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 eight categories that were utilized to determine the overall rankings.
- 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
This is how polling in the SWAC shook out among coaches who voted, with one being the best and 10 being the worst:
1. Texas Southern (69) – The Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament eight times including four times since 2014. Texas Southern checks in first in the league in history, TV exposure, resources, recruiting base and selling pros, and second in game atmosphere and facilities.
Where they win: “Location being in Houston, the facility and great recent tradition. It’s clearly the best job in the league.” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “They play a shitload of guarantee games, so they don’t really play any home games in the non-conference. Being in Houston can be good and also bad: Because there are so many things to do, it’s hard to get fans to come to the games.” – SWAC head coach
2. Southern (64) – The Jaguars have been to the NCAA tourney nine times, and they rank second in the league in history, TV exposure, recruiting base, selling pros (Avery Johnson and Bobby Phills) and buy games.
Where they win: “Great location in Baton Rouge with LSU right down the street, as much tradition as anyone in the league and plenty of alumni support. They have a good following.” – SWAC head coach
Where they lose: “Like all SWAC schools: funds. And it’s an older building.” – SWAC assistant
3. Alabama State (61) – The Hornets have gone to the NCAA tourney four times (2001, 2004, 2009, 2011) and they also rank in the top four in every category in the league, including first in facilities.
Where they win: “The city of Montgomery is a pretty good place, the facilities are the best in the league and there’s also plenty of tradition.” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “Limited staffing, old facilities and some of same problems we all have: We get bought a bunch of games and that’s hard to deal with.” – SWAC assistant
4. Prairie View A&M (56) – The Panthers have gone to a pair of NCAA tournaments – first in 1998 and again this past season. Prairie View ranks second in resources and third in TV exposure, game atmosphere, recruiting base, facilities and buy games.
Where they win: “The city of Houston, and they also upgraded their facility and locker room. It used to be the worst facility in the league.” – SWAC head coach
Where they lose: “The gym is really small.” – SWAC assistant
5. Jackson State (42) – The Tigers have been to the NCAA tournament three times (1997, 2000, 2007). Jackson State ranks in the middle in the majority of the categories, except towards the bottom of the league in game atmosphere.
Where they win: “Good tradition, location is pretty good with it being in the capital of the state, big alumni base, and quality administration.” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “Limited financial resources, and they play a good amount of guarantee games.” – SWAC assistant
6. Grambling State (37) – The program is best-known for producing Hall of Famer Willis Reed, but there hasn’t been a ton of D-1 history. The Tigers won the NAIA national title in 1961, but have never been to the NCAA tourney. Besides history, game atmosphere is also lacking, ranking last in the league.
Where they win: “Fairly new arena, Willis Reed and tradition because of football. And it’s easy to get kids into school.” – SWAC head coach
Where they lose: “Game atmosphere. It’s brutal there. No one comes to games. It’s a small place with nothing to do.” – SWAC assistant
7. Alcorn State (30) – The Braves have been to the NCAA tourney six times (1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1999 and 2002) – with all six coming with Davey Whitney as head coach. Alcorn also produced long-time NBA veteran Larry Smith, but most of the other categories have Alcorn down the bottom of the league.
Where they win: “Rich basketball history. That’s probably the biggest sell for the program.” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “Recruiting due to location and the lack of things in the area. There’s nothing to do. Just one way in and one way out. You’ve got to go to Vicksburg to see civilization. The travel is tough. Also, the facility needs a major facelift.” – SWAC assistant
8. Alabama A&M (28) – The Bulldogs moved from Division 2 to the D-1 ranks in 1998 and went to the NCAA tourney in 2005. It ranks in the bottom four in every category, but checks in first in buy games.
Where they win: “Huntsville is a good, decent-sized city to recruit to. It’s not far from Birmingham. The students go to the games – especially if they are winning.” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “Budget. Low, low resources. They play in a building that’s like a high school gym.” – SWAC head coach
9. UAPB (27) – The Golden Lions made their lone NCAA tournament appearance in 2010 under current coach George Ivory. Pine Bluff ranks first in game atmosphere, but battles a lack of history and tradition.
Where they win: “Great crowds. They led the league in attendance. There’s not much to do there, but the games are good. The cheerleaders and the stuff that goes in during timeouts is entertaining. We sit through it when we’re watching film, and laugh about all the activity that’s going on.” – SWAC head coach
Where they lose: “Being in the middle of nowhere.” – SWAC assistant
10. Mississippi Valley State (26) – The Delta Devils do have history, going to the NCAA tourney in 1986, 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012 — but it’s a tough job. The resources are last in the league, and the recruiting base is also in the cellar.
Where they win: “Small campus, not many distractions and you can get anything with a pulse into school. Also, two coaches have actually gotten out of the league: Sean Woods and James Green. ” – SWAC assistant
Where they lose: “There’s nothing to do. The airport is almost two hours away, and you’ve got to go through the Delta Flatland. You can’t even compete financially with most of the teams in the league, so that hurts recruiting-wise.” – SWAC assistant