Saturday, August 6, 2016

Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2016 Volume One

With the college football season now just three weeks away, it is time to start playing the annual game of coaching change derby. For those unfamiliar, Coaches on the Hot Seat is our weekly look at coaches who need to start turning a corner, but may not necessarily be in direct line for termination right away. The heat gauge is increasing, so these coaches had better start figuring it out, and quickly. Here is our first look at coaches who are starting to feel a little heat:

Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati
He has a 25-14 record coming into 2016, and that is all well and good at UC. THe issue that I am seeing is that Cincinnati was a huge favorite to win the AAC last fall, and the team finished at 7-6. I understand that injuries mounted and all of that, but that's football. If the trend of under performing continues, and with UC looking for a higher profile conference to land in, 7-6 will not cut it.

Steve Addazio, Boston College
Addazio is entering his fourth season at the Heights, and the product has been nothing short of terrible. His record at BC is just 17-21, and the Eagles finished winless in ACC play last season. If there is a guy who I can see hitting the Dead Pool early, it would be Addazio.

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Clawson had all kinds of hype when he took the Bowling Green job, and was uneven during his stay there. His work at Wake Forest has been far less impressive than that was. He is entering his third year, which to me is a huge turning point for a coach. His record at Wake is just 6-18. He could also be splashing down in the Dead Pool fairly soon.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
In my book, Johnson has been one of the most over rated coaches in the last decade. He is nothing if not inconsistent, and the five year record at Tech is just 36-30. It has long been proven that the option offense only works for the academies, but Johnson continues to hold to his roots. He is entering his ninth season with a record of 62-44, but Tech is falling farther and farther from relevance.

Kevin Wilson, Indiana
Wilson turned a corner somewhat last fall, but the project of building a winner in Bloomington has been slow at best. IU finally went bowling last year, losing to Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl, but it may not be enough. If the Hoosiers return to their losing ways this fall, Wilson is done. His record in five seasons is just 20-41, so that's the basis here.

Mike Riley, Nebraska
Riley was never a good fit for Nebraska when he was hired. It was a  bizarre hire at a strange time in Husker history. Riley immediately sank spirits in his first season by finishing just 5-7 in the regular season, only to go bowling because there was a glut of bowls to go to. They did manage a win over UCLA in the postseason, but Nebraska was still 6-7 in year one, which is far worse than anything Bo Pelini ever did, and now there are reports of a fear of the sellout streak ending in Lincoln. That's like the apocalypse in Husker country.

Charlie Strong, Texas
This is rather unfair in my opinion, but Strong is firmly on the hot seat. He was never a completely popular choice among the faithful in Austin, and that makes matters worse. Strong is a solid coach, but patience has never been a thing at Texas, so he needs to start winning now. The calls for his head will start right away if Texas indeed loses to Notre Dame in the season opener.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Holgorsen is one of the most overrated coaches in American, hands down. He had a solid acumen in running offense at Oklahoma State, but his overall ability to handle a staff and find ways to win at WVU have never been evident. He enters year six coming off an 8-5 record, which is not getting it done in the top half of the Big 12. His overall record is just 36-28, which is not what Mountaineer fan was expecting when they made this "splashy" hire.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
It is time for the GQ coach to put up or get out in Lubbock. The Red Raiders have not exactly returned to the days of Mike Leach with this hire, and the program seems stuck in a certain gear under Kingsbury, who enters his fourth year as coach. His overall record is 19-19. Remember, less than a decade ago, the Red Raiders were a top 20 program. Not anymore.

Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Nobody is speaking about this in Manhattan, Kansas. Here is a reality check. The Wildcats were 8-5 in 2013, 9-4 in 2014, and just 6-7 last season. There has been some apparent slippage with anyone having outside perspective on this program lately, and it is obvious that K State has turned into a lower tier program in the Big 12. Snyder has been there forever, but the program is in dire need of new blood to get rolling again. Snyder has been solid, but built a winner on never playing anyone of note out of conference during his time there. A change could be good.

Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic
Partridge is entering that key and crucial third season at FAU, and his overall effort has been downright poor to date. FAU is just 6-18 under his watch, and the program appears stagnant. FAU has hit the 3-9 mark two years running now, and anything similar would be proof that improvement is not happening. That would be a bad thing.

