Applauding Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) and Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati) too much for getting off the list proves difficult since they had a bye and de facto bye (Temple), respectively, to do so. Still, both coaches escaped the Hot Seat Top 10 list for at least one week. Ferentz seems far more likely to return to the list than Tuberville, who at least is in Year 1 at Cincinnati and has a proven track record of being able to raise revenue.
The big mover on the list this week is Virginia coach Mike London, whose decision to settle for a mid-distance field goal in the closing seconds legitimately cost the Cavaliers the game. It might well come at an even higher price. Virginia now faces an uphill battle to reach a bowl game. Failing to do so could cost London his job.
Texas coach Mack Brown showed some life this week as well, with the Longhorns spanking Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry game. All that glimmered certainly wasn’t gold for Bob Stoops’ team, which sparsely showed any spark or life against a porous defense. Brown’s win allows him to escape the No. 1 spot, falling all the way to No. 3.
The two coaches coming onto the list are Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Temple’s Matt Rhule. Both seem safe for now, but need to win down the stretch to ensure their returns.
Here is your Week 7 BCS Conference Coaches Hot Seat Top 10:
(Already fired: Lane Kiffin, USC (9/29), Paul Pasqualoni, Uconn (9/30).)
1. Mike London, Virginia (Last Week: 3); Lost at Maryland, 27-26
Shame on you, Mike London, for allowing a pivotal game in your team’s season – and probably in your career – to come down to a long field-goal attempt. Virginia, needing a score to win at Maryland on Saturday, drove the ball down the field rapidly against the Terrapins on the final possession. Rather than trying to continue the march down the field, London laid up inside the 30-yard line. He instead decided to run clock – even with Maryland using its timeouts to preserve time – before settling for a mid-distance game-winning field goal try in the closing seconds. Only K Alex Vozenilek’s 42-yard attempt sailed wide to the right, enabling Maryland to hold on for the win and sending Virginia (2-4, 0-2) to a crushing defeat. These games are far too important for London’s career for him to be allowing a kicker to hold his fate. It was totally inexcusable for London to have stopped trying to move the ball down the field and it cost the Cavaliers the game – and possibly a bowl appearance. If Saturday turns out to be one of the final straws for London, that’s something he must live with. Next up: Duke.
2. Charlie Weis, Kansas (Last Week: 2); Lost at TCU, 27-17
All season, the official stance here has been that Weis doesn’t have to do much to secure a third year in Lawrence. Kansas fired its last coach – Turner Gill – after just two seasons and almost certainly won’t want to do so again. However, the Jayhawks (2-3, 0-2) seemingly must at least win one Big 12 game in order for Weis to stick around. RB James Sims is in his final season and Kansas doesn’t exactly have a plethora of offensive talent. Weis, the alleged offensive genius, has seen his offense score exactly one touchdown in each of its first two conference games (the Jayhawks also scored on a pick-six yesterday). Weis has at least seven more chances to put his team in the win-column. Next up: Oklahoma.
3. Mack Brown, Texas (Last Week: 1); Beat Oklahoma, 36-20
Nobody ever accuses Brown of being unintelligent. As the long-time Longhorns coach, he knows nothing rallies and energizes the fan base like the Oklahoma game. Texas fans might still be tired of the Mack Brown era. They might still want to see the coach find the ol’ dusty trail at season’s end. But Saturday’s 36-20 win in the Red River Rivalry certainly gives Brown a reasonable chance of winning back the most important members of the Texas fan base – those who make the decisions. Brown’s chances of returning next season improved dramatically by beating Oklahoma – especially if AD DeLoss Dodds’ successor isn’t named by at least mid-November. Texas remains a flawed team and one with several challenges remaining on its Big 12 slate – namely Baylor and Oklahoma State. Still, this is not a scary league. The Longhorns have always had the talent to win a Big 12 title this season. Now they’re starting to show the heart. Brown isn’t safe. His seat isn’t quite as hot today as it was a week ago, either. Next up: Bye week.
4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech (Last Week: 9); Lost at BYU, 38-20
It’s becoming far too familiar a story in Atlanta. The last few seasons began with Johnson thinking his team’s strategies and personnel improved just enough to put the Yellow Jackets over the top. Instead, as has been the case recently, they get swatted back toward the middle of a mediocre division. Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2) had aspirations of returning to the ACC Championship Game. Those are all but dead now, courtesy of losses to Miami and Virginia Tech. The X-factor might be new AD Mike Bobinski. What is his patience level for Johnson, whom he did not hire, and how important is it for Bobinski to hire his own guy? Next up: Syracuse.
