ESPN.com analyst Brock Huard took a look at the college football landscape after a flurry of recent terminations and ranked Arizona State and UCLA the Nos. 2 and 4 best available coaching jobs.
Huard ranked North Carolina No. 1 (and didn't include Penn State because, well, things are complicated over there).
His methodology? He "asked a handful of current and former collegiate coaches and ESPN analysts to get their opinions, accounting for eight factors: facilities, tradition, committed administration and boosters, coaching staff budget, captive local population, livability, centralized recruiting base and current talent level."
Here's some of what he said about Arizona State:
While North Carolina was the clear-cut winner among the coaches and analysts I asked, the ASU job is desirable for many of the other factors I listed in the introduction. The stadium and facilities help with recruiting, athletic director Lisa Love and the boosters have proved they are willing to spend the necessary money, the Tempe area ranks very high in the livability equation for the staff and the campus environment has the capability to lure in recruits.
This last factor, however, also can make it difficult to succeed as coach of the Sun Devils. As one former college coach put it, "The weather, the campus, the party environment can be a distraction, and difficult to focus the student-athlete." Another challenge for the next Arizona State coach is that Phoenix is a pro sports town, one with many residents who come from other parts of the country, and the Suns, Diamondbacks and Cardinals tend to dominate the conversation, especially when they are winning.
And here are some of his thoughts on UCLA:
Much like North Carolina, UCLA historically has been viewed as a basketball school. Unlike Chapel Hill, however, facilities are not in place on campus, and as a very urban school, UCLA lacks the small college town environment. As a result, Rick Neuheisel wasn't able to capitalize on playing in the nation's second-biggest media market and in fertile recruiting territory, and the job he hoped would be a Monopoly turned into a sunken Battleship.
The Bruins' talent level isn't bad, as while Neuheisel didn't capture Park Place or Boardwalk on the Monopoly board, he did put together the No. 17 and No. 10 recruiting classes in 2009 and 2010 and left behind a talented young QB in Brett Hundley.
The sanctions and loss of scholarships that follow the USC Trojans for the next few years should open the door a little for UCLA, but the recruiting turf war is fierce in California with the Utah Utes, Colorado Buffaloes and now Rich Rodriguez entering the fray.
He also added a quick thought on Washington State: "The school needs to hire a coach with a proven track record of success, and one with charisma and name recognition would be a bonus. Sounds like Mike Leach could be the perfect fit."