Every offseason we see the traditional lists of the best jobs in the country. Instead of just ranking every G5 job we figured it’d be more fun to isolate G5 jobs by their state and breakdown how attractive it is in comparison to their in-state peers. We will offer cases as to why one job is better than the other and let you determine the best G5 job in the state.
As well all know, football is a religion in the state of Texas. Fans of programs in the Lone Star State defend their teams with a passionate fury and debates over program superiority run as long as the Rio Grande.
While we know this article won't settle many long-running debates, we decided to let our staff writers battle it out as they argue why the program they cover is the best G5 coaching job in the state of Texas.
Making the case for Houston: Joey Broback, Staff Writer
Houston is one of, if not the, hottest teams in Texas (Power 5 or Group of 5), and it would be difficult to pass up an opportunity with the Cougars. Their success over the past few seasons give them an edge over any G5 team in the state of Texas.
Over the past five years, the Cougars have more wins (43) than any G5 school in Texas. Within those 43 wins, three have come against Top 10 nationally ranked Power 5 teams.
Next, Houston has an advantage in recruiting because they have a history of attracting top recruits. Houston has two five star recruits to their current roster, and that has taken place as a member of the AAC. Should the conference become a Power conference or Houston gets added to one, that attraction will only increase. Coaches who come here also have the luxury of recruiting that same top talent locally. Houston coaches find that their yearly trek on the recruiting trail is significantly less than other coaches around the country, and that gives them more time to focus on other things within the program.
Lastly, facilities. Houston’s TDECU Stadium opened in 2014, and they have a $20 million practice facility being built nearby. Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek has proven that he is willing to compete in the college football arms race, and is also willing to schedule Power 5 competition to visit his facilities. Houston also has the unique benefit of having the Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium just 15 minutes away. Along with scheduling Power 5 teams, that combination leads to national exposure.
With a history of success under great coaches, a recruiting advantage, and outstanding facilities, Houston is the best G5 job in Texas. Houston has proven that they will continue to have all the right pieces in places to sustain this rate of success, and if it continues, they may become too great to be ignored by Power 5 conferences.
Making the case for SMU: Darrelle Thompson, Staff Writer
The first thing that should stick out to you is the location. Dallas is arguably the most famous city out of all the G5 Texas schools and location should definitely be a factor.
The DFW area is a hotbed for major talent on the recruiting trail, and each of the last five seasons have had at least two players in the ESPN top 20 top recruits in the state of Texas. Has SMU grabbed these talented players? Not yet, but it’s great to have a stack of talent a stone's throw away from campus.
The financial stability of the university is also attractive as the football program brought in over $16 million in revenue in 2015. Having one of the largest pockets in the AAC isn’t something to sneeze at and the Mustangs not being in expansion talks to the Big 12 is crazy.
The biggest drawback for the school is probably the size of the stadium. A max capacity of 32,000 with the possibility of expanding to 45,000 in the future isn’t going to have the P5 big dogs (or major recruits for that matter) calling, and although it seems unrealistic in the present day, success on the field could lead to a Baylor-like upgrade in the next decade.
The only thing holding this job back are the ghosts of the death penalty and perception that SMU needs to cheat to succeed.
Making the case for North Texas: Adam Woodyard, Staff Writer
Even as the resident UNT writer, it was hard to take this seriously, since the Mean Green are a few months from starting what feels like yet another rebuilding season. But hearkening back to my time at the school, and why I became a fan in the first place, the case is solid, and one I’ve been making to anyone who will listen since the turn of the freakin’ century.
Speaking of G5 teams only, the two largest student bodies in Texas are Houston, then North Texas generally running neck-and-neck with Texas State. It was just a few years ago Houston wasn’t doing so well, and then they had an AD who decided — out of the blue — hey, what if we invested in athletics along with academics. Chances were taken. Better coaches were hired. A new stadium was built. Now, Houston is in the national conversation. UNT is following right in their footsteps with the same investment in facilities and also upgrades in staff. Objects in the rear-view are closer than they appear.