Ron Turner, Florida International
Turner is entering his fourth season at FIU, and although some improvements did show last fall, the Panthers still fell in at just 5-7. Turner is just 10-26 at FIU, with half of his wins coming last season. A bad start could see him splashing down into the Dead Pool, especially with a career record in college football of just 52-87.

David Bailiff, Rice
How Bailiff has survived into his 10th season at Rice is shocking to me. He is one of the most inconsistent coaches in the nation, and has never been able to develop this program to where they are always competing for a crown in a winnable division in CUSA football. Bailiff is just 53-60 during his stay at Rice, and just 74-75 overall. I know that Rice has never been a program that strikes fear into the hearts of man in the modern era, but they could do better than this.

Sean Kugler, UTEP
The Kugler era has been a head scratcher. Two years ago, it looked as if the Miners were turning a sharp corner, only to fall back to 5-7 last fall. Kugler is entering into a crucial stage (fourth season), and it is time to show what he can do. His record at UTEP of 14-23 is glaring.

Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)
Martin was hired to great fanfare as the guy who would pull the program out of the depths of despair, but that has not happened as of yet. He enters his third season in Oxford and is coming off a 3-9 season, which is an improvement of sorts, but 2016 has to see some real progress for the program to keep people interested in his tenure. This could go either way.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Craig Bohl was the original architect of the machine that is North Dakota State football before landing in Laramie. He would not be the first coach to come into the Mountain West conference after a hugely successful FCS run to eventually fail in this conference (Joe Glenn, Bobby Hauch). Wyoming was a disaster on and off the field when Bohl landed here, and the cupboard was bare, but winning must come in his third season, or else Bohl could share the same fate eventually of those mentioned.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
In his first season, DeRuyter looked like he had Fresno State primed to become the pride of G5 football. Fresno State looked like they were on their way to crashing the big boy football conference territories. Then came a stunning upset loss to San Jose State, which was followed by a Las Vegas Bowl thrashing by USC. Suddenly, the Bulldogs, the darling of the ball, fell off the radar. They have never been back, and haven't been close. The Bulldogs bottomed out at 3-9 last fall, and the heat is squarely on. The schedule is brutal. It may not be long before DeRuyter is swimming in the Dead Pool.

Ron Caragher, San Jose State
Caragher is a solid football coach working in a coaching wasteland. San Jose State has never seen consistent success during my lifetime, and Caragher certainly has not brought it either. THe only time this program has ever seen consistency was when they were consistently losing. Caragher may be in over his head, He is coming off a 6-7 season, and is entering year four with a record of 15-22 at the school. The Spartans must show some progress this fall.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon
I know this sounds crazy, but the Ducks are slipping badly. Every season they are now dependent on FCS graduate transfer QBs, because it seems as if they have forgotten how to recruit any other way at the position. Vernon Adams was decent last season, but injuries prevented him from ever becoming the full threat that he had been at Eastern Washington. Now they bring in Dakota Prukop from Montana State, who is really good, but not as good as Adams was. Is this going to work? The Ducks won nine games last season, but they were so close to being much worse, and blew a 31-0 lead to TCU at halftime in the Alamo Bowl. They already lost to Washington State, who by the way, has a better QB than they have. Grumbling has begun in Eugene, and the natives are getting restless.

Mike McIntyre, Colorado
I don't think it is overly fair that MacIntyre is in this position, but he is. MacIntyre is one of the good guys in the coaching ranks, and he took over an abysmal situation in Boulder. He has a 10-27 record and is entering his fourth year, but you can see the Buffaloes getting better. They won four games last season, but were so close to winning six or seven games. If they can flip some of those close losses, MacIntyre should get more time.

Butch Jones, Tennessee
ONe can hear Elvis singing "It's Now or Never" when talking about the Vols in 2016. The East Division of the SEC is primed to belong to them this fall, but for whatever reason, there seems to be a roadblock to Tennessee being the team they should be. Jones has recruited the devil out of the high school ranks, but he hasn't been able to bring them all together into one cohesive unit yet. This is the year. If not now, then when? He is just 21-17 entering year four.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky
I've been pulling for Stoops to get this going at Kentucky, but it has not happened yet. Nobody is putting more pressure on Stoops than Stoops. He may even fire himself if this thing doesn't turn a corner this fall. He is entering his fourth year with a record of 12-24, and he knows that this isn't good enough in the SEC to stay employed. Something has to give.

