UNC Basketball

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Ranking the nation's top 10 college basketball coaching jobs. Spoiler: Duke is #6

1. North Carolina

Why is North Carolina the best job in the country? Well, because it’s North Carolina. Allow me to explain.

Of course UNC has the obvious things recruits want: great facilities, a chance at the pros, big-time exposure, a chance to play in the best rivalry in the country, a gorgeous campus — you name it.

But thanks to Dean Smith, and now Roy Williams, North Carolina has essentially become a self-sustaining nexus of hoops desire. It’s the argyle uniforms. It’s the clean Carolina blue. It’s the UNC basketball museum, with its artifacts and gravitas. It’s the perhaps-imagined (but does that make it any less real?) impression one feels in Dean Dome that there is something special about Carolina basketball, something innate and hard to define.

More than anything, though, it’s the “family” — the scores of current and former pro stars who still come to Chapel Hill to play in alumni games and watch the young guns take on Duke. More specifically, perhaps, it’s Michael Jordan. There may come a day when recruits won’t want to follow the footsteps of the greatest basketball player of all time, when they won’t remember or care what MJ meant to the sport, when His Airness’ nostalgic brand won’t bless anything it deigns to touch.

That day has not yet arrived. Wear any retro Air Jordans you like, become part of MJ’s college “family,” even meet the man himself. If you can think of a better recruiting pitch for young basketball players, I’d love to hear it.

In 2012, the differences in job desirability between North Carolina and Kentucky — or North Carolina and Syracuse, or, frankly, any other two jobs on this top 10 — is a matter of almost invisible degree. But if UNC has an edge over the rest, it comes from the Tar Heels brand, a brand built by Smith and sustained by Williams and long since ensured in relevance by the greatest basketball player who ever lived.

North Carolina basketball sells itself. How great of a job is that?

Filed under UNC Michael Jordan Roy Williams Dean Smith