Mack Brown might be leaving Texas this season, and he might not be. No matter what, though, one thing is obvious: Everybody wants his job.
The job of head football coach at Texas is so coveted, it seems, that many people think that Nick Saban -- who basically runs college football right now -- could be talked into leaving Alabama (the second-best job) just because the Texas job might be open. The job is so lusted after that I'm sort of surprised a member of the Bush family has never gone after it.
Whether or not Saban pursues the job -- or whether Brown even leaves it - the fact that there's a universally understood Top College Football Job in the country makes me think there has to be a top 25 of college football jobs. I didn't see one, so I decided to create one myself. It's sort of odd that no one has done this (and maybe someone has and I've just missed it); there's always so much discussion about what's a great gig and what isn't, and so much desperation to move up and not down, that it seems this hypothetical list should have been made reality long ago.
I do not claim to be the world's foremost college football expert, so after I put together my list, I ran it by my colleague Matt Brown here at Sports On Earth, along with some other astute college football observers, to make sure I didn't have anything way off. (They made me drop Illinois out of the top spot, for example.) There's probably still some things wrong.
A few things to keep in mind:
- We're not talking necessarily about the best teams, or the best tradition, or exclusively any of that. It's a combination of those things, along with facilities, recruiting bases, job perks, salaries, prestige, all of it.
- This could change every year, but it shouldn't change dramatically every year. This is a sport of tradition, and that counts for plenty. Had Missouri sneaked into the BCS title game, that wouldn't have shot them into the top five, in the same way that Florida's implosion doesn't send them plummeting down the list.
- The rankings are based on one fundamental question: If I were a theoretical Average Coach X, which job would I most desire? To Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern is the best gig in the world, but to regular people, it's a nerd school with a tiny stadium they still have to tarp off seats to fill. Personal preferences are nice and everything, but they don't count here.
I had so much fun doing this that I'm gonna do a top 25 of college basketball jobs for Thursday. (Unless something massive happens in the next 24 hours. Then Friday. But probably Thursday.) But for now:
The Top 25 Coaching Jobs In College Football
1. Texas Longhorns
All that talent to recruit from, all the money in the world and the best facilities in the sport. Mack Brown would have needed to win 17 games this year to keep the wolves at bay.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
If you're wondering what you can do with this job, look at … well, look at right now.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
As rabid a fan base as you'll find, you'll get everything you want, ever. Careful of those shady tattoo parlors, though.
4. Florida Gators
It's the flagship program of the most talent-rich state. It helps if you have an offense people want to run, though.
5. Southern California Trojans
Most of the recent wounds have been self-inflicted, but Pete Carroll showed what is possible there.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Still, and always, a player in this game. Perpetually everybody's No. 2.
7. LSU Tigers
The next three schools have a massive talent base to recruit from and diehard fan bases who will follow their teams to hell (or Jacksonville) and back.
8. Florida State Seminoles
If they win the whole thing this year, they'll move a step closer to re-taking control of their state.
9. Georgia Bulldogs
If a coach can bring another national championship to Athens, he will be bronzed on the spot. Few fan bases want a title more desperately.
10. Michigan Wolverines
Has lost a little with the population shift, but still: There are Michigan fans everywhere.
11. Oregon Ducks
You have to go running every time Phil Knight so much as coughs, but the financial support here is the envy of every coach.
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Not the job its fans think it is, but if you don't curse out the whole town on a hot mic, they might come to really love you.
13. Oklahoma Sooners
Basically has to convince all the Texas talent to come north, but can blow them away with fan devotion and tradition.
14. Auburn Tigers
The program zigs and zags so wildly that it can be difficult to keep track, but after the last month, it looks like the most fun job imaginable.
15. Texas A&M Aggies
The crowd is notoriously intense, and the move to the SEC has gone smoother than anyone could have imagined.
16. Penn State Nittany Lions
Obviously hit a bit of a road bump, but if they can weather these next few years -- and it looks like they will -- this can go back to being the jewel of the East Coast.
17. Oklahoma State Cowboys
It's clear that Sports Illustrated thinks recruits should want to go there, anyway.
18. Tennessee Volunteers
Derek Dooley was an obvious disaster, and it's tougher to recruit here than one might think, but this is still the bed of the SEC.
19. Miami Hurricanes
Downside: Occasional op-eds from Luther Campbell.
20. South Carolina Gamecocks
This might be too high: If Spurrier can't get a conference championship here, it's possible no one can.
21. Washington Huskies
The new stadium and facility renovations make this an attractive gig, and obviously Chris Petersen believes it should be higher on this list. He's probably right.
22. UCLA Bruins
Jim Mora might not have seemed like the ideal fit initially, but it really seems to have worked out, and should continue to.
23. Wisconsin Badgers
That the Badgers rank higher on this list than Arkansas is not intended as a cosmic joke on Bret Bielema, but it works as one nonetheless.
24. Stanford Cardinal
A late riser on this list, and they could very well pass UCLA in the next five years.
25. Michigan State Spartans
Underrated, and almost always a little better in football than you think they are.
Just missing: Arizona, Arizona State, Clemson, Mississippi, Missouri.