With Oregon State and coach Gary Andersen surprisingly parting ways on Monday, the Beavers now join Ole Miss as Power Five programs in search of a full-time head coach. While the Rebels have their own share of problems, Corvallis has also proven to be a tough place for coaches to succeed, as evidenced by Andersen’s time with the Beavers.
But where does the opening at Oregon State stack up in relation to the other programs in the Pac-12? We take a look and rank the jobs in the conference from best to worst.
This one is pretty obvious as the job with the Trojans is viewed as one of the best in college football. After struggling a bit to recover after the departure of Pete Carroll and the NCAA sanctions, the Trojans are now back in the discussion as one of the nation’s top teams and are recruiting at an elite level. When USC is at its best the Trojans are the talk of the town, which is a big deal in Los Angeles. With a great talent base in its backyard and national appeal as well, it’s easy to see why USC tops this list.
Oregon is a unique job considering the lack of homegrown talent but over the past decade the Ducks have shown to be one of the nation’s top programs with national appeal. Willie Taggart is in his first year and currently has a top five recruiting class committed and the school’s “national brand” still has appeal despite last season’s struggles. The Ducks' close ties to Nike also help add to the appeal of the job from a head coach’s perspective.
If this list were made a couple of years ago the Huskies' job would be much further down but it shows just how far the program has come in recent years. The Huskies have upgraded their stadium and facilities and the appearance in last year’s College Football Playoff shows that it’s possible to win big in Seattle. The local talent base isn’t great but Seattle is a major city that’s easy to reach from anywhere on the West Coast.
As David Shaw has shown by passing up other opportunities in college and the NFL in recent years, the job at Stanford is a very good one, especially when things are going well. Obviously, the Cardinal’s recruiting base is limited because of academic reasons but that hasn’t stopped the school from nabbing some of the nation’s top players in recent years.
On the surface the Bruins' job should be much higher on this list but over the years a number of coaches have tried and failed to have great success. Recruiting to Los Angeles isn’t hard and there’s a tremendous amount of talent right in UCLA's backyard, but the school hasn’t been able to get to the elite level of some of the other schools in the conference no matter who leads the program.
6. ARIZONA STATE
The Sun Devils have a surprising amount of quality talent close to home as well as a terrific city to sell to recruits from outside the region and a close proximity to the Los Angeles area. Over the years Arizona State had had some terrific seasons but hasn’t been able to maintain a high level of success despite several different head coaches.
The Wildcats share several positive features along with their in-state rival ASU, including the proximity to the L.A. area. The problem is Arizona will always be thought of as a basketball school so it can limit the ability to land a true elite level coach.
The Utes' transition to the Pac-12 has gone very well and over the past few years Kyle Whittingham and his staff have done a great job expanding the school’s recruiting footprint. Utah is also underrated as a state in terms of producing talent and the more the Utes win the more appealing the job becomes every year.
While the Buffaloes recently just climbed out of the Pac-12 cellar, the program now appears to be on stable footing, allowing CU to land higher on this list than a few years ago. Boulder is a classic college town with a nice appeal, but in-state talent is tough to come by. Colorado is never going to be able to go toe-to-toe for five-star recruits, but out-of-state prospects from Texas and Florida have shown a willingness to sign with the school in recent years.
The Golden Bears have several things going their way, including a reputation as the best public university in the country. But there are questions surrounding the athletic department’s commitment to competing with other schools in the conference in the facilities arms race, which can have a major impact on recruiting.
11. WASHINGTON STATE
It’s very hard to win in Pullman, Wash., considering the remote location of campus and the lack of quality nearby talent, which makes what the current staff is doing even that much more impressive. But it takes a unique type of coach to have success in the Palouse and even so it’s tough to sustain on a long-term basis. The current staff has upgraded the roster’s talent quite a bit, proving it’s hard but not impossible to succeed at the school.
12. OREGON STATE
The Beavers were longtime basement dwellers before Mike Riley came to town and found a way to make the program competitive on a yearly basis. But even he was struggling by the time he left town for Nebraska and obviously Andersen’s struggles show just how hard it is to win in Corvallis. Add in the fact that Oregon has had so much success in recent years and the lack of talent on the Beavers' roster, and it makes it a tough situation for any coach.