Hardest Head Coaching Job in the SEC?

It is a pretty standardized assumption that Derek Mason has the hardest head coaching job in the SEC, if not at the entire FBS level. The problems Vanderbilt faces in regards to recruiting, and specifically recruiting depth, are there for all to see. This is pretty much an open and closed case.

ESPN, though, has done its typical ESPN thing and had four of the networks college football analysts pick what they consider to be the toughest head coaching gig in the SEC. Being ESPN, however, it appears that none of the experts were allowed to choose the same team. After all that can be the only reason that of the four expects polled only one of them chose the Commodores.

The analyst who did select Vandy for this dubious honor was Chris Low. He mentioned how the academic standards at Vanderbilt have them chasing a different pool of athletes from those the rest of the schools are free to go after and how this especially impacts the depth of the roster. He also looks at the fact that the facilities, while vastly improved over the last five years of so, still are not up to par with the rest of the conference. His final point is that Vanderbilt Stadium was rarely full even during the winning years under James Franklin, a trend Mason has actually gone out of his way to try to address already in his young coaching career.

The other contenders thrown out there as being head coaching gigs potentially more difficult that Vanderbilt were Mississippi State, Missouri, and Kentucky. The Bulldogs were cited for the level of difficulty in recruiting and maintaining success in Starkville. These are both solid points, but clearly those two tasks are more difficult in Nashville. The argument for Missouri seems to be that they are new to the SEC and that recruiting there is difficult. This case completely falls apart when you have metro St. Louis, and its high level high school football, to recruit from less than three hours down the road.

Kentucky, suggested by Sam Khan, is about the only rival to Vanderbilt in this regard which is anything close to being valid. The Wildcats ate unique in the SEC where basketball is a bigger deal than football, plus they have to battle BOTH the SEC and Big Ten for recruits given their proximity to Ohio. The fact that Vandy actually has more all-time wins than Kentucky gives this argument a platform on which to stand.

It is always interesting to see how outsiders view the issues that Vanderbilt have competing in the SEC. ESPN is clearly looking to provoke debate with this article, which is well written, if ultimately clutching at straws to make other jobs seem more difficult than the one Derek Mason is working on.

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