Blog Entry

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 11:19 am
As the BCS races becomes even more frenetic, a handful of other programs are just trying to salvage their seasons for respectability and establish some momentum for the future. Anything they can do in hopes of avoiding a coaching change to get more one season. It's not even Halloween yet and we've already had three head coaches losing their jobs. More turnover is coming. You can count on it. This week's Tuesday Top 10: The 10 coaches on the hottest seats in the FBS:

1. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: The former Bruin standout QB has just not been able to get anything going in four seasons at his alma mater. He has tried virtually everything, from going all-in on the Pistol to turning over his coaching staff last off-season. But it's just not working out. On paper, he has recruited very well with three top-15 ranked classes in his first three seasons, however all he has to show for it is a record of 18-26 overall and 10-20 in league play. The most frustrating part for Bruin fans is that there has been opportunity to benefit from instability across town with USC coping with massive NCAA sanctions.

As I wrote in the Friday mailbag after the Bruins' dreadful performance on national television in their blowout loss to a reeling Arizona squad, UCLA still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South if it runs the table. But that seems like such a long shot after seeing its most recent showing that leads you to believe they are incapable of running off five consecutive wins. (Four of which would come against teams better than Arizona.) In fact, you wonder if they're even capable of winning three of those games to finish .500.

2. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss:
The pressure is clearly wearing on Nutt. Over the weekend, he lit into a reporter at a post-game press conference because the guy had predicted the Rebels were going to get blown out by Arkansas. The Rebels squandered a 17-0 lead, but "only" lost 29-24, stretching the program's losing streak in SEC play to 10 games, an Ole Miss record for futility. It was the first time in four tries that Nutt's team hadn't lost a conference game by at least two touchdowns. Then again, a few weeks earlier, that same reporter, Neil McCready, a writer for the local Rivals Ole Miss site, had predicted the Rebels would get thumped by Alabama. They did. Nutt never said anything about that. Earlier this season, Ole Miss got crushed by Vandy in a way the Commodores never beat another SEC program.

Nutt got off to a terrific start in Oxford with the Rebels winning nine games in each of his first two seasons, but recruiting has not gone so well and that has caught up with the former Arkansas coach. The talent level has fallen off. He's 1-12 in his past 13 SEC games and he may not even match last season's total of four wins. The Rebels are 116th in the total offense and 110th in total defense. It would cost the school at least $6 million to dump Nutt, but don't be surprised if both he and his AD Pete Boone both get the boot this year. It's gotten that ugly in Oxford.

3. Neil Callaway, UAB: Thanks to a big upset win over UCF last week, Callaway's team has finally gotten its first win of 2011, and with Memphis and FAU remaining, a 3-9 season is within reach. However in Year Five for him at the school, it'd seem like a mighty long shot that would be good enough. The Blazers are 118th in scoring and 95th in defense. Callaway is 16-43 all-time at UAB.

4. Paul Wulff, Washington State: The Cougars jumped out to a 3-1 start albeit those three wins did come against teams that are a combined 4-18, they have lost a lot of steam. They've been blown out the past two weeks, first by Stanford and then by an Oregon State team that came in 1-5. Wulff may need to win three of his next five to keep his job, and two of those are against ranked teams. The finale at Washington figures to be crucial for a guy who has seen his program getting a lot better over the past two years. Still, he is only 8-37.

5. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State:  He got off to a nice start, going to and winning a bowl game in his rookie season. Since then, its been really shaky. Fairchild's just 3-15 in the past three years of league play and 3-4 overall this year, and on a three-game losing streak. Worse still, one of those losses came against arch-rival CU, which is the Buffs (1-7) lone win this year. With five games remaining, but only one is against a team with a losing record (1-5 UNLV), Fairchild probably needs an upset or two to feel some security. Keep in mind this is a program that only had four losing seasons in 16 years under Sonny Lubick.

6. Tom O'Brien, N.C. State: The Pack just got a big road win at Virginia, which has to help O'Brien's prospects. With dismal Maryland and his former school BC still remaining on the schedule, he has a very good shot to get this team to a bowl game, but even that might not be enough. He is just 15-20 in ACC play and generating only one winning season out of five may be a tough sell for the NCSU brass to buy that he's the right guy to lead the program to bigger things.

7. Larry Porter, Memphis: It's hard to dump a guy after just two seasons, but Porter is dangling after a brutal first year and some stunning blowout losses, including a 47-3 loss to Arkansas State and 28-6 loss to a Rice team that is 2-5. Porter, though, got a much-needed W last week when the Tigers beat a Tulane team that just got rid of its head man Bob Toledo. The Tigers still have a home game with UAB remaining, so even though 3-9 sounds horrible, it may show enough growth for him to get a third season.

