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College Football's 20 Most Desirable Coaching Jobs

Brandon CavanaughCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2017

College Football's 20 Most Desirable Coaching Jobs

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    Despite what video games teach, coaching an FBS school isn’t simply going after every 5-star prospect on Rivals.com and throwing a long pass every other play.

    A coach, no matter how talented, has to suit a program much in the same fashion as his players have to fit his schemes and new direction.

    If you’re a fresh, young go-getter on the FBS coaching circuit, there are 20 schools aching for your services.

    To make the selection process even easier, the schools in question have been ranked and scored in five categories: Marketability, recruiting, national exposure, “conference cred” and expectations.

    The formula is simple.

    A+ = 10 points

    A = 9.5

    B = 9 points and so on.

    Expectations are ranked by how long it might take for a coach to find themselves on the hot seat. There are five levels of flame. The lower the level, the more points a school is credited.

    These rankings are not reflective of current head coaching results. Ties were broken using "conference cred," then national exposure if necessary.

    Alright, coach, let’s have a look at the 20 best places for you to display your talents.

20. Boise State

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    Marketability: B (8.5)

    Any team that brings Nike calling to spruce up its duds can be trendsetters. Boise State is the fashionable choice for the anti-BCS movement as of late.

     

    Recruiting: D (6.5) 

    It isn’t easy getting quality players to come to Boise State. More than likely, a coach going to have to be able to get the most out of talent that no other program jumped on (see Moore, Kellen).

     

    National Exposure: A (9.5)

    Everyone in the nation was watching when Boise State knocked off Virginia Tech, completing a fantastic opening weekend last season. Those who despise the Broncos waited until the Nevada game to revel in their defeat. It’s likely that if you follow the sport closely, you know what Boise’s up to.



    Conference Cred: D+ (7.0)

    The main argument against any appearance in the BCS National Championship Game is Boise’s strength of schedule. The good news is that they’re moving to the Mountain West Conference. The bad news is that TCU is leaving shortly, sending the Broncos back to square one.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    Boise State has tasted success and wants more of it. If a coach can't churn out a winner, they'll likely be shown the door in a hurry.

    Total: 32.5 points

19. Hawaii

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    Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

    Marketability: C (7.5)

    There’s not too much Hawaii Warriors gear seen around the mainland.

     

    Recruiting: B (8.5)

    On the one hand, the Warriors can bring less-recruited talent across the Pacific Ocean to enjoy the sunshine while playing in a welcoming environment. On the other, the jet lag from away games is horrendous.

     

    National Exposure: D (6.5)

    ESPN isn’t always rushing to give the Warriors publicity. Hawaii frequently finds itself with the “Little Engine That Could” label. Opposition brings most viewers such Southern Cal who clashed with the Warriors last season.



    Conference Cred: D (6.5)

    Hawaii heads to the Western Athletic Conference from the Mountain West Conference in 2012. For now, they’re in one of the poorest conferences for a team that wants to be taken seriously.

     

    Expectations: Level 1 (+5)

    Warriors fans are a pretty relaxed bunch, but then again, wouldn’t you be in their position?

     

    Total: 34 points

    While Hawaii isn’t exactly the position that a coach would take if they are looking to win a BCS championship, it is a good stepping stone.

    Also, you get paid to coach football in Hawaii.

18. West Virginia

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    Marketability: B (8.5)

    A visit from Nike’s uniform “imagineers” gave West Virginia a new look on occasion in 2010. With the departure of Noel Devine, West Virginia needs a new signature, much like Rich Rodriguez’s offense, to keep things fresh.

     

    Recruiting: B (8.5)

    West Virginia is in a well-populated part of the country when it comes to talent.  The Mountaineers are not likely to haul in many SEC-caliber players when going up against teams from that conference, but the Mountaineers don’t need to. In the Big East, a few stars mean that you can compete.

     

    National Exposure: B (8.5)

    When it’s time to pick up Big East games, the Mountaineers’ name usually gets called first or second.  Since they’re often in the hunt for the Big East title and have featured fun talent to watch, ESPN will find a way to shoehorn them onto the schedule.

     

    Conference Cred: C (7.5)

    Playing in the Big East, an automatic BCS big is waiting for the winner. A team doesn’t have to be a juggernaut to win the conference. Unfortunately, after the pasting Connecticut took at the hands of Oklahoma in last season’s Fiesta Bowl, many are questioning if that automatic bid is warranted.

     

    Expectations: Level 3 (+3 points)

    Staying competitive and having a shot at BCS glory seems alright for now. Once new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen is head coach, then that statement goes out the window.

