What's your dream job?
Everybody has one. Some people grow up wanting to be an astronaut while others want to be an athlete. For some reason completely foreign to me, some people even grow up wanting to be a lawyer.
The point is that when it comes to a dream job, different things suit different people. That's what makes our ranking the best jobs in college football so subjective. What one coach might consider a plus could be another coach's negative.
What I'm trying to do in these rankings is view each job from a neutral point of view. I considered many different factors when trying to figure out which job is the "best." The tradition of a school was a factor, as was its amount of success, and how the school is positioned for future success.
Throw in some recruiting -- not only the recruiting base, but the level of difficulty involved in recruiting players to the school -- expectations and the loyalty of the fan base, and I think I came to some pretty reasonable conclusions.
So without further ado, here are the 14 jobs of the SEC ranked from best to worst.
|This didn't require a lot of thought on my part. I will say that the gap between this job and others in the conference isn't as large as you might think initially, and that's due in large part to what Nick Saban has done here. Even so, when you combine everything Alabama has accomplished and can continue to do in the future, it's the best job in the conference. It also has the best coach in the conference, and when you put those two things together, that's how dynasties happen.|
|There are some budget concerns at LSU right now, but overall I just believe this job has so much to offer. Yes, you're going to have to compete with Alabama on a yearly basis, but you're also the flagship school in a state loaded with high school talent. You also have one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, and you can win national titles at LSU if you know what you're doing. There aren't many jobs across the country that can say that.|
|Based on a Twitter poll I ran earlier this week, I know that a lot of readers will disagree with this ranking, and I understand why. What I want you to understand is that, even if the success hasn't been to the level people at Georgia want, this is a terrific job. In fact, you can make the argument that it's one of the five best jobs in the country. Even in a state with professional sports teams, I believe only the Atlanta Braves can even be considered a competitor with the Dawgs when it comes to popularity within the state. Georgia football rules the state, and it's located in one of the most talent-rich states in the entire country. Yes, every SEC team tries to recruit in Georgia, as do some ACC teams, but most of the kids in the state are growing up with that G logo on their clothes. I honestly believe that if Georgia finds the right coach, this program could be a powerhouse.|
|Florida fans are the ones who will disagree with Georgia being No. 3 more than anybody, and I understand the thought process. Florida is a fantastic job. It's one of the top 10 jobs in the country; it's just that it's in a conference with other great gigs too. Both Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer have shown us what the ceiling is in Gainesville. Also, if it's of any consolation, I would consider Florida to be closer to Alabama in these rankings than any of the jobs I have ranked below it. The biggest reason I have Florida below Georgia is its location. Yes, it's in Florida, and there is a high level of talent within the state. It's just that Florida must compete within the state with two other Power Five schools (Florida State and Miami) as well as schools like UCF and USF. Oh, and also every other school in the southeast, as well as the Big Ten and just about everybody else honestly. While Georgia is recruited heavily as well, the gap between Georgia and Georgia Tech is far greater than Florida and FSU or Miami.|
|This is where things get more complicated. There's such a division between the top four teams and this second-tier of schools. I would say that the schools between Nos. 5-7 are interchangeable based on your preferences, and I've chosen to put Auburn at the top of this tier. The reason for this is simple: Even though it has to compete with Alabama within its state, Auburn's still had plenty of success. There was the national title in 2010, an appearance in the BCS Championship Game in 2013, and let's not forget a 13-0 season in 2004 that did not end with a chance at the national title. All three of those seasons came under different coaches. You can win here, even if you have to do it in the shadow of Alabama.|
|There are valid arguments for having Tennessee ranked No. 5 here. First of all, Tennessee is in the SEC East, which is an easier place to dwell than the SEC West right now. Of course, you still have to play Alabama every season, and things are cyclical, so you can't rely on the East being "easier" forever. Another advantage is that Tennessee is the flagship school within the state. It has a huge fan base and a passionate one at that. Vols football is the most popular sport in the state, and I don't see the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators or anybody else toppling it anytime soon. Where problems arise is in the area of recruiting. Unlike so many of its SEC counterparts, Tennessee isn't located in a fertile recruiting ground. There's talent within the state, sure, but not to the level we see in the states to the south.|
|Again, if you want to put Texas A&M at No. 5 ahead of either Tennessee or Auburn, I get it. There's a lot to like here. While there are plenty of other FBS schools in Texas, the Aggies are the only SEC school, and that has an appeal to the many recruits in The Lone Star State. It's also a school that's crazy for football and has put plenty of money into the program. What causes me to hesitate a bit, though, is that as many advantages as A&M has, there isn't a whole lot of success to go with it. The Aggies haven't won a national title since 1939 and only won one conference title since the formation of the Big 12 in 1994. Hell, they only won three divisional titles in that time.|
|This marks the beginning of the third-tier. To be completely honest, though, I feel like Ole Miss can be a tier unto itself because the difference between the third and fourth tiers isn't that great. That's not to say there aren't plenty of valid arguments to having some of the schools beneath it ranked higher, but personally, I'd rather have the gig in Oxford over any of the other remaining options.|
|I went back and forth between South Carolina and Arkansas for this spot, and in the end, I settled on the Gamecocks. It's important to remember that before Steve Spurrier showed up, this wasn't a program with much of a history. It only has one conference title to claim, and it came as a member of the ACC back in 1969. It's 2010 SEC East title is the only division title it has won as a member of the SEC. Also, while it's the state school, when it comes to football it is clearly in Clemson's shadow. So why did I put it here? Well, I'd rather be recruiting in South Carolina and the surrounding area than in any of the other places left to get to.|
|Arkansas certainly has had more success in its history than South Carolina. It won a national title in 1964, numerous SWC titles, and it's won the SEC West three times since joining the conference. So I can certainly understand why you'd want to rank Arkansas higher than South Carolina if that's your inkling. The problem for me is that even if it's the biggest program in the state, Arkansas still needs to rely on recruiting surrounding states more than South Carolina would need to. And when it does it's competing against LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. That's a disadvantage.|
|I have Missouri here, but I don't feel great about it. It was one of the more challenging schools to peg because it's still new to the SEC, but it does have some advantages. While it's not on the level of some other areas, St. Louis has produced a lot of high-quality talent, and Mizzou has good pull in the city. I do wonder how high the ceiling is here, though, because Gary Pinkel may have worked wonders, but there hadn't been a plethora of success here before he showed up.|
|Kentucky is one of those jobs that could climb further in these rankings in coming years. Historically the program hasn't been great. I mean, Kentucky was an original member of the SEC, yet it's only won two conference titles in its history. Plus, Kentucky is, and always will be, a basketball school. There's no getting around that. In the last few years, though, the school has made more of an effort to improve the football program, and it's possible we could see that work pay off shortly.|
|I don't think Dan Mullen's ability to build a program and coach is appreciated enough. It is not easy to win in Starkville. Like Kentucky, it's an original member of the SEC, but unlike Kentucky, it's only won the conference once, not twice. Hell, it's only won the division once, and that happened nearly 20 years ago. It's also one of two SEC teams in the state, and it's just not as good of a job as Ole Miss.|
|Sorry, Vandy, but this was an easy choice. It's the only private school in the conference and has the smallest enrollment. Furthermore, it must compete with Tennessee, which is the far more popular school within the state. And among SEC states, Tennessee just doesn't have the talent base comparable to others. If you can win here consistently, you are a fantastic coach.|