College Football “Hot Seat” Update – Monday, October 24
1. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA - I originally had him ranked fifth, since the team was coming off of a win over Washington State. Not a great win, but one that fell before a bye week leading to a Thursday game on ESPN against a 1-5 Arizona team. This was his time to step up, take control of the team’s stake in the Pac-12 South Division, think about the post-season and show off a bit on a big stage. Arizona was playing their first game under interim Head Coach Tim Kish and Neuheisel led his team to what will be the “beginning of the end” moment for him at UCLA. Also, a program like UCLA shouldn’t be having players fighting and getting suspended like that. A disgraceful moment for the program who will play Cal. with about 3-4 receivers available to play. He got four years to turn around his alma mater, Neu’s time is up.
If I’m UCLA… I get into the Leach lottery and fast. Although with the conservative nature of UCLA athletics, they’ll probably land on alum Ron Caragher and hope he’s just like his predecessor (Jim Harbaugh).
2. Paul Wulff, Washington State - The man who too often looks like he is staring into the sun needs to go in Pullman. Like Rick Neuheisel, he is coaching at his alma mater, which might be part of the reason he wasn’t canned after last year. Wulff was a solid Head Coach at Eastern Washington, but as we see now, he might have been holding that program back too. So far in his four seasons with the Cougars, he has won 8 games. 3 against FCS opponents, 3 against Pac-10/12 opponents, and SMU in OT in ’09 and an awful UNLV team this season. I just summed up every win for Paul Wulff in one sentence, using only two commas. This might be WSU’s best year under Wulff, but the team might end on an eight game losing streak. Any win the rest of the year will be considered an upset. If Pullman ever wants College Gameday on location and not just a flag in the background, they need a legitimate FBS coach at the helm.
If I’m Washington State… Hasn’t the AD worked with Mike Bellotti before? Give him a call.
3. Neil Callaway, UAB - So Callaway drops a spot after a win, but a two-point win over Central Florida should not secure his job for next season. This is his 5th year at the helm of UAB and the best the team has ever been was a 5-7 mark in ’09. If UAB has any interest in having a successful football program, they should start fresh under a new Head Coach ASAP. The parity in Conference USA should allow a team like UAB to occasionally make a low-end bowl game and also challenge for a division title. That is setting the bar low, especially with the recent success of June Jones at SMU, Mike Price’s run at UTEP, and George O’Leary’s UCF teams of the past few years. You can win at a program with little to no football tradition. You just need the right man and Callaway is a glorified coordinator, running an unimaginative offense in a league that runs up scores like a game of pinball.
If I’m UAB… Go snag Chad Morris before somebody else does.
4. Frank Spaziani, Boston College - The mad scientist is running out of time on his experiment as BC’s Head Coach. His first full year as Head Coach was successful and the future looked bright for the Eagles. Then the team ran out of Tom O’Brien/Jeff Jagodzinski recruits and couldn’t compete against the top teams in the ACC. He coaches a good defense, but has struggled as a recruiter and now the team is just plain bad. The only win this season came against FCS opponent UMass; but their losses include a 27-point loss to UCF (yes, the team that lost to UAB), a one point loss to Duke (any loss to Duke is embarrassing), and two sad efforts put up against Clemson and Va Tech. He is starting to face some heavy criticism and the program is better to cut ties now than wait around for things to change or pretend like this season is a “fluke” or “due to injuries” (see Todd Haley’s future in KC for more details)
If I’m BC… Bob Diaco comes to mind as a good fit, but the search should focus on improving the offense.
5. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss - Playing in the SEC West isn’t easy, but blowing 17-point leads doesn’t make the division any easier. The close loss to Arkansas isn’t a moral victory, but instead just another exhibit of Nutt’s underachieving time at Ole Miss. His first year with the team was successful, 9-4 with a Cotton Bowl victory. The second year was supposed to be better than 9-4 with a Cotton Bowl victory. The ’09 Rebels were ranked in the top ten by most Pre-Season publications (#6 in SI), so a 9-4 season with a Cotton Bowl victory was disappointing. 2010 was a down year but 4-8 with one conference win is unacceptable. Just like how ’08 and ’09 had identical outcomes, Nutt will be lucky for that this season. The only thing keeping him in Ole Miss is a big contract with close to 3 million as a buyout if the school gets rid of him during/after this season. That drops considerably after next year, so he might skate another year. Doing something like winning 3 of their last 4 might help as well.
If I’m Ole Miss… Swallow the contract, fire him now and go get Guz Malzahn. Replacing Nutt with Malzahn would be poetic justice for their shared time at Arkansas.
The rest of the Top Ten:
6. Turner Gill, Kansas
If I’m Kansas… Keep Gill and get rid of both coordinators, Chuck Long and Vic Sheady. Have David Beaty call the offense next year and find someone to run the D. Give Gill a third (and potentially final) season to show progress.
7. Luke Fickell, Ohio State
If I’m Ohio State… Let him go, where he can probably land on his feet with a MAC job, and get a big time coach in to take over the program. Mark Dantonio and Urban Meyer come to mind.
8. Todd Berry, UL-Monroe
If Im UL-Monroe… I look at the hire UL-Lafayette made and I want to make a change right away. Losing to North Texas and soon to your rival are bad losses. Find your guy and move in a new direction.
9. Mike Riley, Oregon State
If I’m Oregon State… I am looking for my “Leach Lotto” ticket and canning Riley. The contract might be too much to bare, but losing to Sacramento State might be the same.
10. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
If I’m Colorado State… Four seasons is enough of Fairchild. A bowl appearance in year one was nice, but three wins in ’09, ’10 and so far in ’11 is bad. The wins in ’11 (4 point ‘w’ over New Mexico, OT win over Utah State) are ugly, not quite as ugly as the losses (to SJSU and UTEP, 50 point loss to Boise State, 28-14 to CU).