Hardest Jobs in College Football

#1

SNAFU

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#1
The Athletic
Power 5 schools in order
-Vandy
-Kansas
-Nebraska
-Texas
-Washington State
-Miami
-Auburn
-Tennessee

First-place votes: 2

Tennessee hasn’t played for an SEC title since 2007, hasn’t won one since 1998 and has had five head coaches since Phillip Fulmer’s ouster in 2008. Outsized expectations and access to talent were the most frequent reasons for including Tennessee.
“Not much in-state talent compared to a lot of SEC schools, but sky-high expectations and controlling donors,” one agent said.
The state of Tennessee’s talent is improving, in part because of Nashville’s booming population, but it’s not possible to field a high-level SEC program in Tennessee on in-state talent alone. “Tennessee was great because Clemson wasn’t around, North Carolina wasn’t around. Those great Tennessee teams and players came from that area,” one Group of 5 assistant said. Fan expectations also make life difficult and coaching stays short, but that problem isn’t just at Tennessee, one agent said.

-Wake Forest
-Michigan

Notable mention SEC school
South Carolina: “Impossible place to win.” — Agent
 
#2

b_gann

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#2
The Athletic
Power 5 schools in order
-Vandy
-Kansas
-Nebraska
-Texas
-Washington State
-Miami
-Auburn
-Tennessee

First-place votes: 2
Tennessee hasn’t played for an SEC title since 2007, hasn’t won one since 1998 and has had five head coaches since Phillip Fulmer’s ouster in 2008. Outsized expectations and access to talent were the most frequent reasons for including Tennessee.
“Not much in-state talent compared to a lot of SEC schools, but sky-high expectations and controlling donors,” one agent said.
The state of Tennessee’s talent is improving, in part because of Nashville’s booming population, but it’s not possible to field a high-level SEC program in Tennessee on in-state talent alone. “Tennessee was great because Clemson wasn’t around, North Carolina wasn’t around. Those great Tennessee teams and players came from that area,” one Group of 5 assistant said. Fan expectations also make life difficult and coaching stays short, but that problem isn’t just at Tennessee, one agent said.

-Wake Forest
-Michigan

Notable mention SEC school
South Carolina: “Impossible place to win.” — Agent
Actually they got good because we couldn't get out of our own way. SEC football is where kids want to play, not the ACC. Yes, TN is a tougher job than we probably give it credit to be, but the floor here should be 8-4. Any competent coach should be pulling 8-4 to 10-2 regularly here. We get 3-4 cake SEC games per year, in addition to 3-4 non-conference. We're built for more success than anybody in the East outside of FL and GA. We pull AL each year too which is tough. 9-3 to 8-4 is where I'd expect us to be year in and year out on a normal basis. Now, a school like Kansas or Nebraska, those are tough jobs. College football just isn't made for those schools to be good anymore.
 
#3

volintheham

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#3
In the current landscape using in-state recruiting excuse is ridiculous. TN has always had a high dollar recruiting budget and is very centrally located in the Southeast. Also, when we were strong most of our players were from GA. Fan expectations, well, tell me an SEC team that doesn't have those. Agree with the other poster, we are our own worst enemy.
 
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#5
Alabama shouldn’t have any inherent advantages over us (money/population etc). But they seem to fall in line to support the common cause more than ornery Tennessee folks. And they will use all means possible to win while we are slightly more measured. Still, if Alabama can do what they’re done, no reason we can’t be a contender year in year out, program just needs the right leaders.
 
#6
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#6
In the current landscape using in-state recruiting excuse is ridiculous. TN has always had a high dollar recruiting budget and is very centrally located in the Southeast. Also, when we were strong most of our players were from GA. Fan expectations, well, tell me an SEC team that doesn't have those. Agree with the other poster, we are our own worst enemy.
I disagree, in state recruiting is important. It's a lot easier to get a 4 and 5 star to come to a school close to their home that they grew up watching vs. going to a school hundreds or thousands of miles away. We'll never have enough in state recruits to field a competitive team so we'll always have to recruit from afar. Agreed all schools recruit nationally but not on the same scale as we have to. It just makes our job more difficult than a school like UGA or UF who doesn't have to go far to find excellent talent. Our staff is on a plane a lot more than other coaches.
 
#8

jeff1vol

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#8
Complete and utter ********. There is MORE talent in a 4/6 hour radius of Knoxville than practically any other area in the country. UT has ALWAYS recruited nationally and should continue to. Do we have to spend more $ on a recruiting budget?... yes. Is it more difficult to find talent near by?... NO!
 
