SI says Richt (UGA) has a better job than Saban (Alabama)

Does Mark Richt really have a better coaching job than Nick Saban? (Jason Getz/AJC)

Does Mark Richt really have the fifth-best coaching job (two spots ahead of Nick Saban)?

Somebody at Sports Illustrated just came up with their list of the 20 best college football coaching jobs in the nation. Not surprisingly, Georgia made the list. Given its history, stature, conference, recruiting base and overflowing cash drawer, I’ve always considered it a top 10 job.

But No. 5 overall? Ahead of Alabama? As well as Penn State, USC and Notre Dame?

That’s the opinion of Andy Staples, who tackled this subject because of the current state of affairs at Ohio State (which is No. 2 on the list). I’m not going to copy-paste the entire article here, but here’s what Staples had to write about Georgia, as well as excerpts on the other SEC and ACC teams on the top 20 list of “most desirable jobs.” His reasons for having the Dogs so high are worthy, and also reaffirms why there is focus on coach Mark Richt this season.

Staples on the Dogs:

Want to know why Mark Richt is on the hot seat despite six seasons with at least 10 wins since 2001? Because Georgia has the resources to be in the national title hunt every season. The Bulldogs just finished a major football facility upgrade, and they play in one of the nation’s iconic stadiums. They have plenty of money. In terms of recruit preference, the Bulldogs rule a state that cranks out 90-100 BCS AQ-conference signees each year. Theoretically, Georgia should have its pick of those players, but Bulldogs coaches can’t always stop Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State from cherry-picking some of the state’s top recruits. Unlike Florida or Alabama, which must fight off in-state rivals, Georgia recruits on a different level than Georgia Tech. The situation is more comparable to Texas and Texas A&M, which is why Georgia fans had a right to be dismayed that the Bulldogs had to win last year’s installment of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate just to pull even with the Yellow Jackets at 6-6 on the regular season. (Never mind the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida.) Put simply, this is a great job for Richt if he can return to his early 2000s dominance. If Richt can’t, the right choice can come in and win big in Athens.

It seems like a fair assessment. Here’s the list. We can debate the order but I think all of the right schools made the list:

1. Texas.
2. Ohio State.
3. Oklahoma.
4. Florida.

The forthcoming cavalcade of SEC schools probably should be listed as 4a-4d, but my bosses won’t let me have a four-way tie. So the SEC East’s best jobs get a slight nod over the SEC West’s best jobs only because the competition doesn’t seem so cutthroat in the East. You’re only supposed to win the national title every other year at Florida or Georgia; at LSU and Alabama, you’re supposed to win the national title every year. Sure, Florida has to compete with Florida State and Miami for recruits, but there is plenty of talent in the Sunshine State to go around. The state of Florida produces more talent than any other, and the University of Florida is the flagship university and the only SEC member within a 10-hour drive of the extremely fertile grounds on the southern end of the state.

5. Georgia.
6. LSU.

LSU edges Alabama because of only one factor. Alabama must fight Auburn for the best recruits in the state of Alabama. LSU has to fight no one for the best recruits in talent-rich Louisiana. Sure, out-of-state schools occasionally try to swoop in, but just as Ohio children grow up wanting to be Buckeyes and Georgia children grow up wanting to be Bulldogs, Louisiana children grow up wanting to be Tigers. Other than that, LSU and Alabama are about the same. Both programs rake in the cash and play in massive stadiums before deafening crowds. And in both places, if the coach can’t keep his team in the hunt for the national title every year, people will start clamoring for a coach who will.

7. Alabama.

In the 2009-10 school year, Alabama finished second to Texas in total revenue ($129.3 million), and the school opened an addition to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2010 that raised capacity above 100,000. No fan base in America cares more about its football team, which can cut both ways for a coach. Win a national title and get a statue. Don’t win a national title and get run out of town.

8. Penn State.
9. Auburn.

Auburn falls below the dead-heat SEC quartet above for one reason. Because the Tigers historically are the Red Sox to Alabama’s Yankees, the Crimson Tide have the initial edge in most in-state recruiting fights. This edge isn’t insurmountable, though. Auburn also is only a short drive from talent-rich Atlanta, but those players have to be wrestled away from Georgia and Tennessee. Auburn doesn’t bring in quite as much money as Alabama, but the Tigers still have cash to burn. They can pay a handsome salary and have plenty left over to pay offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn $1.3 million a year to turn down the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. This is critical, and it is a common factor among all the schools listed so far. Any school willing to shell out for quality assistants is serious about winning.

