Posted 09/15/2009 at 03:38 AM
Itís not as though Iím looking to cash in on the misfortune of others. But Iíve always wished there were wagering futures on college head coaches. Letís face it, there are just some scenarios where the proverbial handwriting is on the wall.
Every year around this time, I unveil my list of college football coaches on the hot seat, or at the very least, one thatís uncomfortably warm. Hereís this seasonís rundown. These are in no particular order, and thereís a brief commentary included with each coach.
Ron Zook, Illinois: Zook is now 19-31 at Illinois. His record is a bit skewed as he inherited an empty cupboard and had little chance to win in 2005-06. Zook did a whale of a job in 2007 as he took the Illini to the Rose Bowl. But the program went backward last season, and this yearís opening loss to Missouri was embarrassing. Heís an excellent recruiter, but his game skills are not the best. I donít see Zook being in major trouble just yet, but if this team is sitting at 1-4 in mid-October, a distinct possibility, that comfort zone could shrink. WARM.
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Heís got good numbers at Madison, winning 30 of his 41 starts. But Bielema does not seem to have endeared himself to the ardent Badger faithful, and the truth is the program seems to be stagnating. Heís safe for now, but the first rumblings of discontent have started to appear. LUKE WARM.
Dan Hawkins, Colorado: Ugh. Hawkins is now 13-26 at Colorado and heís in a world of trouble off the miserable start this season. The Buffaloes have played soft and thoroughly uninspired football. This team is staring a 3-9 season right in the eye, and considering the expectations when Hawkins took this gig, the results are tightening that leash considerably. RED HOT.
Bobby Bowden, Florida State: Itís time. Jimbo Fisher is biding his time as Bowdenís top assistant, with an apparent guarantee heís the successor when the legendary Bowden steps aside. Obviously, Bowden is not going to be fired. But the program has clearly slipped, there have been to many sloppy performances, and those off the field team issues are in the mix as well. My gut feeling is that Bowden will return for a farewell tour in 2010, but if the Seminoles continue to struggle, that timetable could get moved up. WARM.
Al Groh, Virginia: Groh has actually done reasonably well with Cavaliers. This is not a traditional power by any stretch, and Groh guided the Cavs to five bowls in six years between 2002 and 2007. But Virginia was only 5-7 last year, and theyíre facing a very difficult slate this season. The Cavaliers arenít getting great recruits and enthusiasm for the program seems to be lagging. HOT.
Paul Wulff, Washington State: This is only Wulffís second season on the job, but the early returns are extremely discouraging. Grapevine talk is that Wullf is simply in over his head at this level. The Cougars are astonishingly bad, and would appear to be one of the ten worst teams in all of major college football. Thatís one thing if the team in question is in the MAC or Sun Belt. For a PAC-10 team, itís kind of ridiculous. HOT.
Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville: Kragthorpe did a fine job at Tulsa, but has not had any success at Louisville. Making matters worse is that this program was winning big under Bobby Petrino and the truth is theyíve badly underachieved the last two seasons. Louisville will likely be the underdog in each of their next six games. If the Cardinals donít score an upset or two, itís not a sure thing Kragthorpe even finishes the season. He could really use a win at Kentucky this Saturday, but thatís not real likely. I think heís gone. HOT.
Mike Sanford, UNLV: The Rebels have improved under Sanford, and I like their chances of getting six wins and a bowl this year. But anything short of that means big trouble for Sanford. The program has always been a very tough sell in Las Vegas and thereís definite pressure on this staff to achieve something meaningful this season. The Rebels have only two road wins since Sanfordís arrival, and that will have to change this season or he could be in trouble. WARM.
Mike Price, UTEP: The Miners scored back to back 8-4 ledgers upon Priceís arrival in El Paso. That early success could end up biting him in the rear. Increased excitement and attendance means higher expectations, and UTEP seems to be going in the wrong direction. The extremely ugly start to this season has the locals buzzing. I donít see Price being pushed out the door just yet, but the winds are starting to swirl. LUKE WARM.
Bob Toledo, Tulane: I donít have anything against Bob Toledo. Heís probably a helluva nice guy. But heís not a good head coach. Sorry, but thatís the way it is. The Green Wave have never been a powerhouse, but they were at least respectable a decade ago and thereís no reason they canít be competitive in CUSA. Toledo may get a reprieve because the program is so low profile, but this canít last much longer. HOT.
Mark Snyder, Marshall: Wow, the Thundering Herd have absolutely fallen off the football map. Granted, they took a step up in class when they moved from the MAC to CUSA. But the program has fallen to a level no one expected, and theyíre off to a poor start with a very experienced team. I believe Snyder must get Marshall to a minor bowl this year or heíll likely be replaced. That doesnít look good right now. HOT.
Charlie Weis, Notre Dame: Of course Weis is on this list. Notre Dame is 30-22 under Weis and they continue to be on the wrong side of too many close games. This team needs to win ten games with this yearís personnel and schedule. This weekendís game with Michigan State could well be pivotal for Weis. An upset loss would be catastrophic. VERY WARM.
Frank Solich, Ohio: Solich took over a struggling program, but they really havenít accomplished much in his tenure. Solich will not be helped by the fact other similar MAC programs are simply making better progress than the Bobcats. Theyíve been prone to too many mistakes the last couple of years and have looked flat in their two games this season. WARM.
This yearís list is actually a little shorter than the norm. Thatís because of just how many changes have taken place over the last couple of years, meaning a load of coaches havenít been on the job that long.
If youíve got an opinion on any of the aforementioned coaches or one that you feel I may have missed, be sure to leave a comment!
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