#9

volintheham

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#9
I disagree, in state recruiting is important. It's a lot easier to get a 4 and 5 star to come to a school close to their home that they grew up watching vs. going to a school hundreds or thousands of miles away. We'll never have enough in state recruits to field a competitive team so we'll always have to recruit from afar. Agreed all schools recruit nationally but not on the same scale as we have to. It just makes our job more difficult than a school like UGA or UF who doesn't have to go far to find excellent talent. Our staff is on a plane a lot more than other coaches.
You can disagree all you like but I think you are wrong. Recruiting is about momentum and it doesn't matter where you are from and loyalty to schools is gone. Loyalty has changed to coaches with the portal with the exception of a small percentage. The business of college football has changed and so has the dynamic.
 
#11

fossilfiction

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#11
Power 5 schools in order
-Vandy (This has to be the toughest P5 job)
-Kansas (Hard to argue here)
-Nebraska (It isn't for the right coach)
-Texas (Maybe because of admin and booster interference)
-Washington State (Cannot argue here. 4 conference titles and only 16 bowl games since 1894 🤢)
-Miami (Uh nope, this is a prime job IMO)
-Auburn (I wouldn't go here because of how disposable their coaches are to them)
-Tennessee (Same as Nebraska)
 
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#12

Carp

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#12
Disagree about the instate talent aspect being the reason. Tennessee is roughly on par with the state of Alabama in terms of overall FBS recruits and blue chip recruits. Yet, Bama and Auburn consistently pull Top 3 and top 10 classes annually, despite competing for the same in-state recruits. Same for Clemson. South Carolina is not a talent ridden state, yet even before they won the first Natty under Dabo, they were pulling top 10-15 classes, with a top 5 class mixed in. And Tennessee doesn't have the in-state schools they have to compete with for that talent, like Bama, Auburn, Mississippi, Florida, and South Carolina have to compete with.

The reason TN hasn't won isn't because the talent pool is dried up. It's entirely because we've made consistently terrible HC hires. Butch Jones is proof that even a below average coach can both bring in elite classes and win at least 9 games here. Heup looks like a better than average coach. I would also expect once the investigation gets completed, as long as we don't get hit too hard, the recruiting should get considerably better as well. This offense is a lot of fun to play for and having Garner and Banks on defense should help bring in the defensive recruits.
 
#13
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#13
This is dumb. Recency bias at its worst.

It's no more difficult to win at Tennessee than it is Alabama, Oklahoma, or Clemson. Indeed, it's much easier to win at Tennessee than places like Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa State, Pitt, and Kentucky.

LOL at "Tennessee was great because Clemson wasn't around." Uh, yeah, they were. We were good and they were mediocre. Then we flipped positions. But from a profile standpoint, Tennessee and Clemson are extremely similar; the difference is that one has had a good coach for 13 years and the other has had crap coaches and one one of the worst Athletic Departments in the country for most of the past 13 years (until very recently when Danny White was hired). I also like how they make South Carolina to be the worst job ever, but then act like Clemson has the greatest advantages of all-time. Clemson has more history than SCe, but other than that, Clemson and SCe are pretty similar.

Look, schools like Georgia, LSU, and USC have big advantages over other programs because they have easy access to the nation's top-talent (Atlanta, Louisiana, and LA). But outside of that group, it's not that different recruiting at Tennessee than it is Bama, Clemson, or Oklahoma. It's not like the state of Oklahoma is loaded with talent; they have to go to Texas, Florida, and California, like we have to go to Atlanta, NC, VA, and Florida.
 
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#14
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#14
You can disagree all you like but I think you are wrong. Recruiting is about momentum and it doesn't matter where you are from and loyalty to schools is gone. Loyalty has changed to coaches with the portal with the exception of a small percentage. The business of college football has changed and so has the dynamic.
I think you completely missed the point, but okay.
 