10. Oregon.
11. USC.
12. Michigan.
13. Notre Dame.
14. Florida State.

Jimbo Fisher may just turn this into a destination job again. It sits this low because the fan/booster base was lulled to sleep at the end of the Bobby Bowden era. Upon his ascension to the big chair, Fisher immediately went into fundraising mode. He convinced boosters to chip in, and he quickly bulked up Florida State’s academic support, strength and nutrition programs. The recruits have flocked as well. Because of the school’s location, FSU’s coach has to work a little harder than Florida’s coach. Tallahassee is at the northern edge of the state, so players from Central and South Florida have to drive right through Gainesville on the way to FSU’s campus. The Seminoles are closer to many players in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, but they have to fight to get those players out of their home states. That said, coaches at most schools would volunteer a limb to have as many quality players within 300 miles of campus.

15. Nebraska.
16. Tennessee.

In 2009-10, nine athletic departments broke the $100 million revenue barrier. You’ve already read about eight of them. Why would an SEC program with 10-figure department revenue and a 100,000-plus stadium slip this low? Because Tennessee coach Derek Dooley has to work so much harder than his rivals to get recruits. The state of Tennessee produces some players, but its geography tends to breed mixed loyalties. Most of the best players are in Memphis, which is a six-hour drive from Knoxville. Players there grow up hearing as much or more about Ole Miss and Arkansas. Nashville is more of a Big Orange stronghold, but out-of-state schools have been known to slip in and pluck players. Tennessee is at its best when it can dip into Atlanta (three hours away) and pull players, but when good coaches sit at Georgia and Auburn, that’s a tough assignment.

17.  Virginia Tech.

In terms of proximity to players, Virginia might be a better job than Virginia Tech. But Coach Frank Beamer has done such a good job convincing players from the stocked Tidewater area to come to Blacksburg that he has effectively negated any geographic disadvantage. Virginia Tech also can dip down into North Carolina, which has an underrated high school football culture that routinely produces great players. Virginia Tech would be higher on this list but for its revenue. The fan base is excellent, and Lane Stadium offers an intimidating home-field advantage, but Virginia Tech consistently ranks in the bottom half of BCS AQ-conference schools in revenue. The Hokies are quite competitive on the field, but Texas, Ohio State and the SEC powers are playing an entirely different game on the balance sheet.

18. Arizona State.
19. Arizona.
20. Oklahoma State.

So what are you thoughts on the list?

By Jeff Schultz

268 comments Add your comment

MatthewH

June 3rd, 2011
1:38 pm

Staples talks a lot about competition within a state. So why aren’t jobs like Boise St and Utah (where you can rule the state) listed? I guess it has to do with where your recruits come from, or the whole BCS conference thing.

cantondawg

June 3rd, 2011
1:39 pm

cantondawg

June 3rd, 2011
1:40 pm

almost first

MatthewH

June 3rd, 2011
1:43 pm

Also, I’m not sure VATech should be that high. Before Beamer came they weren’t ever in the discussion. Remember when Dooley was their coach? So, do they have the tradition? Would another coach be able to build on that or would they continue to be a school in SW Virginia that is a pain to get to?

cantondawg

June 3rd, 2011
1:44 pm

With all things considered, i do think that UGA is one of the top jobs in the nation. I’m not sure if i would rank us fifth but definitely in the top 10. Alabama would probrably be a top 3 job if not for the unreasonably expectations from their fanbase.

Oklahoma seems a little high
Michigan and Notre Dame should definitely be in the top 10.

VD

June 3rd, 2011
1:45 pm

Good argument and valid points about those SEC schools.

bhamwreck

June 3rd, 2011
1:46 pm

Imagine if Alabama had to rely on players from in-state. No Ingram, McElroy, Richardson etc.

MatthewH

June 3rd, 2011
1:47 pm

Cantondawg, In looking at all 20 of these teams, I think all have “unreasonable expectations of the fan base”. I think that’s part of what makes it an attractive job.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

June 3rd, 2011
1:48 pm

I’d say that’s about right. Mascotting at UGA is not the best macot job in college football but it certainly is top ten. That’s why it is such an embarrassment to see fat, slobbering Ugas sitting on a bed of ice and panting like they are about to drop dead. That’s what this school has gotten used to and here I am trying to elevate the program and they insist that I am a temp. Well, they can just paint my a$$. Not really.

Navy92

June 3rd, 2011
1:48 pm

Good list and the order can certainly be debated. But why does Richt vs Saban or Georgia vs Alabama have to be the title of the article? That is baffling. LSU is ranked ahead of Bama. Why not compare GA to LSU?

GTT

June 3rd, 2011
1:51 pm

Cause Saban is obviously loads better than The Hat, whatever his name is.

