Athlon ranks every coaching job in SEC
The SEC is home to some of the top coaching jobs in college football. Georgia takes the top spot in Athlon's rankings but little separates the Bulldogs from Alabama, Florida and LSU. All four of those programs have either won or played for the national championship since the start of the BCS in 1998 and have access to some of the nation's top high school talent in their state borders. The next tier is headlined by Texas A&M, Auburn and Tennessee, while South Carolina, Arkansas and Ole Miss round out the top 10.
Ranking the jobs for every FBS conference is no easy task. After all, the rankings are subjective based upon numerous factors, but we have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money, ability to recruit talent — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach?
Ranking the SEC Coaching Jobs
For the right coach, Vanderbilt is an ideal destination — great city, great school and not much pressure to win. Still, it’s one of the most difficult jobs in the FBS ranks. The fan base is small, there’s no tradition, and the school’s commitment is always in question.
There are no doubt plenty of positives about this job — commitment from the school, underrated fan base — but the recruiting base is weak (relative to the rest of the SEC), and there’s no tradition of sustained success. Kentucky’s reputation as a “basketball school” could be a deterrent for some coaches.
Missouri has been better than most give it credit for over the past 15 years — five 10-win seasons, two SEC East titles (in seven years in the league) — but it’s always going to rank behind the superpowers in the league in terms of attractiveness of the coaching position. Protests about the racial climate at Mizzou in 2015 were damaging to both the school and the athletic programs, but the football program seems to have put that in the past.
11. Mississippi State
Thanks to facility upgrades and a recent track record of success — winning seasons in eight of the past nine seasons — the perception of this program has improved significantly in the past decade. Still, it’s a tough job. The competition is brutal, and Starkville is regarded as the least-desirable SEC locale to call home.
10. Ole Miss
Ole Miss is one of the most interesting jobs in the SEC. There’s a history of success — but it’s from the 1950s and ’60s. There’s a strong recruiting base — but there is fierce competition for those players. The facilities are good — but not quite as flashy as most of the schools it recruits against. Bottom line: This is a good job in a very difficult league.
There’s a lot to like about Arkansas: Great facilities (with a newly renovated stadium), underrated location (Northwest Arkansas is a great place to live) and passionate fans. But it’s tough sledding in the SEC, where the Hogs will always rank behind Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M on the food chain.
8. South Carolina
In a vacuum, South Carolina offers just about everything a coach needs to win at the highest level. But South Carolina doesn’t play in a vacuum — it’s in the SEC, where it competes with some of the elite programs in the nation.
Tennessee is a great place to coach — tremendous fan base, top-notch facilities, strong tradition — but the Vols have slipped down the food chain over the past two decades. The program has had one winning SEC season (5–3 in 2015) since 2007.
If your ego can handle being the second-most important coach in the state, then Auburn can be a destination job. The school — with its fine tradition, strong facilities and outstanding recruiting base — has proven over time that it can compete on a national level.
5. Texas A&M
The Texas A&M administration has spent hundreds of millions of dollars (literally) on the school’s football program in the last decade. If that’s not enough to impress you, A&M is the only SEC school in the state of Texas, arguably the top producer of high school talent in the nation. It’s very difficult to find any negatives with this job.
LSU might be fourth on this list, but it’s still one of the most desirable coaching destinations in the nation. The right coach should dominate recruiting in a talent-rich state, and the environment at Tiger Stadium is as good as it gets in college football.
You can make a strong case to put Florida No. 1 on this list — and even No. 1 in the nation. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis. There is no excuse not to be good at Florida.
Two of the most successful coaches in the history of the sport — Bear Bryant and Nick Saban — have called Tuscaloosa home. That can’t be a coincidence. The school’s commitment to excellence in football is unparalleled. The only issue at Alabama: The in-state recruiting pool isn’t as deep as you will find at Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M.
The sleeping giant is awake. Perhaps no job in the country offers the best of every world like Georgia — great recruiting base, great place to live, great fan base … you get the point. The one knock: The administration hasn’t necessarily been as “all in” as some of the Bulldogs’ rivals in the league.