Ranking the Sun Belt Football Coaching Jobs

We’re a little over halfway through the college football offseason but we have the hardest part of the football-less period ahead of us. No signing day extravaganzas, no spring practices and no college basketball to hold us over.

It’s just an expansive empty void that we pretend to fill with the NBA playoffs and baseball.

I’m going to do my part in filling that space with senseless offseason content. Let’s get started.

Today I present to you the Sun Belt coaching jobs ranked from worst to best. It is, of course, almost entirely opinion. However, there is a somewhat scientific method to this opinion-based list.

I’ve created five categories and ranked all the Sun Belt schools in those five categories. The average score of those five areas are the rankings. Before I list the schools, though, here are the five factors.

Program tradition- This is simple. Teams with more wins and championships received the highest scores here. Success in the FBS weighs more than success in FCS, though it gets tricky with the younger teams.

Fan support- Pretty basic metric that is largely subjective. This isn’t just attendance numbers but how loud and present the fan bases are, as well as how the fan base reacts to a winning or losing season.

Location– Play in a major city surrounded by recruits? You get a great score. Play in Duck Dynasty’s back yard? You get a terrible score.

Football Budget- This is the only objective category involved. I take the football-only budgets of every team in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and average those three years together. The higher the average, the higher the score.

Coach potential- This is the ability for a coach to step in and succeed quickly. This is not speculation about how a new could do. Sorry Texas State.

10. Louisiana-Monroe

Score: 1.8

Tradition: 5     Fan Support: 1      Location: 1     Budget: 1     Potential: 1

This isn’t a surprise. The ULM job has long been one of the FBS’ worst. Matt Viator is currently doing a solid job, but only next door to a graveyard of failed coaches.

I do not envy anybody who takes this job.

9. Texas State

Score: 3.8

Tradition: 3     Fan Support: 2      Location: 9     Budget: 3     Potential: 2

Texas State has exactly one positive: It’s location. Despite being in great area in a talent rich state, the Bobcats have never been able to do anything with it.

Despite a large athletic department budget, very little is spent on football compared with the rest of the Sun Belt.

In fact, the football budget has decreased each year since 2016, which doesn’t speak well for spending potential.

8. Georgia State

Score: 4.2

Tradition: 1     Fan Support: 3      Location: 10     Budget: 4     Potential: 3

Similar to Texas State, Georgia State has the location thing going for them. That’s about it. It’s a young program that, despite having a large alumni, is still trying to build its fan base.

Shawn Elliot stepped in and brought the Panthers to the post-season fairly quickly, giving Georgia State a slight edge over Texas State.

7. Coastal Carolina

Score: 5.2

Tradition: 4     Fan Support: 4      Location: 8     Budget: 6     Potential: 4

Oddly enough, the three best locations in the Sun Belt are currently home to the three worst teams in the Sun Belt. The Chanticleers have a base for success, doing well in the FCS on the field and in the stands.

The budget is middle of the pack, but Coastal Carolina has been working on a series of stadium renovations over the last four years.

6. South Alabama

Score: 5.6

Tradition: 2     Fan Support: 6      Location: 6     Budget: 9     Potential: 5

The Jaguar football program is still young, which is the biggest drawback. The school is in a decent recruiting area and has been very willing to spend on football.

South Alabama is one of just two Sun Belt schools that has spent an average of at least $10 million over the last three years.

5. Louisiana-Lafayette

Score: 6

Tradition: 6      Fan Support: 5      Location: 5     Budget: 8     Potential: 6

This ULL job is supremely average. The school has increased the football budget each year since 2016, which is a big plus.

There is a decent amount of winning history, too, especially in the last decade. An apathetic fan base and meh location holds this job in the middle of the Sun Belt.

4. Georgia Southern

Score: 6.2

Tradition: 9     Fan Support: 10      Location: 3     Budget: 2     Potential: 7

This is a fun one. Georgia Southern is steeped in tradition and has a very loud fan base that rivals plenty of major schools.

A below average location and small budget ($6.9 million three year average) pulls Georgia Southern’s score down quite a bit, however.

3. Troy

Score: 7

Tradition: 10     Fan Support: 8      Location: 4     Budget: 5     Potential: 8

Troy is arguably the most successful Sun Belt team. It’s history of winning goes well beyond that, too, giving the Trojans the top program tradition score.

A strong fan base and good coach potential helps offset an average location and middling budget.

2. Arkansas State

Score: 7.2

Tradition: 7     Fan Support: 7      Location: 2     Budget: 10     Potential: 10

If not for being located in Jonesboro, the Arkansas State job would far and away be the best in the Sun Belt. A $12.8 million three year average budget and great coach potential makes this job a highly attractive one.

The Red Wolves are the only team that can rival Troy in Sun Belt success and they have the fan base to drive them.

1. Appalachian State

Score: 8

Tradition: 8     Fan Support: 9      Location: 7     Budget: 7     Potential: 9

There is not much to hate about the Appalachian State job. There’s a long winning tradition coupled with great fan support. The school has raised its football budget each year since 2016, as well.

Though many may argue to the contrary, Boone is a great location in a region that produces its fair share of recruits.

The matrix used to determine the ranking is included below, along with football budget information from 2016-’18.

Team Tradition Fan Support Location Budget Coach Potential Average
Arkansas St 7 7 2 10 10 7.2
Appalachian St 8 9 7 7 9 8
Coastal Carolina 4 4 8 6 4 5.2
Georgia Southern 9 10 3 2 7 6.2
Georgia State 1 3 10 4 3 4.2
Louisiana-Lafayette 6 5 5 8 6 6
Louisiana-Monroe 5 1 1 1 1 1.8
South Alabama 2 6 6 9 5 5.6
Texas St 3 2 9 3 2 3.8
Troy 10 8 4 5 8 7


Budget rankings 2016 2017 2018 Average
Arkansas St 13 19 6.5 12.8
Appalachian St 7.5 8.5 9.2 8.4
Coastal Carolina 6.9 9.5 8.7 8.36
Georgia Southern 7.2 6.6 6.9 6.9
Georgia State 7.3 8 7.8 7.7
Louisiana-Lafayette 8.3 8.7 9.8 8.9
Louisiana-Monroe 5.5 5.7 5.2 5.5
South Alabama 8.6 10.6 10.9 10
Texas St 8.1 7.5 7.1 7.6
Troy 7.9 8.3 8.7 8.3

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