#15

Fullfillmer

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#15
Actually they got good because we couldn't get out of our own way. SEC football is where kids want to play, not the ACC. Yes, TN is a tougher job than we probably give it credit to be, but the floor here should be 8-4. Any competent coach should be pulling 8-4 to 10-2 regularly here. We get 3-4 cake SEC games per year, in addition to 3-4 non-conference. We're built for more success than anybody in the East outside of FL and GA. We pull AL each year too which is tough. 9-3 to 8-4 is where I'd expect us to be year in and year out on a normal basis. Now, a school like Kansas or Nebraska, those are tough jobs. College football just isn't made for those schools to be good anymore.
Well you have Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky every year, soon Oklahoma or Texas and another wild card from the west - this year it’s ole miss. So that’s 6 -7 or so game against teams in the top 20. We are fixing to play 1,2,3,4 in the conference in consecutive weeks.
if we also don’t have top 20 talent and an above average qb - we will never be 8-4 10-2 just by showing up.

Our coaching and recruiting has to be exceptional.
 
#16

VFL-82-JP

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#16
You can disagree all you like but I think you are wrong. Recruiting is about momentum and it doesn't matter where you are from and loyalty to schools is gone. Loyalty has changed to coaches with the portal with the exception of a small percentage. The business of college football has changed and so has the dynamic.
I absolutely disagree.

Purely because there will always (ALWAYS) be some percentage of young men like Jack Jones and Derek Barnett and Alontae Taylor who are bound and determined to play for the team they love, the team they followed through their entire childhood. If they get the chance, that's where they'll go. All other considerations be damned.

It's not like they're sacrificing everything for it, either. They know all about fellas like Walter Payton and Randy Moss and Steve McNair and literally hundreds of others who went to no-name colleges and still got into the NFL, because the NFL scouts find talent wherever it is. These lads today, they know they're not putting an NFL chance at risk just because they're foregoing Bama or Ohio State.

And now NIL--surprisingly, perhaps--tends to level the playing field. See, before only the very wealthy programs who were ALSO willing to cheat could lure kids with $$. Now the honest programs can, too. And it doesn't take a lot of school $$, either, just one or two well-to-do alums down in the town square willing to give a kid and his family five or six figures in exchange for his photo in some advertisements. Nick Saban said NIL would make the rich richer...I believe it's going to do the opposite: it's going to deal the more honest programs in, and let the poorer programs leverage their alumni more easily.

So no, I don't think loyalty is gone. I think it was always there, even if the % of kids driven by it dropped pretty low for a while. And I think it might actually make a resurgence, thanks to NIL and the leveling effect that might have.

Go Vols!
 
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#17

volintheham

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#17
I think you completely missed the point, but okay.
Funny. Your point was rudimentary and while I like getting blue chip recruits from in-state TN has always been reliant on national recruiting for success. Look at the roster for the 1998 team as an example but as I stated the dynamic of college football is changing rapidly and these notions of old are antiquated.
 
#18

Majors

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#18
The landscape of college football and national recruiting has chanced since our glory days of the 90's. Majors, his staff, boosters started the revitalization going to coast to coast and playing the better non conference games, UCLA, ND, Colorado etc for national exposure. Fulmer capitalized on national recruiting and locking down the region because for the failures of other programs under their current staffs or probations to keep their top players- Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas., Alabama on probation. We invested money in recruiting and money in bricks for nice buildings years before everyone took the same route.

The downfall for us was LSU hiring Saban, Richt to UGA, Tubbs to Auburn, Holtz to SC as big as those hires were for their schools it took a toll on our quality of players from those states. All of that led to the slow bleed for the program under Fulmer. Even though he was able to put together a solid class each year it slowly eroded until it was seen on the field and those programs passed us up on the scoreboard.
 
#19
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#19
Funny. Your point was rudimentary and while I like getting blue chip recruits from in-state TN has always been reliant on national recruiting for success. Look at the roster for the 1998 team as an example but as I stated the dynamic of college football is changing rapidly and these notions of old are antiquated.
Again, you missed the point. Nice try though.
 
#20
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#20
I didn't read the article but they missed several points. For 1, it's not 2003 anymore. The state of Tennessee is producing a LOT more in-state talent especially in middle Tennessee. As others have said, population wise this state is much bigger than Alabama, even bigger than Louisiana and so to imply that is a negative doesn't make any sense. 2, it's more about radius than in-state. There is a ton of talent on the northside of Atlanta which is about 3 hours from campus. 3, most importantly, as much as UT fans don't want to hear it, most of your top HS football talent are not college football fans so much as they want to get to the NFL. Look no further than all the talent that left Knoxville for Clemson in recent years. Players want to go to the school that will get them into the NFL. There is no reason UT cannot offer that because they have in the not-so-distant past.

