has been the best and most consistently successful college program for generations. You coach the school where Michael Jordan played. You're located on Tobacco Road, home to the sport's fiercest rivalry, where college basketball is a way of life. And the weather is nicer than Lawrence.
Drawbacks: You have to go head-to-head with Coach K and Duke every year. No matter how well you do, fans will always think Dean Smith was better. And just so you never forget that, your arena is named after him.
|The Green Bay coaching job is a dream for Mike Sherman -- except when Warren Sapp wants to get a piece of you.|
5. Green Bay Packers coach
Why it's so prestigious: America's real team, the Packers combine the best of both worlds -- a small town that adores you and national recognition. You not only have the support of the best fans in the NFL, you are the representative of all those blue-collar stockholders. You work in a city so proud of its team that it calls itself Titletown. Your paychecks aren't signed by Jerry Jones. And if you need any further reminder of what makes your job so cool, your office is on Lombardi Avenue.
Drawbacks: You're in Green Bay, and it's damn cold.
4. Montreal Canadiens coach
Why it's so prestigious: Sure, there are great baseball, basketball and football teams in the U.S., but none of those sports have a monopoly on the country's fans. In Canada, however, hockey is the national religion and despite the Stanley Cup drought, the Habs remain the team.
Drawbacks: The Canadiens have missed the playoffs four of the past five years (how is that possible?). And you get paid in Canadian money.
3. Los Angeles Lakers coach
Why it's so prestigious: Because you're not just coaching a team, you're the master of ceremonies for Showtime. You coach the team of Kareem, Magic, Jerry West and Wilt. You coach Kobe and Shaq. When it matters most, the refs cut you slack. Jack and the rest of Hollywood's A-list pay money to watch you work. Oh, and did we mention the Laker Girls?
|Another drawback of managing the Yankees? Listening to Zimmer complain about his hemorrhoids.|
Drawbacks: You coach Kobe and Shaq.
2. New York Yankees manager
Why it's so prestigious: Do you have to ask? You manage the richest, most successful and famous sports team in the world. Do well and you'll win publishing contracts along with the championships. You get to dress in pinstripes to work. You get to tell David Wells exactly what you think of him. And if all that isn't enough, these words are: ticker-tape parades.
Drawbacks: You have to work for an insane and evil man. And he has your phone number.
1. Notre Dame football coach
Why it's so prestigious: This is the apex of collegiate coaching, regardless of sport. You run the most famous, most respected program in the country. Your rabid fan base extends to every continent. Every recruit in the country dreams about playing for you. Schools queue up deeper than a Brezhnev-era bread line just for the honor of placing you on their schedules. Other coaches get their own cable-access shows, you get major motion picture deals. You're so connected you practically have the Pope on speed dial. And you get to hear the Notre Dame Victory March every day instead of that crappy elevator muzak.
Drawbacks: Every team really, really wants to kick your ass. Lose one game and alumni around the world want you ex-communicated.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.