Week 5 brought with it the first firing – Lane Kiffin at USC. Kiffin didn’t even make it back to campus before AD Pat Haden terminated the coach’s contract. Remember, Haden recorded a video before Pac-12 Media Days saying that Kiffin was not on the hot seat and that he backed his coach “100 percent.” It took all of five games – two of which were Pac-12 losses – for Haden to do a 180. The Trojans have been a trainwreck, to be sure. Their three wins have come against two weak non-conference opponents and a decent Utah State program. League play has seen USC lose at home to Washington State and, this week, 62-41 at Arizona State.
That, in Haden’s estimation, was simply too much. Haden reportedly made the decision during the third quarter while Arizona State was in the midst of a 28-point run. Kiffin was reportedly pulled off the team bus outside LAX to meet with Haden, where he was fired.
While Kiffin was the first to lose his job, he most likely won’t be the last from a BCS conference this season.
Who could be next?
Here goes the Week 5 Hot Seat Top 10.
1. Lane Kiffin, USC (Last Week: 4); Lost at Arizona State, 62-41
Kiffin takes the head of the table one last time. You know – for old time’s sake. It seems like just last year that USC opened the season as the No. 1 team. It was last year? Oh. Well that explains how Kiffin didn’t even survive his fourth season. Just when the Trojans seemed like they were ready to turn a corner after the 2011 season, things fell apart. USC has lost seven of its last 11 games, including to four unranked teams. USC (3-2, 0-2) lost its first two conference games for the first time since 2001. Pete Carroll was in his second season at the time, just one year away from turning the program into the Pac-12 dynasty. Kiffin inherited said dynasty, albeit on the downslide, and crash-landed it onto Lost Island. Kiffin had to fire both coordinators last year, including his famous defensive coordinator father Monte Kiffin (who technically “resigned.”) It didn’t look good when the season starts. Still, making the move five games in came as a bit of a surprise. Next up: For Kiffin, who knows? He always seems to fail upward, so… Dallas Cowboys?
2. Paul Pasqualoni, UConn (Last Week: 2); Lost at Buffalo, 41-12
This week’s loss at Buffalo leaves little to be decided. Pasqualoni, as at least one local columnist pointed out in the aftermath of the debacle, must go. A week after UConn (0-4) had such a spirited effort against Michigan, pushing the Wolverines to the limit, the Huskies mailed in a woeful performance at Buffalo. Pasqualoni, unlike Kiffin, is still employed today. He now has a bye week to figure things out before hosting winless and equally inept South Florida. At this point, it’s virtually impossible to envision a scenario in which Pasqualoni keeps his position into 2014. Next up: Bye week.
3. Mack Brown, Texas (Last Week: 1); Bye week
Let’s see how Brown and his coaching staff utilized their bye week. Not much new to add, so here’s part of last week’s write-up: Brown still can save his job, but needs to have a huge Big 12 season. He might need to go 8-1 in conference play. Games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU will tell the story of how far the Longhorns program has fallen in a league that Texas fans believe should never be more than a two-team race. Split those games and Mack has issues. Lose three or more and he is likely toast. Nice win over Kansas State, which has given Brown fits over the years, but it will take significantly more to save his job. Now Brown has 12 days to come up with more answers before the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0) shoot to go 2-0 in Big 12 play in a road game at Iowa State. Next up: at Iowa State.
4. Bo Pelini, Nebraska (Last Week: 3); Bye week
The bye week couldn’t have come at a much better time. Neither could the coming stretch of conference games against Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota. Look, Pelini has a ton of fences to mend. The bright side is he seems to realize that and is making efforts to smooth things over. Apologizing won’t be enough. Nebraska’s schedule doesn’t feature many games that should result in losses. There’s no reason for the Cornhuskers (3-1) not to expect at least nine wins again. If they do, Pelini has a real chance to hang around. If they win more, he will be forgiven, though perhaps not embraced. Next up: Illinois.
5. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest (Last Week: 5); Lost at Clemson, 56-7
The express train to 0-8 in the ACC hit its most recent stop in Clemson, where the Tigers shellacked Wake Forest. At least a home game at Duke remains. The Demon Deacons aren’t just losing to good (and worse) teams, they’re getting dismantled. Clemson jumped out to a 21-0 lead before Wake got on the board. Then the Tigers finished by scoring the final 35 points. Wake managed just 222 yards of total offense – while allowing 573 – and converted just 2 of 14 third downs. Go ahead. Find the positive. Next up: North Carolina State.
6. Charlie Weis, Kansas (Last Week: 6); Bye week
With Kansas enjoying a bye week this week, there isn’t much new to say. Here’s last week’s write-up: Kansas trailed the Bulldogs for much of the game, but found a way to come back for the win. It marked the first time since Weis took over the program – presumably to give the Jayhawks a decided schematic advantage – beat an FBS program. Next up for Weis: Beat a Big 12 team. Kansas came close a couple times last year in losses to Texas and at Texas Tech. We’ve said this all season: Weis seems likely to receive a benefit of the doubt because he replaced Turner Gill, who the program fired after two dismal seasons. However, if Kansas’ first two seasons under Weis are as bad or worse, the Jayhawks might be forced to cut bait. Next up: Texas Tech.
7. June Jones, SMU (Last Week: 7); Lost at TCU, 48-17
Before SMU moved into the Big East American Athletic Conference, it made Jones the highest-paid coach in Conference-USA. He rewarded the program not by lifting it to the heights he reached at Hawaii, but rather to as many as (count ’em) eight wins and zero conference titles. Jones proved again this year that he will happily take on the big boys in the Big 12. Beating them, though, prove problematic as it did this week against TCU. SMU still wants to bring back the 80s, which, of course, brings back memories of winning big (among other flashbacks). Jones is running out of time to prove he’s the right man for the job. Next up: Rutgers.
8. Kevin Wilson, Indiana (Last Week: 8); Bye week
It’s officially put-up or shutup time for Wilson, in his third season at Indiana. The Hoosiers went 2-2 in the non-conference slate. The loss to Missouri is somewhat forgivable – not so much with the Navy loss. Now begins conference play with a home game against Penn State. Indiana (2-2) likely needs to perform at least serviceably in Big Ten action to keep Wilson’s job. Does it need to reach a bowl game? Would 5-7 suffice? We might very well find out in the coming months. Next up: Penn State.
9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri (Last Week: 10); Beat Arkansas State, 41-19
It took well into the third quarter, but Missouri (4-0) finally turned it on to get past Arkansas State on Saturday. As we have said all season, the Tigers needed to prove something outside a soft non-conference slate. A win at Vanderbilt could alleviate virtually all of the pressure with games against Tennessee and Kentucky still to come. Missouri needs to return to the postseason this year, which should be easy if the defense continues to produce takeaways and QB James Franklin cruises along playing at a high level. Next up: at Vanderbilt.
10. Mike London, Virginia (Last Week: NR); Lost at Pittsburgh, 14-3
London enters the countdown as a result of West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen scoring a strong win to relieve some of the pressure. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz also kept himself off the list with a blowout win at Minnesota. How much trouble London is really in remains to be seen, though the Cavaliers underachieved last year. Now in Year 4, London might need to get Virginia (2-2, 0-1) back to a bowl game in order to prove the program is headed in the right direction. It doesn’t help that the team is just 8-17 in ACC play so far under London. The Cavs wrap up their non-conference slate this week. Assuming they win, London should be safe with three conference wins. Next up: Ball State.
Feeling heat: Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Tim Beckman (Illinois), Willie Taggart (South Florida), Tony Levine (Houston), Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), Matt Rhule (Temple), Paul Chryst (Pittsburgh), Scott Shafer (Syracuse), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Darrell Hazell (Purdue).
Topics: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Kansas Jayhawks, Missouri Tigers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, PAC-12, SEC, Smu Mustangs, Texas Longhorns, Uconn Huskies, USC Trojans, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, West Virginia Mountaineers