The advantages UNT has over Houston are location, and growth opportunity. Granted, Houston is just making more bank in the AAC, but it’s also in downtown Houston with gigantic elevated highways on all sides. UNT resides in Denton, 35 miles north of Dallas, with limitless growth potential in their new athletic village, and down the sparsely-decorated I-35W next door. An AD who took that seriously (the current one yes, the previous one no) could really catapult UNT back into the household name they were back in 2001-2004, when they won four consecutive Sun Belt titles. The potential is there. The infrastructure is there. UNT’s AD currently cares. Texas State’s does not. Let’s strike while the iron is hot.
Then, we look at the local competition: SMU, which geography-wise, has some of the same issues as Houston (downtown campus, limited growth, stadium that can’t be expanded), and then there’s TCU, not a G5 but in fact once upon a time they were, and took a talented coach and athletic department and rode that all the way into the Big 12. Now fans want Houston in the Big 12, too.
North Texas isn’t one of the two best G5 jobs in Texas because of their history, or where they are at this particular moment; it’s because we are more suited financially, geographically and economically to blow the hell up as soon as it has leadership to believe in it. Also, it’s not limited to what the UT system says it’s limited to, which is always a plus.
Making the case for UTSA: Adrian Bermudez, Staff Writer
UTSA is a dream job for every up-and-coming coach looking to ascend the ladder. You’ve heard the phrase about a hundred times by now, but let me reiterate it: UTSA is a sleeping giant. The program’s untapped potential is tremendous, and that’s mainly due to the amount of opportunity the head coach can take advantage of and it all stems from one key advantage: location, location, location.
Central and south Texas produces some of the nation’s most talented recruits. It’s beneficial that San Antonio is practically in the middle of the state, because it’s a comfortable destination for players along all edges of Texas. Also, as of recently, for players hailing from Louisiana, too.
Multi-star talent is available by the boatload, and sure, every program in the state has preferred access to recruits, but UTSA’s central location is perfect for players that want to be “close but not too close” to home. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, the affiliation to UT-Austin carries a lot of weight with Texas kids. Even though it’s not something the program harps, the simple presence of those two letters and the close proximity to Austin has merit to the state’s recruits, whether people realize it or not.
Then you have the advantages within the city. We’re talking about seventh-largest metropolis in the nation, home to corporations among the likes of USAA, Valero, H-E-B, and the Spurs (the Spurs are massive corporation in San Antonio). The partnership opportunity is enormous, and yes of course the same can be said for the cities of Dallas and Houston, but here’s the difference: there’s no competition for those sponsorships here. UTSA is the only FBS school in the city, whereas Houston and Dallas have other schools to compete for these partnerships with. That’s easy money.
Another perk of being the only public university in a major city is the taxpayer. Take for example the $10 million dollar bond that will fund the university’s Park West Athletics Facility that just passed in March. That’s a whole lot of free money going to your program, and if you win, the money only rises. It’s no coincidence that the bond passed with an overwhelming majority vote just after the team’s first bowl appearance.
The facilities are a work-in-progress, but clearly the initiative to improve them is underway. One facility, however, comes in a class of its own. UTSA is the only college team in Texas with a domed football stadium. It’s a major selling point to be the only program playing indoors. The massive stadium sits right beside downtown San Antonio, making it one of the best football venues in the G5. Also, come 2018, it will complete its own renovations thanks to the Final Four and the Alamobowl (big city perks, once again).
There’s also benefits on a personal basis. A coach can bring his family here and move them to a nice subdivision, with good schools and plenty of nearby attractions for his spouse and children, not to mention job availability. Players can go to a mall, theme park, or downtown, and not feel the trapped feeling of a small college town that a lot of other G5 schools fall victim to (looking at you Texas State).
