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Tag:Hot Seat Rankings
Posted on: June 24, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: The Big Ten And Zook's Quagmire

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's quick overview of the coaching situation this season, as per Dennis Dodd's 2011 Hot Seat Ratings

Big Ten    
Illinois Ron Zook 4.0
Indiana Kevin Wilson 2.0
Iowa Kirk Ferentz 0.5
Michigan Brady Hoke 1.0
Michigan State Mark Dantonio 0.5
Minnesota Jerry Kill 0.5
Nebraska Bo Pelini 0.5
Northwestern Pat Fitzgerald 0.0
Ohio State Luke Fickell 3.5
Penn State Joe Paterno 2.0
Purdue Danny Hope 2.0
Wisconsin Bret Bielema 0.0
 
Obviously, this is a two-person list between Illinois head coach Ron Zook and OSU's interim coach Luke Fickell. One could theoretically argue that Fickell's rating ought to be higher, since he almost by default has to win big this year or he's out, but it's not exactly going to be a huge hit to Fickell's career if OSU ends up hiring a bigger-named coach after the 2011. It's not even a given that such a move would leave Fickell out of a job; wouldn't the transition period be softened if Fickell returned to being the assistant head coach for Ohio State under the new head coach, as was the arrangement under Jim Tressel?

As for Zook, though, his Illini are coming off a 38-14 thrashing of Baylor in the Texas Bowl (including this wholly unnecessary last-minute touchdown), and that 2010 squad set an all-time program record for most points scored per game with 32.54 ppg*. Considering the fact that QB Nathan Scheelhaase was just a freshman in '10 and all, the future would appear to be much brighter than Zook's job security would indicate.

But to think that is to ignore the history of Ron Zook, and the disappointment that defines his legacy.

It's to ignore the fact that the Texas Bowl berth was only Zook's second in six years at Illinois (the other being a still-unbelievable Rose Bowl, one in which Illinois was so thoroughly throttled by USC that ESPN eventually forced the Rose Bowl to start taking high-level non-BCS teams instead of marginally qualified Big Ten or Pac-12 teams). It's to ignore the fact that Zook couldn't go more than three games over .500 in any of his three seasons at Florida, while Urban Meyer turned Zook's players around and won a national championship with them two years later. 

Indeed, if there's any long-term method to Illinois' hiring of Zook, it was to replenish the talent stock to competitive levels, then to cut ties at the point when his teams started underachieving so a more disciplined coach can come in and take the program to new heights. Now, the fact that Zook's not only still around but the third-most tenured coach in the Big Ten means that A) it's been a weird decade in the Big Ten and B) Zook's actual accomplishments still do mean something. No coach is going to want to go to a football program that hasn't been to consecutive bowl games in almost 20 years, but will still fire a coach two years off a Rose Bowl bid, after all. Similarly, if Zook keeps getting to the postseason, he'll keep earning his paycheck year after year. So that's why he's still at Illinois and deserves to be.

It's just, well, it's hard to imagine that arrangement holding up on both sides for much longer. 

*Incidentally, that touchdown proved to be the difference-maker for Illinois breaking the record; they trailed the 2001 team by the slimmest of margins in PPG (32.50) before Zook called that bootleg. Now, a coach calling for a cheap touchdown long after a bowl game has been decided and his team breaking a program record on that play might just be a coincidence, but we're talking about Ron Zook here.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:20 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: Happy marriages or honeymoons?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Dennis Dodd posted his annual list of Hot Seat Ratings today, so if you haven't perused them all, do so at once. At once, I say! Right now, let's focus on some of the untouchables, the 32 coaches who scored a 0.0-0.5 rating. Suffice it to say none of them are getting fired this year (or even next) without a major, unforeseeable catastrophe befalling the program. But past that, what coaches are truly untouchable, and who's just still on a honeymoon? Here's a look at 15 of those coaches, five for each category in the schools' alphabetical order, listed with Dodd's hot seat ratings.

THE HONEYMOONERS

Gene Chizik, Auburn, 0.0: Hear me out. Chizik is absolutely a 0.0 on Dodd's scale this year, and he would be even if the NCAA somehow finds a way to make Auburn vacate the 2010 BCS Championship (though that seems extremely unlikely at this juncture). But Auburn is expected to struggle this year, and while it's easy now to say that the title has earned Chizik a five-year grace period, what happens if Gus Malzahn gets a high-major head coaching offer and Kiehl Frazier doesn't pan out? If Auburn struggles through two straight .500 seasons and Malzahn takes off, that 0.0 turns into a 2.0 pretty soon.
Will Muschamp, Florida, 0.5: Muschamp is one of the most dynamic and promising new head coaches in the last decade or so, but the fact remains that he's a 39-year-old, first-year head coach at a "win right now" program. Oh, and John Brantley is still his quarterback. If Muschamp can't get his Gators back above the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC East pecking order, his seat's going to ignite in a hurry.
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 0.0: The other coach coming off a 2010 BCS Championship berth also has two things working against him: a track record of only two seasons as head coach, and the possibility of major NCAA violations. For Kelly, the worry is more the latter than the former, and depending on where this business with Willie Lyles and Lache Seastrunk's recruitment ends up, Kelly could find himself in way more hot water than a 22-4 coach has any right to be. That's all "ifs" right now though, so for now, the honeymoon is still on.
Doug Marrone, Syracuse, 0.5: Marrone enters his third year with the Orange after guiding the once-proud program to a 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year -- Syracuse's first bowl win since 2001. He's got a solid core of skill players back, but the overall talent level at Syracuse is still low enough that a moderate rash of injuries could be enough to plunge Syracuse back to the level of 3-5 wins in 2011, and that's a good way to snap fans back into remembering that the Pinstripe Bowl is just... the Pinstripe Bowl. Marrone's still got a lot of work to do.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, 0.5: Like Marrone, Sarkisian has performed the rather remarkable feat of turning around a program that had been mired in sub-mediocrity for the majority of the '00s. But like Marrone, the program's talent level isn't BCS-caliber yet, and unlike Marrone, Sark has to contend with losing a first-round draft pick senior quarterback, Jake Locker. Further, Washington's road schedule is brutal this year; the Huskies'll probably have to win at least two home games between California, Arizona, and Oregon just to get back to .500.