     

    Total: 36 points

    Being West Virginia’s head man isn’t too tricky for the time being. As long as a coach can bring in a few stud recruits, run a competent offense and keep the Mountaineers in the hunt for the Big East crown, he should be fine.

17. Notre Dame

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    If you get to travel often, you’ve likely seen someone wearing at least one piece of Notre Dame’s merchandise. The name alone is enough to help products sell.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    While academic standards are quite a bit higher at Notre Dame than other schools, the Irish still manage to pull in quality recruits. A coach has little to no wiggle room when it comes to excuses as to why he cannot deliver on the recruiting trail for the Irish.

     


    National Exposure:
    A+ (10.0)

    If you watch college football at all, you know Notre Dame. Chances are you either love them or hate them, too. 



    Conference Cred:
    C (7.5)

    How is it possible to give Notre Dame any credit for being independent? Even though Notre Dame makes its own schedule, the BCS will continue attempts to roll out the red carpet for the Irish.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    Ask Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis about what Fighting Irish fans expect.

     

    Total: 38 points

    The Notre Dame job is far from easy, but the tools are there to get the job done. A coach must recruit well and get the Fighting Irish to the Promised Land or they will try to find someone else to try.

16. Florida State

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    Marketability: B+ (9.0)

    Florida State is a brand that surpasses state borders. Its sports programs are often competitive across the board.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (9.5)

    Seminole recruiting isn’t going to be easy, but there’s plenty of talent in Florida State’s backyard to create an excellent nucleus.

     

    National Exposure: B (8.5)

    Florida State isn’t getting the air time as under Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles are still a well-known program and will get the opportunity to be seen as long as they remain competitive in the ACC.



    Conference Cred: C+ (8.0)

    The ACC isn’t doing them any favors, though. Considered one of the weakest BCS automatic-qualifying conferences regardless of a title game, a team needs to run the table to get much respect.

     

    Expectations: Level 3 (+3 points)

    The fans have been patient, but a return to the national scene needs to happen sooner rather than later.

     

    Total: 38 points

    While Florida State remained competitive into the early 2000s, Bobby Bowden’s departure signaled a lull for the Seminoles. It’s about time for a resurgence and there are plenty of resources available to ensure that teams across the country once again fear the spear.

15. Missouri

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Marketability: A (9.5)

    The Tigers’ consistent success is starting to give them some excellent publicity in the Big 12 conference’s regions. Nike has visited Columbia to provide Missouri with new uniform designs and “The Swoosh” doesn’t go where it can’t make a buck.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    With the departure of Big 12 North division foes Colorado and Nebraska, the Tigers find themselves in a unique position. While the Cornhuskers will continue to hit the surrounding area hard, Missouri may be able to establish a stronger foothold in-state.

     

    National Exposure: C (7.5)

    The Tigers can be a streaky team, but they are usually able to provide a memorable moment or two per season. The Border War game versus Kansas always gets tremendous coverage.



    Conference Cred: B (8.5)

    Missouri may say goodbye to its main competition in the Big 12 North, but the newly depleted Big 12 isn’t going to help them gain more notoriety.

     

    Expectations: Level 3 (+3 points)

    The Tigers seem content with winning nine to 10 games per season, having a shot at the Big 12 championship and heading to a quality bowl game.

     

    Total: 38 points

    Missouri is an excellent stop for a coach looking to put a feather in his cap. If BCS glory is your goal, coaching the Tigers won’t likely provide it especially without any conference championship game allowing them to catch a breath anymore.

14. Michigan

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    Marketability:  A (9.5)

    Much like Notre Dame, the Michigan brand travels well. It helps to have one of the most recognizable helmet designs in the country.

     

    Recruiting: B (8.5)

    The Wolverines’ tradition of putting players in the pros combined with its rich history makes wearing Michigan's colors a tempting offer.

     


    National Exposure:
    A (9.5)

    ESPN loves to get the Wolverines on its networks. Often times, kickoff is bright and early to the dismay of Wolverine tailgaters.

     

    Conference Cred: A (9.5)

    With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten has become arguably the second-best conference behind the SEC.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    The dismissal of Rich Rodriguez showed that while Michigan fans can be patient, they need to see a quality product on the field.

     

    Total: 38 points

    The Wolverines provide an excellent opportunity to make waves in a coach’s career. Ann Arbor could easily be a long-term destination assuming that Big Ten championships and Rose Bowl appearances can be produced. There’s also that whole “Beat Ohio State” thing.

