Alright, we all know that if you are a coach at a top program you have to go three places to recruit (outside of your normal area; now you don't have to get all of your players from these three spots, but you had better get some):
3) FloriGa (Florida+Georgia)
(NOTE: Big Ten teams traditionally had the Big Ten states locked up; PA, OH, MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA)
But, what if you are an athletic director and you need a new coach? Where do you go?
There are only two main stops on your recruiting trip:
2) The Ohio Valley
Now, I did not look at all 119 Division I programs, I looked at:
The top FIVE conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10, SEC)
Plus the teams not in those conferences that are in the AP top 35 (Utah, TCU, Cincinnati, BYU, Pittsburgh, Ball State, Boise State, Ball State, East Carolina, West Virginia, Rice, Tulsa, Rutgers).
And I threw in Notre Dame (although I don't know why).
This list is by place of birth and where the coach was rasied.
On those 69 teams:
California has 10 head coaches, or 14.5 percent.
(Dan Hawkins, Rich Brooks, Jeff Tedford, Mike Bellotti, Pete Carroll, Kyle Whittingham, Mike Leach, Steve Sarkisian, Chris Petersen, Paul Wulff)
The Ohio Valley (Ohio, Western West Virgina, Western Pennsylvania, Kentucky) has 19 head coaches, or 27.5 percent.
(OHIO: Gary Pinkel, Urban Meyer, Stan Parrish, Tom O'Brien, Les Miles, Ron Zook, Jim Tressel, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Tiller, Mike Stoops, Bob Stoops, Bo Pelini, & Mark Dantonio*; PA: Dave Wannstedt & Mark Mangino; WV: Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Jim Grobe, & Bill Stewart)
The state of Ohio alone has 13 (18.8 percent)!
What is in the water in the Ohio area that is putting out all of these top coaches? (I would have to give a lot of the credit to the secondary schools and coaching staffs.)
Now, lets just look at the AP top 35:
Ohio Valley has: 10 (28.6 percent; OHIO: Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Jim Tressell, Mark Dantonio*, Stan Parrish, Gary Pinkel, & Bo Pelini; WV: Nick Saban & Bill Stewart; PA: Dave Wannstedt)
California: 6 (17.1 percent; Pete Carroll, Kyle Whittingham, Mike Leach, Chris Petersen, Mike Bellotti, & Jim Tedford)
North Carolina: 2 (5.7 percent; Paul Johnson & Frank Beamer)
No other state has two!
Now the names on the Ohio Valley and California lists are considered pretty good coaches too.
One quarter of the Division I coaches come from a small area on the western slopes of the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio-Indiana border.
Of the coaches born in other places a good number of them either coached in the Ohio Valley area (Ohio, Western West Virgina, Western Pennsylvania, Kentucky), or they mentored under another coach who came to their area from the Valley.
Next, if you start looking at the top assistants at these same schools, you see the same thing, Ohio Valley, California, and North Carolina (Of course a coach like Meyer or Stoops is going to bring in people that they know and have worked with before, or that know another assistant or mentor). Guess we need a new board game: "The Seven Degrees of Separation of Bo Schembechler"...
So, if you are an AD at a top college football program, be sure to vacation in the Ohio Valley soon. Christmas in Cincinnati anyone?
*Mark Dantonio was born in El Paso but grew up in Zanesville, Ohio
(DISCLAIMER: I have never lived in the Ohio Valley and have no ties to it, just saw a pattern in the top D-1 coaches. A lot of them are either from there, passed through there, or got major guidance from someone from there.)