Posted on: November 27, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Hot shot commissioner, brand new media deal providing more exposure than ever, facilities upgrades, more money and increased focus on wins.
It's a good time to be a head coach in the Pac-12... except when you're being shown the door.
As the coaching carousel begins in earnest with the end of the regular season, the for-sale signs are popping up all over the West. Thanks in large part to that new media deal, schools are feeling the pressure to win just as much as their counterparts in other parts of the country. The landscape is shifting in college athletics and athletic directors are coming to the realization that they have to find the right guy to lead their program or it's time to make changes.
And if you're an AD even thinking about firing the head coach, you probably should do so. Many have already come to that conclusion and before the Pac-12 puts on the first ever conference title game, there will likely be a third of the league's schools looking at having a new head coach in 2012.
Arizona got a head start on the process and appears to have gotten an A-list head coach for a bargain basement price. Athletic director Greg Byrne is known as one of the sharpest AD's in the country and it showed by shrewdly firing Mike Stoops early in the season following a loss to Oregon State. That allowed him to take his time to research candidates and see who would be the best fit, going so far as to seek out the opinions of the state's high school coaches. Former CBS Sports analyst Rich Rodriguez had taken West Virginia to the cusp of playing for a national title and though he had a rocky time in Ann Arbor, Michigan improved each year he was there. Now he's in Tuscon and while he has another rebuilding job ahead of him, his offense should fit right in out West.
Up the road in Tempe, Arizona State comes open after Dennis Erickson saw the Sun Devils slip from South division locks to barely bowl eligible. Injuries no doubt played a part in 2011's slide but with so many returning starters and upperclassmen on the team, things never did pull together like ASU brass thought it would. For years, this job was thought to be a sleeping giant with access to plenty of talent, decent facilities, a good city to live in and the ability to get plenty of recruits into school. Athletic director Lisa Love will likely target Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin as her first choice (he'll bring plenty of offense and has put Houston a game away from a BCS bowl) but it's possible former Oregon head coach Mike Belloti and even Mike Leach will get an interview.
If Leach's issues (lawsuits against Texas Tech and ESPN, perhaps too open of a personality) don't get him the job with Arizona State, he could be taking his talents to the Palouse. Paul Wulff inherited one of the worst programs in the country - BCS conference or otherwise - and turned Washington State around by steadily improving from year-to-year. They pulled a few upsets this season, including one over ASU that likely shoved Erickson out the door, and came close several other times but it appears they're looking to go in another direction. Leach will have some talent on offense that can utilize his system to put up some big numbers and he knows he can win with the Cougars after seeing Mike Price take them to the Rose Bowl. A West Coast guy, Leach can recruit California with ease and would provide plenty of interest in a program that hasn't had much at all the past couple of years. If he takes a job elsewhere however, AD Bill Moos might have to turn to an assistant coach or a lower-level head coach to fill the needs of a program that seems to be on the right track in a tough division.
Finally there's UCLA, which is probably the most attractive job that will come open west of the Mississippi. One of the few issues is the fact that athletic director Dan Guerrero is himself on shaky ground and may not be making the hire. After Saturday's embarrassing 50-0 loss to crosstown rival USC, it's clear that the gap Rick Neuheisel so recently talked about closing has never been bigger. The Bruins will play in the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game but based on how they played against the Trojans, it looks like they'll just be sacrificial lambs to an Oregon team in the top ten. When - not if - Neuheisel is let go following the game, the direction the school takes in finding his replacement will be an interesting one. Alumni are clearly fed up with the losing and have a prime opportunity to take advantage of local talent with USC entering scholarship reductions for the next three years. The facilities are good and few campuses in the country can compare to what they have in Westwood.
Boise State's Chris Petersen is the name frequently tossed around as the Bruins' top target but they have a better chance of knocking off Oregon and going to the Rose Bowl than they do landing Petersen. Boosters are ready to pony up the cash - as much as $3 million or more - but who's handling the search remains to be seen. After missing with his previous football hires, it's hard to see that being Guerrero. After Petersen, Sumlin seems like the top candidate but they'll have to move quickly. Leach, who went to school at Pepperdine and is well-connected in Los Angeles, still seems like a long shot due to his legal issues but he would certainly put people in the seats at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Off the radar candidates include Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, SMU's June Jones, Louisville's Charlie Strong and Belloti.
There are plenty of good jobs in the Pac-12 for the taking and someone is going to take them. Who and when remain to be seen.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona State, BCS, Bill Moos, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Charlie Strong, Chris Petersen, Coaching Changes, Coaching Rumors, Dan Guerrero, Dennis Erickson, Greg Byrne, Houston, June Jones, Kevin Sumlin, Lisa Love, Louisville, Michigan, Mike Belloti, Mike Leach, Mike Price, Mike Stoops, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Paul Chryst, Paul Wulff, Pepperdine, Rich Neuheisel, rich Rodgriguez, Rose Bowl, SMU, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Washington State, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:25 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the Pac-12, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).
ARIZONA. Obviously things are a bit different down in Tuscon with the ouster of head coach Mike Stoops. The bye week comes at a good time for the interim coach Tim Kish, who is changing up some of the staff duties, including giving offensive coordinator Seth Littrell complete autonomy on offense and possibly hiring another defensive assistant. Several other head coaches have weighed in on Stoops' midseason firing, from Mike Riley to Bo Pelini to Lane Kiffin.
ARIZONA STATE. Dennis Erickson says he always knew that things would work out despite a rough three-year stretch. Athletic director Lisa Love said this season was the one she and Erickson had been waiting for when she hired him. Also, cornerback Osahon Irabor might not play against the Oregon this week so Alden Darby could remain his replacement. Aderious Simmons is likely to start at right tackle. Quarterback Brock Osweiler says his team won't quit and it's Rose Bowl or bust.
