While ranking the best head coaching jobs in Conference USA I thought it would be easier to separate the 14 schools into four tiers: Straight to voicemail, I'm listening, Show me the money, Where do I sign.
We have entered a new tier ladies and gentlemen. If UTSA Athletic Director Lynn Hickey calls anyone about this job opening all the recipient should ask about is the money. With great fan support and a fertile recruiting area the only thing that could potentially hold this program back is a lack of commitment from the administration.
If the administration is serious about UTSA becoming a G5 power then the only thing that is standing in their way is the guy running the show on the sidelines.
- We all know Texas is one of the three best states in the country when it comes to producing football players. But UTSA also has an added bonus of being a drive down the street away from some of the best players in the nation in San Antonio. The only team in the conference that can rival that is FIU down in Miami.
- San Antonio is one of the three best cities in CUSA behind only Miami and probably Houston.
- The fan base is hungry for a winning team and will show up to see a good product on the field. The game against Arizona last season proved that the Alamodome can be a tough place to play in.
- UTSA has very little tradition albeit more than the other upstarts in CUSA.
- San Antonio is a pro market filled with a ton of alumni from Texas A&M to Oklahoma and a number of other Big 12 schools. Suffice to say, UTSA alumni are outnumbered by a whole lot of folks in their own town which can bring interest down.
- The Alamodome is nice but this job would be higher if they had the luxury of an on campus stadium.
Making the case for why UTSA should be higher: Jared Kalmus, Managing Editor and UTSA Beat Writer
I'm going to go full homer here and say that UTSA should be rated much higher. If I'm a head coach I'm looking at three factors when considering a job: 1.) Access to high caliber local talent. Check. 2.) Administrative support. Check. 3.) Upward mobility. Check. A lot of factors that you and others list as a cons to the UTSA job I don't really see as being huge road blocks but instead opportunities for huge, rapid growth.
- A lack of tradition makes it easier for a new coach to install his own program culture without having to answer to heavy-handed boosters. We're seeing that happen with Frank Wilson right now. This unique legacy-building opportunity is a selling point to many coaches.
- The San Antonio market is mostly a pro market because not many San Antonians attended a traditional four year university, relatively speaking. That's not a con, that's a gold mine. UTSA has the potential to generate non-alumni "bandwagon" fans at a rate we haven't seen in the G5 since the rise of Boise State.
- Lastly, I've never once heard a recruit describe the Alamodome as anything other than a huge attraction. Again, it's unrivaled at the G5 level and provides a "big game" feel that setting up shop in a dinky 40K stadium on campus could never match.
There are very real downsides to this job that should keep it from being the best in the conference (underwhelming practice and meeting facilities, lack of alumni with deep pockets, etc.) but the upside is so unique and promising that UTSA should never struggle to attract quality coaching talent.
If you were playing NCAA Football in an online dynasty...
You choose UTSA because you don't mind fielding a winning team the hard way. The roster lacks any playmakers so you'll hit the recruiting trail hard but you like recruiting anyway so the amount of losing you will do in the first year won't bother you as much. And being that you're in Texas a good team won't be hard to build.
If you choose this job in real life...
You are a great recruiter who is going to make a living keeping San Antonio kids local. You probably have great recruiting ties to the state as well. UTSA has little tradition and you probably are an up-and-comer so the idea of building a program in your image is enticing. This is job is a legacy builder and even means more if you win in Texas. Folks in the Big 12 footprint will be watching.
In a lot of ways UTSA reminds me of FAU: An old coach who won a national championship at Miami is the school's first head coach (Larry Coker, Howard Schnellenberger). You burst onto the scene immediately as an FBS member with a winning record (FAU is the youngest program to ever receive bowl bid, UTSA goes 8-4 during first year in the WAC). Football program becomes stagnant and then bottoms out in the final seasons of the men who built their program.
FAU hires a coach who has very little coordinator experience but is a great recruiter in hopes to elevate talent. UTSA hires a coach who has no experience as a coordinator but is an excellent recruiter.
San Antonio is pretty old. Boca Raton is very old. UTSA Roadrunners. FAU Owls.
They even have birds as their mascot! Their the same!
In all seriousness, UTSA has all the potential to be one of the best jobs in CUSA and unlike FAU, reside in a watered down CUSA West division. There is ample room for opportunity not just in the coming seasons but even next year.
With 12 FBS schools in the Lone Star State its easy to be forgotten. Its even easier to get lost in the shuffle when your FBS program is an upstart. UTSA doesn't have the caveat of program history, a winning tradition, or a large fan base to fall back on but being in San Antonio means that their floor will only ever be so low.
There should be no reason why this job isn't in the top three in CUSA in the next few years.
Best jobs in CUSA countdown: