Approximately one year ago today marked one of the highest bloodshed days in the college ranks. Coaches all over the country went from hot seat to unemployed.
This year is watching a far quieter Sunday unfold.
None of the hot-seat coaches seem likely to be fired. Many have received postseason votes of confidence that serve no political purpose if the true intent is to relieve said coaches of their duties. A vote of confidence during the season can serve many purposes – it can help keep recruiting efforts in place and give the team sanctuary from media distractions. To offer one now signifies the administration’s decision to stick with the current coach.
What does all that mean for this list? It means it is largely a launching point for the 2014 BCS Coaches Hot Seat Top 10 list – with notable exceptions. West Virginia could (though it likely will not) still make a move on Dana Holgorsen and SMU could ultimately decide to part ways with June Jones. The Jones situation is the only one really worth monitoring. SMU officials have given no indications Jones is in trouble, but common sense would dictate that he can’t be especially comfortable – hence his appearance on this list.
One topic that will be discussed here is the status of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. Nebraska AD Shawn Eichorst came out with a not-completely-clear vote of confidence that he would not evaluate Pelini until after the entire season had concluded. That gives some room for him to fire the sixth-year coach. However, it is rare that coaches are fired after their bowl games – win or lose – meaning Pelini will likely be back for his seventh year unless he chooses to leave.
If Pelini gets through bowl season and is retained, he will plummet on this list. His seat could heat up again to start the 2014 season, but he would have survived some turbulent times and seemingly received a new lease on his current gig.
Here is your Week 14 BCS Conference Coaches Hot Seat Top 10:
(Already fired: Lane Kiffin, USC (9/29), Paul Pasqualoni, UConn (9/30).)
1. Will Muschamp, Florida (Last Week: 1); Lost to Florida State, 37-7
Florida AD Jeremy Foley made it crystal clear three weeks ago that Muschamp would return as head coach in 2014. His statement had to be taken with a grain of salt, however, after the Gators’ humiliating loss to Georgia Southern. To the surprise of exactly nobody, Florida (4-8, 3-5) proved no match for No. 2 Florida State this weekend. As a result, the Gators faithful find themselves completely restless in an aftermath that will apparently not include the dismissal of Muschamp. OC Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis became the sacrificial lambs, getting fired on Sunday. They might be the only carnage in the aftermath of an injury-plagued, woeful 2013. However, Muschamp will need an immediate turnaround to hold onto his job going forward. Next up: End of season.
2. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (Last Week: 5); Lost to Iowa State, 52-44 (3OT)
Just two weeks ago, Holgorsen needed wins over Big 12 cellar dwellers Kansas and Iowa State to secure a bowl berth. Sure, a 6-6 record didn’t sound at all like something to brag about, but expectations were low anyway. Instead, Holgorsen’s team lost both games. The third-year coach has had time to get players into his system and will run out of excuses next year. The Mountaineers (4-8, 2-7) scored the upset of the Big 12 season when they took down Oklahoma State. It proves to be the only highlight of their season – and an inexplicable one at that. Expect significant changes – including a potential infusion of transfers – for Holgorsen’s last-ditch effort to save his job in 2014. Next up: End of season.
3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska (Last Week: 2); Lost to Iowa, 38-17
Iowa completely dismantled Nebraska (8-4, 5-3) in the regular-season finale, leading to further speculation about Pelini’s immediate future. As written at the top, AD Shawn Eichorst’s defense of his coach seemingly stymies such conversation. But Eichorst left a loophole unlikely to be utilized – yet worth discussing. Saying he wouldn’t evaluate Pelini until season’s end means the door is still open for Nebraska to hand the sixth-year coach the pink slip. Of course, that’s not common practice in college football. Programs typically fire coaches before the bowl season to allow some recruiting momentum. It seems unlikely that Pelini will get fired – even after a sideline temper tantrum that nearly resulted in Pelini hitting a referee with his hat and a defiant postgame press conference. If Eichorst doesn’t pull the trigger – again, a scenario that seems unlikely – it would likely signal a far safer place for Pelini, who would have weathered a substantial storm. Pelini might need a stronger year in 2014, but he has talent to have it, which is more than others on this list can say. As long as Pelini survives bowl season, look for him to drop significantly on this list. Next up: Bowl Game TBD.
4. Mike London, Virginia (Last Week: 4); Lost to Virginia Tech, 16-6
Hey, at least London’s team didn’t get embarrassed by the rival Hokies. Virginia (2-10, 0-8) finished with the most losses since 1981. Still, AD Craig Littlepage remained adamant all year that London will return for the 2014 season. Part of the reason might be a hefty buyout. On a positive note, London has done a good job on the recruiting trail. At some point, recruiting success must translate to wins. London went 12-13 during his first two years in Charlottesville with one bowl appearance. He is 6-18 since. That means in four years he has made a bowl just once and won at least three ACC games in a season just once. Something has to change quickly at UVa. Next up: End of season.
