Let the coaching carousel begin.
This morning's news of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill's retirement (due to unfortunate circumstances) increased the number of FBS head coaching vacancies to eight, and there are expected to be even more by the time the off-season comes around. Six of these are Power 5 conference jobs, and one of them is in the AAC - a conference that currently has three members in the latest AP Poll.
There are some good coaching jobs available, which makes for a competitive market, but how do these openings stack up against each other?
Diving into the market, recruiting grounds, salary capabilities, competition, and overall appeal of the program, I'll rank these openings and determine which coaching position is the most desirable.
8. North Texas
After five seasons at the helm of the ship, North Texas fired head coach Dan McCarney after the Mean Green lost their homecoming game to an FCS program Portland State 66-7. The loss gave North Texas an 0-5 start to the season. McCarney was 22-32 during his time there.
A member of Conference USA, North Texas is situated in one of the country's hottest recruiting pools, the state of Texas, but has to compete against several more prominent college football programs to make anything of it. And the overall appeal of the CUSA doesn't do the Mean Green any favors. There aren't any up-and-comers or expectations for the future, at least not outside of the conference brass.
This would be a good job for an assistant coach or coordinator at a mid-level program looking to turn a program around. The job would pay somewhere between $500,000-$750,000 a year and could turn out to be a nice stepping stone for something bigger and better down the road.
Illinois knew it needed to find a new head coach before the season even began. Amid allegations of influencing medical decisions and forcing players to play hurt, Tim Beckman was fired by the university just one week prior to the Fighting Illini's season opener against Kent State. It happened fast. Because the move happened so close to the season, Illinois did not have a chance to fill the vacancy before the year began.
Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit took over as interim head coach and will be considered for the full-time head coaching position when the time comes, but the search continues.
Illinois is a lower-tier team in the Big Ten Conference, but still gets a piece of that revenue share. And by piece, I mean over $30 million. It was reported by NBC that Purdue received $32 millionthis year,a $5 million increase from the year before. That's big, and makes a huge difference when selling the coaching position to prospective candidates. But the program's appeal is still not enough to make this an overly desirable job. Competing against Big Ten recruiting powers, Illinois won't be competing for a conference title anytime soon.
However, the next head coach can expect to make somewhere around $1.5 million a year. Not a bad gig for limited expectations. At this point, following the allegations surrounding Beckman's departure, Illinois will probably be happy with a coach that can come in and win the locker room.
After 12 years as Central Florida's head football coach, George O'Leary retired Sunday, opening up the best coaching position in the American Conference. But UCF's first move will be to find a new Athletic Director, also replacing O'Leary, who recently stepped down from his interim position.
UCF sits in the middle of an extremely fertile recruiting ground (Orlando) in the one of the largest recruiting pools in country (Florida), and is the largest university in the country in terms of undergraduate enrollment. This makes for a large fan base and much needed support. With the Knights' recent success, defeating No. 6 Baylor 52-32 in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, and everything else above, this job can possibly attract a top-tier assistant coach or coordinator with a recruiting background.
The next head coach, depending on background, can expect to make somewhere around $1.5 million. So with a large fan base and a fertile recruiting ground, and a $1 million-plus salary, UCF is a better job than people think.
Maryland is a few years away from shooting up this list, but it's not quite there yet. Still a fresh member of the Big Ten Conference, Maryland does not yet get that $32 million revenue share, and won't be eligible to receive the full share until 2021. It's going to be a difficult job for the next head coach, and it wouldn't be a shock if this position opened up again in the next four years, when it will actually be a very desirable job.
While Maryland is not yet receiving a full Big Ten revenue share, it does have a direct tie to Under Armor founder Kevin Plank, the program's top booster. Plank has been a vital part of the Terrapins' re-branding, and leads the charge on the planned $155 million athletic complex renovation. These renovations, once completed, will increase the overall appeal of the program and improve recruiting capabilities in order to compete with the top-tier programs of the Big Ten.
