This is the latest in Stadium’s “Conference Chain of Command” series in which we polled a handful of veteran coaches in every league to determine the best JOBS in each league, all the way down to the ones that are the most difficult.
Here are the nine categories that were utilized to determine the overall rankings.
- History/Tradition – The history of the program
- Media Exposure – Games on national television
- Game Atmosphere – Includes attendance
- Budget/Resources – Includes coaches’ salaries, recruiting budget, travel budget, private planes, cost of attendance, etc.
- Buy Games – Programs who are bought the fewest number of times will rank first
- Geographical Recruiting Base – Proximity to players
- Facilities – Not just the arena, but also practice facilities, weight room, locker rooms, etc.
- Selling Pros – Being able to sell not only NBA players, but also those who play overseas
- Admission Requirements – Ranked from easiest to get into to most difficult
This is how polling in the MEAC shook out among coaches who voted, with one being the best and 12 being the worst:
1. NC A&T (90) – There’s plenty of tradition with the Aggies, including a seven-year run from 1982-88 in which Don Corbett took the program to the NCAA tourney every year. There are 10 NCAA tournament appearances in all, but just one since 1995. The program ranks in the top two in five categories.
Where they win: “They have the best resources in the league. The facilities, support, academics, recruiting budget and a winning tradition.” – MEAC assistant coach
The knock: “There’s not much. Really. It’s clearly the best job in the league.” – MEAC assistant coach
2. NC Central (88) – The Eagles went into D-1 in 2011 and LeVelle Moton has already taken the program to the NCAA tourney three times. There was plenty of success in the Division II ranks, including a national title in 1989. The school also produced 10-time NBA champion and former Boston Celtics guard Sam Jones. Moton has really turned this job into the second-best in the league.
Where they win: “Tobacco road location and also the recent history.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “They care about football. That’s ultimate what matters there the most.” – MEAC assistant coach
3. Norfolk State (85) – The Spartans have been in the MEAC since 1997 and have gone to one NCAA tourney – in 2012 under Anthony Evans. Norfolk has also been to one NIT in 2013. The program has never had a sub-.500 league mark since coming into the MEAC. The lone category in which Norfolk ranks in the bottom half of the league is history/tradition.
Where they win: “Location and facilities. It’s halfway between the north and south from a recruiting standpoint, and it’s arguably the best arena in the conference.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “Expectations. They expect to win the league every year because they won so much in the CIAA.” – MEAC assistant coach
4. Morgan State (68) – The Bears program didn’t have much to celebrate until Todd Bozeman took over in 2006 and they went to the NCAA tourney in 2009 and 2010. Morgan State’s resources rank among the best in the league, but it’s actually in the middle in most categories.
Where they win: “The recruiting demographic. They are right in Baltimore and 30 minutes from D.C. There are plenty of players in the area, and they support the program.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “They have to fight with Coppin for players since the two schools are basically right near each other. And it’s not like either one gets the pick of the litter.” – MEAC assistant
5. Howard (66) – The Bison have a pair of NCAA tourneys on their resume: 1981 under A.B. Williamson and in ’92 under Butch Beard. But in 14 of the past 15 seasons, Howard has finished below .500 in the MEAC. Tops in recruiting base, top three in game atmosphere — but by far the most difficult in terms of getting and keeping kids into school academically.
Where they win: “History, alumni base and academics.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “They should probably be in the Patriot league. They can’t take most transfers, and that hurts these days since everyone else is utilizing the transfer route. It’s out of place in the MEAC.” – MEAC assistant
6. Coppin State (61) – The Eagles have gone to the NCAA tourney four times (1990, ’93, ’97, 2008) – all under long-time former coach Fang Mitchell. Coppin State ranks in the top two in the league in history, admission requirements (easy to get kids in) and also in facilities.
Where they win: “They don’t have football, which means they are the sport that matters.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “They don’t have football, which means they have to play a ton of buy games to help support the athletic program.” – MEAC head coach
7. Florida A&M (50) – The Rattlers have been to the NCAA tourney three times: 1999, 2004 and ’07. FAMU has the best facilities and a solid tradition, but everything else is towards the bottom of the league.
Where they win: “Location. Tallahassee is a great college town and the arena is the best in the league. It’s big, fairly new and really nice.” – MEAC assistant coach
The knock: “Budget and a lack of stability. They’ve had a bunch of athletic directors, presidents and coaches in the last decade.” – MEAC head coach
8. Bethune-Cookman (49) – Six coaches have tried, but none have been able to get the Wildcats to the NCAA tourney. That list includes Cy McClairen, Tony Sheals, Horace Broadnax, Clifford Reed, Gravelle Craig and now Ryan Ridder, who is in year two. Bethune ranks first in terms of getting kids into school and towards the top in game-day atmosphere, but dead last in facilities.
Where they win: “Good location, easy admissions and one of the best game-day atmospheres in the league.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “Facilities are bad and they don’t really have any tradition. Five winning seasons in 39 years.” – MEAC assistant coach
9. Delaware State (45) – The Hornets went to their lone NCAA tourney in 2005 under Greg Jackson, and also went to the NIT in 2006 and ’07. Delaware State ranks in the bottom half of the league in seven of the nine categories.
Where they win: “Only two Division 1 schools in the state, so they can compete with most in-state kids. It’s an hour from the beach, close to DMV, Philly, New York and New Jersey and also good campus life.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “Lack of tradition and a small gym that needs upgrades.” – MEAC assistant coach
10. South Carolina State (37) – The Bulldogs went to the NCAA tourney five times under Cy Alexander: 1989, ’96, ’98, 2000 and ’03. However, South Carolina State has finished below .500 in league play seven of the previous eight seasons.
Where they win: “The tradition. It’s not at NC A&T level, but it’s right up there with the best in the league after that.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “Resources. They got crushed with major budget cuts and I don’t think think they have 10 scholarships anymore.” – MEAC assistant coach
11. Maryland Eastern Shore (35) – The Shore Hawks are on their 13th coach and have yet to get to the NCAA tournament. They rank dead-last in tradition and also in selling pros, and the only category in which they check in among the top half of the league is game-day atmosphere.
Where they win: “They aren’t too far from Baltimore, DC, New York and Philly. Plus, they are the only game in town. There’s no football.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “They are out in the country, in a secluded area with nothing around them.” – MEAC assistant
12. Savannah State (28) – The Tigers haven’t been to the NCAA tourney, but have been successful since joining the MEAC in 2010. They went 12-4 last season and tied for the regular season crown. They rank last in two categories and 11th in four more.
Where they win: “The city of Savannah is awesome. It has history and it’s beautiful. Above average arena and a nice campus.” – MEAC head coach
The knock: “Not enough funding when it comes to scholarships, staff and support.” – MEAC assistant coach