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Tony Barnhart Breaks Down the SEC Coaching Hierarchy

In the midst of Rich Rodriguez to Alabama and Steve Spurrier to Miami rumors flying all over the internet and television news tickers, the annual discussion amongst college football fans regarding what jobs are the most "high profile" in the country came about.  It is always interesting to watch coaches leaving current positions to take on bigger, better things at bigger, better colleges - but why?

The answer is simple:  in the South, a region where football is king in most parts, head coaches at major football programs are as much a part of people's everyday lives as their house, kids and full-time jobs.  We analyze nearly every move these men make constantly and are either criticizing, praising or naming our kids after them.  We know their personalities, their motivation tactics, and mostly how they think.  We know the names of their immediate family and where they grew up, where they went to college and what positions they held before their current one. This is why it's fun.

The only question is why coaches pack up and move on to what is perceived as a "better coaching position."  What makes one coaching position more attractive than the other?  The AJC's Tony Barnhart answered that question in a recent article in which he asked 10 former SEC coaches to rank the SEC jobs from 1-12 in terms of best to worst.  The criteria used in determining this included:

The Journal-Constitution reached out to 10 former SEC head coaches and asked them to break down the best -- and worst -- jobs in the conference, taking into account fan support, recruiting base, financial resources, athletic facilities, expectations and backing from administration when things get tough -- as they inevitably will.

Here is the final list compiled at the coaches discussed each position:
  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. LSU
  4. Tennessee
  5. Auburn
  6. Alabama
  7. Arkansas
  8. South Carolina
  9. Ole Miss
  10. Kentucky
  11. Miss State
  12. Vanderbilt
I came in with the mindset that the Alabama job was one of the tops in the country based on the historic significance of the position, and perhaps the tops in the SEC.  I knew that their facilities were pretty good, the recruiting base was fairly solid and the fan support at Alabama is second to none.  HOWEVER, the unrealistic expectations at the school are keeping the position less lucrative and near the middle of the pack in the SEC.

That being said, I never fully realized how attractive the Florida job is until the Gators were hot on the trail of Urban Meyer to become the next head coach.  I know that Florida had Steve Spurrier and this was something that made the job more attractive, giving the job more historical star-power.  I know that the financial backing at Florida is amazing and that the recruiting in the state of Florida was perhaps one of the biggest draws of all. However, I still felt that the 'Bama, LSU or Georgia jobs would be a little more attractive due to historical program success.

I guess I was wrong, as you can't deny former coaches of this league who feel that the Florida job is #1.  With increased job prestige comes an increased level of expectations, though.  Ron Zook found that out a couple years ago, as did Mike Shula recently.  The key is to not become a victim of your own early success.  A trip to the BCS national title game and an SEC title in your second season at the helm is always a good thing; however, the fans and administration may think that is the only option later down the road.  Steve Spurrier may have felt these affects in the final years of his Florida coaching career, and this very well could be something facing Meyer several years down the road.

Consistency is the key.  The Florida job looks to be the #1 place where a coach can earn success in the SEC, and that means whoever is in that spot better do it.  Nothing less will be accepted in this day and age of college football.