This excerpt was taken from Mandel's Mailbag column on SI.com.
In terms of available resources vs. job expectations, what is the worst coaching job in college football?
-- Ron, Indianapolis
Two words: Ole Miss. I feel bad saying that because I've made cracks about that fan base's deluded expectations before, but in all seriousness, it's a graveyard job. Despite residing in a small state, despite constant struggles to recruit elite athletes who qualify academically, despite one of the smallest football budgets in the conference (slightly more than Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and about half of Alabama's) and despite playing in a division with three of the past five national champions, two of the Rebels' past three coaches (David Cutcliffe and Houston Nutt) have been fired within two years of Cotton Bowl appearances.
Nutt's program was obviously trending downward, but even in a solid state, the Rebels were never going to keep winning nine games every year. And a couple of 7-6 seasons probably would have scored Nutt maybe one extra year. The next coach will be given a year or two to rebuild, then expected to contend for a New Year's bowl, all while the SEC adds two more schools to recruit against and implements stricter rules about oversigning (which Ole Miss leans on as heavily as anyone) and the NCAA stiffens academic entrance requirements (which means even fewer kids will qualify). Personally, I'd ask for a contract that at least allows me to partake in the Grove before games to help ease the misery.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/stewart_mandel/11/30/alabama-oklahoma-state-mailbag/index.html#ixzz1fDDdzDTv