Pros: There are eight FBS schools in Ohio, but there is only one school named The Ohio State University. Final Verdict: Coaching Penn State is a tremendous opportunity for any coach, but don’t dismiss the Paterno factor. Final Verdict: Michigan is no doubt an elite job, but as we have seen in the past few seasons — Rodriguez won a total of 15 games in three years — you have to be the right fit to win big in Ann Arbor.
Cons: The Huskers won three national titles in the 1990s, but the program slipped a bit over the past decade. Final Verdict: Barry Alvarez turned Wisconsin from a Big Ten afterthought to a significant player in college football. Pros: Three key elements make Iowa an attractive job — it’s the top school in the state (sorry, Iowa State), it has a strong tradition of excellence (five Big Ten titles since 1981, two BCS bowls since ‘03) and it has great fan support (70,585 per game in ’10). Final Verdict: It’s difficult for a school that doesn’t have a strong local recruiting base to compete for national title. New stadium makes this job more attractive, but the Gophers will always struggle against Big Ten’s elite. In any given year, between 9-25% of head coaching positions are open and filled, with FBS having the highest average percentage of turnover at just over 16%.
Of the 181 Head Coaching vacancies at FBS, FCS, and D-II institutions over the last three years, 113 of them (62%) were filled by first-time coaches.
Recently we examined the makeup of Football coaching staffs, focusing on Offensive Coordinators, Defensive Coordinators, and Special Teams Coordinators. Looking specifically at coaches who supervise positions but are not the Head Coach, OC, DC, or STC, we examined nearly 3,800 coaches and over 15,000 of their seasons. Just 11 of those 3,800 coaches handled three skills positions in the same season (3 on the offensive side and 8 on the defensive side), and another 306 (8%) handled two skill positions in the same season (nearly 80% on the offensive side of the ball, 14% on the defensive side, and 6% on both sides of the ball).
On a different note, we also examined coaching positions and the particulars surrounding who gets promoted. First, only 24 (8%) were Assistant Head Coaches the year before they received their own Head Coaching job, and only 12 (4%) were Associate Head Coaches. On the other side of that coin, of the 726 coaches head coaches we studied, 92 of them (12.7%) left their Head Coaching job and took a Coordinator or Position Coach job in the FBS, FCS, or D-II the very next season.
So while losing a head coaching job might seem like a demotion, most times the former head coaches ended up in positions in that could be considered lateral moves depending on the circumstances, and nearly 40% of the time made moves that could be considered an upgrade.
Must watch videos containing tours of the Win AD database, financial discussions in college athletics, best practices in NCAA contract design, and more. We have ranked every college football program in the country, based on the attractiveness of the position from a coaching perspective.
Cons: Texas has a ton going for it (see above), but the Longhorns are only 22–16 in the last three seasons.
Final Verdict: It’s easier said than done — just ask David McWilliams and John Mackovic — but everything is in place to win big on a consistent basis at Texas. Cons: Expectations are sky-high at a school that has won two national championships in the past seven seasons. Final Verdict: Florida presents one of the elite coaching opportunities in college football. Cons: Coaching football at Alabama is arguably the most stressful job in collegiate athletics. Pros: The USC coaching staff has the ability to stock its roster with elite talent without ever having to jump on a plane. Pros: Oklahoma has been a dominant force in college football dating back to the late 1930s.
Cons: The state does not produce enough talent to stock the Sooners’ roster with the type of players needed to compete for championship.
Final Verdict: Not every coach has won big at Oklahoma — John Blake went 8–16 in three seasons (1996-98) — but it is clearly one of the marquee jobs in the nation. Final Verdict: Michigan is no doubt an elite job, but as we saw in the Rodriguez era — he won a total of 15 games in three years — you have to be the right fit to win big in Ann Arbor. Pros: Georgia has tremendous tradition and is located in arguably the finest college town in America — Athens. Cons: There are really no negatives to be found at Georgia, other than the fact that you are competing in the very difficult SEC, and you have a fan base that demands you win at a high level. Final Verdict: Georgia is a great situation, but you clearly have to have the right guy in place to win big.
