The national media is abuzz this morning with the outrage of Bobby Petrino's departure from Atlanta in favor of Fayetteville. It would be difficult for me to care less about who captains the Razorback football program, as long as it is not someone who is currently employed by Auburn University.
With these coaching changes happening so often, it is probably a good task to identify the worst coaching situations that exist in the upper levels of American football (college & pro) that make these transitions so prevalent, especially between college and pro teams. It also explains why colleges like Arkansas have a hard time filling the opening with suitors who have less pressure and comparable money in a less competitive conference.
Now that the very worst job in all of the NFL (Falcons) is open, and the most high pressure college coaching vacancy now filled (Arkansas) let's run down the list of the remaining worst coaching jobs based upon prestige, expectations, recruiting, facilities, salary, and the school's commitment to the program.
10. UCLA Bruins- They have no commitment to football, they are in the PAC-10, and they have absurd expectations considering their lack of history in football. Because of how they have acted, they should expect to be a stepping stone school for quite some time to come.
Positives: They have decent facilities, a solid salary for the coach, and one of the best recruiting bases in America.
9. Vanderbilt Commodores- Bobby Johnson has worked wonders with his severe academic, financial, and facility limitations. The fact that Vandy has fired any head coach over the last 20 years is a true statement on egg-head academics with their head in their rectum trying to preside over a major college athletic endeavor.
Their football program consolidated under the "Inter-mural Department" four years ago. It's sad.
Positives: The program itself has little upside. The SEC, the facility limitations, and recruiting are as good as it can possibly get for the 'Dores growth potential.
8. Detroit Lions- This is the black hole of coaching in the NFL today. Matt Millen might be the worst at his job in the league, other than maybe the Oakland Raiders franchise from top to bottom.
They have a nice facility, but outside of that it is a coach's graveyard. Don't believe me? Name the last 3 head coaches of the Detroit Lions and what they're doing now.
Positives: The salary cap, free agency, and a lower draft ranking this year will allow them to get a need instead of best player near the top of the draft.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers- Ugh! They might be in the worst recruiting bastion in major college football. They win just enough to garner some expectations, but they really are pretty bad. The weather and facilities don't make it easy to recruit southward either.
Positives: Enough talent falls through the cracks that they get Barbers and Maroneys every now and then, and they're in the Big 10. They can always make a bowl game with a pathetic out of conference schedule plus a conference schedule that lacks Penn State and Ohio State in some seasons.
6. Kansas Jayhawks- They are in the Big 12 North, they have no commitment to football, all of the fans are bandwagon, and their facilities are among the worst in Division I football.
When KU was 8-0 this year, no one here in KC gave a crap. They were talking about their basketball midnight madness, and thought their football team was a nice story for the kiddies.
Positives: There are few. Expectations have been raised, but the prestige, recruiting base, and lack of true commitment to the program remain the same. It will be a curse and not a blessing shortly down the road.
Need proof? If Mangino left, what Head Coach would want to come to Kansas and hear, "Chuck Mangino took us to the Orange Bowl. What have you got?" Answer: Not a medium or high profile coach. It'll be some mid-major offensive coordinator or a D-II Head Coach that will have to be conscripted to do the job.
5. New York Jets- They share a stadium, they have the New York media breathing down their neck all the time, and management is only fairly committed to winning consistently. The fact that they play in the same division with the modern NFL dynasty isn't a big perk either.
This franchise may be as inherently obsolete as it gets.
Positives: Same as Detroit.
4. Baylor Bears- The permanent cellar dweller of the Big 12 in every sport but women's basketball. It will ruin a coach's reputation and potential faster than almost any other job out there.
Positives: There's always a transfer to the Sun Belt.
3. Miami Hurricanes- Just plum awful facilities from their condemned stadium, all the way through their high schoolesque workout facilities. It is a big dump.
The "U" has loads of tradition, a great recruiting base, and prestige, but MY OH MY how quickly those advantages are being thrown away in the modern era of the mid-major recruiting push, and the need for state of the art facilities to attract the top prospects. No joke, South Florida has a better recruiting edge in all categories except history over the Canes right this very minute.
This program comes in and out of the big picture of college football faster than any other program. Even Notre Dame gets press when the suck. Anyone hear anything out of Coral Gables this year?
Positives: If they spend the money for facilities, dorms, and coaches, they'll be back in it soon. The expectations remain the same, but they're in the ACC.
2. Oakland Raiders- When Al Davis calls it quits, this team will get better immediately. His expectations are wildly unrealistic, and they have the worst talent evaluation in the NFL.
Positives: To Al Davis, "Just die, baby!"- Steve Mezzapelle
1. Alabama Crimson Tide- If the team is not competing for at least the SEC title, the coach is the least popular person in the state. We're talking lower approval ratings than congress. It's pretty easy to go there since half of the state hates him by default, but his base will desert him faster than a Bobby Petrino coaching change.
His wife and children will receive death threats during bad seasons. He has absolutely no privacy. He has to be "dressed to the nines" to attend all the different pancake breakfasts for booster clubs across the state; which means the Bama head coach consumes about 2 tons of pancakes during the off-season and will ruin about 9 different Armani suites with maple syrup. It's a travesty.
Possibly the worst thing of all: The expectations. Saban could win a national championship, and at the same pancake breakfasts he will get, "Great season coach!" followed directly by,"We're gonna repeat next year. Right?" said as a statement of fact, and yet threat also.
Positives: He'll be immortalized and legendary if he does win a National Title there. The salary will be unreal, the popularity will be crazy high (as in women will want to have his baby, their husbands won't mind, and will probably even name their it after you....regardless of gender).
Now that we've thoroughly dissected the worst of the best sport in the land, we can all look for the coaching changes surrounding these schools to be done in a manner that mirrors highly paid military conscription. The coaches here should feel as if they are marching off to their professional demise....because, in fact, they are.