Which Pac-12 Head Coaching Position is the most valuable?
Photo: USC Athletics
Article by WestCoastCFB
If every Pac-12 Head Coaching position was open, which one would coaches find to be the most desirable? Factors in this ranking include program location, winning tradition, administration, facilities, stadium environment, ability to attract talented recruits and money from donors among other considerations. Keep in mind that this is a fluid ranking and can change on a yearly basis. This is a snapshot of where things stand in December 2020.
The Trojans have some of the best natural resources in all of the country as they find themselves located in beautiful sunny Los Angeles with some of the best recruits in the country within a 50 mile radius. USC has the best winning tradition in the Pac-12 by a landslide and winning 10 games per year is easily achievable with the talent advantage they boast against their conference peers.
The University of Washington has spectacular location as they find themselves on the shore of Lake Washington in the beautiful city of Seattle. The region has unmatched natural beauty with the water and mountains in close proximity and the head coach's office even comes with a view of the lake. UW has the 2nd best tradition in the Pac-12 and reached 3 straight NY6 bowls from 2016-2018. The Huskies completed their 11th straight winning season in 2020 (the longest active streak in the conference) and UW also features an elite fanbase that often leads the Pac-12 in attendance.
You could easily make a case for the Ducks to be #2 on this list as they have been the premiere Pac-12 program over the past 15 years. Since 2005, the Ducks have won 10 or more games 9 times and have won the Pac-12 Title 6 times since 2009. Coaches know they can win and win big if they come to Eugene and the financial commitment from Phil Knight and the administration is unmatched in the Pac-12. Oregon continues to reel in top classes due to the appeal of the top facilities in the country, innovative uniform combinations and an elite fanbase among many other desirable qualities. The only knock on the program is that Eugene isn't Seattle or LA. Put the program in Seattle and they're #1 on this list.
UCLA is a high ceiling program and could easily move themselves up to #2 on this list if they can string together some dominant seasons. The Bruins are located in a nicer area of LA than the Trojans but have failed to turn their recruiting prowess into wins over the past 20 years. UCLA has recently increased their commitment to football from an administration standpoint as they built the state of the art Wasserman Football Center for $65 million just a few years ago.
5. Arizona State
Tempe is a gorgeous and fun city in a talent rich state which is an instant draw for head coaches. The program has experienced high levels of success in the past and the down years usually consist of 6-7 wins. The Sun Devils recently spent $307 million remodeling their stadium and facilities and look primed to contend for the Pac-12 Title for the foreseeable future.
The Cardinal reached a remarkable 5 NY6 Bowls between 2010 and 2015, proving that winning big in Palo Alto is doable. The Cardinal have great location with outstanding facilities and can market an elite education to prospective recruits. The lack of a strong fanbase is the biggest knock on the program and not every coach or player wants a home environment that can often sound eerily quiet.
Salt Lake City is a great town with natural beauty. The Polynesian pipeline makes recruiting linemen a trademark of the program and the Utes are always one of the toughest programs in the Pac-12. The home field advantage is possibly the best in the Pac-12 and the dedicated fanbase is a huge draw.
Boulder is often ranked as the best college town in the Pac-12 and that location can put recruits in awe when they see the mountains surrounding campus. The Buffs have a history of success and won the National Title in 1990. The program fell on hard times over the past 15 years but now find themselves back on the upswing. If the program can begin to consistently string together winning seasons, this job will increase in desirability.
The administration has a strong desire to win and Tucson is a city with warm weather and a beautiful natural landscape. Talented recruits live in the region and Tucson has close proximity to both San Diego and Los Angeles for recruiting. The largest obstacle for the Wildcats is the lack of historical success relative to their main rival, ASU.
Cal has had small periods of success over the years and the Bay Area is one of the most fertile recruiting regions in the Pac-12. The facilities are good and Berkeley is one of the best places to live in the conference. The lack of support from fans and the administration makes for a difficult situation to win consistently, however.
11. Washington State
The Cougs have strong fan support and an administration that is focused on winning. WSU has had many successful seasons over the past 30 years and may be the biggest over achiever in the Pac-12. The knock on the program is that not many coaches want to live in Pullman, which is an extremely small and remote town in Eastern Washington.
12. Oregon State
The Beavers have struggled for many years just to get to bowl eligibility and the ceiling for the program is low. Oregon State had success under Mike Riley but could only win 10 games once. It's a tough job and the Ducks steal the thunder from a local and national perspective when it comes to media coverage. Corvallis is a very nice town and the fanbase is small but dedicated. Riley proved coaches can win here and Jonathan Smith is looking to emulate his success now.