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Two Cents: College football's 10 toughest jobs

Phillip Fulmer has been the football coach at Tennessee for 17 seasons. He has won nearly 100 more games than he has lost (150-51). His teams played in five SEC Championship Games, won two conference titles and the 1998 national championship. He has the third-best winning percentage among active coaches with 10 years of experience, trailing only legends Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden. Not good enough. Fulmer was forced out Monday, proving one thing — Tennessee is a tough place to coach. Here are the 10 toughest college football jobs in the country.

Tennessee

See: Fulmer, Phillip. Fans expect their Vols to compete with the big boys in the SEC such as Florida, LSU and Alabama, but the state of Tennessee isn't as rich in talent as Florida, Louisiana and Alabama, making recruiting awfully tough. Still, the alumni don't want to hear it.

Alabama

More than 92,000 showed up to watch Alabama's spring game in 2007. Think that doesn't come along with some pressure? It says something that every time Alabama has an opening, it gets turned down by some coaching heavyweights. It nabbed Nick Saban only after offering him the fifth-richest contract in the country.

Michigan

Ask Rich Rodriguez how tough this job is. This is a program that chased off Lloyd Carr, who never lost more than five games in a season, won at least 10 games six times and won or shared five Big Ten titles, not to mention he ran a clean program.

Notre Dame

Having every game on national TV is great for recruiting, but not so great knowing every alumnus and fan throughout the country is watching … and critiquing. High admittance standards make recruiting difficult, but that doesn't lower the enormous expectations raised by such a rich tradition.

Nebraska

If your first name is not Tom and your last name isn't Osborne, you already have two strikes against you. Nebraskans live and breathe Cornhuskers football. When you're the only game in town, the spotlight burns.

South Florida

The Bulls don't have their own stadium and the facilities do not match most Top 25 programs. They still play second-fiddle to the team up the road in Gainesville, yet expectations are getting higher because of the success Jim Leavitt has had. Think of it this way: If Leavitt were to leave, would USF be able to land a big name? Doubtful.

Miami

Five national championships from 1983 to 2001 have raised the bar, but poor facilities make recruiting difficult, especially when you're fighting Florida, Florida State and now USF for the same core group of kids.

Basketball schools

The only thing that might be worse than obsessive fans is apathetic ones. In places such as Indiana, Duke, North Carolina and UCLA, football season is simply a way to pass time until basketball season. Often, a job at one of these places is a last stop, not a step to a better job.

Auburn

Auburn already has a good coach (Tommy Tuberville) that it has been trying to run off for years. And no matter what Auburn does, it still is known as Alabama's kid step-brother among many of the state's top recruits. After all that, you're in the ultra-tough SEC.

Vanderbilt

A former chancellor eliminated the athletic department and merged it with intramurals. The purpose was to avoid the wicked ways of big-time college athletics and that's admirable. But it shows a de-emphasis of athletics and that's tough on a coach, especially one who can only recruit players who meet the highest academic standards. And, oh, yeah, you're in the SEC.

Two Cents: College football's 10 toughest jobs 11/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 12:48pm]

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