8. Frank Spaziani, Boston College:
The Eagles have been solid for decades and haven't won less than seven games since 1998, but they have really dropped off since Spaziani took over in 2009. BC had won 30 games the previous three seasons before he was elevated to head coach. Since then, it's been eight wins, seven wins and now they'll be fortunate to win three this season. Spaziani's career record is over .500 (17-16) but can he survive a horrible 2011, where BC is 1-7 and hasn't beaten an FBS program yet?

9. Turner Gill, Kansas: After doing a nice job at Buffalo, where he won a MAC championship, Gill is off to a disastrous start at KU. He's 1-11 in his first 12 Big 12 games and just 5-14 overall. Jayhawk fans left a lot of seats in last week's big rivalry game for K-State fans who watched the Wildcats smash KU, 59-21. They've been outscored in conference play by an average of 32 ppg. They're on a five-game losing streak, which could double by season's end with a trip to Iowa State being their best bet to end the skid.

10. Robb Akey, Idaho:
After leading the Vandals to a Humanitarian Bowl win in 2009, the program has backslide again, going 7-13 the past two years and winning just three league games.

Since: Oct 27, 2011
Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:18 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Richt belongs at the top of the list,I've been a Ga fan 64 years and I'm fed up. He will not win this week because he has no guts in the red zone. 4th and 3ft he'll kick a field goal. Mike Bobo is a joke yet Richt thinks he's great. Ga has so much talent its not funny and he can't  beat a down Fla team and this one won't be close. Fla 30 Ga 10

Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: October 28, 2011 9:00 am

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

If recruiting were all it took to have a great program then Mike Dubose and Ed Orgeron would still be head coaches.  Coaching matters too.

Exactly! Bill Callahan was a great recruiter too. He got top-ten recruiting classes at Nebraska... and coached them to 5-7.

Since: Sep 8, 2011
Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:43 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Rich Rod's offense would never work in the SEC. Alabama and LSU would just overmatch it with speed unlike any he has ever been around.

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:34 am

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Rick "Neuweasal" is a class act...although in his case, that means anytime he appears to have class, it's an act. I'm one of thousands of UW Huskies who agree that "Karma is a bitch." And so is Slick Rick.

Since: Sep 7, 2011
Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:06 am

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

If recruiting were all it took to have a great program then Mike Dubose and Ed Orgeron would still be head coaches.  Coaching matters too.

Since: Jan 31, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2011 12:39 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Nueheisel couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper bag.  Time for some house cleaning if that program is going to get on the right track!!

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:26 am

Mangino back to KU?

It's a pretty good rumor that Mangino could end up with his job back.  I still like Turner Gill and think he has a lot of potential, and if he gets five years, he will turn Kansas around.  But the question is whether they are patient enough at KU to give Gill the five years that any coach needs to fully institute his own program.  
In today's internet age, our attention spans and patience have been severely downgraded.  Everything is a few clicks away except winning: that takes longer in most programs.  Gill is basically having to rebuild a shattered program from the ground up, and it is going to be awhile before they see any tangible benefits.   If the KU fans are patient, they will be rewarded with a solid program where things are done right.  If they aren't, they could end up being a chronic tomato can.  
Mangino going "home" is an intriguing possibility, but sticking with Gill and allowing him to do what he was hired to do is the more intelligent choice.  Often, though, "intelligent" has nothing to do with decisions involving coaching changes. 

Since: Oct 9, 2009
Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:09 am

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

9. Turner Gill, Kansas: After doing a nice job at Buffalo, where he won a MAC championship, Gill is off to a disastrous start at KU.
Which has nothing to do with the fact that all the Kansas "talent" (the group that finished their Jayhawk careers losing eight straight games) left with Mark Mangino. Gill came into a situation with absolutely nothing to work with and nobody seems to recognize that.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: October 26, 2011 2:37 am

We'll see if Richt belongs on the list

If UGA loses to Florida when Florida is having a bad year, Richt will be squarely back on the hot seat.  I still think UGA would be a great place for Rich Rod to make his comeback.  He would need a QB who could handle the spread, but he would have a lot more players than Lloyd Carr left him at Michigan after offering to sign everyone's transfer papers on the way out the door.
I would like to see Mike Leach end up at a decent school, too, but I am guessing the best he can do now is Ole Miss.  It would be great to see the Pirate end up in Boca Raton for a few years, though.  Maybe he could search for buried treasure in his spare time.   

Since: Oct 4, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:38 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Kevin Sumlin
Mark Mangino 
Manny Diaz
Troy Calhoun
Rich Rodriguez 
Ellis Johnson
Mike Leach

There ya go UCLA, put those names in a hat , draw one and get your football life on track. Way too much talent in that area for UCLA to be this bad, I'd like to see that rivalry with SC get fired back up.     &n

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