Yesterday, in the wake of whatever in the world is going on with Nick Saban and Texas right now, we took a look at the top 25 coaching jobs in college football. People generally were positive about it, with a few pointing out that Tennessee was too low, South Carolina was too high, and Arkansas probably should have been on there somewhere. (Also, that my Illini are probably somewhere in the 90s.)
I had such a fun time with the college football list that I'd be a fool not to try the same with college basketball. College basketball, paradoxically, is actually a little more based in tradition than college football; some schools (UCLA, Texas) that haven't had much success in a while still rank highly. Recruiting is a little different too; one player can make a more dramatic difference.
The same rules as with our college football list apply:
1. 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.
2. This could change every year, but it shouldn't change dramatically every year. Again, tradition counts for plenty. Butler doesn't automatically get in the top 10 for the Stevens Era, and UCLA isn't sent plummeting down the list because of whatever they're doing with Steve Alford right now.
3. The rankings are based on one fundamental question: If I were a hypothetical Average Coach, which job would I most desire? Fred Hoiberg may feel that he has the perfect job for him at Iowa State, but few others would feel the same about having that job. Personal preferences are nice and everything, but they don't count here.
I do not claim to be the world's foremost college basketball expert, so after I put together my list, I ran it by my colleague Matt Norlander, along with some other astute college basketball observers, to make sure I didn't have anything way off. There's probably still some things wrong. Let me know what they are.
The Top 25 Coaching Jobs In College Basketball
1. Kentucky Wildcats. Has only slipped into the this top spot in the last couple of years under John Calipari, and Robert Morris will remind you to wear the crown warily. Anyone who has ever attended a neutral court game involving Kentucky knows the power of this fanbase.
2. Kansas Jayhawks. James Naismith coached there, which is not for nothing. Bill Self feels like the perfect Kansas coach.
3. Duke Blue Devils. It feels strange having them this low, but we'll know in 20 years if this is a college basketball school or a Coach K school. Seeing the recruiting gains of the last few years implies the former.
4. North Carolina Tar Heels. The emotional cradle of college basketball. Still, doesn't it seem like the Roy Williams era has been a bit more up-and-down that you thought it would be?
5. Louisville Cardinals. A new arena, and a fanbase that expands far beyond the university's campus.
6. Indiana Hoosiers. Still up in the air, I think, whether Tom Crean is the best fit for this job, but Hoosier basketball has already proven that it was never just a Bob Knight creation. If it's good enough for Ron Swanson, it's good enough for the rest of us.
7. Texas Longhorns. A bit of a sleeping giant, but the same advantages they have in football apply here.
8. UCLA Bruins. An impossibly difficult job -- you have to both distract fans from other L.A. pursuits and make them feel special -- but it's still the home of Wooden.
9. Michigan State Spartans. Magic Johnson and Tom Izzo: That's a pretty solid chunk of college basketball history right there.
10. Syracuse Orange. It remains to be seen how they'll do when Jim Boeheim leaves, but then again, that might not be until 2040.
11. Arizona Wildcats. If everyone didn't go bed so early on the East Coast, they'd recognize just how much of a power this program has become, though considerable turmoil.
12. Florida Gators. Lots of talent in the region, and the mid-aughts teams remain one of college hoops' most memorable mini-dynasties.
13. Ohio State Buckeyes. An impressive recruiting machine, and all the support any coach could dream of.
14. Memphis Tigers. The fanbase's expectations are a little outsized, but their devotion nonetheless demands dominance.
15. Georgetown Hoyas. In retrospect, it's insane that anyone not named John Thompson ever coached this team.
16. Maryland Terrapins. It's going to be fascinating how they wedge into the Big Ten. It still feels like an odd fit.
17. Illinois Fighting Illini. John Groce is showing what Bill Self, when he was here, knew so well: This job is just below the elite level and potentially can be even more. (Note: Somewhat biased here.)
18. Connecticut Huskies. No matter what, you can guarantee that every time they win a big game, they'll lead SportsCenter.
19. Michigan Wolverines. The arena upgrade made a huge difference, and the Beilein hire looks like a brilliant one.
20. Oregon Ducks. The Nike money is beginning to make the inroads in basketball that it has in football.
21. Wichita State. The only school in the Missouri Valley Conference -- the most underrated conference in the country, along with maybe the A-10 -- that has a private plane, which is a huge advantage.
22. Oklahoma State. Eventually, they're just going to let T. Boone Pickens play.
23. Temple Owls. Philadelphia is a wonderful college basketball city, and the Owls will always rule here.
24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Having them in the ACC now -- well, sort of -- only helps their prestige.
25. UNLV Runnin' Rebels. Having Tark still attending the games reminds of a better time and points to where they could still go.
Just missing the cut: Arkansas, Butler, Creighton, Gonzaga, Marquette, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Villanova, Wisconsin, Xavier.