5. Tim Beckman, Illinois (Last Week: 6); Lost at Northwestern, 37-34
The Illini came close to taking down in-state rival Northwestern but ultimately fell short in the season finale. As a result, Illinois (4-8, 1-7) finished the season with one win – over just lowly Purdue. Beckman seems to be in line to keep his job into next year, when QB Wes Lunt takes the reins. We opined here back at the start of the season that Lunt simply signing with the Illini might be enough for Beckman to keep his job. That, teamed with wins over Cincinnati and Purdue, seemingly bought him another year. It’s worth pointing out every time, Beckman inherited a bowl team with a returning sophomore quarterback. Beckman managed just one league win with that team and talented quarterback. This isn’t looking like a great hire through two seasons. Next up: End of season.
6. Charlie Weis, Kansas (Last Week: 7); Lost to Kansas State, 31-10
Remember back when Weis said before the season that QB Jake Heaps would make all the difference in his sputtering offense? Well, you be the judge. Heaps just completed a full season as QB1 at Kansas. He connected on just 49 percent of his passes for just 1,414 yards, 8 TDs and 10 INTs. The Jayhawks (3-9, 1-8) predictably struggled even with a very good RB in James Sims. At what point does it stop being the players and start being the system? Turner Gill got fired after two seasons. It seems highly unlikely the same fate will befall Weis. He can’t feel especially comfortable heading into the offseason, though. Next up: End of season.
7. June Jones, SMU (Last Week: NR); Lost at Houston, 34-0
Oh, so this is what the Mustangs will look like next year when QB Garrett Gilbert is no longer around. In that case, check please. SMU has simply shown no ability – or promise of potential ability – to win at even the lowest of BCS conferences. Sure, the Mustangs have conference wins this year – Memphis, Temple, UConn and South Florida with a near-miss against Rutgers – but those are hardly the American Athletic Conference equivalent of murderer’s row. SMU (5-6, 4-3) struggled to contend with a star senior quarterback. Now it’s just a matter of how much the SMU administration cares. Next up: UCF.
8. Brady Hoke, Michigan (Last Week: 10); Lost to Ohio State, 42-41
Anybody faulting Hoke for going for the 2-point conversion and the win Saturday against Ohio State should have their head examined. Michigan (7-5, 3-5) gave the hated Buckeyes all they could handle on offense. The defense didn’t put up much of a fight, but QB Devin Gardner turned in hands-down his best game of the season. His performance gave the Wolverines one final chance to derail Ohio State’s undefeated season. Hoke has enjoyed success in his early years at Michigan. He now must start bouncing back toward the top of the league, beginning next year – his fourth in Ann Arbor. Fans at Michigan aren’t known for patience. Hoke can’t survive another year like 2013. Next up: Bowl Game TBD.
9. Kevin Wilson, Indiana (Last Week: 3); Beat Purdue, 56-36
Wilson and the Hoosiers finished one win shy of a bowl appearance and that apparently is enough to buy him a fourth season in Bloomington. It doesn’t hurt that the Hoosiers (5-7, 3-5) dismantled rival Purdue to end the season. Indiana has improved the last two years under Wilson but must become more consistently competitive. There should be no excuse for missing a bowl game next season in what should be an improved Big Ten (it can’t get worse, right?). Wilson ranks lower than Hoke on the list this week because the threshold of what the Indiana coach has to do to satisfy the fan base there is considerably easier to accomplish than at Michigan. Next up: End of season.
10. Dave Doeren, North Carolina State (Last Week: NR); Lost to Maryland, 41-21
What a disastrous season for Doeren, albeit his first in Raleigh. The Wolfpack (3-9, 0-8) concluded its regular season with a 20-point home loss to Maryland – NC State AD Debbie Yow’s former program. Doeren’s team lost by more than one score in seven of its eight conference games, managing to fall by just eight points to North Carolina. NC State also lost to East Carolina by two touchdowns. Fortunately for Doeren, he was Yow’s hire. He will get more chances to correct course. How much remains to be seen. If ticket sales are disastrous this year, all bets are off for Doeren. Next up: End of season.
Feeling heat: Kyle Flood (Rutgers), Mack Brown (Texas), Darrell Hazell (Purdue), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Paul Rhoads (Iowa State), Matt Rhule (Temple), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Bret Bielema (Arkansas), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Randy Edsall (Maryland), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), Mark Richt (Georgia), Gary Patterson (TCU), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Willie Taggart (South Florida), Paul Chryst (Pittsburgh), Larry Fedora (North Carolina).
Topics: AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Florida Gators, Illinois Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Kansas Jayhawks, Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers, North Carolina State Wolfpack, PAC-12, SEC, Smu Mustangs, Virginia Cavaliers, West Virginia Mountaineers