Athlon Sports just came out with its rankings of top football coaching jobs in the country and it crowned Texas No. 1.
Texas, no doubt, is the king of high school football. Movies such as Friday Night Lights have accurately portrayed how high school football to the state of Texas is what high school basketball is to the state of Indiana. It reigns supreme.
Allen High School is building a $60 million dollar football stadium for its football team and that stadium is only the fifth-largest high school stadium in Texas, according to The Texas Tribune. To say Texas loves its high school football is an understatement, but the state does love football at all levels—the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans both enjoy rabid and loyal fan bases.
The University of Texas, too, is an amazing example of nirvana for college football junkies. But is its football program really the final destination for all college football coaches?
Alabama, according to Athlon Sports, is the third best coaching job. Why isn't Alabama No. 1?
The Crimson Tide have won two consecutive BCS Championships—a first in FBS football—and routinely hauls in a Top 5 recruiting class. Alabama also has the highest paid coach in the country in Nick Saban, who is paid $5.3 million a year plus a $700,000 potential bonus, according to USA Today. Mack Brown's salary is $5,292,500 per year plus a potential $850,000 maximum bonus.
Technically, Mack Brown has the bigger potential salary but how close has Brown come to realizing that potential golden goose egg? Brown did win the 2005 BCS Championship (ka-ching) but since then, he has rarely sniffed at that huge paycheck bonus. Brown coached the Longhorns in the 2009 BCS Championship as well, but Texas lost to Alabama 37-21.
Saban, on the other hand, has presumably maxed out his bonus bucks three times in the last four years if we assume the maximum bonus includes winning the BCS Championship—what else can he do above that?
Critics may argue that it's not all about the money—oh please, it's all about the money and how well your assistants get paid—but to them I say, if the best job isn't defined in monetary terms, how is it defined?
By national reach? Texas is huge in terms of broadcasting revenue potential but it's no Notre Dame which has a contract with NBC—no cable subscription is required to catch a Fighting Irish football game every fall Saturday.
Texas has its own Longhorn Network, so that's a bonus for the school's coffers, but Brown didn't sound like a fan of the network last October. From Sports Illustrated:
I didn't ask for it,'' Brown said Monday, noting he's worried that the six hours a week he spends taping three television shows and the network's access to the first 30 minutes of daily practice may tip opposing coaches to player injuries, tendencies and schemes.
"It is what it is. It's part of my job because DeLoss and Bill Powers have told me it is.''
Does Nick Saban have to do stuff that interferes with his practices? Would anyone even dare to ask Saban if it's permissible to film Alabama's practices for public consumption? Are you wincing just thinking about that?
On August 30, 2012, the Longhorn Network was reportedly only available to 2.1 percent of the Austin television market, according to KXAN. It is now up to 12.9 percent after AT&T U-verse agreed to distribute the network on August 31 but that 12.9 percent encompasses just the Austin television market—not the entire country.
Alabama, on the other hand, unofficially has The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated satellite radio program which has Crimson Tide minions listening in every weekday. While the program isn't owned by or affiliated with the University of Alabama, it is decidedly pro-Crimson Tide. The show was actually featured in ESPN's documentary Roll Tide/War Eagle.
In terms of popularity, Paul Finebaum is king—according to Outkick the Coverage, Finebaum "brings in several million dollars a year in ad revenue on one of the highest rated sports talk stations in the country." Finebaum recently moved from Birmingham sports radio's WJOX to 97.3 The Zone last month.
Realistically, if you asked 1,000 football fans across the country who Paul Finebaum is, most of them would know who he is. But how many of those same 1,000 fans would know who the lead anchors for the Longhorn Network are?
Like most Americans, I don't get the Longhorn Network in my cable package but I have listened to the Finebaum Show, for what it's worth.
Relevancy and national reach in sports are important and right now, Texas is in idle while Alabama is hell on wheels.
Forbes crowned Nick Saban "the most powerful coach in sports" in 2008—not just in college football, mind you, but in all of sports. Period. End of story.
When you have that "most powerful" moniker, regularly reach your maximum yearly bonus to make you the highest paid coach in college football, have a statue erected in your honor after only five years at the school and haul in the No. 1 recruiting class in 2011, 2012 and 2013, you sir, have the most sought-after job.
When you're courted by NFL teams but choose to stay at a university, you're at the pinnacle of college football's head coach pecking order. You're Mount Everest.
No offense to Texas—you're definitely a top destination for football coaches—but you, Alabama, have the most attractive head coaching gig in America.