Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 100 Best Coaching Jobs in Football: 76-100

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a Gator Bowl victory this season. It was the program's first bowl win in 64 years.

By Joe Parello

We continue our look at the 100 Best Coaching Jobs in football. For those of you that didn't read out first section (on the sad 11 programs that didn't even make the Top-100), here is a refresher on our terms.

The "best" coaching jobs are ranked by:

1. General Prestige- The guy who coaches this team is a big deal.

2. Chances of Being Successful- In college this amounts to how well a coach can expect to recruit and level of competition. In the pros, it is determined by the competency of the ownership group and front office. Pro teams are generally lower in this category because a. the NFL is a league of parity (sorta) and b. you have to rely on other people to pick your players (most of the time). Not to mention, there is a draft.

3. Length of Leash- Can one bad season get you canned at this job? Or, is the administration/ownership group understanding of the team building process? A job where you can actually work through that process is obviously more desirable.

Two factors not used in coming up with these rankings were a team's current roster and compensation. Personnel and pay-wise, this is an "all things being equal" kind of thing. Think of it as the best places to build a team from scratch.

The rankings take college conference realignment into consideration, and include 111 possible teams from the NFL, ACC, Big East (though it will not be a BCS conference much longer), Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC and Div. I independents.

So, without further ado, here is the second section of our rankings, the first quarter of our Top-100.

100. Jacksonville Jaguars: NFL

I mean, it's an NFL job, so it can't be out of the Top-100. But, with an incompetent front office, apathetic fan base and the constant threat of relocation, Jacksonville is definitely the least appealing job in the pros.

99. Kentucky: SEC

98. Kansas: Big 12

97. Duke: ACC

96. Connecticut: Big East

Let's just group these four together as the "basketball schools." While they have all had some success in the past 20 years (which is why they rank ahead of Indiana) these programs will probably always stay in the shadows of the historic hoops teams they share a campus with. Kentucky gets the low spot because they have to play in the brutal SEC with an apathetic fan base, and Connecticut grabs the top spot because talent in the Northeast doesn't have many other options for football.

95. Carolina Panthers: NFL

94. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFL

93. Tennessee Titans: NFL

Oh, the AFC/NFC South. Two divisions where, if you ain't winning, you're probably playing in front of non-sellout crowds. Add in the fact that you have to compete with solid front offices and emerging fan bases in New Orleans, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Houston, and these jobs are far down the Totem pole.

92. Washington St.: Pac 12

Playing second-fiddle to Washington is tough, but there is some talent in the Pacific Northwest. The problem is, USC and Oregon know that too, and they do an excellent job recruiting Washington.

91. Southern Methodist: Big East

This job has gotten more and more appealing in recent years with the effects of the NCAA "Death Penalty" wearing off and the school maneuvering its way into a major conference. With fertile recruiting grounds in the Dallas area and top notch academics to sell, a few good seasons could end with the Mustangs moving up to the Big 12.

90. Cleveland Browns: NFL

This may be the most incompetent front office in sports, but at least the fan base shows up. Plus, fans in Cleveland will latch on to any signs of life as reason to keep a coach.

89. San Diego St.: Big East

Like SMU, San Diego St. enjoys the luxury of having talent in its backyard, and should be able to sell itself in recruiting now that it is in a bigger conference. Now, can it sell games against Connecticut and South Florida to California kids? 

And, with news coming down that San Diego St. will be reinstated as a full member of the Mountain West, they are no longer eligible for our list. Shame, that 89th spot was very prestigious.

88. Northwestern: Big Ten

Northwestern has one of the smallest home stadiums in Division 1 and academic standards that make it difficult to recruit top players. Still, those same academics make it a good sell to players in talent-rich Chicagoland. Good coaches can succeed there (see above), but it isn't easy.

87.  St. Louis Rams: NFL

86. Oakland Raiders: NFL

85. Detroit Lions: NFL

84. Arizona Cardinals: NFL

The Rams are a mess of a front office right now, and don't play in a glamor town, while the Raiders didn't get any smarter after the passing of Al Davis. The Lions have a nice new stadium and a passionate fan base, but also a history littered with terrible personnel decisions. The Cardinals are a historic doormat, and the front office just fired the only guy that has ever led them to a Super Bowl. Still, the fan base is growing, and a new stadium makes the job somewhat worthwhile.

83. Colorado: Pac 12

Moving to the Pac 12 may come back to bite the Buffaloes, who now seem lost in the recruiting wilderness. Colorado produces some Division 1 talent, but not enough to run a program. Historic pipelines in Oklahoma and Texas seem to have dried up now that the Buffs no longer face the Longhorns and Sooners on an annual basis.

82. Syracuse: ACC

A move to the ACC should bring a boost to both the football and basketball programs. On the football side, the hope is that the upstate New York school will be able to recruit further south into the Mid-Atlantic and suddenly talent-rich New Jersey, along with further east into Pennsylvania.

81. Maryland: Big Ten

80. Rutgers: Big Ten

Time will tell if the move to the Big Ten will come back to haunt these two programs the way the move to the Pac 12 did Colorado. Maryland and New Jersey both have talent, but there are plenty of traditional powers that now pluck players out of there. So, with the Terps and Scarlett Knights playing their biggest games in Ohio and Michigan, will they be able to keep any of those kids home?

79. Oregon St.: Pac 12

Oregon St. has none of the advantages of in-state rival Oregon, but all the natural disadvantages. Namely, the fact that the state of Oregon doesn't produce a ton of players. Still, good coaches can sell the home crowd in Corvallis and bring in enough talent from Washington and California to compete.

78. Minnesota: Big Ten

Minnesota had a dynasty in the 1950s, but since the dawn of national television, the Gophers have struggled. Still, with a new stadium and totally refurbished facilities, along with a cool campus with "city life" to sell, Minnesota has the ability to recruit with rival Wisconsin.

77. Boston College: ACC

Boston College has some history, excellent academics and a beautiful campus to sell. But, talent in the Northeast is sub par and all college athletics seem to get lost in the shuffle in this great pro sports town.

76. Mississippi St.: SEC

They're in the SEC, and the state of Mississippi is up there with Louisiana and Florida in terms of NFL players per capita. But, LSU and Alabama recruit the state well, and Ole Miss has been able to keep more kids home historically.

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