College Football Predictions: Coaches on the Hot Seat
by Trevor Whenham - 12/1/2010
The college football regular season is drawing to an end, and already we are seeing several coaches getting fired. That’s inevitable, and it’s also inevitable that there will be more to come - and even more drama created as the open jobs are filled and more openings are created in turn. In other words, the carousel is in full swing.
There are some moves that seem like foregone conclusions, and others that are more uncertain. Here are the five most interesting potential changes this year. It’s highly unlikely that all five guys will get the boot, but all of them will be watched closely. None of them should feel particularly safe:
Rich Rodriguez, Michigan - Rodriguez has created a serious conundrum for the fans and Michigan’s administration. On one hand the offense was largely impressive this year, and will only get better next year as Denard Robinson and the rest of the young players age by a year. He was hired because of his offensive prowess, and on that front he has delivered.
The problem, obviously, comes on defense. To say that Michigan’s defense is terrible would be an insult to defenses that are just terrible. The schemes are ridiculous, the players are rarely in position, and play calling seems to be at random.
In most situations Rodriguez would easily be able to save his job by totally overhauling his defensive staff, and few fans of the program would likely be opposed to that scenario.
The problem, though, is that former Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh has worked miracles at Stanford. With Cardinal QB Andrew Luck likely destined to be the top pick in the NFL Draft, the time is right for Harbaugh to move on. He’s obviously a talented coach, and Michigan knows that if they don’t get him now -- in what would be a wildly popular move with fans -- then they may never get the chance to have him again. It’s going to be very interesting to watch.
I think Rich Rod will end up staying, but I won’t be surprised to be wrong.
Dave Wannstedt, Pitt - Wannstedt hasn’t been terrible at Pitt. It’s just that he hasn’t even come close to delivering on the expectations the former NFL standout brought to the program. It especially hurts considering that his struggles have come in the incredibly lousy Big East.
Wannstedt has had talent - Dion Lewis is a good as it gets - but his teams have never been close to dominant, and they always seem to wilt at the end of the season. With TCU now joining the Big East after next year the window just got smaller for Pitt, and fans have clearly grown tired of waiting for Wannstedt to get through it.
Wannstedt could easily survive because he’s a likable guy that recruits fairly well and runs a clean program, but I’d get rid of him.
Mike Locksley, New Mexico - I can’t believe that Locksley hasn’t been fired yet. I’m even more incredulous of the reports that Locksley might stick around for another year.
The only thing saving the second year coach of the Lobos is that he is under contract until 2014 and the $1.4 million buyout is unpalatable to the school. Of course, the reason why that buyout is so unattractive is because ticket sales have gone in the tank thanks to Locksley’s incredible ineptitude.
The coach has run an already struggling program completely into the ground - he has won just twice in two seasons, and was lucky to get those wins. The recruiting is brutal, the coaching is horrific, and the fans are understandably frustrated.
The biggest mystery here is why Locksley got the job in the first place - the guy has twice worked under Ron Zook, so it’s not like he was mentored by excellence. The longer Locksley stays in Albuquerque, the deeper the hole that the team is in gets.
Butch Davis, North Carolina - Davis runs a ridiculously dirty program that is going to get slapped hard by the NCAA. Either he was fully aware of what was going on, or he is dangerously incompetent. I know which one of those I bet on, but either way it doesn’t matter - better coaches have been fired for much less.
Rick Neuheisel, UCLA - Neuheisel really, really needs to go. He was heavily hyped coming into this job three years ago, but he has to beat USC next week to move to a pathetic 16-21 in his three years with the Bruins.
He was not hired to fail to make a bowl game in his third year. His most noteworthy win at the time this year was beating then-No. 7Texas in Austin, but the value of that win obviously disappeared as Texas struggled. They lost to the two best teams in the conference - Oregon and Stanford - by a combined 95-13. In short, they are terrible - and it all comes back to Neuheisel.
Hiring him was a tempting mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. They should reverse that decision before it’s too late.
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