It's Coaches Week on ESPN.com and today we're going conference by conference to rank the best and worst coaching jobs, as voted on by 14 of our writers and television analysts.
A few important notes: This is not an attempt to rank the programs or their histories. A school's tradition was taken into account of course, but more emphasis was given to recent years and how hard or easy it is for a new coach to win there. Current recruits don't remember much beyond, what, 2008?
When voting, our 14 panelists were asked to take into consideration facilities, expectation level, athletic budget, wins and losses, recruiting base, fan support/pressure and all of the other factors that go into determining the "best" jobs in the ever-crazy profession of college basketball coaching.
In short: If you were an agent and every single job was open in a particular conference, where would you direct your client? Where would you tell him to avoid if there are better options?
There's no right or wrong answer of course. These rankings are very much up for debate and we're sure you'll do so in the comments section. But at the very least, this polling of 14 people clued into the inner workings of college basketball offers a glimpse into how the coaching position at your favorite school is perceived on the national scene.
(Editor's Note: Realignment makes the college landscape a confusing one these days, but for the purposes of this poll, panelists were asked to vote based on what each conference would look like for the 2012-13 season.)
Atlantic 10: No matter who the coach is, Xavier just keeps winning year after year. That would be the definition of a good coaching job -- and that's why X was the unanimous pick. VCU was the group's choice for the third spot before Butler's decision to move to the A-10 immediately prompted a re-vote. As for the bottom three, Rhode Island and GW picked up some votes but Fordham's non-stop losing, the Bonnies' remote location and Duquesne's 25-year tourney drought was too much to overcome.
15. St. Bonaventure
Conference USA: Well, duh. Memphis would be No. 1 in every category that was considered. It's rich history, rabid local following, recruiting prowess and NBA arena make it a coach's dream. Problem is, the Tigers (along with No. 2 UCF) are headed to the Big East in 2013. And unfortunately for C-USA, the leftovers are more like bottom-feeders ECU, Rice and Tulane than Memphis.
12. East Carolina
Missouri Valley: Wichita State got first-place votes from Fran Fraschilla and Jason King, who know the conference well, but the rest of the panel went for Creighton, which has the same loyal and large fan base but more success on the court than WSU over the past 15 years. Easily the top two jobs in the Valley, though. No question. Evidence? Five different schools received third-place votes (UNI, Illinois State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Bradley). Complete toss-up.
2. Wichita State
3. Northern Iowa
8. Indiana State
Mountain West: San Diego State is moving to the Big West in 2013 and that's too bad because SDSU, New Mexico and UNLV are a formidable top three and have formed some fierce rivalries in recent years. The Runnin' Rebels, who have re-emerged as a monster on the recruiting trail, received all but one first-place vote (the other went to the Aztecs, something that would've been unthinkable before Steve Fisher's arrival). As for the worst, an Academy job is always a tough task and it's no surprise Air Force was a near-unanimous pick for the No. 9 spot.
2. San Diego State
3. New Mexico
7. Boise State
9. Air Force
West Coast: Saint Mary's has been a worthy challenger as of late and BYU was a great addition to the league, but Gonzaga IS the West Coast Conference and its coaching position is seen by all but one voter as the best in the league (the lone dissent went to BYU). Interesting to note: Pepperdine appeared on the bottom three of a few ballots, but also on the top three of another. As for 7 through 9 in this conference, there was really no separation between USF, USD and Portland -- or Santa Clara for that matter.
3. Saint Mary's
7. San Francisco
8. San Diego
Best: Vermont -- The program Tom Brennan built hasn't missed a beat under Mike Lonergan and now John Becker.
Worst: Binghamton -- Maybe new coach Tommy Dempsey can turn around a program that finished 2-29 last season and is still recovering from a nasty scandal.
Best: Mercer -- With Belmont leaving for the OVC, five jobs received first-place votes but the Bears edged out East Tennessee State.
Worst: Kennesaw State -- Another Georgia school, KSU is fairly new to Division I and failed to win a game (0-18) in the A-Sun last season.
Best: Weber State/Montana -- Only fitting since these two easily have been the best programs in the Big Sky in recent history.
Worst: Sacramento State -- The Hornets have a coach named Katz, but even that wasn't enough to impress the ESPN.com voters.
Best: UNC Asheville -- Back-to-back NCAA trips makes it the hottest job in the league. Just ask Syracuse.