13. Auburn

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Marketability: B (8.5)

    The “whirring” noises that you hear are the sounds of 2010 national championship apparel being cranked out.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    Finding football talent in and around Alabama is a lot like finding water in a lake. The Tigers’ shiny new crystal should attract even more in the coming years.

     

    National Exposure: A (9.5)

    For better or worse, Cam Newton thrust himself into the spotlight and took Auburn with him. The spotlight only got bigger once the Tigers took home the Coaches’ Trophy. Expect to see a lot about Auburn, especially as Newton attempts to live life in the NFL.



    Conference Cred: A+ (10.0)

    When your conference has produced the past five national champions, its resume speaks volumes.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    Auburn fans wanted to be in a BCS game badly enough before the Tigers won it all. The desire to repeat is only going to grow in the offseason.

     

    Total: 38.5 points

    Success breeds success, but it can also bring greed. Coaching football in the SEC is no easy task and one has to wonder Tiger fans will react should Auburn fall short in the coming years.

12. TCU

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    Marketability: A (9.5)

    TCU’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms received rave reviews and the program’s recent successes have made Horned Frogs apparel a preferred choice.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    When recruiting in Texas, there’s as much talent as there is air to breathe. TCU continues to make strides in BCS bowl games and may very well play in the national championship game soon. That sort of momentum is enough to drive some excellent talent their way.

     

    National Exposure: A (9.5)

    As mentioned, it’s good to be a Horned Frog. BCS appearances and a humble, but devastating trek across their schedule have turned TCU into a fan favorite.

     

    Conference Cred: D (6.5)

    If there’s one knock on TCU, it’s that they have to demolish their conference to have a shot at the big time just like Boise State.

     

    Expectations: Level 2 (+4 points)

    While the Horned Frogs have continued to climb the polls and gain respect, the atmosphere in Fort Worth remains mellow.

     

    Total: 39 points

    With a state rich in talent, a devoted fan base and a confident administration, TCU has every opportunity to continue to make strides in the coming seasons.

11. Texas

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Marketability: A (9.5)

    Texas fans are all around the country, but their apparel isn’t just on those devoted to the Longhorns.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    If you cannot recruit to Texas for football, you have no place coaching FBS football. The Longhorns are likely filling out their 2016 target list already.

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    With Texas being at the forefront of the Big 12 conference along with Oklahoma, its successes and failures will be well-documented.



    Conference Cred: B (8.5)

    Texas continues to sit at the head of the Big 12's table. Unfortunately, two of the conference’s big name programs have departed.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    Longhorn fans have high expectations and they should. A proper coaching staff should be able to waltz in and put the Longhorns in position for a BCS bowl every year.

     

    Total: 39 points

    Despite last season’s meltdown in Austin, Texas still has its allure. As long as the Texas Tower glows orange, the Longhorns’ head job remains an opportunity to excel.

10. Michigan State

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Marketability: B (8.5)

    You’ll see plenty of Spartans merchandise around the Midwest and beyond. Admittedly, a good portion of that is due to the basketball program.

     

    Recruiting: B (8.5)

    Going up against the rest of the Big Ten is a challenge, but there is enough talent in the Midwest to provide Michigan State with the players that they need to compete.

     

    National Exposure: C (7.5)

    The Spartans are usually a topic of conversation when on a hot streak. If the season turns sour, the nation’s attention span can shift quickly.



    Conference Cred: A (9.5)

    Michigan State will be joined by Big Ten newcomer Nebraska in the conference’s initial season featuring a conference game. 

     

    Expectations: Level 1 (+5 points)

    Basketball is the bread and butter of Michigan State, so Spartan football fans are usually a pretty relaxed bunch.

     

    Total: 39 points

    Sparty is always a treat to watch. Their shenanigans have come to be an expected part of every college football season. In a very inviting and welcoming environment, a quality coach could do some damage at the helm of the Spartans in their conference’s new structure.

9. Oklahoma

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Marketability: B+ (9.0)

    Much like Missouri, most of Oklahoma’s presence can be seen in the middle of the country. Thanks to the Sooners’ continued competition for BCS bids, that reach has spread beyond conference borders a bit.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)               

    Oklahoma often battles Texas for recruits and winning signatures from the Longhorns isn’t a foreign concept. The Sooner’s reputation of putting players into the NFL also doesn’t hurt them.                               

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    The Big 12’s current television deal isn’t fantastic, but Oklahoma will continue to get the nod to fill one of the conference’s top two national spots.



    Conference Cred: B (8.5)

    Seeing long-time respected foe Nebraska head to the Big Ten is a double-whammy for the Sooners. They’ve been able to corral Texas lately and the trend will need to continue if they want the conference’s coveted BCS bid.

