coaches on the hot seat

The seat is definitely hot for some coaches in college football: they could be losing their respective and lucrative salary jobs soon. Actually and more fittingly, the seat is definitely hot for more than a few.  There are coaches the seat is extremely hot for and some in which their respective seat is just “pretty” hot. I’ll keep this list fairly short and to the point  as I count down the top ten coaches with the most pressure on them to lose their job following the 2017 season. These are the top ten coaches in college football with the most pressure on them to lose their job– this list with go east and stretch far out west while also going everywhere between.

10. Rich Rodriguez-Arizona

We will start this list in the state of Arizona with the athletic program that’s more well-known for its basketball than the football team. That coach is Rich Rodriguez at the University of Arizona has been marked by shakiness as he has gotten beaten simply by other regional programs that have more NFL influence, frankly, as he has accumulated a record of  36-29 after going 3-9 last season. “Rich Rod”, perhaps, is most well-known for his spread offense and he will look to find a quarterback who can do a lot of the things Pat White did for him all the way back in his West Virginia Volunteer and old Big East days. Matt Scott, who played for Rodriguez and had great success at Arizona a few years ago also did those same things: providing a threat in the running and passing game — while  regularly running– not solely having it as an option. Rodriguez opened his tenure respectably with  two 8-win seasons. He sputtered  to seven in 2015 and only three wins last year. Although last year’s hiccup does not help, he will be okay to stay living in Tuscon if he can find a quarterback to do the things Scott did, who got a brief shot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

9. Todd Graham-Arizona State

I am going to stay in the state of Arizona with the list with the coach mentioned next: Arizona State coach Todd Graham. Frankly, he would be much closer to one if he were the coach at this same school ten or twelve years ago: consistency has fallen and the expectations are not what they were. The job isn’t as great and the “hot seat” pressure isn’t as much—- heat that cannot match the Arizona sun. Graham is a good coach. But he has not made the job or program better. He has definitely helped further dampen the elite competitiveness. And those who are much more negative than myself, including their biggest donors, would  say he has worsened it as he has sputtered to a solid record of 39-26. In 2012, he coached his squad up to a 10-win season while following it up with another 10 win season in 2013. In 2015, Arizona State went 5-7. Going forward, if he does last this season, recruiting will be top priority. And Graham’s team will have to finish closer to the top of the league. He’ll stay if does.

8. Jim Mora-UCLA

UCLA Bruins coach Jim Mora comes in at eight. Because this is one of the best universities in the country and from time to time they have had one of the best football programs in the country, there is big pressure for him to have an improved team. Thankfully, for his own sake and for that of Bruins faithful, Mora has a big-time quarterback currently rated as the #2 QB prospect, according the two main ESPN analysts— who will help relieve at least a little pressure. Mora will likely rise to that pressure in victorious. The recruiting battle with crosstown rival USC is just heating up– like that of his job, while the”UNCLE MO” currently rides with SC as they are coming off a momentous Rose Bowl victory against Penn State. Mora is either the very best coach or one the best coaches on this list. Therefore, it’s a little different that he’s on it. His record and what’s shaped up in comparison to other programs  is partially the reason he’s on it. He’s either a very good or great coach. And the expectations he has created for himself through his coaching dating back to his playoff appearances with the Atlanta Falcons in the early and mid 2000’s contributes to his on this list. His record at UCLA is 31-17. Although UCLA has never been in the business of making excuses as an athletic department in any sport, which will still remain— the  4-8 record Mora and his Bruins accumulated last year came without Josh Rosen the very majority of it. And that record at an elite school and program is why he’s on the list.