Worst: Radford -- There was no great consensus here, as VMI and Presbyterian also received plenty of votes.
Best: Long Beach State -- Rival UCSB made it very close, but the play-anyone 49ers have thrived under Dan Monson and have created a nice little brand for themselves.
Worst: UC Riverside -- Plenty of UCs could've conquered this category, especially Davis, but the coaching job at UCR was deemed the worst.
Best: George Mason -- With the immediate departure of VCU and the soon-to-be departure of ODU, this one was obvious.
Worst: William & Mary -- Towson has been historically bad lately, but its sparkling new arena was enough to keep it out of the CAA jobs cellar.
Best: Valparaiso -- With no more Butler, the Drew-dominated Valpo job squeaked out a win over Milwaukee and Cleveland State among others.
Worst: Youngstown State -- Loyola and UIC have been awful on the court, but their Chicago location likely kept them out of this spot.
Best: Princeton -- This one was extremely tight -- old rival Penn and rising Harvard were right there -- but Princeton received just enough first-place votes.
Worst: Dartmouth -- Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House the last time the Big Green danced in March.
Best: Siena -- The Saints haven't been able to find their footing post-Fran McCaffery, but our voters still consider this the top spot in the MAAC.
Worst: Canisius -- This school went to three straight NCAA tourneys from 1955-57 and have been back exactly once since.
Best: Ohio -- Jim Christian left what was about to become a Big 12 job (TCU) for one that has produced three tournament wins over the past three seasons.
Worst: Central Michigan/Northern Illinois -- Trey Zeigler couldn't save CMU. Ricardo Patton couldn't save NIU.
Best: Norfolk State -- Hampton would've won this last year (and almost did this year), but it's hard to argue with the recruiting boost that comes with a historic 15-over-2 victory over Missouri.
Worst: Maryland-Eastern Shore -- It's not all that easy to get to Princess Anne and it's not all that easy to get people to notice.
Best: Quinnipiac -- The Q still hasn't made an NCAA tournament, but its arena/financial backing has no equal in the NEC -- and it's not even close.
Worst: Bryant -- Fairleigh Dickinson garnered plenty of "support" here, but Bryant is just too new and too unproven to be anywhere but last at the moment.
Best: Murray State -- New kid on the block Belmont will surely challenge the Racers, but Murray's proud tradition, fan support and reputation as a coaching cradle still makes this the easy choice as the OVC's top destination.
Worst: SIU-Edwardsville -- The UT-Martin job is pretty thankless too, but at least the Skyhawks can sell Lester Hudson on the recruiting trail.
Best: Bucknell -- Lehigh owns the headlines after its upset of Duke, but our voters still consider Bucknell the top post in the Patriot.
Worst: Army -- Academy jobs in basketball are tough. There's no way around it. The Black Knights have never been to the NCAA tournament.
Best: Davidson -- The Wildcats and Charleston both garnered strong support here. There's a reason the CAA is making some calls.
Worst: The Citadel -- It was unanimous.
Best: Oral Roberts -- Texas-Arlington and its nice new arena would've pick the pick, but the Mavs are off to the WAC (and then the Sun Belt). So it's the newbies from Tulsa.
Worst: Central Arkansas -- Local kid Corliss Williamson has a large hill to climb.
Best: Southern -- The hard truth is, there really aren't any "good" jobs in the SWAC -- just some that are better than others.
Worst: Alabama A&M -- The hard truth is, there really aren't any "good" jobs in the SWAC -- just some that are worse than others.
Best: Oakland -- No more Oral Roberts, so the we'll-play-anyone Golden Grizzlies were the easy pick here. But are they long for the Summit League? They've made no secret of wanting to be Butler's replacement in the Horizon.
Worst: Missouri-Kansas City -- This honor probably would've gone to Southern Utah, but it's off to the Big Sky. So UMKC it is.
Best: Western Kentucky -- Tradition. Fan support. Basketball-mad state. A school that cares. North Texas is charging hard, but WKU is still the class of the Sun Belt.
Worst: Louisiana-Monroe -- This probably has as much to do with ULM's 3-26 record in 2011-12 than anything else.
Best: Utah State -- The Aggies, with a remarkable 13 straight postseason appearances, are entering their final season in this quickly dying conference.
Worst: San Jose State -- Basically a coin flip with Idaho, but SJSU is headed to the Mountain West soon, so ...