This time of year there is movement in the coaching ranks and there are some that look at the job openings and mention coaches at other programs as potential candidates. During this time of year there is so much movement in the coaching ranks, and coaches coming out of the booth to once again stalk the sidelines. The coaching searches, as well as the speculation as to who was interested in whom, led me to develop a list of the top 50 football coaching jobs.
1. Texas: This is a job that might even be better than the NFL jobs in your state. You are able to get in a car fill up your SUV’s gas tank in the morning, drive around, see and sign a decent recruiting class and be home in time to put steaks on the grill. You have your own network which will show the games ESPN, ABC or Fox don’t pick up and though there are nine other division 1 football playing schools in your state, you dominate the headlines in every market, even the ones with a program. The facilities are easily the best in the nation, and you have an administration that is willing to upgrade any deficiencies. Your program prints its own money and has a bottomless pit of the green stuff.
2. Florida: Urban Meyer is stepping down from this job for health reasons. Okay I get that college coaching is a stressful gig but this is a program that could be on autopilot and you could win 8-9 games yearly. This job is behind Texas because Florida is without its own network even though all of Florida’s games are on television somewhere. This is not just the second best college football job, this is probably in the top four as far as football jobs; pro or college, ask Steve Spurrier if this job is better than an NFL job. The recruiting base in Florida and southern Georgia is rich, and Florida is at the point where it can recruit nationally. Great weather all year, and great facilities. Will Muschamp walks into a great situation for his first head ball coach gig.
3. Alabama: Didn’t that Bear guy coach there? Okay, I jest calm down Bama fan; “Roll tide”. Anytime you have your fan base begin statements and end statements with a reference to the program that is either some serious passion or some serious “brainwashing, cult worshiping” going on.
4. Ohio St.: This has it all; deep pockets, good recruiting base, ability to snatch national recruits and a passionate fan base. The job is a great job the worst part of the job is that it is Ohio. The conference it is in is overrated, and Ohio St dominates the conference most yearsm so Ohio St.’s rankings tend to be inflated. However the fact it plays in a conference where teams are overvalued year to year, means it can lose a game in conference and still be considered a “contender”.
5. Oklahoma: I bet many of you can hum the Sooner fight song. The program is “Texas lite”. I know OU fan will take offense to that statement, but when you get many of your recruits from your neighbor to the south, that says it all. The fan base is passionate but I ask you this; imagine if you will; Bob Stoops at an SEC school with all of the big game failings of Oklahoma. Would “Oops” be on the hot seat by now or possibly fired? Something to ponder. Even with a National Championship on his resume.
6. LSU: The third best job in the SEC, it is a school full of tradition and ghost stories within the program, game nights in Baton Rouge are special. Good recruiting base, nice weather, and passionate fan base. This is a good job, it is a wonder that LSU aimed low in recent history and landed the likes of Curley Hallman, and Gerry DiNardo to coach at LSU.
7. Georgia: Great recruiting area, nice weather, and a ton of expectations. It is an SEC program that some would say has underachieved under Mark Richt. The issue is climbing over programs in the SEC, which is no easy feat.
8. Virginia Tech: The state of Virginia is underrated as far as the prep talent it produces. The Tidewater/ Hampton roads area is a gold mine that Tech has successfully mined for years and has sealed up so much so that instate rival Virginia would have a better shot pulling a recruit from Southern California than from eastern Virginia.
9. Nebraska: You have a passionate and loyal fan base. Nebraska goes to the Big 10 which makes sense, but you wonder if Larry Scott would have approached them and let’s say Texas A&M, would you have the PAC-14 and this job becomes a little more attractive (yes I know that the television dollars don’t support Larry Scott asking Nebraska to join). The drawback is there is a coaching legend at the school who is your athletic director, which makes for a strange and stressful dynamic.
10. Notre Dame: Notre Dame is not what it once was and drops on this list by the year. The guys who are now old enough to take this head coaching job grew up at the tail end of the era when Notre Dame was still relevant. So what happens ten years from now; Notre Dame may be like Harvard, Princeton or Yale (great history but not relevant as far the here and now.)
11. Clemson: Rubbing Howard’s rock, IPTAY; all of those cool things that make Clemson special are still there. My first college football memory as a child was my father (a huge Nebraska fan and alum) taking me to the Orange Bowl and watching Perry Tuttle burn the Nebraska secondary for a national championship clinching TD for the Tigers. It was a looooooong, quiet flight back to Phoenix the next day. Clemson has SEClike support and facilities.