7. Tom Herman-Texas

The next coach on my list will come as  surprise considering he has not yet coached at game at the University of Texas (UPDATE: Herman lost his first game to underdog Maryland). That coach is Tom Herman.  And the hot heat is constantly on to a certain degree both literally and for the team in Austin wearing burnt orange. It’s a top ten job in college football at a place the seat gets quite warm if you are not doing absolutely great things on the field quickly. And because the pressure can build so fast  at UT— with it being a school every other school in Texas prioritizes around in trying to out do them— is all the logic needed to have Herman on the list right away.  And even know it’s a top ten  job— some of the complications ranging from  zoning in  on the correct  moral and scheme fits for players to trying to fit student athletes into a tough academic environment who likely haven’t been challenged academically like UT does, are  reasons  why it  should not be labeled  any better than a top 10 job and could be a factor in the equation of expectations not matching reality. And  recruiting  will be challenge: the predictably and typically many won’t like my putting it like this, as big as the state is and as much good and great talent as it produces, the talent and depth of what will be in the recruiting pool, will only extend to all the guys who fit the system both physicality, scheme wise and morally. Although there’s much that’s different, one carry over from former coach Charlie Strong  will be having  a fairly HIGH moral program— win totals will have to stay as that too.

6. Willie Taggart-Oregon

Oregon coach Willie Taggart now comes in on the list. Not only is he coming in behind Willie Nelson in popularity, he had a rough start to his tenure at the school this winter. January 17  The Oregonian” reported: three Oregon football players had checked into the hospital after winter workouts stating: ”

Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in fair condition and remained at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. They have been in the hospital since late last week after workouts that occurred during the team’s return from holiday break.

Poutasi’s mother, Oloka, said that her son complained of very sore arms after the workouts and had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook. Depending on the severity, it has the potential to lead to damaged kidneys”

This drama and what some would call trauma resulted in the suspension of new strength coach, Irele Oderinde for  one month, according to the same article by The Oregonian. 

And the drama from this incident was not a great start, indeed, but it’s barely getting started. Just a few days later on the 24th, Nick Martin who covers the Ducks for deadspin.com, reported via The Oregonian that the Ducks were in the process of proceeding to fire newly hired offensive coordinator David Reaves just five days after he was hired. And that did end up happening.

WHOA, that is a lot to handle at a new school so early on. It’s certainly one that is not ideal, as his resume nearly was when this hire was made and he comes in impressively accumulating a 8-5 and 10-2 records his last two years at South Florida after winning only two games in 2013.  The drama that ensued with the firing and the hospitalizations early  on are not huge deals but they are not things that favor Taggert, for a program  that has a lot of money and Nike founder Phil Night as its main donor. The fact the University ditched the good but sputtering Mark Helfrich last year is Taggert’s biggest hurdle. They have no problem getting rid of a coach quickly and a smooth transition when play starts will ease even the idea anyone else is fired, as the season is already here.

5. Bret Bielema-Arkansas

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema is next on the list on the hot seat. This is not a bad spot for him. It’s really not. He could be on the list somewhere 1 to 4 so it’s not too hot. But he’s in Fayetteville, where it’s always a little hotter than the average southerner or Midwesterner would guess. He has done some nice things. And he and the team will do nice things this year. But nice things modestly sporadically and only greatness occasionally will not get the job done or please loyalists that day. As it has many  places, it could even get to the point where the good wins do not satisfy things because the overall position of the program is not  in place of real hope and legitimacy competition wise. IT has not gotten to that point and likely won’t.

Bielema’s finishing last year of  7-6, of which, included  blowing leads resulting in losses for four of the last six games, including an exciting but sporadically inconsistent loss in the Belk Bowl to Virginia Tech, was not a good start to the off-season and was  if anything, a big hindrance to it. He frankly needs to have a  good year to ensure another  off-season for a program that remains physically competitive and  a lot of possible NFL talent and size. 9 will be a significant number to him this year.

4. Kliff Kingsbury-Texas Tech

Kliff Kingsbury: the Texas Tech ball coach will need a good year. In other words, the Tech coach will not be fine to keep taking  the program in his direction  if he only wins six or seven games. A couple certainly positive seasons of eight wins or more at the beginning the tenure have been  complemented by below average play resulting in Kingsbury’s record of  24-26. As it’s been well documented through the years, football is big in West Texas. And residents in West Texas  who are avid Tech supporters and money donors want to stay there to watch good football. What started off as a positive tenure for a native son and former great player— has ultimately led to a dampened tenure at an underrated, great university. Tech and Tech football will exist beyond 2017 and in 2018. It remains  to be seen if Kingsbury has anything to do with it then.

