The times they are still a changin’ in college football.
Conference expansions and implosions are more the rule than exception. Congressional inquiries into cartel-claims about the Bowl Championship Series are looming. Scholarship limits and early-outs to the NFL are helping to level the playing field.
Now this: CollegeFootballNews.com has come out with a ranking of the “most desirable” college football coaches to run a program these days. The results? Not all that surprising — and not a good time to be an icon. The yardstick: What have you done lately?
Of the 117 coaches ranked, the two winningest are no better than the top one third. Penn State’s Joe Paterno is listed at 39; Florida State’s Bobby Bowden; 40. And Ron Zook, the embattled University of Florida coach who has never been confused with an icon, is ranked 49.
And, oh yes, USF’s Jim Leavitt is 36. With a bullet.
And you heard this here first.
One of the reasons that Leavitt has stayed at USF is because he loves coaching where his roots are. The other reason is that the FSU and UF jobs could open up at any time, and he would be well positioned for a run at either.
Bowden, struggling with consecutive disappointing seasons and beset by internal issues, could decide to step down sooner than expected. He doesn’t have to die on the job.
As for Zook, if he presides over another five-loss debacle, Gator Nation will demand his ouster — and AD Jeremy Foley will bite the buy-out bullet and do the deed.
Should Leavitt maintain the impressive momentum he has created at USF, he would top either school’s short list. And then move up even higher than # 36.