12. Texas A&M: Strange Job, you cannot ascend any higher than being the second best program in your state, A&M could win a National Championship and probably lose the front page of any major newspaper in the state to some news involving the ‘horns. It is a program with some history and a lot of tradition but is not “the” program and never will be “the” program in that state. With all of the inequity of how the money is distributed in the Big 12, A&M is also in danger of being lapped by the “Orange menace”. The only thing A&M can do right now is leave the Big-12 and join another conference, which they should do. If A&M left the Big 12 and joined a conference without Texas, this job becomes immediately more attractive. As it is, this is a job where you could go 11-1 three consecutive years and lose to Texas each of those years and be on the hot seat, which is likely because right now you just don’t have the same revenue stream as Texas.
13. Wisconsin: This is a passionate fan base. Wisconsin fans turn out in droves to support the Badgers. You have unlimited support from your fan base, and as long as you make them believe you can compete for the Rose Bowl two out of every four years you will never be fired.
14. Penn St.; It is a good job while Joe Paterno is the coach? The question is how good is this job when “JoPa” retires? Will it be like when Frank Kush retired from Arizona State (ASU has not been relevant since Kush retired) or like Florida St. with the transition from Bowden to Fisher.
15. Oregon : Two words; Nike money; Phil Knight “King swoosh”and his deep pockets make this job attractive. Where was Oregon before all the Phil Knight money? It was a program that was behind a WAC program like BYU (the 80’s and 90’s). You know there are debates as to whether a school is a football school or a basketball school, however that debate in Oregon for years did not involve football or basketball, the debate was between Track and Field or Cross Country. So the football program and this job, has come a long way in terms of how attractive the job would and could be.
16. USC: Tradition, and location, but that is all the program has going for it. Those of us that love college football should watch this situation closely because if USC falls like Notre Dame and never recovers much like it seems with Notre Dame. That will signal the true end of an era in college football.
17. Tennessee: It is still a good job, but it is not in the top three in the SEC. Not a ton of instate recruits, but you can succeed there and the fan base will love you.
18. Florida St.: It is the second job in Florida, Bobby Bowden made this job attractive, so only time will tell how good this job really is. Jimbo Fisher has done a nice job in his first year but we will see.
19. Auburn: Speaking of the meat grinder, Auburn is playing for a national Championship and I am arguing that this is the sixth best job in the conference. This is a fan base that was behind a scheme where they tried to fire Tommy Tuberville and hire Bobby Petrino, if you read the stories regarding that episode of Auburn football history it reads like a spy novel, private jets landing and taking off with no records of planes landing or taking off and secret meetings at private airfields. Heck it is easy to believe that “someone” paid Cecil Newton some money with the shady dealings that occur regularly in some of these SEC programs. By the way I have a question Auburn Fan and those people who more deeply religious than I; how does one “Deacon” at five different churches? God is everywhere and I guess so is Cecil Newton, Just a question.
20. Michigan: This is another job that is falling fast. It has a little to do with Rich Rod but more to do with Michigan and the Big 10 being not thought of by today’s recruits as they were ten years ago. It is cold, the area is depressed, Ann Arbor is not a fun place to be, and neither is Detroit. It like other Big-10 schools has a passionate fan base that only really wants a Rose bowl trip.
21. Iowa: (see Wisconsin)
22. North Carolina: You are at a basketball school so what you do will go largely unappreciated. If you are just average, the fan base will tolerate you, if you are great, your ego won’t allow you to stay and the administration will not make it a priority for you to stay. Football coaches at basketball schools can be unknown to their fan base, as long as your program can provide the appetizer to the basketball main course. Think of all the average football coaches with average records who managed to stay at basketball schools for many years without doing anything of note nationally or even in conference.
23. Washington: The media and fans in Seattle are pretty laid back, you just have to be okay. You can stay at this job forever if you are 9-3, 8-4 yearly. It is a good job, has a “nice” fan base, in a conference that is not a meat grinder like say the SEC. If you are a coach who wants to stay somewhere that is a football school, for a long time with very little pressure, this is the place for you.
24. Miami: The “U” is falling fast. Al Golden? When the national media proclaims he is a “solid” hire watch out, it is like when your friend’s wife or girlfriend wants you to meet her friend and she says; “oh she’s a really nice lady with a good personality.” (What image do you get in your head?) Al Golden was at a program where he had a bigger budget than the rest of his conference foes and could not manage to dominate that conference. Yes he expects high academic standards and high moral character from his student athletes, and will recruit south Florida, but didn’t Randy Shannon do the same things, the Canes had a high APR rating, there were very few off-field incidents during Shannon’s tenure and he recruited South Florida so what is the difference? Memo to Miami fan; the Canes will never be the “U” again, truth is you should settle for being “Virginialike” or “Marylandesque” from here forward.
25. Missouri: I don’t really know if this is a good football job or if it is an average job. There is debate as to whether the school is a football school or a basketball school. My gut tells me it is a football school, but the eyes tell me it is a basketball school; which means if you are a football coach at a basketball school, you can hide out for years as long as you are competitive, going to a bowl games, you upset someone every other year and beat a school with Texas in its name every other year. If it is a football school, it is a program that is terribly neglected.