Going into this endeavor, I was exactly not sure of the passion that would erupt when talking about head coaching jobs. While some are clearly better than others, it is also pretty clear that coaching in the AAC is probably the best you can get without moving to the dark side and coaching a P5 program.
What became extremely evident was just how wildly varying they opinions on our own site were from one another. Some writers saw a golden opportunity in leading Navy, while others saw that that position as one of the worst/hardest in all of the conference.
Our voting panel consisted of: Justin Mears, Ryan Lynch, Will Butler, James Jimenez, Cyrus Smith, Nicolas Lewis, Jared Kalmus, Thomas Sherrill, Nick Simon, and Jeremy Adcock.
With that said, let's take a look at all 12 teams and a small look into how the voting went.
1. Houston: 118 votes (9 first place)
Even with the varying opinions about other programs, there was very little doubt about the Cougars. Houston earned nine of the ten first place votes and dominated the poll. Highest ranking: #1 (9x). Lowest Ranking: #2 (Sherrill).
2. South Florida: 105 votes (1 first place)
The biggest difference between the voting on USF and UCF came down to a couple of voters downgrading UCF due to last season. Highest ranking: #1 (Sherrill). Lowest Ranking: #4 (Lynch).
3. Central Florida: 97 votes
The recent season that saw George O'Leary not only resign as the head coach, but also as the athletics director really hurt the Knights' cause. Highest ranking: #2 (4x). Lowest Ranking: #6 (Kalmus).
4. Memphis: 88 votes
In the closest battle of the entire poll, the Tigers and an exciting future barely slipped by Cincinnati by a mere three overall votes. Highest ranking: #2 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #6 (2x).
5. Cincinnati: 85 votes
Despite being a haven for coaches in the last 15 years, the Bearcats could not quite overcome Memphis. I personally had Cincinnati at #3. Highest ranking: #3 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #6 (Lewis).
6. East Carolina: 60 votes
One of the best fanbases in the entire G5, East Carolina still has a bit to prove as a go to program for head coaches. The Pirates do have a very high upside for the right coach. Highest ranking: #4 (Smith). Lowest Ranking: #10 (Jimenez).
7. Navy: 57 votes
Service academies are so much tougher to judge based on the different set of criteria than any other school in the nation. As stated before, Navy was a point of argument in our Slack conversation. Highest ranking: #4 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #12 (Jimenez).
8. SMU: 46 votes
The upside to SMU is there for the right coach. It has been tough to win and get the fanbase excited, but there is hope for a bright future. Highest ranking: #7 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #11 (2x).
9. Connecticut: 37 votes
A basketball school that also has the highest budget of any G5 program is tough to judge. Based on football alone, it was hard to pull the Huskies out of the bottom 25%. Highest ranking: #7 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #12 (3x).
10. Temple: 32 votes
There was some thought that the last season would do quite a bit in helping the job, but it needs more time to turn into a wanted position. Highest ranking: #7 (2x). Lowest Ranking: #11 (Smith).
11. Tulsa: 28 votes
Private schools in Oklahoma have so many inherent disadvantages from location to support to the athletic budget. Tulsa would be a great job in another conference, but is among the worst in the AAC. Highest ranking: #6 (Jimenez). Lowest Ranking: #12 (5x).
12. Tulane: 27 votes
Another position that would be at least in the top half if it were in the MAC, Sun Belt, or Conference USA, Tulane was shown no love in the poll. What may be even more amazing is that only one voter put Tulane at the bottom of the list. Highest ranking: #6 (Simon). Lowest Ranking: #12 (Lynch).
- I don't believe I have ever seen a voting that ended with the last place team finishing with so few last place votes. Tulane ended up last because they were voted #10 or #11 in all but two ballots.
- James Jimenez earns a special contrarian award. He was the lowest voter for East Carolina and Navy while giving Tulsa the highest ranking at #7, just enough to beat out Tulane for the bottom spot.
- The top three was nearly a consensus with Central Florida and South Florida tucked in behind Houston.
- We basically ended in a four tier grouping. Tier One: Houston, USF, UCF. Tier Two: Memphis, Cincinnati, East Carolina. Tier Three: Navy, SMU, UConn, Temple. Tier Four: Tulsa, Tulane.
- The Memphis/Cincinnati rankings caught me offguard. I thought going in that Cincinnati would be closer to third or even second in voting than finishing fifth. That was my biggest shocker.
- Temple and East Carolina are the jobs to watch if they can have sustained success. The resources are there for both programs to push the top five easily in the future.