Pros: It’s become a bit of a cliche, but there really is nothing like being in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night in the fall. Cons: LSU has so much going for it, but why have so many coaches failed to win at a high level in Baton Rouge? Final Verdict: It’s hard to find a reason why LSU would not be a desirable coaching position. Pros: Notre Dame has three unique advantages compared to almost every school in the country — a national following, its own television contract and an unparalleled history that includes 11 consensus national titles.
Cons: Brian Kelly has returned Notre Dame to national prominence, but there was a long stretch in which the Fighting Irish struggled to compete at an elite level.


Final Verdict: Notre Dame might not be the same job it was 20 years ago, but this is still a great situation for the right coach. Pros: You can make the argument that Florida State offers all of the positives of Florida without the brutal competition of the SEC East. Final Verdict: Florida State enjoyed an unbelievable run of success from the late 1980s through the early 2000s.
Pros: As long as Phil Knight and the University of Oregon remain in good graces, this program will be blessed with tremendous financial resources. Cons: Right now, it’s difficult to find many good reasons why the head coaching position at Oregon would not be attractive.
Final Verdict: Ten or 15 years ago, Oregon wouldn’t be nearly as high on this list, but Knight’s money, Mike Bellotti’s recruiting and Chip Kelly’s offensive wizardry transformed this program. Cons: Penn State recovered nicely in the latter half of the 2000s, but it’s a bit disconcerting that a program with so much going for it was capable of having four losing seasons in a five-year span like Penn State did from 2000-04.
Cons: Life can be tough when you are forced to share a city with one of the elite programs in the nation. Final Verdict: The Pac-12 is a very good league, but USC and Oregon are the only programs that have enjoyed sustained success in the past 15 years. Pros: Auburn and Georgia are the only two schools in the SEC with at least five winning conference seasons in each of the past four decades. Final Verdict: If your ego can handle being the second most important coach in the state, then Auburn can be a destination job. Pros: Who wouldn’t want to recruit to picturesque Neyland Stadium, with its 100,000-plus orange-clad zealots cheering on the Vols each week? Cons: The Vols must recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce enough BCS conference players to stock the school’s roster. Final Verdict: Tennessee is a great place to coach, but the Vols have slipped down the SEC food chain over the past decade. We considered many factors — tradition, facilities, location, money  — but in the end, we simply asked ourselves the following question: Where would we want to coach? The Buckeyes have been a consistent force on the field and in recruiting since Woody Hayes took over in the early 1950s. Consider the case of John Cooper: In 13 seasons, Cooper went 111–43–4, winning 10 games or more five times.
The facilities are top-notch, the fans are passionate, and the recruiting base is outstanding.
The Nittany Lions play in the second-largest facility in the country (Beaver Stadium, capacity 107,282), and they have won two national championships in the past 30 years.
The Wolverines have been a national power since the 1890s and they play in one of the largest venues in the country, 109,901-seat, newly renovated Michigan Stadium.
A coach who comes in with a new philosophy — for example, Rich Rodriguez — will have a tough time being accepted. The state of Nebraska does not produce many high-end BCS conference players each year, and the program no longer has the sex-appeal to steal elite players from the East Coast like it did in the 1970s and 80s. Badger faithful pack 80,321-seat Camp Randall Stadium each week and create one the best environments in the nation. Also, there’s the Michigan thing: No matter how much success the Spartans enjoy, they will always be the second school in the state behind Michigan. To remain competitive, the Hawkeyes’ staff will always have to go into other teams’ home states to recruit.
Football, for whatever reason, has never been much of a threat to break into the upper echelon of the league.
54% of the coaches strictly handled offensive positions, while another 42.2% strictly handled defensive positions.
In the last ten seasons, no FBS, FCS, or D-II coaches who were strictly position coaches for Cornerbacks, Safeties, the Secondary, or the D-Line received 1st-time Head Coaching jobs.
The former Head Coach took another position in the same division but at a different institution 56.5% of the time. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis.
With the possible exception of Notre Dame, no school in the country has more tradition than Alabama.
The coach who can deal with the demands of the job — like Nick Saban — will win at a very high level in Tuscaloosa. The program has a rich tradition, but it doesn’t live in the past; the Trojans were dominant in the 2000s, winning seven straight Pac-10 titles (2002-08) and two national championships. It’s the best job in the Pac-12 and you are in the most fertile recruiting area in the country. The program has consistently been able to dip into Texas and steal more than its share of elite players on an annual basis.
