While tracking the Cal coaching search last week, I began mulling the Pac-12 hierarchy: Where did the Bears’ job rank? Was it won of the top four or five gigs in the conference? Middle tier? Bottom rung?
That consideration eventually expanded to a full-on contemplation of every job.
I bounced the idea off fellow reporters, some conference officials and several coaches not currently employed by Pac-12 schools. The result is the wholly unscientific list below.
Key point: I’m only ranking the top eight, so as to avoid slotting one school dead last.
This isn’t an assessment of performance by coaches/players/teams, when singling out No. 12 is perfectly appropriate. It’s a broader look, and some school have inherent advantages/disadvantages.
Factors considered in the following rankings:
Resources (i.e., money for head coach and staff)
Tradition (wins/titles/NBA draft picks)
Access to recruits (geography/admissions).
Here we go, in reverse order:
8. Cal: No dedicated practice facility, difficult admissions and limited financial resources, especially given the cost of living. But it’s a high-profile California school with a local talent base that frequently produces top-tier players and with deep connections to L.A. Thought about Colorado (access to Texas recruits) and Arizona State (easy admissions) for this spot.
7. Stanford: Sparkling facilities, fabulous campus and as much money as the school cares to spend. Football has elevated the athletic profile for revenue-sport recruits, and remember: This was the No. 2 program in the conference for many years. The key is maximizing the recruiting strengths and using academics as a positive.
6. Utah: It’s a hoof from Los Angeles, literally and figuratively. But the in-state talent is better than you might think, the Utes have pipelines to numerous junior colleges, and there’s a passionate fan base in a city that loves its hoops. Oh, and don’t forget the new, $35 million basketball facility.
5. Oregon: No shortage of money, first-rate facilities and short flights from Seattle/Bay Area to complement Portland pipeline. Flexible admissions. Transfers welcome. Hip school. Strong community support. As with Stanford, football success this decade has elevated the Ducks’ national profile.
4. USC: Smack in the heart of one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country, flexible admissions bar, attractive to transfers, especially for L.A. kids who went away to school. Yes, football casts a giant shadow. But the Galen Center has made this one of the top jobs in the conference. Considered USC for the No. 3 spot.
3. Washington: Could make the case for UW rating behind USC, especially when the talent in Seattle ebbs. When it’s flowing, however, this is a first-class job: Terrific city, no NBA competition, respected academics, great campus, plenty of current/recent NBA players and long-established pipelines to Portland and California.
2. Arizona: Most passionate fans in the conference and rich tradition of success on the court and on draft night. Not much of a local talent pool, but limited competition from ASU for Phoenix-area players, easy access to Los Angeles and a history of plucking players from everywhere. Plus the weather and the, well, weather.
1. UCLA: For coaches hesitant to work under the 11 banners and deal with the L.A. recruiting/agent/parent scene, UCLA might have less appeal than the cocoon that is Arizona. But all in all, this is the top gig in the conference and one of the best in the country, especially with the facility upgrades (Pauley/practice/on-campus hotel). In three words: Unparalleled recruiting advantages.
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