(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Coach
The first firing of the college football season came Sunday. Idaho let go of Robb Akey in a move that was not unexpected.
With a little more than a month to go, there are other axes to fall. It's safe to say Arkansas will not be signing up for another year of the John L. Smith experience.
Here are 10 more coaches who could be bracing for bad news.
- Gene Chizik, Auburn
Two years removed from a national championship, Chizik is in trouble. No team had ever started a season 1-6 two years removed from finishing No. 1 in the AP poll - until the Tigers. It'll reportedly cost about $7.5 million for Auburn to replace Chizik, but if the Iron Bowl gets really ugly, money might not be an issue. "I'm the head coach at Auburn," Chizik said. "It's really not about me. It's about everybody else, and everybody else's expectations. I don't take that lightly. I feel a very, very high sense of responsibility."
- Jeff Tedford, California
The Bears' 21-3 loss to archrival Stanford at their newly remodeled stadium (cost: $321 million) felt like the final blow. Tedford has been at Cal for 11 years and won 82 games. He'll leave the program in far better shape than when he arrived, but it has slipped over the past few years.
- Frank Spaziani, Boston College
The Eagles have been moving backward in four years under the former longtime BC assistant. Boston College was 4-8 last year and is 1-6 this season, with its only victory coming against Maine. This seems a more a matter of when then if.
- Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Phillips is only in his third season as Rich Brooks' successor, but each season has gotten worse. The Wildcats (1-7) have been hammered by injuries, but they are staring at a winless SEC season, and even at a basketball school, that's hard abide.
- Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Dooley took over a program in disarray, following Lane Kiffin's one-and-done in Knoxville. The Vols have improved, but there have been no big wins. Dooley is 0-14 against ranked opponents. A $5 million buyout might not stand in the way of AD Dave Hart, who did not hire Dooley.
- David Bailiff, Rice
Bailiff has had one winning season in six at Rice since taking over for Todd Graham, and is 2-6 this season, 0-4 in Conference USA. It's a tough place to win, but other than that 10-3 season in 2008, Bailiff is 15-41.
- Mike Price, UTEP
Price is 66 years old, so retirement might be on his mind anyway. The Miners are 2-6, 1-3 in C-USA, and haven't finished over .500 since his second season in El Paso, Texas, which was 2005.
- Dan Enos, Central Michigan
The former Michigan State quarterback is only in his third season at CMU, but this is a program that grew accustomed to being a Mid-American Conference contender under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Enos has only eight victories. The Chippewas are 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the league this season, though they did beat Iowa.
- Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Another guy only in his third season, but even at places such as UNLV, patience is thin these days. Hauck won three national titles at Montana, so clearly he knows how to coach. But the Rebels are 1-7 and have won only five games total under Hauck.
- Doug Marrone, Syracuse
There is no doubt Syracuse is better off now than when Marrone took over four years ago, and sitting at 3-4 (2-1 in the Big East), he might not even need to get to a bowl game to be safe. But the school is moving to the ACC next season and if the Orange finish poorly, it might be tough to bring a coach already on shaky ground along for the ride.
Look for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner to start generating some Heisman buzz in the coming weeks.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has emerged as the front-runner for the award after accounting for seven touchdowns in a blowout of West Virginia on Saturday.
Behind Klein though, there is plenty of room for challengers to emerge now that Geno Smith's star has dimmed and Braxton Miller is coming off a poor game in which he was injured.
McCarron and Barner are set to surge, with high-profile games coming up.
Alabama's next three opponents are No. 13 Mississippi State, No. 6 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M. McCarron is already tops in the country in passer rating with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.
He won't put up gaudy, Big 12-like stats, but he's more than just a `game manager.'
As for Barner, spectacular teammate D'Anthony Thomas gets a lot of attention for the Ducks, but he is the engine of their prolific offense. The senior is 10th in the nation in rushing (124 yards per game) and has scored 13 touchdowns.
With games against No. 10 Southern California, No. 19 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State still to come, the guy who spent the last three years backing up 2010 Heisman finalist LaMichael James could earn a trip to New York for himself.
- Duke (6-2) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995 by beating North Carolina on Saturday (talk about a double-bonus for the Blue Devils). Put David Cutcliffe, the former Mississippi coach who was run out of Oxford after only one losing season in six years, on the short list of coach of the year candidates. The ACC Coastal Division-leading Blue Devils are at No. 11 Florida State, which leads the Atlantic Division.
- It's best not to get too worked up over college football's positional awards. Lots of deserving players always get overlooked. The Butkus Award, however, made a particularly egregious mistake Monday by leaving Khaseem Greene of Rutgers off its list of 12 semifinalists for top linebacker. Greene has not just been one of the best linebackers in the country, he's got a case for best overall defensive player.
- Michigan's defense, led by linebacker Jake Ryan, has quietly become one of the best in the country. The Wolverines rank 10th in yards allowed per game (285.3) and 13th in yard per play (4.46).
"I'm 73 years old. I hardly remember what happened yesterday, let alone 1998." Kansas State coach Bill Snyder when asked Monday to compare his current team to the one that came within a victory of playing in the BCS title game.