Destination jobs: The 12 truly premier gigs in college football
The Leach drama sparked a question: What are the true destination jobs?
Factors: Recent success, tradition, facilities, athletic department, money
Ohio State, Texas headline; Michigan, Notre Dame made cut, but barely
If Mike Leach hadn't interviewed with Washington in December without informing the Texas Tech brass, the Red Raiders' football program probably wouldn't have nearly imploded last week. In fact, much of the animosity toward Leach stemmed from the perception he possesses a wandering eye.
This should have been expected. Texas Tech has never been an elite program and only recently became a pretty good one, so it's reasonable to expect the coach to entertain the idea of leaving for a program with more tradition, more resources or both. Still, some Texas Tech people, from a few powerful decision-makers to run-of-the-mill fans, suffered from the delusion that Leach already holds a destination job.
He most certainly does not. But the debacle raised an interesting question. What are the true destination jobs in college football? Which jobs would draw a résumé from every coach in America if they opened, and which coaches should be committed if they left one of those jobs for any reason other than an NFL job or a peaceful retirement on their own, booster-funded private island?
A lot of factors determine whether a program boasts a destination job. Recent success, tradition, stability, facilities, athletic department management and handling of past coaches all play a role. In the final analysis, only 12 jobs made the cut.
The Platinum Standard
These are the best jobs in America. These programs should win at least 10 games every year, and their coaches should be among the nation's highest paid. They should win a national title at least once every 10 years or so, and they should begin each season as a national-title contender.
One line from this year's Equity in Athletics report from the U.S. Department of Education sums up why Jim Tressel and his sweater vest aren't leaving Columbus anytime soon:
Grand Total Revenues: $117,953,712.
Ohio State routinely duels Texas for the nation's wealthiest athletic department title. Buckeyes coaches in every sport get the best money can buy in terms of facilities and administrative support. In football, as long as the coach beats Michigan and wins the Big Ten title regularly, he'll compete for national titles, and fans will serenaded him with Hang On, Sloopy for as long as he desires. Tressel, who boasts a 7-1 record against Michigan, four Big Ten titles and a national title, has become Buckeye state royalty.
The past two times Bob Stoops' most recent former employer (Florida) found itself without a head coach, Stoops received a monster raise. Unlike the folks at Texas Tech, who needed some arm-twisting, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione realizes unflagging loyalty comes at a price.
This wasn't a destination job when Stoops took over in 1999. But the coach's kid from Youngstown, Ohio, sifted through the wreckage of the post-Switzer era, embraced one of college football's richest traditions and energized a rabid fan base. Yes, the Sooners have had an awful streak of BCS bowl fortune since losing to LSU in the 2004 Sugar Bowl, but the people who control the purse-strings understand such streaks are cyclical. They also understand Oklahoma has played in a BCS bowl seven times in Stoops' 10 seasons. Most programs only dream of that kind of consistency.
According to those Department of Education data, Texas was the only school that made more money than Ohio State in 2007-08, and the school certainly isn't afraid to spend that largesse on its football program. Mack Brown has everything he needs to win, and he has responded by leading the Longhorns to eight-consecutive double-digit win seasons.
If he didn't have Stoops and the Sooners in his own division, Brown might have the best job in America. He certainly has the easiest recruiting job. Unlike Florida, home to three BCS-conference schools that have won national titles in the past 10 seasons, Texas has a clear hierarchy. If Brown wants, he can pluck the best 25 players from Texas every season, and that's usually what he does. How eager are the Lone Star State's best to play in Austin? Less than three weeks after National Signing Day, the Longhorns have already received 11 commitments for the class of 2010. All hail from Texas.
Coaches yearning for a crack at Brown's catbird seat are out of luck, though. Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp proved just how desirable this job is late last year when he turned down attractive head coaching jobs to become the Longhorns' coach-in-waiting. He'll have to wait a while, but the payoff should be worth it.