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 18, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:12 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Notre Dame fans used to crucify Ty Willingham after getting blown out by USC.  Where are the headhunters for Kelly?  For all the talk of the Domers turning it around after the bowl game win, I haven't seen much proof so far.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:06 pm

Gill didn't do that much at Buffalo

His overall record there was barely above average.  Everyone acted like he was a can't-miss candidate though.

Since: Nov 9, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:38 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

I remember when Auburn was thrown under the bus for not hiring Gill too.  Great guy but winning in Buffalo is a lot different than winning in the SEC........and Big 12 too. 

Since: Mar 10, 2009
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:20 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

forget about Brian Kelly's wins and losses. A student died on his watch and if that wasn't enough to get him fired, nothing will.

Since: Feb 27, 2011
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:11 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Brian Kelly at ND has to be added to this list. ND has lost to USF, Mich, and USC this year. They will lose to Stanford. There are other loseable games on their schedule as well. In the three losses, turnovers have eaten the Irish alive. After a spring and summer of work, 5 turnovers cost ND the game against USF. After 2 weeks of work, ND's offense looked stagnant against USC. That is preparation. Brian Kelly is in charge of that. I wouldn't say he is going to be fired, however, if he loses 2 in the last 5, his seat is very hot. if he loses more, I can see the possibility of a firing.

Since: Jun 26, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:09 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Neuweasel was a dumb hire from the get go. I guess he's so good with words that in his interviews he could sell an Eskimo an ice machine, but any little bit of due diligence into his past record would've shown the wake of destruction he has left behind him. Oh well Mr. Guerrero, you got what you wanted with Ol' Ricky; now lay in it.  

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:03 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

I might add, the last time UCLA hired a coach with a winning reputation, was in the early 50s hiring Red Sanders. Since that time, they have been on the cheap hiring their own assistant coaches. What does this tell you about their committment to football? They don't care!

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:58 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Bruce, you just are too easy on UCLA! There is no excuse for this University to allow this program to deteriorate. When a new AD was brought in, you could tell right away there was uncertainty there when the winner (Dan Guerrero) came from a non-football school. You really wonder what was the President's thinking in doing this? The results? Guerrero fired Bob Toledo who won 80% of his games and replaced him with Carl Dorrell who won 55% of his game. Then Dorrell was fired and Neuhiesal was hired and has about a 30% winning percentage. So who do you blame for this erosion? I blame the college president who hired Dan Guerrero! UCLA has something in common with North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky & Arizona. They are all thought of as basketball schools primarily and all suck in football. LA deserves better than Dan Guerrero overseeing this football program!

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:19 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Coaches on the hottest seats

Sorry Rick buddy you ruined UW karmas a biatcccccchhhhh EH Ricky?

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