Herschel Talker

June 3rd, 2011
1:53 pm

Schultzie:

Richt may indeed have a better job than Saban.

On the flip side, Bama has a MUCH better coach than UGA. Bama’s coach wins multiple national titles, while our coach holds onto Willie Martinez for 4 years. Bama’s coach motivates people to win, while our coach motivates people to get arrested.

Lord, 2012 and the Kirby Smart era can’t get here fast enough.

HT

Rusty6311

June 3rd, 2011
1:56 pm

I agree except this season Mark Richt has to produce. No ands, ifs or buts!! He has added to his staff at considerable pay increases, almost as much as the college president Adams is paid. So Richt at your salary almost 8-10 times the college president, now is the time…..

JClay

June 3rd, 2011
1:57 pm

No way is OU top 3 job in country. Also Va Tech? A top program no doubt, but top 20 job – not at all. I hate the U but it should be on the list

Richt`s Hammer

June 3rd, 2011
1:58 pm

Of course I have a better job. Three million a year, no responsibility. New daddies every year. Really thought we could at least tie Central Florida.

A university that doesn`t have enough sense to get rid of me, and a idiotic fan base.

Life is grand, pass the biscuits.

Blueboy

June 3rd, 2011
2:00 pm

Richt better enjoy it, he won’t have it for long!

Navy92

June 3rd, 2011
2:02 pm

As a Bama fan, I think Bama is ranked about right. Despite its tradition, success, profile, etc, there are some programs that have much more fertile recruiting grounds. The key at all of these high profile programs is to have the right coach in place.

Gumby

June 3rd, 2011
2:02 pm

I like Andy Staples but don’t always agree. This is one of those times. I don’t see anyway for UGA’s desirability to be ranked over some of the teams below them, but especially the Alabama coaching job. .
I also didn’t agree with his pre-season college football rankings but that like this coaching rank is just an opinion, which as we know everybody has one, just like an unnamed body part.

Dawgfan79

June 3rd, 2011
2:04 pm

Lincolnton Dawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:07 pm

For every die hard, bammer jammer out there, there is also a Dawg fan who feels just as strongly about the UGA football program.

Bammer Jammer fans feel like they are the only fanbase who has, or is allowed to have passion toward their program.

Hate to tell them, but they are not alone.

And UGA doesn’t have to worry about diving into the state of Alabama. If Bama relied on as much home grown talent as UGA they would be no better then Kansas on the football field. And the only team Kansas can beat is Georgia Tech. (sorry, had to throw that one in there)

Another Dawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:07 pm

My list would go:

#1 Texas (Austin is a great town, great tradition, rich AD, and a clear path to a national championship each year, with a patient fan base who understands that you cant win a title every year)
#2 Oklahoma (Norman isn’t as great as Austin, but it’s not terrible. Otherwise, very similar to Texas.)
#3 Florida (Best recruiting state in the country, rich AD. Expectations are pretty ridiculous, but the support is outstanding)
#4 Georgia (Athens has one thing that no other school in the SEC can boast: access to a major metropolitan area with culture and society. The school/fanbase can match anyone in the SEC, but the quality of life for your family far outpaces. If we had won a title in the past 5 years, we’d be #3.)
#5 Ohio State (Would be #2 or #3 if not for impending doom from the NCAA.)
#6 Alabama (Expectations of the fan base are just outrageous and fans have no concept of reason. Remember the National Championship predictions under friggin Shula? Tuscaloosa is also a crime-ridden ground zero of gang turf wars. And Birmingham? The Pittsburgh of the South? No thanks.)
#7 LSU (See Alabama but with less tradition, an annual game against Florida, and closer to New Orleans)
#8 FSU
#9 Michigan
#10 Nebraska

I would say Notre Dame is fairly ranked. They are a joke of a program at this point. Everyone with a vested interest in Notre Dame has taken it on the nose… NBC Sports ousted their President over the deal. And Notre Dame fans (what few are left) still believe they deserve something.

I think the most important part of this is the pressure to win (and win now) that a fanbase/AD puts on a coach. That’s why Georgia is a better job than the SEC West jobs. That’s why FSU/Nebraska (Bill Calahan lol) are so good. And with Ohio State in turmoil, Michigan is primed for a recovery with Michigan Man Brady Hoke teaching the Michigan Men on the team to be better Michigan Men on the field so they can be great Michigan Men later in life.

Les "The Hat" Miles

June 3rd, 2011
2:09 pm

Hey, I would’ve been better than Richt, but I was suppoed to send SI an email detailing why LSU was better. It was supposed to be in by 3pm, but I just wasn’t paying attention to the clock.