5. June Jones, SMU (Last Week: 4); Bye week
Nothing new to report here, since Jones and SMU had their bye week. Here’s what we said last week: Despite QB Garrett Gilbert’s 7-TD performance, SMU fell to Rutgers on Saturday, 55-52 in three overtimes. The reason Jones ranks this high on the list isn’t because the Mustangs (1-4, 0-1) lost respectably to one of the better teams in the AAC. It’s because nobody seems to care about SMU football. The program paid Jones the money it did to make the Mustangs matter around Dallas again. Take one look at the shots of a largely empty Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Saturday and it’s plain to see interest simply isn’t there. Part of that can be blamed on Jones’ shortcomings in Conference-USA. SMU never lived up to potential in that league before moving up to what remains of the Big East. Attendance can read 19,436 all it wants. The television images told a different, more Miami Marlins story. That can’t continue to be for Jones at his current salary. Next up: at Memphis.
6. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest (Last Week: 5); Bye week
Nothing new to report here, either. Last week, we said… A home win over North Carolina State gives Grobe some hope to extend his stay in Winston-Salem. He still needs to find ways to win a few more games and likely reach a bowl game. The Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-2) have lost seven games or more in each of their last four seasons and having already lost to Boston College doesn’t help their odds ending that streak in 2013. At least QB Tanner Price performed more in line with expectations on Saturday, throwing for 268 yards and 3 TDs with just one INT. Price also rushed for a team-best 82 yards – that the other rushers combined for 32 yards further accentuates the point that Wake Forest’s run game leaves much to be desired – and another score. Grobe has been the most successful coach in Wake Forest history. That doesn’t say much. How much the program wants to win will determine the length of Grobe’s leash. Next up: Maryland.
7. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (Last Week: 7); Bye week
Holgorsen and the Mountaineers had a week off to figure out what ails the program. There are plenty of issues. When the defense has played well, the offense has faltered and vice versa. The Big 12 certainly doesn’t look like a collection of world-beaters. West Virginia (3-3, 1-2) already dropped one of the alleged elite in the conference in Morgantown when the Mountaineers toppled Oklahoma State. Now undefeated Texas Tech comes calling. Can Holgorsen’s team engineer a similar fate for the Red Raiders? Next up: Texas Tech.
8. Bo Pelini, Nebraska (Last Week: 4); Won at Purdue, 44-7
Pelini and his coaching staff likely can’t wait to get QB Taylor Martinez back after Tommy Armstrong threw 3 INTs. Still, the Cornhuskers totally dominated Purdue. Nebraska (5-1, 2-0) even watched its maligned defense suffocate the Boilermakers, holding them to 216 total yards of offense. By now, most college football fans know of Pelini’s sins. Winning heals all and the pressure cranked up at Pelini at the perfect time – when his team waded into a stretch of games against pathetic Big Ten opponents. As long as Pelini continues to win, he will see his name fall down this list. However, the pressure will be on until season’s end just to see what the administration does with time to evaluate the situation. Next up: Bye week.
9. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State (Last Week: NR); Beat Bowling Green, 21-20
Any time a coach says in his post-game comments, “A win is a win,” it means his team didn’t perform well that night. Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2) had to survive a multiple-lateral final play to secure the win over Bowling Green. That’s obviously a bad sign for a Bulldogs team that now plays the rest of its games against SEC foes. Making matters worse for Mullen, State fans watched Auburn and Ole Miss gain new momentum under new coaches. For Mullen to be safe into next year, the Bulldogs likely need to make a bowl game. The good news for him is his team now has a bye week to prepare for a home game against Kentucky, hands-down the worst team in the SEC. Next up: Kentucky.
10. Matt Rhule, Temple (Last Week: NR); Lost at Cincinnati, 38-20
How does a coach make this list in Year 1 at a historically dreadful program? Well, said coach essentially must lose to everyone in his path and look horribly in over his head in the process. (See: Johnson, Ellis.) The coach should take inexplicable losses (to, say, Fordham and Idaho). Rhule has done both of those things. The Owls are just two years removed from a bowl appearance and at least won four games last year. Games against Army, UConn and Memphis will determine whether Temple (0-6, 0-3) manages a single win in 2013. Next up: Army.
Feeling heat: Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati), Tim Beckman (Illinois), Mark Richt (Georgia), Darrell Hazell (Purdue), Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Willie Taggart (South Florida), Dave Doeren (North Carolina State), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Kevin Wilson (Indiana).
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