National analyst: Texas is top coaching job in college football; Oklahoma … – Dallas Morning News (blog)
Charlie Strong appears to be the luckiest football coach in America, at least according to one national writer.
ESPN.com’s Travis Haney ranked the 24 best coaching jobs in the country, splitting the list into four tiers with the Longhorns’ gig leading the way.
Texas was one of five schools labeled as “the best,” which Haney describes as having “just about every resource on hand and every opportunity to succeed.” It is joined in the top five by Alabama, USC, Ohio State and Florida.
According to the list, Texas ranks at the top thanks to its prime location in Austin, as well as quality facilities.
“The facilities aren’t brand-new, but they’re still among the best in the country. Even so, you’re not going to catch the school’s brass sitting on its hands — not with A&M’s headline-grabbing stadium project and the acclaim for new venues at Baylor and TCU,” Haney writes. “Texas let everyone know last summer that it had earmarked $750 million for athletic facilities spending for the next five to 10 years. That includes updates to the football building and some parts of DKR Stadium. The administration is proud enough — and has deep enough pockets — to make sure the football program has everything it could possibly need, and more.”
A downside for the program is what Haney describes as the “wine-and-cheese crowd” that typically populates Darrell K. Royal Stadium, as well as potential political unrest amid the universities’ administration.
“A powerful or successful enough coach, however, can avoid the political potholes. There’s pressure involved, sure, but the job also entails myriad perks. The Forty Acres is college football nirvana, all the live long day.”
Teams Nos. 6-14 earned “The Next Best” label, which is defined as “Not quite elite, but not far from it. In many cases, programs that could creep toward — or inside — the top five in the future.” Haney puts Oklahoma in this group at No. 9, just behind Georgia and ahead of Notre Dame.
“[Bob] Stoops has continued to win 10 or 11 games a season, but perhaps new blood would hit ‘reset’ on the program’s stalled momentum. And if a new coach took over tomorrow, he’d find a talent- and resource-rich environment, a program primed to again win big. Despite underachieving seasons in 2011 and 2014, Oklahoma is far from broken.”
Oklahoma’s biggest asset is its strong recruiting base in Oklahoma and Texas, and that’s something that isn’t going away. While OU is improving its program to compete with others, Haney thinks there’s room to grow for the Sooners.
“OU’s stadium and facilities are above average, certainly among the best in the Big 12, but the school isn’t standing pat while everyone else in the region upgrades. The board last summer approved a $350 million to $400 million plan that includes enhancing the football complex and closing in the stadium’s south end zone. The John Blake dark ages aren’t returning anytime soon, but someone could do more at Oklahoma than Stoops is presently. Even Stoops’ friends have hinted that that’s true.”
Texas A&M made the second tier of teams as well, tying with Oregon at No. 11. Coaches told Haney that “a good job got better” when the Aggies made the switch from the Big 12 to the SEC in 2012, but the $450 million renovation to Kyle Field helped as well.
“The Home of the 12th Man needed a remodel; it’s getting a rebirth. The team’s facility, connected to the south end of the stadium, is also in the process of being redone. In fact, the coaches are currently displaced from their offices while they’re getting a much-needed face lift.”
While the renovation to Kyle Field will make it one of the “very best venues in the sport,” Haney sees a slight negative in the school’s somewhat remote location.
“College Station is kind of stuck out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s growing rapidly and it’s still only an hour or two from Austin and Houston. Generally, location isn’t something that is preventing recruits from going to A&M.”