Tech Tard

June 3rd, 2011
2:10 pm

I’ll just go to cnnsi.com and read it there. Thanks for the tip.

cantondawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:11 pm

HT,

Not that you have any credibility anyway. But you lost whatever shred that you may have had when you said you can’t wait til the Kirby Smart era gets here…You want to replace a coach with 6 10-win seasons with a coach that has no proven record and has made a living hanging off Nick Saban’s nutsack. If god forbid CMR gets fired, my bet would be on Dan Mullen who is a proven coach.

King Gator

June 3rd, 2011
2:12 pm

4th!! Go Gators!! and we beat #’s 2 & 3 for BCS NC’s recently! Go Gators!

Tech Tard

June 3rd, 2011
2:13 pm

Herschel Talker

You aren’t a Dawg fan. We ALL know it. It is pretty dang sad you pretend to root for another team. Very Sad! Every time you get on here, you say nothing positive about UGA. Go root for another team NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RDR

June 3rd, 2011
2:14 pm

1-9 are interchangeable, i.e., anyone of these schools could be 1-9. Tennessee looks a little low at 16. I’d put them ahead of any PAC 10 or ACC school. South Carolina is definately a top 20!

AZTEC

June 3rd, 2011
2:16 pm

if a coach doesnt like heat and humidiy and freezing rain later in season then why not coach at SAN DIEGO ST, actually i have a hard time believing that players wouldnt want to practice every day in perfect weather.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:16 pm

Would agree you could bundle Florida,UGA,LSU,Bama,Auburn,UT in a hat and pick and you could have a tough argument on which is the better job. Its the nature of the beast in the SEC. Throw in the atmosphere of Ole Miss and the Grove and that is why the SEC will always be the best conference in the nation.

LoganvilleDAWG

June 3rd, 2011
2:18 pm

Why don’t some of you so-called DAWG fans comment on some of the positive things Coach Richt has done this year. He has gotten rid of players that were trouble for the program, he had a very good recruiting class, he has a new strength & conditioning director, and so far of these guys have not been arrested(knock on wood), the defense should be alot better than last year. I do have concerns. Such as the offensive line, the running backs, the wide receivers and on defense the defensive backs. I am not saying those groups are not going to be good, but there are alot of unproven players. The 1st 2 games we will see. The Dawg fans should look at the good stuff, support Coach Richt, the assistants and our players instead of wanting to fire Coach Richt. Make some freaking noise at the stadium. Most of our fans sitting around complaing about Coach Richt. When I was at schhol at UGA from 1978 – 1982, it was ONE TOUGH PLACE TO PLAY, less seats and alot more noise. I know the visiting teams come in & think it is a home game due to our fans not making any noise. These so called DAWG fans are a bunch of whiners, the glass is half empty, instead of half full.

Buckeye

June 3rd, 2011
2:21 pm

GrangerDawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:22 pm

For those who think Notre Dame should be higher, I live in the South Bend area. If the weather here was considered as a ‘quality of living’ issue for the coaches and family, that would explain the ranking.

Seriously, the facilities are not the greatest, which would probably affect the author’s ranking. They are not bad, just not on the level found at some of the universities listed higher.

Go Dawgs…

RDR

June 3rd, 2011
2:22 pm

DrDawg………he already has…..twice.

NWGA Dawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:23 pm

I’m a little baffled that Arizona State & Arizona are on the list…

Buckeye

June 3rd, 2011
2:24 pm

Another dog,

You are inncorect. Vanderbilt/Nashvillle has it all. I’d take Nashville over Athens any day of the week, including ford tough saturdays.

GrangerDawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:24 pm

@ Buckeye

Go Bucks! Go Directly To Jail… Do not pass Go… (Hope you aren’t driving to get there.)

Sorry. Cheap shot. Too many Buckeye neighbors up here. Just had to vent.

DrDawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:24 pm

I think it all boils down to Florida. If Richt can’t beat a first year coach at Florida, it proves that he just can’t beat Florida. Everything comes down to that one game.

Suckers!

June 3rd, 2011
2:28 pm

UGA has to be the best job in the land. No expectations from the powers that be. The mutt fans think they’ll be champs every spring, get woefully disappointed come fall and yet they continue to shell out thier monies again the next year.
Yeah, that’s the dream job. Pay me millions and let my team suck and get embarassed by UF every year. SUCKERS!!!!!!!!

Texas Pete

June 3rd, 2011
2:28 pm

How many head coaches leave UGA to go somewhere else? That should tell you all you need to know why UGA is ranked higher than most programs for best coaching job. Remember, this isn’t about who has the best team or which coach is the best.

