The University of Tennessee football program may not be on the pedestal that it was a decade ago, but it's still undoubtedly the best available head coaching job in the nation during this offseason.
The Vols struggled through another season in 2012 with a 5-7 record, which ultimately sealed the fate of Derek Dooley after three mediocre seasons at the helm on Rocky Top. Dooley was given grace by a fanbase hungry for wins through the first two years due to a daunting rebuilding project, but a roster full of talent and losses to teams like Missouri and Vanderbilt proved to be too much to overcome.
After their second straight unsuccessful coaching hire, athletic director Dave Hart is certainly feeling the pressure of his first coaching search as head honcho of the Vols. The fate of the program is in his hands.
The Volunteers have already struck out on some of the names atop their list—Jon Gruden, Jimbo Fisher, Mike Gundy and Charlie Strong—but there are still plenty of solid options available to turn Tennessee around.
Let's take a look at the top reasons why the Tennessee job trumps any other school that faced or is facing head-coaching changes this offseason.
When you think of the most successful and winningest college football programs of all time, there's no doubting that Tennessee should be one of the first schools to come out of your mouth.
The Vols rank eighth in all-time wins with 794. That also ranks second in the SEC behind rival Alabama.
Any football coach who wants to be remembered as a great would love to have his name mentioned next to the likes of Robert Neyland, Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer. And if Tennessee's next coach somehow turns around the program and puts the Vols back up atop the SEC, that's just where his name will be.
Tennessee already boasted some of the nation's best football facilities before, but their recently completed project has jaws dropping and has many people saying it's the new standard.
The Vols' Football Training Center, which was completed this summer, was a whopping $45 million project that included interesting perks such as state-of-the-art hydrotherapy equipment, a 22,000 square foot weight room and yes, even a mixed martial arts cage.
Overall, the new facility is 145,000 square feet.
As if the Vols didn't already enjoy some of the nation's best facilities, now they can "wow" recruits with this massive building that very few programs can match.
Say what you will about Derek Dooley's in-game coaching abilities, adjustments and clock management skills, but there's no doubting he left Tennessee in a better position than he inherited it.
When Lane Kiffin jumped ship in 2009, taking numerous recruits with him and leaving one of the worst rosters in college football, nobody wanted to come tackle an ugly situation in Knoxville. Player conduct was out of control, there were virtually no upperclassmen capable of playing against elite SEC teams, not to mention a ton of positions that could only be filled by freshman.
Three years later, the Vols can hang their hat on three consecutive top-20 recruiting classes. Not only that, but player conduct has become much less of an issue.
Even if juniors Tyler Bray, Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter exit early for the NFL, the Vols will be stacked with talented juniors and seniors on both sides of the ball.
Whoever becomes Tennessee's next head coach will inherit a roster that can win eight or nine games.
The Tennessee fanbase is a massive one that not only engulfs a major Southern state, but has representation across the entire nation.
If 80,000 fans showing up to your games is seen as an apocalyptic disaster to anyone associated with the program, you know you're dealing with an insanely large fanbase.
Football is a big deal across all of America, and there's no doubting that coaches at other schools are celebrities in their respective communities. But this is football in the South in one of the biggest programs with some of the most passionate fans. It's a religion, and whoever is named the next Vols head coach will immediately see his face blown up on billboards and be noticed wherever he goes.
Some coaches may be scared off by the pressures that come with this, but there's no doubting that the next coach that brings Tennessee back to the top will be worshipped and bowed down to. Who doesn't want that?
It's always interesting to see what opposing coaches have to say about the atmosphere inside Neyland Stadium after playing the Vols.
One of the largest stadiums in the nation, Neyland Stadium is one of the iconic buildings not only in college football, but all of sports. When the 102,455-seat stadium is filled up and rocking, watch out.
Even when hopes are down in Vol Nation and they struggle to surpass 95,000 attendees, it's still undoubtedly one of the largest crowds watching a football game on the given Saturday.
When some coaches that Tennessee goes after look back at their current coaching situation and their possible struggles of filling up their respective stadiums, they'll be relieved to know that upon arriving at Rocky Top, they won't have to worry about gaining fans for their program.