HAPPILY MARRIED

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State, 0.5: That Bobby Bowden transition wasn't so bad after all, was it? That's because Fisher guided FSU to 10 wins in his very first year... unlike the last six years of the Bowden era. Seminole fans are going to start raising expectations to the levels of the mid-'90s, so four losses and an ACC Championship loss aren't going to cut it forever, but Fisher's recruiting well enough to restore FSU to glory quickly.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 0.5: How comfortably ensconced at Iowa is Ferentz? He's been coaching at Iowa for 12 years, and in seven of them, Iowa has suffered at least five losses. Ferentz runs a clean coaching staff, but there have been a couple isolated stretches of off-field embarrassments for the Hawkeyes -- and the rhabdo case certainly didn't help matters. But he's well-loved in Iowa City all the same, and the fact that he has turned down offers from Michigan and several NFL teams is not lost on Iowa fans or administrators. Moreover, his teams haven't been bad since his first two years on campus, and he's producing a double-digit win season once per three years; if he keeps that pace up, he'll be at Iowa for as long as he wants.
Charlie Strong, Louisville, 0.5: Strong has only been at Louisville for one season, but he's already got a winning season under his belt (unlike the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Steve Kragthorpe), and he's recruiting well enough (in particular, QB signee Teddy Bridgewater) to keep Louisville winning in perpetuity. If Strong leaves, it's because a powerhouse came calling; he's legit, and everybody at Louisville knows it. If he delivers a BCS win, you can move him into the last category here.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 0.5: Dantonio has been more successful at Michigan State than Nick Saban was. Mark Dantonio is therefore a better coach than Nick Saban. QED. If Dantonio can avoid any more health scares and start routinely challenging for Big Ten (sigh) Legends division championships, he's set for life in East Lansing. Easier said than done with Nebraska coming to town and Michigan likely to rebound from the recent swoon, though.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 0.5: Bo Pelini has done a fine job in his first three years as Nebraska head coach, and on first glance, it appears the young coach is the perfect candidate to lead the Huskers into the Big Ten. There's been an odd sense of impermanence from Pelini's stay at Nebraska though; it's unclear whether it comes from his tempermental sideline behavior (and his brother's) or his itinerant career thus far -- this fourth season as Huskers head coach makes this the longest coaching job Pelini has ever held. Whatever it is, he seems to lack the stable, staid nature of his longer-tenured fellow coaches. That's not insignificant; if a coach can make his fans and boosters believe he's got everything under control when things go south for a year or two, his seat can stay nice and cool for longer. Pelini is respected, but he's not quite there yet.

YOU'LL HAVE TO PRY THEM FROM OUR COLD DEAD HANDS

Nick Saban, Alabama, 0.0: Saban delivered a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his second year there, and his Crimson Tide have finished with three straight AP Top 10 finishes. He's the highest-paid coach in college football for a reason: he earns it.
Chris Peterson, Boise State, 0.5: Peterson basically ruined the WAC for everybody else, going 61-5 as Boise's head man. Sure, you can wonder where he'd be without Kellen Moore, but Peterson did beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky behind center. Now that Utah and TCU are both running off to BCS conferences, expect Boise to dominate the Mountain West for as long as Peterson's there.
Chris Ault, Nevada, 0.0: If this scale could go into negative numbers, Ault would be at least a -10. He's a College Football Hall of Famer who has overseen Nevada's rise from Division II to the upper echelon of the FBS mid-majors. Ault is a true Nevada lifer: he played QB for the Wolfpack in the '60s, and he's on his 26th year as a head coach with the program (his 39th overall in some facet with the Nevada athletic department). He is never, ever, ever getting fired. 
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 0.0: Fitzgerald just signed a contract extension that has 10 years on it, but is a de facto lifetime contract. He'll probably be in Evanston for at least the next 20 years. Seems crazy to say something like that about Northwestern football, doesn't it? But here it is and here we are.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 0.0: The Hokies owe as much to Beamer as just about any program and current coach in the country (other than the aforementioned Nevada and Ault or Penn State and Joe Paterno, who might as well get the school named after him upon retirement). When the ACC realigned in 2005 to include a championship game, the divisions were set up to ensure the possibility of Miami and FSU meeting every season. Instead, it's been Virginia Tech dominating the conference, appearing in four of six championship games and winning three. The ACC is Frank Beamer's conference, so the very notion of a hot seat for Beamer is essentially unimaginable.
 
 
 
 
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