Top 10 coaching jobs in all of college basketball
Over the past six weeks, we have gone through the Power Five conferences plus the Big East and ranked the jobs in each league from top to bottom, based on how attractive the job would be if it opened today. In the final week of ranking jobs, we take a look at the top 10 college basketball jobs regardless of conference.
There are four jobs that have a legitimate claim to this spot, but I’m giving the nod to Kentucky here. The Wildcats have the most passionate fan base in the country, and that gives them a homecourt feel for the majority of their road conference games because they are in a football-centric league. The winning tradition rivals any school in the country, and they have a huge budget to recruit anywhere they want. If you’ve watched a minute of the NBA Playoffs, you can see they are littered with former Kentucky standouts.
Every coach wins at Kansas. The last three head coaches, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self, the current coach, have combined for over 1,000 wins since 1983 and all three are in the Hall of Fame. All three are terrific coaches, but it’s no coincidence why that’s the case. Kansas is by far the best job in the Big 12. There is a super-passionate fan base and all the support you could ask for from the school and athletic department. They have a homecourt advantage that rivals any in the country.
3. North Carolina
This is a job where we’ve seen coaches - Dean Smith and Roy Williams - win multiple national championships. There is a reason for that. It’s arguably the biggest brand in college basketball and it’s where Michael Jordan burst onto the basketball scene. North Carolina is a basketball state, and the Tar Heels receive incredible support from the fan base and administration. Chapel Hill is one of the finest college campuses in the country.
As I noted in the ACC job rankings, I gave North Carolina the nod over Duke simply because the Tar Heels have had two coaches rattle off multiple national championships while Duke’s run at the top of the sport has only been done under Coach K. Duke has been the hottest program in the last five years in terms of recruiting, and it’s another huge basketball brand. Again, all four of the top jobs could be argued in any order and it’d be hard to tell someone they are way off.
This is where it gets interesting. I’m giving Arizona the nod as the start of the next tier of college basketball jobs. It’s the best job in the Pac-12 right now and the Wildcats should be able to dominate the West Coast in recruiting. They get the best support on the West Coast from their fan base and administration. The influx of prep schools in Arizona bringing talent right to their back yard also doesn’t hurt. You can absolutely contend for the national championship here every year, though the Wildcats have not reached the Final Four since 2001.
It might be the third best job in its league and second best in its own state, but Louisville is still one of the best jobs in the country. There is a reason Chris Mack left a great job at Xavier, where he was completely comfortable, for Louisville in a time of NCAA turmoil. The Cardinals have unbelievable facilities, a super-passionate fan base and the resources to win at the highest level. The last two coaches before Mack won national titles, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he adds one himself.
You can’t tell the story of college basketball without Indiana. It’s in a basketball-crazy state with a ton of recruits within 200 miles of the Bloomington campus. The Big Ten is always one of the deeper leagues in the country, but if you do the Indiana job right you can win with the best of them in the sport.
Some might say I’m crazy for having Florida this high, but I really think this one of the better jobs in the country. Billy Donovan absolutely knocked it out of the park with back-to-back national titles and several other years that included trips to the Final Four and Elite Eight. Florida has reached the Elite Eight eight times in the last 20 years. The state of Florida pumps out a ton of talent and the Gators can get those kids. It’s also a brand that can attract players from all over the country.
Villanova is the undisputed best job in the Big East, which means it’s absolutely a top 10 job in the country. We’re talking about another job where multiple coaches have shown an ability to win a national championship. Philadelphia is a great basketball city and the Wildcats get great support. There might not be a better location to go 100 miles any direction from campus and find a ton of top recruits. And with the success the program has had over the years, Villanova has no trouble getting those recruits.
How can I not include Gonzaga? The Zags are consistently among the best teams in the country and every coach wins big there. They have reached the point where they can recruit all over the country, and really all over the world. The fan support is great, and the administration is all in. It’s by far the best job in its league. The only knocks here, which can be overcome, are the conference affiliation and location. Beyond that, Gonzaga checks all the boxes for a great job.