Also, the program is so young that it offers a coach the opportunity to build exactly what he has envisioned for a program without spending the first two to three years cleaning up the last guy’s mess. Hell, look at what Frank Wilson has accomplished in just 18 short months.
Not only the program, but the school itself is still a baby, too. There’s something that other schools really can’t stand about getting beat by the new kid. That youthfulness has also given the program a chip on their shoulder; no one expects a new program to be a threat. Other schools have underestimated UTSA because of that, and it’s an exciting challenge to prove you belong.
That’s really what makes UTSA the best G5 gig in the state. There’s no better fit for a coach that wants to see his own vision come to fruition; this is fresh clay to mold in one of the best places to do so.
Making the case for UTEP: Alex Nicolas, Managing Editor at Miner Rush
UTEP has been playing football for over 100 years. Despite the 100-years and change of Miner football history, only 14 bowl appearances, two conference titles, and two consensus All-Americans have come out of the Sun Bowl.
So why is it the best G5 job in Texas and what kind of case can be made for a bottom of the barrel college football program out in the West Texas town of El Paso?
Well thanks to Mike Price’s wild night in Pensacola, Florida, after being hired then subsequently fired at Alabama, Price showed up in El Paso and unleashed the ultimate potential the UTEP program could have if someone could erect a consistent winner.
Price brought instant success to El Paso in 2004 and 2005 sparked by back-to-back bowl appearances, and a flirtatious national appearance in the top-25. Price sold tickets and filled up the Sun Bowl while also building a never before seen culture in Texas where you didn’t see any Texas or Texas A&M t-shirts floating around El Paso. This was finally UTEP territory.
As a native El Pasoan, I can safely say this and not get torched on Twitter, or have my Torta or tacos spat in, but El Paso, Texas, is the biggest bandwagon sports city in the United States.
That being said, from 2004 up until around 2009 when Price’s stardom flamed out at UTEP, El Paso became UTEP football crazed, and UTEP football was a ‘cool thing’ after years of empty seats in the Sun Bowl, free ticket giveaways, and embarrassing blowouts.
Remember, UTEP Athletics is the lone sports show in town for a good nine hours east, and six hours west in terms of location, so when UTEP does well in any major sport (mainly hoops, and football) the city of El Paso gets UTEP crazy. (Google UTEP basketball in the 1980’s). We are literally the only show in town unlike what may happen at the other Texas schools like SMU, UTSA, or Houston.
The fan support alone here makes UTEP one of the best G5 jobs in the state of Texas. When UTEP plays in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and most recently San Antonio, the 915 is well represented with alums who have relocated after graduating from UTEP, which is truly impressive for a program that has only seen three winning seasons and two bowl appearances since 1988.
UTEP’s facilities are also among some of the best in C-USA and in the G5 as the Larry K. Durham Center opened in 2002 is well maintained. The 65,000 square-foot facility still remains one of the G5’s top facilities equipped with a sports medicine center, academic center, elite student athlete lounge, meeting areas for every position group, huge locker room, and offices for coaches.
There’s also a really nice common area fixed between the weight room and coaches offices’ that looks over the Sun Bowl from the south end where press conference are held, and other fancy athletic events are held fully equipped with a number of drop down flat screen TV’s, and other gadgets for video presentations.
Some recruits I have talked to are completely blown away with UTEP’s facilities once they visit. Most of which never knew UTEP had a top-notch facility until they see the south end zone facility on their official visits.
Now there are plenty of legit arguments why UTEP is one of the worst job in the G5 landscape.
Location makes it hard for UTEP to consistently attract Texas’ top tweener three or even four-star recruits. The lack of rich football history gives the Miner program a perennial loser label which lets be real, despite the Price years, the program has never seen any consistent winning periods to boast about to today’s recruits.
Most of the Miners’ official visits come during December up until signing day meaning some never see the game day atmosphere or the city until their first game or official visit. Recruiting is tough to say the least, and coaches like current head coach Sean Kuger have gotten creative by mapping out El Paso area kids who are in reach and making them a priority on the trail.
