For an NCAA football coach seeking a new job, landing in the state of Arizona would not be such a bad thing.
An innovative commissioner atop the Pac-12 has brought extra revenue to all the schools. Both Arizona State and the University of Arizona have solid tradition, there is ample sunshine and, well, quality talent that can be found all over.
According to SI.com, both schools (ASU 18, UA 19) rank among the top 20 jobs in all of college football.
If a coach can get a player to visit the campus in Tempe, he has a chance. City kids will feel comfortable in the suburb of a huge metropolis, and most will realize quickly that Arizona State is about as close to collegiate paradise as it gets. Of course, like the trendiest restaurants, the Sun Devils should be able to use local produce more and more as the years pass. Though growth has slowed, the population of Phoenix exploded in the past two decades. Sports culture needs time to take root, but every year the area produces more quality players. Add in the fact that the Pac-12’s new TV deal will increase funding dramatically, and this job looks quite a bit better than it did a few years ago. Of course, there is a flip side to this. If the new TV deal allows Arizona State to shell out more money for a coach, that coach had better win. After a 10-win debut in 2007, Dennis Erickson has lost at least six games each of the past three seasons. That won’t cut it in the new era.
Essentially they are saying there is no reason why the Sun Devils should not be a top program, and it’s hard to disagree. They are in an enviable spot, all things considered, and have been known as a “sleeping giant” for a reason.
It seems as if Wildcats athletic director Greg Byrne tweets every other day about a new, anonymous multimillion-dollar donation to the program. The figures have been so impressive that Bryan Fischer of CBSSports.com wondered aloud whether Mr. Anonymous has any unmarried daughters who wouldn’t mind supporting a sportswriter. The Pac-12’s new TV deal should boost Arizona into the top half of the AQ revenue bracket, and the same emerging set of players that should help Arizona State also should help stock Arizona. Just as in Tempe, this influx of resources will make the coach’s job easier and more difficult at the same time.
Indeed, if tweeting led to wins the Wildcats would be playing in a BCS game this season. That said, Byrne is intensely focused on building the football program, and it seems like the days of being happy just to make a bowl game are coming to an end. Sure, expectations can be tough, but what coach wouldn’t want to lead a program that is doing everything it can to rise to the top?
While neither team has been particularly great of late, it’s nice to see both Arizona State and Arizona being recognized as some of the better jobs out there. This, of course, because rough seasons in both Tempe and Tucson could have both schools searching for a new coach.