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USA Today Sports staff

1. Dallas Cowboys

Leading the Dallas Cowboys is the hardest coaching job in the NFL. As long as owner Jerry Jones also holds the role of general manager, that coach will have his roster and much of his coaching staff dictated to him yet be expected to lead "America's Team" to the playoffs every season. Because of the team's national popularity, they get an annual Thanksgiving spotlight, plus a handful of primetime and nationally televised broadcasts. That's great if you're winning, but if not, all of your team's failings are right there for the entire country to second guess on Monday morning. - Chris Strauss

2. New York Yankees

George Steinbrenner passed away three years ago, but his legacy looms over the Yankees organization. No manager faces expectations as perennially lofty as Joe Girardi does, and to make matters worse, the club is now concerned with staying under MLB's luxury tax threshold. That adds up to a bunch of high-priced veterans clogging up the team's payroll, lineup and - too often - its disabled list, and cost-cutting at the margins that render the Yanks shallow at practically every position. And that's not to mention the whole issue of having to keep Alex Rodriguez happy and productive whenever he's around even though he is clearly at odds with the team's front office. - Ted Berg

3. Kentucky

John Calipari has the hardest job in college basketball because while he might have hauled in arguably the most talented freshman class in history, he's challenged with convincing a group of teenagers to gel and establish a cohesiveness needed to create championship chemistry. Bad habits die hard, and we're seeing McDonald's All-Americans who were used to being go-to players in high school tasked with reassessing their subconsciously selfish views and turning them into a selfless perspective. 40-0 was always an outrageous prediction, and now we're seeing that the maturation process for even the most talented group takes time. - Scott Gleeson

4. Manchester United

Take the most illustrious of expectations from the ownership, add fans who are unsatisfied with anything short of complete dominance, mix a dash of the most high-profile players in the world and the eyes of your predecessor watching your every move, and you get the job of managing Manchester United. David Moyes took charge of the team after Sir Alex Ferguson left (yes, Fergie was so good they knighted him). Now, every move Moyes makes is scrutinized and second guessed. It doesn't help matters that Ferguson left Moyes with a questionably aging roster, and now sits conspicuously at every United home game. The pressure has hit United early and often this year, as the defending Premier League champions (the club's 20th title) are currently in eighth place.- Mike Foss

5. New York Knicks

No head coaching job in basketball is quite like the Knicks gig. This would be true even if they were run like a normal organization. The Knicks' fanbase and media coverage have all of the manifest-destiny mentality of the Yankees, with the difference being that they haven't won anything in four decades. This creates an environment where the mood around the team is both cursed and entitled. It doesn't help, either, that the Knicks have tens of millions of dollars tied up in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, who can't play together effectively, and have traded away all of their first-round draft picks for the foreseeable future, meaning no coach will be able to add young talent to develop. It's no wonder Mike Woodson has been all but begging to get fired the last few weeks - coaching the Knicks is a no-win situation. - Sean Highkin

6. Indiana

Indiana has history, though it's not the sort of history you'd list in uppercased bold letters in your media guide. IU has played football since 1887, joined the Big Ten in 1900 and has been nothing better than subpar - and often much worse - in the decades since. The Hoosiers have reached nine bowl games. They've won a single Big Ten title and shared another. The program's last bowl berth was in 2007; before that, the previous postseason appearance came in 1993. No Indiana coach in the modern era of college football - a period loosely defined as beginning with the end of World War II - has won more than 47.3% of his games. The last five coaches, from Cam Cameron through Kevin Wilson, have gone a combined 64-134. Other major-conference programs have higher expectations and greater pressure, but only at Indiana does winning with consistency seem like an utter impossibility. -Paul Myerberg

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