Lastly, El Paso isn’t exactly an exclusive resort FBS recruits are flocking to live, but like most players I’ve talked to say, El Paso is a hidden gem.
If UTEP can somehow, someway, build a consistent and exciting winning product on the football field, the fans will show, money will again flow to the athletic department and the program will be something special.
Truth is, it hasn’t happened for more than a two-to-three year period in the 100-years plus of the programs history. Meaning if you strike gold you can instantly be the Mayor of El Paso, but strike out and good luck trying to build this program with a pissed off fan base that will only show up if you win, or play someone with a name.
The potential is clearly there, and has been proven it can happen, but what will it take to make UTEP one of the top and consistent G5 programs is a 103-year riddle very many have failed trying to figure out.
Making the case for Rice: Jeremy Shapiro, Staff Writer
From a football standpoint, it has been well documented that Rice has many built-in challenges. But if you see yourself as a coach whose job it is to prepare student-athletes for life, than there’s no better place in Texas to get that job accomplished.
Although Rice has an unusually high number of alumni in the NFL right now, the vast majority of players are going pro in something else.
Rice’s academic virtues speak from themselves. Because of high admission standards, chances are good you are getting intelligent players who know they are here to get a degree. You generally don’t have to worry about off the field problems, cheating scandals or players showing up in the police blotter.
It also helps that you are sitting in the heart of Houston, one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation. While Rice lags behind others in fan support, facilities and winning tradition, let’s not forget that Houston and Rice are the only G5 schools in Texas to own a conference title in their respective conferences. You can win here.
The chance to mold young men, provide life lessons and watch them grow into successful alumni can be quite satisfying and Rice lets you accomplish this in a pressure free environment.
Yes, being successful on the gridiron can be worthwhile too and Rice has proven that both of those things can be accomplished as they have won a conference title, with three bowl wins to go with two 10-win seasons in the past decade, something our other Lone Star State peers - minus Houston - haven’t come close to achieving.
Is it the best G5 job? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s certainly not one of the worst.
Making the case for Texas State: Vidal Espinoza, Staff Writer
Older than any other program on this list, Texas State football has been around since 1904 and is one of the biggest schools in Texas. Due to tradition alone, Texas State is in prime position to fulfill all that a college football team in Texas can achieve.
During the Bobcats’ period of play pre-FBS, Texas State floated around the various forms of NCAA football division play capturing two National Championships, 14 conference titles, two undefeated seasons and multiple NFL draft picks. Success in San Marcos is not unheard of despite popular belief, it’s usually the norm. This history combined with their recent move up to the big leagues has transformed Texas State into a unique hybrid of tradition and rebirth as an established school waiting for a kick in the ass.
The core of college football is recruiting and the Bobcats have proven that they are able to pull good recruiting classes as well as enticing some JUCO and FBS transfers to enhance their football careers in San Marcos. A great example is the 2017 recruiting class which snatched up some great talent, finishing as the best class in the Sun Belt. Being situated in the football haven of the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio is a great hotbed of talent that Texas State can entice with a great campus and a program on the rise.
With that in mind, the facilities that Texas State boasts are some of the best in the state including a revamped strength and conditioning room and a state-of-the-art locker room. Jim Wacker Field and Bobcat stadium have also seen some changes with renovations in 2011-2012, turning the stadium from two sets of stands with a track into a 30,000+ horseshoe-style stadium, complete with the train tracks right next door so the train whistle can reek havoc with opposing offenses communications.
Texas State football is a great destination with plenty of resources and faithful alumni. San Marcos is a wonderful town with a campus full of students who are rich with Bobcat pride and an even prouder alumni. We’ve seen what a Texas program can achieve in the Sun Belt with excellent recruiting and solid coaching. It’s only a matter of time before the Bobcats are brining Sun Belt titles to San Marcos.