What a difference six weeks makes. Since the last time we looked at some hot seats Texas started winning; Minnesota had its best finish in years; Iowa hit the eight win plateau; and Michigan spiraled. One of the hot seat coaches even resigned! Some jiggling might happen following the bowls but here is how we stand after the regular season.
Mid-majors and NCAA sanctions are not factored into this index, just cold hard wins and losses for AQ coaches.
10 COLDEST SEATS IN AMERICA: FROM ANTARCTICA TO THE 7-11 WALK-IN COOLER
1. Bill Snyder - He beat rival Kansas (again), reached a bowl (again), locked down a winning season (again) and his name is on the stadium. He is coach for life in Manhattan.
2. Nick Saban - You know your job is safe when not winning the national title is a “bad” season.
3. Steve Spurrier - Hr beat rival Clemson (again), reached a bowl (again), locked down a winning season (again) and might secure a BCS at-large bid. It would take a massive tailspin in the next three seasons for the Head Ball Coach to feel any heat.
4. Urban Meyer - He still has not lost since signing his Ohio State contract.
5. Bob Stoops - He is the all time winningest coach in Oklahoma history. Several talking heads have said this is his worst Oklahoma team in a long time, yet they are 9-2.
6. David Shaw - He has Stanford on the cusp of their second consecutive Rose Bowl. Before Shaw took over for Jim Harbaugh the most famous highlight in Stanford football history was a loss in which their band came out on the field. When you are rewriting the culture of a program, you are a pretty good coach.
7. Charlie Strong - Oh sure Louisville won’t make a BCS bowl, but they are 11-1 on the season. Strong is a solid recruiter, and with Louisville transitioning to a new league, and in want of stability, they will find the money to keep him if another program comes calling.
8. Mike Gundy - He is a beloved alumnus and has his team on the cusp of a Big 12 title. The Cowboys may actually be the third-best team in the country.
9. Art Briles - When a guy signs a massive extension, it is safe to say he have the support of the fans and administration.
10. Les Miles - Sure, LSU can’t win the SEC this year but Miles’ numbers in Baton Rouge are fantastic. He always has amazing recruiting classes, and his quirkiness seems to add some charm.
Downgraded: Pat Fitzgerald, Dabo Swinney and Brady Hoke - The first two are very safe, especially Fitzgerald, who is a beloved alumnus and had a season filled with injuries. Dabo has done a great job keeping Clemson at a high level, but he couldn’t breakthrough this season. His struggles against South Carolina are alarming, as well. As for Hoke, well…
10 HOTTEST SEATS IN AMERICA: FROM ANNOYING SAUNA TO VOLCANIC ERUPTION
Honorable Mention: Mark Richt - The crazed fan base of Georgia takes no prisoners. Injuries be damned, they expect to win. Until Richt wins the SEC – or even a national title – there will continue to be doubters in Athens.
10. Brady Hoke - His win totals have decreased each season at Michigan, and he hasn’t beaten Ohio State since Urban Meyer arrived. He will surely get a fourth season, but if things don’t go well 2014 could be his last.
9. Larry Fedora - Falling from 8-4 to 6-6, and watching Duke celebrate a divisional title on your home field, is not a way to endear yourself to your fan base. He is just 14-10 (9-7) in two seasons. The Heels really need to show improvement in year three of his tenure, otherwise the program, which has a developed a win-now attitude since hiring Butch Davis, could pull the trigger.
8. Mack Brown - If he loses to Baylor, finishes 8-4 and then drops the bowl game, there will be deafening cries coming from the Longhorn faithful to make a change.
7. Kevin Wilson - Indiana’s win total has increased each season, but a lot of people pegged the Hoosiers for making a bowl this year. His career totals in Bloomington are 10-26 (5-19). It’s tough to read which way the administration will go. The improvement is there, but attendance still isn’t great. Missing a bowl seems to be a sticking point.