UGA perks that set it apart:
1. Money. The football team keeps the Athletic Department in the black every year.
2. Loyal fanbase (that is loyal to the program).
3a. Great in-state recruiting base.
3b. No major in-state competitor for recruiting (Tech just hasn’t capitalized like they should yet).
4. Great tradition and national brand. People know about Uga, ‘Tween the Hedges, and the red and black version of the Green Bay Super G.
5. Athens. This is one of the most near-perfect setups for a big college town. You’re not in a major city but one is only a metro drive away (Atlanta) when you want to spend that pocket money on the town. Athens comes alive when the traditional school calendar is in session and quiets down during the summer. Plenty of great propery to build a home and enjoy the quiet life without really being in the middle of nowhere (both Athens and Atlanta are close to home). Just ask Dooley, Goff, and Donnan why they didn’t all just run off to ranches in North Dakota when their time as coach was over. The Athens area is just great when you’re rolling in dough (and great when you’re a broke college student).

Cmon man

June 3rd, 2011
2:32 pm

@loganvilledawg sorry my friend in order to have a decent conversation about uga football you have to go to a pay site. The ajc is nothing but a huge pissing contest, people come here just to make nasty comments and act like kids!

Stinger2

June 3rd, 2011
2:34 pm

Where is Georgia Tech? They should be ranked at least as high as
Arizona and Arizona State. We have CPJ and the TO offense that is always good for 400 plus yards per game. Coach Johnson is not under pressure to win like the SEC coaches and he gets a decent salary. I bet he would rank GT in the top twenty.

tOSU Fan

June 3rd, 2011
2:35 pm

Dont bash Ohio State to mush because that is where Richt is coaching next year. He is going 5-7 this year and getting canned.

Texas Pete

June 3rd, 2011
2:35 pm

Remember, the only people who hate Atlanta are those Georgians who were raised outside of metro Atlanta. It seems that people from all over the country and world love coming to Atlanta for events just as much as any other major city. As much as the Atlanta-haters don’t want to admit it, Atlanta is an attractive draw for big events and specifically sports.

Driving to Jacksonville or Orlando just doesn’t do the same justice when living in Gainesville, FL.

tOSU Fan

June 3rd, 2011
2:36 pm

Georgia tech should not be on there. The run a triple threat who uses that in the pros, no one. Players will never make it in the Pros, that job is around the 70.

Ray

June 3rd, 2011
2:36 pm

Why do you say SI when one person who works for them says that? If you say something, is it okay for me to say the AJC says blah blah?

ClinchCountyDawg

June 3rd, 2011
2:36 pm

Buckeye

Ohio Sate is under alot of fire lately. Why don’t you wear your Big O sweater vest down to Dairy Queen and get a dilly bar? Couildn’t Hurt!!

DIT

June 3rd, 2011
2:38 pm

I think UGA is a top 10 as well…… Not #5. Tennesse should be ranked higher as well.
“Where is Georgia Tech?”…….. that’s a good one. Right where they need to be. Out of the top 20. Sorry, tech does not belong on this list.

Patrick

June 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

Uga better than bama? Is this guy on crack? Alabama is a top 3 program. Maybe #1. I guess using his logic, the saints are a better team than the packers.

ormewood

June 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

The last three on Staples’s list: Arizona, Arizona St, OK St, do not belong. Then again, neither does GA Tech nor the Gamecocks. Sorry.

Tide Rising

June 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

Hard to believe someone would consider the Georgia job better than Alabama but I can see some of the reasons why. Not just Alabama but talent rich USC, Penn State, Notre Dame of all people, and Michigan. I think Mr. Staples has been drinking some stagnant pondwater.

There is more state high school talent in Georgia than Alabama and its the only show in town since Tech has to recruit a different kind of athlete that will fit in academically. But Alabama can recruit nationwide much more effectively than a regional program like Georgia so that’s actually kind of a tradeoff in terms of recruiting. Same with ND and Michigan which can both pluck players from everywhere and USC which has vastly more talent at its disposal than Georgia and which can go nationwide unlike UGA. Also far more enormous tradition and prestige at all of those programs.

But if someone thinks the Georgia program is a better job then its really only due to expectations. The Bama job takes a different kind of beast- only a Saban or Bear or Stallings can meet the demands of a job like that due to the expectations of the fan base. Bama would not pick up with 2 back to back mediocre seasons. You would be outta there.

So in a sense I think one could make the argument that lower expectations and more patience from the fan base would make the Georgia job a better job. You think Bama fans would tolerate losing 18 of 21 to their biggest or 2nd biggest rival? You better think again.