15 years ago the top schools would fall off after a few years because you could recruit a kid on playing time. "Don't go to bama, they are starting a freshman at your position and you won't play for 3 years." However credit Saban for changing that mantra. Kids will go there, sit 2 years, play 1 year and then go to the league. Tennessee needs to be selling their future in the NFL in order to get the talent needed to complete with the top of the SEC. And there is nothing preventing this so I will disagree with the article.
 
#21

Mccage

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#21
This is dumb. Recency bias at its worst.

It's no more difficult to win at Tennessee than it is Alabama, Oklahoma, or Clemson. Indeed, it's much easier to win at Tennessee than places like Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa State, Pitt, and Kentucky.

LOL at "Tennessee was great because Clemson wasn't around." Uh, yeah, they were. We were good and they were mediocre. Then we flipped positions. But from a profile standpoint, Tennessee and Clemson are extremely similar; the difference is that one has had a good coach for 13 years and the other has had crap coaches and one one of the worst Athletic Departments in the country for most of the past 13 years (until very recently when Danny White was hired). I also like how they make South Carolina to be the worst job ever, but then act like Clemson has the greatest advantages of all-time. Clemson has more history than SCe, but other than that, Clemson and SCe are pretty similar.

Look, schools like Georgia, LSU, and USC have big advantages over other programs because they have easy access to the nation's top-talent (Atlanta, Louisiana, and LA). But outside of that group, it's not that different recruiting at Tennessee than it is Bama, Clemson, or Oklahoma. It's not like the state of Oklahoma is loaded with talent; they have to go to Texas, Florida, and California, like we have to go to Atlanta, NC, VA, and Florida.
As Bama and Clemson get their fair share recruits from Tenn

Good post
 
#23

Sudden Impact

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#23
Actually they got good because we couldn't get out of our own way. SEC football is where kids want to play, not the ACC. Yes, TN is a tougher job than we probably give it credit to be, but the floor here should be 8-4. Any competent coach should be pulling 8-4 to 10-2 regularly here. We get 3-4 cake SEC games per year, in addition to 3-4 non-conference. We're built for more success than anybody in the East outside of FL and GA. We pull AL each year too which is tough. 9-3 to 8-4 is where I'd expect us to be year in and year out on a normal basis. Now, a school like Kansas or Nebraska, those are tough jobs. College football just isn't made for those schools to be good anymore.
The Media didn't hurt Kansas or Nebraska either always promoting them for years. Look at Notre Dame and my first thought every year is that they are overrated before the season begins.
 
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#24

vettefool

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#24
I disagree, in state recruiting is important. It's a lot easier to get a 4 and 5 star to come to a school close to their home that they grew up watching vs. going to a school hundreds or thousands of miles away. We'll never have enough in state recruits to field a competitive team so we'll always have to recruit from afar. Agreed all schools recruit nationally but not on the same scale as we have to. It just makes our job more difficult than a school like UGA or UF who doesn't have to go far to find excellent talent. Our staff is on a plane a lot more than other coaches.
If, a big if, we could sign the majority of the best players in Tennessee it sure would significantly improve our team. Fill in with some good out of state kids. But we can’t seem to convince our instate guys to sign up. Got to improve instate recruiting.
 
#25
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#25
This snippet from the article seems full of holes, and possibly quite skewed by choosing the wrong few people to interview. The in-state recruiting is oversimplified (how does Oklahoma consistently field nationally-ranked teams?), and the idea that Tennessee's decline is due to Clemson and UNC sounds a little like an assistant who just got outcompeted for a prospect or two. And an "agent"? Please.

Tennessee has a LOT going for it. It is central within the highly-populated Southeast (unlike Lousiana, Alabama, Missouri, Mississipi , or Arkansas), it does not split the state with another good program (unlike USC, Alabama/Auburn, or FLA), it has had sustained national prominence (unlike KY or USC or ARK), and it has reasonably good academics and a terrific athletic facility. This is why it has pulled in top-15 classes consistently up until this year, even after .500 seasons. Honestly, it should not have been hard for a competent coaching staff to win here.

Tennessee's problem the past decade has been its own self - a bureaucracy that cannot hit the home run hire, the mediocre coaching that cannot develop talent or compete with the Xs and Os on the field, and the subsequent ripple effect that then, yes, causes in-state teenagers to not be raised dreaming of orange. And even when they are (Trevor Lawrence, Cade Mays), they end up realizing Tennessee just doesn't make sense rationally.
 

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