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Ranking the top non-FBS head coaching destinations: NAIA #3

Last week, we announced plans to highlight the top non-FBS head coaching destinations, starting with the NAIA level. We spent a considerable amount of time fielding a bunch of input from coaches and passionate folks stating their case for their respective program and today we are ready to unveil another school.

So far we have ranked Southern Oregon at #7, a tradition-rich Carroll College (MT) program at #6, St. Xavier (Chicago, IL) at #5, and Reinhardt (GA) at #4.

Coming in at #3 today is…

#3

One thing was clear after reaching out to a handful of NAIA coaches, and guys with experience coaching at that level - the respect for what Southeastern has going for it is very real. Nearly every coach I reached out to put Southeastern in their top five for a variety of reasons.

At the top of that list of reasons was their facilities. A new program who played their first game in 2014 (more on that in a bit), Southeastern went all out with their facilities. Victory field is one of the nicest small college stadiums most have seen, and the atmosphere on game day is really impressive.

Back in 2014 I did an article on Southeastern's first home game and highlighted how they rolled out the red carpet and how it should really be a blueprint for other startup programs. Two short years later they started a run of four-straight Sun Conference titles (2015-18) and this past year they went 8-1, losing only to rival Keiser (NAIA - FL).

The past decade or so has seen a number of NAIA programs pop up in Florida, but the Sunshine State still has limited opportunities at the small college level, meaning a small school committed to athletics in the way that Southeastern is - that can float some athletic scholarship money to guys is going to equate to good things. A total of 9 NAIA programs call Florida home (8 if you consider Edward Waters College, who is transitioning to D-II), while there are ZERO Division III football programs, and just one current D-II program.

The lack of small college opportunities leads a lot of coaches to believe that Southeastern is a program fast on the rise. Keith Barefield led the program through it's first six years of existence, and the program recently hired Cesar Rivas-Sandoval away from Azusa Pacific (D-II - CA) after six seasons as a coordinator to lead the program into the future. So many I reached out to believe that the potential for Southeastern to really take off as a top NAIA program is highly likely.

Stay tuned for the top two NAIA head coaching destinations over the next few days.