     

    Expectations: Level 4 (+2 points)

    It’s been over a decade since Oklahoma last celebrated a national title, but the Sooners are always in the hunt. An Oklahoma head coach needs to keep it that way, too.



    Total: 39.5 points

    Being the Sooners’ head coach may not seem like a difficult task, but that's because the college football world hasn’t seen them drop very far lately. Should Oklahoma suffer through some mediocre years or worse, it will be interesting to see how patient Sooner fans are.

8. Miami (FL)

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    Miami is right up there with Southern Cal when it comes to their brand’s reach. If you haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30: The U do so and with an open mind.


    Recruiting: A (9.5)

     

    A program rich with history in the state of Florida should pull in recruits faster than offers can be mailed out.

     

     

    National Exposure: A (9.5)

     

    Even though they’re in the ACC, much like their rivals in Tallahassee, the Hurricanes' name carries weight. The college football world is just waiting for Miami to return with a vengeance. When they do, the cameras will be rolling.



    Conference Cred: C+ (8.0)

     

    It doesn’t look good when a team that loses its first two games, including one to an FCS school at home, wins the conference crown. If you’re not actually a part of the program, that is.

     

     

    Expectations: Level 2 (+4 points)

     

    It used to be that Miami expected to compete for the national championship every season. Now, it seems that attending the ACC Conference Championship game and a BCS bowl would be reason to celebrate. If the right coach stops by, expect the masses to demand a return to glory.



    Total: 41 points

     

    As mentioned, Miami is primed for a return to dominance. The Canes play in a conference that is not incredibly challenging and aside from Florida State, no team can match their resources, brand recognition and potential recruiting pull.

7. Nebraska

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    nebraska footballEric Francis/Getty Images

    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    Rather than look for Cornhuskers apparel in the state of Nebraska, venturing to find those not wearing any would be a far more difficult task. If you slap a red “N” on something, it will sell.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    Bleeding-edge technology and facilities, outstanding academic support, prominent NFL players, Nebraska offers all of this and more.  

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    The Cornhuskers are on national pundits’ lips every season. A recent return to championship discussions has given the conversation a more positive tone.

     

    Conference Cred: A (9.5)

    Adding to the Big Ten’s ranks and allowing the conference to add a championship game only strengthened an already impressive group.

     

    Expectations: Level 4 (+2 points)

    Nebraska fans love a winner. If a coach can supply double-digit wins, conference titles and a shot at the national title, their job is safe for a good, long while. Cornhusker fans are also big on loyalty and are willing to give some slack if hard work is apparent. A blue-collar attitude is always a plus.

     

    Total: 41 points

    In a football-crazy state like Nebraska, a coach has the ability to create a monster. The administration wants the program to succeed, fans offer every chance to win their hearts and with a stadium that sells out every week, there’s no lack of support.

6. LSU

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Marketability: A (9.5)

    The LSU brand is just as popular in baseball as it is in football, but regardless of the sport, the Tigers’ colors are in national chains across the country.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    In another hotbed of talent, LSU can afford to not only pick and choose its prospects, but lose battles for recruits’ pledges without losing the war.

     

    National Exposure: A (9.5)

    ESPN nearly demands that College GameDay finds a way to travel to Baton Rouge on a yearly basis.



    Conference Cred: A+ (10.0)

    As it stands, it’s the SEC’s world. Everyone else is just a squirrel trying to get a nut.

     

    Expectations: Level 4 (+2 points)

    The Tigers were hailed as national champions not that long ago, and it’s likely that fans are waiting for that title to return soon. Being a part of the SEC gives them an excellent shot by association, if nothing else.

     

    Total: 41 points

    LSU’s opportunities give a head coach with the right know-how a potentially permanent stop. If the Tigers remain in the hunt for the SEC title and a BCS bowl game, all is well. With the assets surrounding the school, that shouldn’t be an issue.

5. Alabama

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    The Crimson Tide’s brand rivals anyone in the nation.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    With Alabama’s track record, strong-arming past any opposition should be successful most of the time. The Crimson Tide will remain in the race for the national championship, which keeps their name on the minds of recruits. 

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    Alabama’s success along with its SEC presence keeps bringing back viewers week after week.



    Conference Cred: A+ (10.0)

    The Crimson Tide has things better than most in the SEC, and that’s saying something. With their recent successes, they’ve topped the best teams in quite arguably the best conference.