The Wolverines have been a national power since the 1890s and they play in one of the largest venues in the country, 109,901-seat Michigan Stadium. A coach who comes in with a new philosophy — for example, Rich Rodriguez — will have a tough time being accepted.


The Peach State might not produce talent at the same rate as Florida, Texas or California, but metro Atlanta is always strong, and small towns such as Columbus, Valdosta and Warner Robins consistently produce elite talent.
After Vince Dooley won the third of three straight SEC crowns in 1982, the Bulldogs went nearly two decades — and went through two more coaches — before their next league title, won by Mark Richt in 2002.
From 1971 though 2000, the Tigers only won one outright SEC championship, in 1986 under Bill Arnsparger.
Sure the competition is tough and the fans are demanding, but that comes with the territory.
Last season, when the Seminoles had legitimate national title ambitions, Doak Campbell was “only” filled to 92 percent capacity.
The Nike founder and former Oregon track athlete has donated over $100 million to the school’s athletic department. The school does lack tradition, but the Ducks have averaged nine wins per season since 1994.
Kyle Field is a bit on the old side and is set to undergo a renovation, but as far as the facilities for recruiting — football complex in the south end zone, the indoor practice facility — A&M has very few rivals. It has everything you would want in a job — great facilities, strong following, tremendous recruiting base — but the competition in the SEC West is fierce. The 2000s were relatively lean, but UCLA won or shared three Pac-10 titles in the 1990s and four in the ‘80s. And while the Rose Bowl is a beautiful place to play, the facility is 30 miles from campus. The right coach can have this program in contention for conference titles on a consistent basis. Clearly, this program can be a consistent winner in the nation’s most difficult conference. The school — with its fine tradition, strong facilities and outstanding recruiting base — has proven over time that it can compete on a national level. And while Tennessee has struggled in recent years, the program enjoyed tremendous success in the not-too-distant past. The fans are rabid, the stadium is huge (capacity 81,500), and unlike many its ACC brethren, Clemson is a football school.
If you are a coach interested in the job, you’d have ask yourself the following question: Why is this program a chronic underachiever?
The program’s success and the school’s academic reputation have allowed Michigan to be a major player in recruiting both in the Midwest and nationally. Wisconsin, more than most of the other schools ranked in the top 25 on this list, needs the right coach in place to remain successful. The facilities (weight room, practice facility, locker rooms, etc.) are strong, and the stadium recently received a $200 million upgrade. There is a lot to like about the job, but there are also reasons why the school has only won three Big Ten titles (two outright) since the early 1960s. The remaining 5.3% (203) have handled both offensive and defensive skills positions at some point in the last eleven seasons, and 11% of that 203 handled skill positions on both sides of the ball in the same season. Over the last ten years in D-I and the last three years in D-II, 305 coaches have started their first Head Coaching job, an average of 30 per year. And while Texas is a recruiting power, there are three other AQ conference schools in the state, and virtually every other national power dips into Texas to recruit as well. The Big 12, with no Nebraska and no conference title game, offers an easier path to a national championship for OU. In addition, the Ducks have a tremendous home field advantage at 54,00-seat Autzen Stadium, regarded as the most raucous atmosphere in the Pac-12.
This is a great job, but the program will not compete at a high level until the sanctions are over. If you can change the culture in East Lansing — which every coach believes he can do — there is no reason Michigan State can’t contend for Big Ten titles on a semi-regular basis.
Let’s look at those 305 a bit more closely to see what they were doing the season right before their promotion to see what they might have in common. That leaves 42 coaches of 305 who jumped over being a coordinator, moving from being a position coach to a Head Coach. Only 1 former head coach out of the 92 took a non-Head Coaching position at a lower division, moving from FBS to FCS. Florida is a public university in a state that produces a tremendous amount of top-flight talent.
Also, the ACC has been relatively weak in recent seasons; an undefeated ACC champ might not automatically play for a national title. The Big Ten Legends Division has some good programs — Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State — but Nebraska should be in position to compete for a division title on an annual basis.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium offers one of the best atmospheres in college football, and the fan base is as rabid as there is in the nation.



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