Convincing wins allowed Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and Temple coach Matt Rhule to slide off the countdown for at least a week. The Yellow Jackets’ 56-0 win over Syracuse doesn’t erase letdowns from earlier in the season, but it does prove that Johnson’s team still has fight in it. Rhule desperately needed to find a win in his first season. Fortunately for him, the Owls scheduled Army in a non-conference game. The win doesn’t make Rhule Knute Rockne. It does, however, buy him a little time to start turning things around.
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe saw his chances improve the most this weekend. The Demon Deacons throttled Maryland. Combine the mild upset with the fact that expectations in Winston-Salem are never too high and Grobe might well have effectively saved his job this week.
There are a few hard-chargers on this week’s list. Most notably, Georgia coach Mark Richt makes the list. Admittedly, the Bulldogs coach finds himself on this list almost exclusively because of the vocal, absurd part of the fan base. It can’t really be labeled a “vocal minority” at this point because this has been going on for far too long and far too loudly to make that claim.
A couple ACC coaches find themselves in hot water this week after disappointing games. Maryland’s Randy Edsall again finds his team ravaged by injuries. By Year 3, though, that excuse starts getting old. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora opened the year with high hopes. However, his team let a potential upset slip between its fingers on Thursday and now finds itself at just 1-5 this season.
Here is your Week 8 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: 1); Lost to Duke, 35-22
In case London wasn’t already in enough hot water, the Cavaliers lost big at home to Duke. Virginia (2-5, 0-3) opened the game up 22-0 then proceeded to allow the Blue Devils to score the next 35 points. Finding excuses or reasons to keep London around seems to grow more difficult by the week. A tough slate of games to wrap up the season seems to only further condemn the third-year Virginia coach. Next up: Georgia Tech.
2. Charlie Weis, Kansas (Last Week: 2); Lost to Oklahoma, 34-19
Once again, Kansas (2-4, 0-3) got out to a great start before watching its opponent run away for a comfortable win. This time, Oklahoma staked the Jayhawks to a 13-0 lead before responding with a 34-6 run to close. Weis can likely save his job with as little as one more win, but there are still disturbing signs – most notably the 201 yards of total offense, only 16 coming in the passing game, this week. The team’s biggest offensive weapon, RB James Sims, is gone after this season. Kansas’ three easiest conference games come the final three weeks of the season. That at least gives Weis hope he can save his job. Next up: Baylor.
3. Mack Brown, Texas (Last Week: 3); Bye week
As much trouble as Brown appeared to be in a couple weeks ago, the victory over Oklahoma gives him a legitimate shot to save his job. Of course, the Longhorns (4-2, 3-0) must continue to play as they did two weeks ago rather than how they played at Iowa State or in the two losses. Coming off the bye, Texas has a road game at TCU followed by a home game against Kansas and a trip to West Virginia. All three of those are definitely winnable games. Then the Longhorns would close the season with home games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and a road game at Baylor. Texas would love to be 7-2 when entering that stretch. Doing so would allow Brown a fighting chance. Next up: at TCU.
4. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (Last Week: 7); Lost to Texas Tech, 37-27
The biggest problem with Holgorsen’s disastrous third season is that he has nobody to blame. Holgorsen was the head-coach-in-waiting at West Virginia before replacing Bill Stewart. That the cupboards are apparently bare can be pinned on no one but Holgorsen. Nobody doubts Holgorsen’s credentials. He is supposed to be able to do what Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has pulled off – win by scoring points regardless of circumstance or personnel. Kingsbury, whose team is 7-0, is going with QB3 Davis Webb, a true freshman, after his other true freshman quarterback suffered a leg injury. Why can’t Holgorsen do the same with three years of his own hand-picked talent? West Virginia’s soft non-conference schedule makes it possible for the Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3) to make a bowl game at 6-6. Will that be enough to keep Holgorsen around? Next up: at Kansas State.