     

    Expectations: Level 5 (+1 point)

    If you want to coach at Alabama, you need to have thick skin. If you want to run the ship, you’d better have flame-retardant pants, because that seat can get hot incredibly quick.

     

    Total: 41 points

    Despite the necessity to remain in the national championship hunt, coaching at Alabama can be an excellent fit for the right individual. All of the tools to keep a coast-to-coast power on top are present, and with the ability to let criticism roll off of his back, a coach can become a very wealthy person in Tuscaloosa.

4. Oregon

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    When you have uniform combinations numbering in the hundreds, there’s a good chance that your product will sell. With Nike as one of the major sponsors, Oregon will remain a power when it comes to branding.

     

    Recruiting: A (9.5)

    The Ducks already recruit well, and their recent appearance in the BCS National Championship Game will likely only help those efforts.

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    Oregon’s offense has put them on the map during the past couple of seasons. Thanks to their classic encounter with Auburn, the Ducks will stay on top for a while.

     

    Conference Cred: B+ (9.0)

    Oregon meets Pac-12 newcomer Colorado next year, but won't see Utah barring a meeting in the conference championship game. The news gets even better as the Ducks are in excellent position to win their new division on a yearly basis.

     

    Expectations: Level 3 (+3 points)

    Ducks fans have seen their program rise to national prominence and aren’t interested in a loosening grip on the top rung of the ladder.

     

    Total: 41.5 points

    As it stands, the Ducks have everything going for them: a relatively easy-to-navigate division, a conference championship game to validate future BCS appearances and a solid influx of talent.

3. Florida

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Marketability: A (9.5)

    With Florida’s national championship seasons in 2006 and 2008, the Gators are firmly on the map as a truly prominent brand.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    Come to Gainesville, compete for SEC and national titles, then go to the NFL. Rinse and repeat.

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    Thanks to Tim Tebow, this won’t be a problem for a good decade, if not longer.

     

    Conference Cred: A+ (10.0)

    One down year isn’t going to damage the Gators’ reputation in the nation’s eyes too badly. They have every tool necessary to run with the big boys in the SEC.

     

    Expectations: Level 4 (+2 points)

    Recent history has been very kind to Florida. Look for both fans and national analysts to expect their presence in BCS bowls and at the top of the polls every year for seasons to come.

     

    Total: 41.5 points

    It’s been shown that the right coach can not only win at Florida, but dominate. The Gators should never be hurting for quality recruits and every position on the staff is coveted.

2. Ohio State

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    Marketability: A (9.5)

    Nike leaves its mark on yet another school as the Buckeyes featured a throwback look this past season. The Ohio State brand is another that appears well outside of regional areas.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    Thanks to a steady stream of players into the NFL and excellent local high school connections, the Buckeyes continue to rake in quality talent. 

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    As one of the dominant programs in the Big Ten, Ohio State will always get plenty of publicity. Its highlights are always seen on television regardless of the opposition.



    Conference Cred: A (9.5)

    Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin join Ohio State in the Leaders division of the newly-formatted Big Ten.

     

    Expectations: Level 3 (+3 points)

    The Buckeye faithful are used to overall success. It’s been able to tide them over since winning the national championship in 2002. One has to wonder when that may become an issue. For now, winning the conference championship and appearing in a BCS bowl does the trick every time. Oh, and be sure to beat Michigan.

     

    Total: 42 points

1. Southern California

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    Marketability: A+ (10.0)

    Try going into your nearest national sporting goods chain store. It’s a good bet that a fair amount of Southern Cal merchandise will be waiting for you.

     

    Recruiting: A+ (10.0)

    California is one of the “Big Three” states when it comes to talent. With the location, the tradition and the history of NFL draft picks, recruiting for the Trojans should be a breeze.

     

    National Exposure: A+ (10.0)

    Southern Cal’s business is always a story. Whether good or bad news comes the Trojans’ way, everyone wants to know about it.



    Conference Cred: B+ (9.0)

    The addition of Utah and Colorado gives all members of the new Pac-12 breathing room when it comes to wins and losses. Having to work at a disadvantage due to probation, Southern Cal might benefit the most from this.

     

    Expectations: Level 1 (+5 points)

    If the Trojans win, fans will come out in droves. If not, they’ll find something else to do. No big whoop.

     

    Total: 44 points

    Probation will end soon and looking at the Trojans objectively, it’s a sweet gig. As long as a coach can avoid violating NCAA rules, Los Angeles should be kind to any staff worth their salt.

    Don't let the offseason get you down.

    Football news, reviews and much more awaits! Follow Brandon on Twitter (@eightlaces) for the all the latest and other general football goodness.

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