3. Will Muschamp-South Carolina

I go back  to the SEC with Will Muschamp at three. Having him at number three is blunt and bold too, but also warranted. His  first season was very average as his team sputtered out to a 7-6 record while struggling offensively.  South Carolina came in almost dead last in SEC total offense.  And  inconsistency offensively is something that has carried over from Muschamp carried over from Florida— something they became too well-known for, while he finished 28-21, frankly, quite horrible for Florida— officially becoming forgotten history there after four seasons.  For at last three to five years, South Carolina has played second fiddle to in-state foe and the defending national Champion Clemson Tigers. The Gamecock faithful and proud donors witnessing the rise to a national championship by Clemson has only “fueled the fire” in those loyal individuals being not particularly patient to see the program take a needed step forward. Forward is certainly the direction the program was supposed to go after it was left abruptly but in solidarity with what was built with Steve Spurrier. The closest and most avid supporters of the program don’t like just being average or pretty good. And, again, they certainly don’t want to stay behind Clemson, as they have had the discuss of their taking a step forward. Donors will not accept that. They had to accept 6-7 last year. A good seven wins will not even get the job done this year. His evaluation will be based off the talent and wins— and they will quickly go to new coach for more wins.

2. Kirby Smart-Georgia

Number two certainly isn’t a popular one and it’s certainly not a popular one at the very notable university in the southeastern United States. The school is the University of Georgia and the coach is Kirby Smart. Smart is learning quickly that competition is vital, as he opened up the quarterback job, despite promise from Jacob Eason strong-arm and natural athletic abilities that helped “the 6’5 235 pounder” throw for nearly 2,500 yards, 16 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. Eason finished the year strong in getting Georgia to a win against TCU  in the Autozone Liberty Bowl– a win ultimately meaning nothing for the year in 2016. Not sitting well in the long-term or now is that this win total is one and many times two or even more short of the number of wins by the popular coach who Smart was brought in to better than. He is in all honesty the defensive version of young Richt considering: both are from football powerhouses who have come up under legendary coaches: Richt doing so with Bobby Bowden at Florida state and Smart doing so with Nick Saban as an Alabama assistant. But, I’m going to further reiterate, again, Smart was brought in to be better than Richt. So far, he has not been. He will have to win 10 games to be better than his. And doing so while quickly improving and proving himself will help his staying off lists like mine.

T-1. Butch Jones-Tennessee

The coach at number one might also be number one on the list of the schools with the most support- consistent with being at #1. That coach is Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers. He is one of the only 9-win coaches on this list period, making him one of the better coaches on the list, which increases expectations for he and his program. True, as a very-great-to-elite recruiter, he likely should not be on this list so high or perhaps, anywhere on it. But what  should be and what is are two separate things— the seat is very hot for a good coach and he’s on the list despite great promise. Tennessee has by far the biggest fan base to contend with of their own in terms of involvement and staying in tune with the status of that job and where they can get better at it.  The athletic department there has recently failed and did so in hiring Derek Dooley. If they nearly impulsively do the same with Jones as they did with the firing of longtime coach Phillip Fulmer before hiring Dooley, the capability has certainly been shown to not be exacting and identifying in the hiring of a coach proving better than the one he’s replacing, essentially. Therefore, with the possibility of hitting very close to rock bottom for an elite program being one that’s been through that with Dooley, one would logically think, that would be reason itself to ease up on the pressure and let  a really good coach and guy in Jones continue to build while he has already taken the program to very respectability. That is good logic in a generally practical way looking at it. That’s not the way the administration or money donors will look at or evaluate it- those groups almost decide coaches fate. And with former starting quarterback Joshua Dobbs graduated and now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a program that’s had a little luck quick-fix effective junior college quarterbacks in their finding, could LITERALLY leave that fate of Jones at one of the best jobs in sports, up to a freshman.

T-1. Brian Kelley-Notre Dame

He’s at Notre Dame and they will fire you there if you don’t perform. He didn’t last year. He could become like Charlie Wise if he doesn’t this year and that’s why I’ve concisely articulated why  Kelly, who’s coming off a mere four wins, is #1. Do better next year. Maybe, you can come off.

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