Well we are headed toward the fourth weekend of the college football season and it is apparent that some teams are struggling to keep their head above water already. But while the team is struggling to stay afloat, it is the head coaches of these teams that are already sunk. Coaching is a position / job where you have to win, recruit and sell out the stadiums, all while staying within the NCAA guidelines if you want to keep your job. Well there are currently some big name coaches whose seat is hotter than a “bed of burning coals” and it goes to say that unless they can get their teams turned around in a hurry, they may be in the unemployment line, even if just for a little while. Let me take a trip around the nation and touch on some coaches who may be in their last season with their current school.
Rick Neuheisel at UCLA – Neuheisel is back at his alma mater for his 4th season now and it just seems as if his teams are underachieving every year. The Bruin faithful were hoping Rick could be the savior for a program that began to decline and was struggling to compete on the field and in recruiting with cross-town rival USC. While Neuhisel has managed to improve the recruiting aspect a bit, the fact is it has not translated to wins on the field. His three teams thus far have finished 4-8, 7-6 & 4-8 and he is currently off to a 1-2 start this season with a trip to Corvallis to play Oregon St. this weekend. The Bruins need a win in the worst way and I would even venture to say will need to finish at least at .500 or better overall and in conference to ensure he will return next season.
Mike Stoops at Arizona – Bob Stoops’ young brother was part of several great coaching staffs that compiled a winning percentage of almost 77% so it only stood to reason that when he took over the job in Tucson in 2004, the fans and the alumni were expecting to win. Well fast forward now and Stoops has an overall record of 40-45. He has posted 3 consecutive winning seasons (8-5) twice and then 7-6 last season but that has not stopped the grumblings about his job security. Arizona has not beaten an FBS opponent since before Halloween of 2010. They are 1-2 this season (lone win over an FCS opponent) and they will host Oregon this weekend. Some feel Stoops has earned more time but others feel like his window for success may be closing. It was thought his team may be a contender for the PAC-12 title but now they would be happy to just beat an opponent on the same level.
Mark Richt at Georgia – Mark Richt has had a pretty good career at Georgia and on a personal level the respect and admiration for him is as high as any coach in the SEC or the nation for that matter. But over the last couple of seasons, some of the bulldog faithful have started to come unglued with untimely losses and failed recruits, but nothing pushed the envelope like last seasons 6-7 (overall), 3-5 (SEC) record. Add to that this season’s 1-2 start (lone win over Coastal Carolina) and some say that rich may need to finish the season no worse than 9-3 to maintain his employment “between the hedges” in Athens. He is 96-34 over 10 seasons in Athens, two SEC Championships, (’02 & ’05) and yet it means absolutely nothing right now as the fans want to know “what have you done for us lately”. More importantly Rich is just 2-8 against the rival Gators and he could really use a victory over them this season.
Houston Nutt at Ole Miss – The Rebels are coming off of 4-8 season last year and are already under .500 at 1-2 this season (lone win over FCS, Southern Illinois); Saturday they will host Georgia and Mark Richt and it is safe to say that the lose of that game will undoubtedly be out of a job after the season. Ole Miss is coming off an absolutely stunning and embarrassing loss on the road at Vandy in which the offense only managed 1 TD. Nutt has not been able to out recruit cross-town rival Mississippi St. for in state talent and that is reason enough for concern around Oxford. The Rebels were not projected to contend this season but the opening season home loss to BYU (4th qtr. Cougar rally) rubbed some fans the wrong way. Six wins and a shot at bowl eligibility probably would have been sufficient for the year……….at 1-2 and staring at 1-3, it is not likely to happen at this point.
Ron Zook at Illinois – Surprisingly, Zook’s has cooled just a little but going into last season, he was where Mark Richt is now. Still all is not glorious in Champagne as the fans and alumni would like to see at least 8 wins this season and a finish in the top half of the Big 10. After last Saturday’s come back win over a ranked Arizona St. team, and the Big 10 seemingly not as strong outside of the Top 3 teams (Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan St.) as was thought, the Illini have a great chance at coming thru with 8 wins and a high finish in the Big 10. But Zook need not get comfortable as we know how quick things can turn.