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: Jan 21, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:36 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Turner Gill should never have been hired by Kansas in the first place. He was brought in after some whiny-ass players bitched about how mean Mark Mangino was, and that spineless Lew Perkins brought in Gill. Now everyone is paying the price, and Gill is running the program into the ground.


Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:19 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

When I clicked on my icon and up comes the website with Neuhisel's rosy face I thought for sure it was going to be about ucla finally firing the guy. I'm happy that wasn't the case because we trojans think rick is doing a great job and should be given a contract extension.

Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:18 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Well said hockey fan. The University is committed to their basketball program - that is where they spend their money. Everybody keeps talking about all these great coaches who they want to replace Rick. What these uneducated fans don't understand is that UCLA will not pay that kind of money. Remember Rick is at UCLA because nobody else would work for that little of a paycheck. Rick's worse case scenario is that he gets sacked, he gets paid for next year, and he takes a job elsewhere that not only pays him more money, but puts money into their football program.

Since: Sep 30, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:18 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

This is something to think about. I love seeing Coaches like Houston Nutt come to schools like Boise State, and win there first few years, then go else where to another SUPER big school to be a coach. They walk in to a school that has already been recruited. It is amazing that the school who consistently do well are schools where recruiting is more important than the coach.


Yes why school fails sometimes in football is not so much the coach but, how he and the staff recruit the next few years to build their team. LikeWashington, having a good Coach is improving them this year but, they are getting better every year for they have a good recruiting coach. Same could be said for the small size locally raised Idaho students who play for Coach Pete, he seems to know what he needs for the team and goes out to find that player to fill the shoes.


I wish the Heisman trophy was given out to players who had 4 great years at college ball, like Kellen Moore who came from ProsserWashington, a very small High School but was over looked because of it, in recruiting. I am sure that the UW and WSU wished they would have taken a good look at him.


RECRUITING is the answer to a good team.

Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:06 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

@ebonyrod2- You are a fountain of misinformation. That was Rick who lost his starting and backup quarterbacks on consecutive plays in practice. It was also Rick who had the Bosworth twins get hurt. His tenure has been plagued with injuries. Not excuses - fact. Don't expect UCLA football to do a 180 after they cut Rick loose. People think the grass will be greener on the other side after he's sacked. What people don't realize is that UCLA won't pay the money to water the grass. But they will pay the money to keep the lights on in their basketball gym.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 5:53 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

My friend, Tommy Prothro was an assistant coach under Red Sanders at UCLA and then went up to Oregon State for a few years. Check your facts man!

Since: Aug 4, 2008
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:21 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Guererro should have kept Dorrell, I think he was just getting his program off the ground. During his tenure at ucla he had lots of injuries on his team, as a matter of fact in one season both his starting and back up quarterback were injured in the same year, I think both were named Matt.

He also had those two line backer twins that were nephews to the American Linebacker from Oklahoma that played his pro ball in Seattle Brian Bosworth, both were also injured at different times and once at the same time as I recall.
His was the last ucla team that beat us.

He had good recruiting classes, but public opinion from the ucla alum and fans called for his scalp and Guerro listened.

Hiring slick Rick was a mistake from the very beginning. He thought that his reputation/name would automatically get players to come to ucla. The defensive coordinator at the  time should have been named as head coach. He eventually went to one of the New Mexico.

I don’t thing the players ever responded to him as the coach     


Gill at Kansas might eventually make an excellent D-1 head coach. Once he hire a decent staff and is accustom  to the recruiting habits of recruiting at this level. He has been a winner at everything he started. I don’t think this would change at the head coaching level he is at currently.

The situation at Auburn was brought on by one of it’s, most famous alum Charles Barkley. He wanted to know why a black American was not hired when it appeared that Gill had more experience than the coach Auburn eventually hired.

Different circumstances bring different results, he might have fitted in at Auburn very nicely and had immediate success. Different talent level at Auburn than Kansas. You are comparing apples and oranges.


Since: Sep 30, 2011
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:13 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Coach's will always be in the hot seat........most of the time they deserve it.  UCLA's problem lies squarely at the top with the AD.  If UCLA wants to be more than a hoops school, they need to start by removing the AD, not the coach who is underpaid for being in the biggest media city........

It is hard to be a Bruin fan right now!

Since: Dec 5, 2009
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:53 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

To be honest I'm surprised that Rick Neuheisel hasn't been axed already. Aside from the mediocre season he had 2009, he hasn't been able to bring UCLA back to it's glory days. He doesn't have any excuses, with a Rose Bowl victory under his belt with Washington he should have made UCLA a contender. Unless his team has a twist of fate and wins their games, I'm seeing Neuheisel out of UCLA.

Houston Nutt seems to have lost his touch in the last couple of years, but give him more time.

Turner Gill needs more time for Kansas, if Kansas wanted to be back on top they shouldn't have been so keen on using the law to squeeze Mark Mangino out of Kansas, if anything he was their better option.

O'Brien has had five seasons, and just had his breakout season last year. The team is 4-3 and he has enough games to make it to a bowl game. It's too early to put O'Brien on the hot seat.  

Paul Wulff I can see going, his remaining schedule is anything but easy, and his chances of winning 3 games are highly unlikely. He's had four years and has only won 8 games, maybe that's tolerable in the Big Sky conference but he's in the PAC-12 now, and most schools would have been rid of him two years ago.

Boston College, Colorado State, UAB, Memphis, and Idaho, all these schools are reluctant to have a football fanbase. I know first hand that New England only cares about pro teams, college football has no real fan base out there. Idaho is always going to favor Boise State as long as they keep winning games, which Idaho can't seem to do. The rest are in weaker conferences and are more or less tune-up teams. These coaches here are allowed more time than usual given the circumstances.

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:34 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Trojan Dave, you are wrong.  Tommy Prothro was hired after success at OR State and won consistenly in the 60s, long after Red Sanders died.   Dick Verneil was also a terrific hire, but he moved on to the pros after a few seasons.  And their ensuing in-house hire of Terry Donahue worked out pretty well.  He won a number of Pac championships and Rose Bowls in the 70s and 80s.  He lasted 20 years and retired on his own terms.  Since that time, though, I'd have to agree with you, although at the time Slick Rick was hired, his HC career had been very good...he won at both Colorado and Washington, but stubbed his toe in LA.

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