Once the revenue shares begin to pour in and the renovations are complete, this will become a very desirable job. But for now, it's just a middle-tier coaching position in an unfortunate situation.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill announced his retirement Wednesday morning during a very emotional press conference, citing poor health as the only reason for his departure. It was terribly sad, but Minnesota will have to move forward and find a replacement for the five-year head coach. And if they can find a guy as dedicated to his team and his craft as Kill was, the Golden Gophers will be in good shape.
Minnesota is a middle-tier team in the Big Ten with history and a solid foundation. It has a dedicated fan base necessary for program growth, gets full revenue share from the Big Ten and is in the middle of a proposed $190 million athletics renovation plan. While recruiting continues to be more of an uphill climb for the Golden Gophers, the right head coach can steer things in their direction. And the renovations, once completed, will undoubtedly help in that regard.
Kill made more than $2 million a year, so the next head coach can expect to make between $1.5-$2 million, with added bonuses for any unexpected success in the Big Ten. With the fan support and a solid foundation, this is a quality job with mid-level expectations.
3. South Carolina
Steve Spurrier's departure from the head coaching position at South Carolina may have come as a surprise to some, but it shouldn't have. The timing may have been odd, but the game had somewhat passed the Ol' Ball Coach by. It's a young man's game - it's about recruiting - and he just didn't have that fire in him anymore. But that's okay, coaches are always looking for a shot at college football's premier conference.
While USCe is a firm member of the SEC, it's not the recruiting power that some of the other programs are. The state of South Carolina is a fertile recruiting ground, but the Gamecocks don't own the area - Clemson does. It makes things difficult in Columbia. But a great coaching hire can change all of that.
South Carolina will likely pay somewhere around $3 million for its next head coach, with bonuses galore. Turn the program around, and secure your future. It might be news to some, but USCe does not have the storied history that some other SEC programs have, but recent success has made the fan base hungry for more. And the administration feels the same way.
This is a great job for a coach with a recruiting background.
The University of Miami fired Al Golden following a blowout loss to Clemson this past weekend, so the Hurricanes are again looking for a head coach to return them to the glory days. Golden spent five years in Miami and saw limited success. Fans want more, much more, and Miami will shoot for the stars to get that.
Miami has limited fan support and doesn't have its own football stadium. While it will attempt to pull in the best possible coach, the university won't be able to pay as much as some of the other top-tier programs - it will likely pay somewhere around $3 million. However, with all of the negatives, this is still a great job.
Miami sits right in the middle of the the country's most fertile recruiting ground in the tri-county area. Teams from all over the country travel to Miami in an attempt to pluck some of that talent, and have done so successfully over the last five years - much more successfully than UM has. With the right coach, all of that can change. The easy access to ridiculous talent and the history of the program will aid in Miami's search. And while people outside of Miami may have forgotten about that history, people in south Florida have not - and that's where the talent lies.
A coach with a strong recruiting background can do big things in Coral Gables.
USC fired head coach Steve Sarkisian after a roller-coaster ride of allegations and an embarrassing public appearance. Sarkisian clearly needs help, and I hope he gets that, but the Trojans will have to move on - and in a different direction than they have with their last two hires.
USC is the best available job in college football - hands down. It will attract some big names, and it has the cash to make it happen, too. If the university decides to avoid the direction of its last two hires (Kiffin and Sarkisian) and go for a big name, it can potentially offer $6-$6.5 million. That's Nick Saban money, and would catch anyone's attention.
Right smack in the middle of Los Angeles, this is a high profile job, and the first goal will be to find a coach that can handle the spotlight, good and bad. You're more than just a football coach at USC, you're a celebrity - it's the nature of the beast. The fan support is real, which is crucial, and they're ready to get back to business.
This is the most appealing program in the country in terms of drawing in recruits, and the surrounding area is a fertile recruiting ground, so the right coach can clean up. The idea of playing football for a storied program and being a celebrity in Los Angeles can pull in some talent. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, it is what it is.
With full support from the administration, a strong fan base, recruiting prowess and a big bank account, this is the best job opening in the country.