6. Tim Beckman - The Purdue win only gets him to 1-15 in league and 6-18 overall. Those aren’t very pretty numbers for the Illinois head coach.
5. Bret Bielema - Arkansas has a highly inflated sense of self, and going winless in the SEC certainly didn’t help Bielema’s cause. He won’t get fired before 2014, but if they start slowly he may not make it to 2015.
4. Dana Holgorsen - He may have an impressive resume as an assistant, but his win totals have decreased each season in Morganville. The collapse this season was horrific, as they lost six of the final. He is now a dismal 21-17 (11-14) with West Virginia.
3. Charlie Weis - His win total at Kansas did increase from year one to year two, and he snapped the 27-game Big 12 losing streak. But the Jayhawks were still difficult to watch, and they still finished dead last in the league.
2. Mike London - Incredibly, he still has the support of the athletic director. Fans are “mixed,” according to this piece from the Daily Progress (LINK). Here’s the real deal Cavs fans: your coach is 18-31 (8-24) with one bowl game in four seasons. When your 2014 schedule starts with UCLA, Richmond, BYU, Kent State and FSU, you will go, at best, 2-3 in that span. As a side note, not that London is responsible for all of them, but Virginia has now lost the Commonwealth game ten consecutive years to Virginia Tech.
1. Bo Pelini and Will Muschamp - It’s hard to tell who has a hotter seat right now. Both got the dreaded vote of confidence.
A post-season blowout could get Pelini canned. However, it’s more likely that he’ll be treated like the Lane Kiffin of 2014. He’ll get to start next year, but, at the first opportunity, Nebraska will give him the hook.
As for Muschamp firing your staff usually buys an extra half, to full, season. If things continue to go sideways he will be the only man to blame. He, too, could be sent packing midseason if 2014 starts out dreadfully for the Gators.
The biggest thing hurting these two coaches, outside of the on-field performance, is fan insanity. Nebraska fans feel the team should contend for the Big Ten every year; Florida fans believe they should contend for the national title every year. With such success in the not-too-distant past for both, it’s easy to understand the ferocity of the fans.
OFF THE LIST
Dan Mullen tempered Ole Miss’ ascension with an Egg Bowl win; he also reached another bowl. Jerry Kill and Kirk Ferentz each notched eight wins on the season. Jim Grobe decided to resign at age 61.
Now that Chris Petersen is no longer a candidate, let’s put Coach Orgeron at the top of the list. I explained why I thought it was a marriage made in heaven for him to stay at USC, but since the Trojans don’t feel that way he is now on the market.
Experienced Guys: Ed Orgeron, Bronco Mendenhall and Bobby Petrino - With Coach O, you are getting a fantastic recruiter and motivator. With Mendenhall, you will get a fantastic defense. With Petrino, you will get an offensive mind and proven winner, will but sacrifice character.
Overachievers: Ken Niumatalolo and Troy Calhoun (Navy and Air Force) - Both coaches have a lot of wins without a lot of major talent. The downside with either is that they run the triple option, which outside a little run by Georgia Tech a few years ago, hasn’t quite translated to major conference football yet.
Dream Assistant: Pat Narduzzi - The Michigan State defense is top-notch. On paper, he would be a home-run hire.
The Popular Assistants: Brent Venables (DC, Clemson), Chad Morris (OC, Clemson), Kirby Smart (DC, Alabama), Doug Nussmeire (OC, Alabama) - Kirby Smart is the youngest of this group, but don’t be surprised if all four are running their own program in the next few years.
Dark Horse: Mark Hudspeth at Louisiana-Lafayette - The 45-year-old is ripping off wins at an incredible rate, and no one seems to notice. He is 26-11 (17-5) with back-to-back bowl wins for ULL. Before this gig he was 66-21 (45-15) at Division 2 North Alabama. The bottom line is the man can coach. When you are 92-32 for your career you are doing something right.