CAL. The Bears will play USC at home on Thursday night but AT&T Park isn't exactly 'home' for the team yet, according to Jeff Tedford. He also is hoping that this week's game is not a repeat of last year's game, when the Trojans led 42-0 at halftime. Cornerback Stefan McClure will have the tough task of guarding wide receiver Robert Woods.
OREGON. Injured running back LaMichael James is working hard to get healthy but is unlikely to suit up against Arizona State this weekend. Freshman running back/all-around athlete De'Anthony Thomas will see his workload increase as a result, adding to an already impressive start for the Ducks. Chip Kelly is well aware of what ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict can do and has all eyes on him. Likewise, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti will be keeping tabs on Brock Osweiler, who might too short for his taste.
OREGON STATE. Head coach Mike Riley is using a bowl game as motivation for his squad and hopes to build off of the momentum of the program's first win. Things have improved in the Beavers' run defense and the offense is putting up more points but they'll still need to win five of seven. Starting wide receiver Jordan Bishop will have an MRI on his injured ankle and cornerback Brandon Hardin will have a checkup in a month on his shoulder injury. Running backs Jovan Stevenson and Malcolm Agnew will practice this week and both could return to action soon.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. Highly touted recruit George Farmer will make his debut at running back on Thursday, something quarterback Matt Barkley is looking forward to seeing. This week's game at Cal means head coach Lane Kiffin will be squaring off against his old mentor Jeff Tedford. Defensive tackle Armond Armstead will make the trip up even though he is redshirting, while linebacker Lamar Dawson and corner Torin Harris are questionable for the game. The game this week will be a big time match up between wide receivers on both sides.
UCLA. The Bruins get Arizona as their next opponent and even though they'll be without a head coach, they're still going to be a problem. No stranger to the hot seat himself, Rick Neuheisel certainly feels for Stoops and how he was fired. The offense does need a bit of a boost and could see freshman quarterback Brett Hundley get some reps this week. Wide receiver Randall Carroll could also see increased playing time based on the number of snaps he's received in practice.
Tags: Aderious Simmons, Alden Darby, Arizona, Arizona State, Armond Armstead, AT&T Park, Bo Pelini, Brandon Hardin, Brett Hundley, Brock Osweiler, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, De'Anthony Thomas, Dennis Erickson, George Farmer, Jeff Tedford, Jordan Bishop, Jovan Stevenson, Lamar Dawson, LaMichael James, Lane Kiffin, Lisa Love, Malcolm Agnew, Matt Barkley, Mike Riley, Mike Stoops, Nick Aliotti, Oregon, Oregon State, Osahon Irabor, Pac-12, Randall Carroll, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Rose Bowl, Seth Littrell, Stefan McClure, Tim Kish, Torin Harris, UCLA, USC, Vontaze Burfict
Posted on: November 19, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 2:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson has found the seat he's on to be rather hot this season, as Erickson's Sun Devils are 4-6 on the season and 2-5 in Pac-10 play. Last month Erickson received a vote of confidence from ASU AD Lisa Love, and on Friday he got an even bigger indication from Love that he'll be back on the sidelines in 2011.
Love was on 620 KTAR in Arizona on Friday, and she put any rumors of Erickson being fired to rest.
"I still support Dennis Erickson," Love said. "You bet I do. You've got to allow someone to go through the entire process. I'm impressed, by the way, with the process, the recruiting roster, the level of talent and the stable of redshirts we now are able to have. As opposed to the last two years of playing true high school freshman. It's been rewarding to watch.
"I can tell you it's grueling to climb. It is grueling in a conference that is getting even more challenging to climb. I am absolutely confident, and Dennis Erickson has been since the day he walked in the door, that we will soon be ‘popping' relative to our competitiveness in ASU football. I have faith that we are going exactly in that direction and I have faith in Dennis to get us there."
What about the rumors that Erickson is going to be fired?
"You can put those rumors to rest."
Erickson has been at Arizona State since 2007 when the Sun Devils went 10-3 and lost to Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Since then, however, the Sun Devils have gone 13-21 and haven't been to a bowl game since.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:52 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In the middle of September, the Arizona State Sun Devils were 2-0 and nearly beat Wisconsin on the road to improve to 3-0, and there was some reason to be optimistic about the team this season. Since then, however, things have started going downhill in conference play, where the Devils have lost three of the first four, including a 50-17 beatdown from Cal last week.
Which has led some at the school to wonder about the status of head coach Dennis Erickson. Particularly if he'll be back running the program last season should things continue to head the direction they currently are. Well, Erickson can either rest easy or start cleaning out his office, because Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love just gave him the dreaded vote of confidence.
"Yeah, I believe he will be (back)," Love told the Arizona Republic. "We have to evaluate at the end of the year, every year, but he's our guy. I've heard a lot of this talk about a hot seat. I think we have a football-wise fan base that are saying and understanding (that ASU's program is on the rise).
"I fully expect Dennis will be our football coach and my days are spent thinking about how to support this football program and get it to where we want it to be, which is a Rose Bowl-caliber program. And I believe we've got a guy who can get us there."
Notice how even in Love's vote of confidence she doesn't say that Erickson will be back, but that she believes he'll be back? Yeah, I wouldn't take that as a good sign. In other words, the Sun Devils may want to start winning some games, which is easier said than done. While Arizona State still has two winnable games at home against Washington State and UCLA this season, they also have trips to USC and Arizona along with a home date against Stanford on the schedule.
Erickson had success in his first season at Arizona State, as the Sun Devils went 10-3 in 2007, but since then they've gone 12-19 are in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the third straight season.