Will Muschamp, South Carolina
You know I hate to put first year coaches on the seat before they have hit the field, but who in the world doesn't think that this hire was the worst in FBS football? Muschamp was a disaster at Florida on the field, with the media, and with the fan base. What's different two short years later that he is suddenly head coaching material again in the SEC? It could be that nobody else seemingly wanted this job, but somebody other than Muschamp somewhere must have thought it was an OK gig, right? Stay tuned for the mess that is likely to come.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Oh what a mess this program has become. There have been so many issues off the field with Freeze and his staff committing alleged violations up the kazoo, but somehow it all makes sense. How did Ole Miss, a middling, at best, program in the SEC get so good so fast? The answer to that question is almost never good. Freeze has a ton to answer for, and has to avoid distractions on the field to maintain his winning ways, and hope that the NCAA doesn't hammer his program.

Les Miles, LSU
What do Miles and Turkish President Erdogan have in common? They both narrowly survived a coup in the last 12 months. Miles was nearly out the door until the Louisiana Governor stepped in and stopped the madness. Miles may not be so fortunate this season, but the matter may be more about whether or not Miles wants to stay where he isn't much wanted.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Bielema has a huge mouth. He likes to talk trash whenever he can, but here is the problem. His numbers don't allow him the luxury of talking so much trash. He is entering his fourth season in Fayetteville, and his record is just 18-20. Arkansas last won more than 10 games five years ago, before Bielema got there. It's time to turn up the throttle and make a move.

Guz Malzahn, Auburn
I almost skipped the Hot Seat with Malzahn and sent him straight to the Dead Pool, but I decided to remain conservative on his status. Since competing for a national title, Malzahn is just 15-11. Nobody is excited about that on the Plains. Nobody is excited about the Birmingham Bowl either, which is where Auburn ended up last fall. Gene Chizik wasn't given any breaks, and he won a title.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
This off season was an absolute train wreck for Sumlin and the Aggies. Any QB of any caliber transferred out due to a culture at A&M that is out of whack, according to the kids that left. Sumlin then fored Jake Spavital as OC, only to bring in Noel Mazzone and his much coat tailing son Taylor to run the offense. UCLA didn't even try to stop Mazzone from leaving, and the fan base celebrated his departure. Mazzone then ignored prized recruit of the 2017 class Tate Martell and his Father on a recruiting trip, and another assistant publicly chided a recruit when he decomitted in a seriously high school way. That assistant was sanctioned. Trevor Knight, formerly of Oklahoma has transferred in, and the entire load is on his shoulders. If he cannot handle it, Sumlin could be shown the door. He would certainly deserve it.

Trent Miles, Georgia State
Miles did get GSU to a bowl last fall after an abysmal start in FBS football. This much is true. The Panthers still have not, however, turned a winning record during the Miles years, finishing 6-7 last year. Projections have them in the bottom half of the Sun Belt once again, and that would be a bad turn. If the Panthers exceed those projections, Miles will fall of this list. If not...

Paul Petrino, Idaho
Petrino is in one of the worst spots in America this season. Idaho is leaving FBS football to return to the Big Sky Conference in 2017 after getting evicted from the Sun Belt, along with New Mexico State. Will Petrino stick around? Who knows. Will he be gone before then? Again...who knows.

Doug Martin, New Mexico State
The national media is finally with me on this. Martin has not been a success here. Las Cruces has always been a coaching graveyard, and it continues to be so. NMSU has never been a winner in my lifetime, and I don't know if they can be. This isn't all his fault, and he may have been the only person who wanted the job a the time. FInding a landing spot after getting kicked out of the Sun Belt will be paramount to find out about the future of both Martin and this program.

Jeff Monken, Army
Monken is falling into the mold of his predecessors at West Point. He came in with the hyoe that he would be the guy to turn this program around. So far he hasn't. He enters his third season at 6-18. If Rich Ellerson got beaten up, Monken thus far deserves no better fate.

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