There are no bad coaching jobs in the SEC.
The chance to work in the conference that leads all others in attendance and revenue is appealing, no matter what strings may be attached.
Some of the SEC’s 14 head coaching jobs are more tailor-made for success than others.
If every school in the SEC had to replace its coach today, here’s how we’d rank the jobs:
Nashville is home to the most obstacles in the path of football success in the SEC. Vanderbilt is a world-class institution with high academic standards that sometimes make it tough to compete for top recruits.
It’s also the home of the conference’s smallest stadium, and one of its smaller athletic budgets. Momentum is an important part of a program’s success, but with three winning records in the past three decades, the Commodores are fighting upstream at the moment.
Three of the school’s four bowl wins have happened since 2008, so it’s not impossible to have success at Vanderbilt.
Ask a football coach about life at a basketball school, and you’ll understand why Kentucky ranks here. Basketball is king in Lexington, which results in both positives and negatives for the football program.
Football at Kentucky will always struggle for fan attention. That keeps expectations down. But thanks to recent upgrades, the stadium and facilities are solid, and the state’s proximity to Ohio gives it some fertile recruiting territory.
With no winning records this decade, however, recent history is working against the Wildcats.
The Tigers boast a proud tradition and passionate fan base, but the program is at a crossroads. Gary Pinkel’s retirement, social unrest at the school, below-average facilities and its distance from the talent-rich South all are working against it.
We’re about to find out whether Missouri’s recent success (two SEC East titles in the past four seasons) should be credited to Pinkel, or to the program’s ability to develop talent. Barry Odom was a fine choice to lead the program, and how he fares will go a long way toward answering that question.
11. Mississippi State
Dan Mullen has built a consistent winner in Starkville, despite some natural disadvantages. Its location places it in a pitched battle with Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss for every recruit of note. Its facilities don’t match up with any of them.
Still, the team’s recent success (six straight bowl games) and Mullen’s ability to recruit and nurture talent have the Bulldogs punching above their weight. He’s enjoying the program’s best run of sustained success since the 1940s.
10. South Carolina
The Gamecocks have a passionate fan base, a shiny new practice facility and an underrated recruiting territory in the Carolinas.
What South Carolina hasn’t had is a great deal of sustainable success outside of the Steve Spurrier era. It’s possible to win games in Columbia, but the program shares a state with a national power in Clemson and has to compete with the SEC East’s elite for talent.
Still, the ingredients for greater things seem to be in place.
9. Ole Miss
The gameday experience at The Grove is one of the nation’s best, and Hugh Freeze has the program at a level it hasn’t seen since the 1960s. Still, there are factors that Freeze and other would-be coaches must overcome.
The stadium, despite its recent enhancements, is still among the smallest in the league. It also has the same recruiting challenges faced by its in-state rival, though both benefit from a strong group of junior colleges.
Like Missouri, time will tell whether the Rebels can sustain their recent success when or if Freeze moves on.
The Razorbacks have all the pieces needed to establish a consistent winner. They have rabid fan support, underrated facilities and a solid recruiting area, thanks to Fayetteville’s proximity to Texas.
Arkansas’ history is filled, however, with fits and starts. A few successful seasons are generally followed by a few mediocre ones. Having four head coaches in the past 10 seasons hasn’t done much for the program’s stability and brand.
Still, this is one of the nation’s better coaching jobs. To rank it at No. 8 speaks to the quality of the SEC, and not necessarily against Arkansas.
The fact that it’s the second-best coaching job in its own state shouldn’t diminish the appeal of working on the Plains.
Auburn has to fight the SEC’s elite for every recruit, but that hasn’t stopped the Tigers from securing transcendent players like Bo Jackson and Cam Newton and winning national championships.
No team boasts better fan support, the facilities are top-notch and competing for titles is the minimum standard for would-be coaches. On the flip side, that expectation leads to heavy pressure, which is why Gus Malzahn’s seat is heating up.
6. Texas A&M
The Aggies spend money on facilities and coaches like no one else, and having the state of Texas as a recruiting grounds is a coach’s dream.
Only its position in the SEC West, with a slew of national powers to overcome each year, serves as a drawback.
Of course, the recent decline of Texas has been a factor in the Aggies’ recent rise. Should the Longhorns right the ship, Texas A&M may go back to playing second fiddle in the Lone Star State.
Every job left on this list is a fantastic one. LSU has a good recruiting base, passionate fans and a rich tradition of success on the field. The gameday atmosphere at Death Valley is second to none.
Winning in Baton Rouge isn’t enough, though. The fans want the team competing for titles every season, which explains the near-firing of Les Miles in 2015.
He’s posted 11 straight winning seasons while winning two league titles and one national championship, but four years without an SEC West crown is too long for some Tigers supporters.
A gameday experience at Neyland Stadium is on the bucket list of many sports fans, and you won’t find a more engaged fan base anywhere.
The school’s location, resources and brand also allow it to recruit on a national level, which helps overcome its natural geographic disadvantage compared to the rest of the SEC’s elite schools.
Despite some recent struggles in choosing its coaches, Tennessee remains a place where the right leader can produce a national championship.
Great facilities? Check. Good natural recruiting area? Check. Passionate fans and the resources and commitment it takes to win championships? Check and check.
The state of Georgia produces a surprising number of FBS prospects each season, and the Bulldogs always are in the mix for the cream of the crop. Athens and Sanford Stadium also are big draws for the program.
It’s a ready-made job for the right head coach.
Everybody who’s anybody in college football recruits the state of Florida, but the Gators generally have their pick of the top prospects. That alone would be enough to make this job appealing, but The Swamp and a devoted fan base add to that as well.
The facilities are not quite in line with the rest of the country’s elite programs, but that’s a short-term problem for one of the best coaching jobs in America.
No SEC team has more resources, better facilities or a richer tradition of success than Alabama. With 25 SEC titles and 16 national championships, the Crimson Tide’s trophy room is perhaps the school’s best recruiting tool.
The pressure is immense, but so are the advantages. Alabama has the resources to keep up in the facilities arms race, and it can pay its coach and his assistants at a level that keeps them from leaving for other jobs.
In a league full of desirable coaching destinations, Tuscaloosa is No. 1.