5. Randy Edsall, Maryland (Last Week: NR); Lost at Wake Forest, 34-10
Look, Edsall has taken on more injuries at Maryland than most coaches face in their worst nightmares. No program can ever suffer losses like WRs Stefon Diggs and Deon Long and be just fine. But coaches can have teams in position to better absorb such a hit. This is Year 3 for Edsall, meaning that excuses start to wear on the fan base. Maryland (5-2, 1-2) looked like it was on pace to make noise this season, but got derailed at Florida State. If not for Virginia’s decision to play for a 42-yard field goal last week, the Terps could be 0-3 in the ACC. Maryland has been putrid on the road since Edsall took over. That will lead administrators to question whether or not he’s the man to lead the program into the Big Ten. Next up: Clemson.
6. Larry Fedora, North Carolina (Last Week: NR); Lost to Miami, 27-23
It’s not that – or how – the Tar Heels lost to Miami on Thursday night that has Fedora in trouble. It’s the fact that North Carolina (1-5, 0-3) came into this year with ambition and has instead stumbled out of the gates to a terrible start. Fedora’s team is now 0-3 in ACC play and has virtually no chance of winning the division having lost to the best three divisional opponents. The low point of this season came in a huge loss to East Carolina in which the Pirates scored 55 points. The second half of the schedule is far easier and Fedora should be able to do enough to save his job. Next up: Boston College.
7. June Jones, SMU (Last Week: 5); Won at Memphis, 34-29
At least Jones has proven he can compete in the American Athletic Conference. If that’s where the SMU administration has set its sights – and it finds that $2 million per season is a decent value for it – then Jones might very well be safe. However, the Mustangs (2-4, 1-1) still have tougher games remaining on their schedule and have underachieved over the last several seasons. An easy game against Temple should give Jones more breathing room next week. Next up: Temple.
8. Bo Pelini, Nebraska (Last Week: 8); Bye week
Between Michigan looking bad for much of the season and Northwestern taking a bad home loss to Minnesota, Nebraska’s hopes for a Big Ten divisional title are improving. Every week that the Cornhuskers don’t lose seemingly give Pelini a greater chance to survive his unfortunate week. It seems unreasonable to survive a recording leak in which the coach literally says, “(Expletive) you, fans,” and saying Nebraska “doesn’t need” legendary Cornhuskers QB Tommie Frazier. Still, a division title and another appearance in the Big Ten Championship could do wonders for Pelini. Next up: at Minnesota.
9. Mark Richt, Georgia (Last Week: NR); Lost at Vanderbilt, 31-27
Even QB Aaron Murray couldn’t slow the momentum working against Richt and Georgia this week. The senior quarterback threw for just 114 yards while trying to find someone – anyone – to whom he can throw with all the injuries. Bulldogs fans have grown tired of Richt falling short of expectations. This began as a year in which Georgia (4-3, 3-2) had legitimate national championship aspirations. Those disappeared with all the injuries. Fans don’t want to hear those excuses. They want to see the ’Dawgs win. And they don’t want to see losses to Vanderbilt. Georgia led 27-14 in the fourth quarter before the Commodores bounced back to score the game’s final 17 points. Meanwhile, offensive-minded Richt saw his team with a three-and-out, fumble lost and interception – with zero first downs – in the decisive period. At some point, RB Todd Gurley will return to give the Bulldogs a little more bite and they could very well run the table to finish 9-3. Next up: Bye week.
10. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State (Last Week: 9); Bye week
At the halfway point, Mullen’s Bulldogs need to find three more wins to gain bowl eligibility. Games against Kentucky and Arkansas could very well provide two of the three. State (3-3, 0-2) also has opportunities to knock off ranked opponents South Carolina, Texas A&M and LSU before playing rival Ole Miss to close the season. Mullen might not have to have a bowl appearance to save his job. He would be well-advised not to find out. Next up: Kentucky.
Feeling heat: Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), Matt Rhule (Temple), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Paul Rhoads (Iowa State), Tim Beckman (Illinois), Darrell Hazell (Purdue), Willie Taggart (South Florida), Dave Doeren (North Carolina State), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati), Kevin Wilson (Indiana).
Topics: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Georgia Bulldogs, Kansas Jayhawks, Maryland Terrapins, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Nebraska Cornhuskers, North Carolina Tar Heels, PAC-12, SEC, Smu Mustangs, Texas Longhorns, Virginia Cavaliers, West Virginia Mountaineers