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Home | Sports | College / NCAA |

2012 college football coaching search carousel: All the coaches that have been fired thus far


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Plenty of athletic departments are busy on the coaching search

Plenty of athletic departments are busy on the coaching search
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

Auburn's Gene Chizik and NC State's Tom O'Brien were not the first coaches kicked to the curb in 2012, and they certainly will not be the last.

Check out who around the country epitomized futility before getting canned by their bosses within their school's administration. This list is longer than one might have originally thought, and it is only going to get worse before it gets better.

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John L. Smith, Arkansas Razorbacks

John L. Smith, Arkansas Razorbacks
Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE

Fayetteville hero Bobby Petrino fell from grace after falling off his motorcycle with his mistress along for the ride, and the Razorbacks were forced to hire on John L. Smith in the emergency of the situation.

The tumultuous offseason bled into the fall, as Smith oversaw a complete implosion and a final record of only 4-8 for a team that opened the season ranked No. 8-nationally. He was hired on an interim basis and he did nothing to prove he deserved the job full time.

Thus, the Arkansas athletic department went out and reeled themselves in a huge fish in now-former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema put together a stellar 68-24 record in seven seasons at the helm and he led Wisconsin to three consecutive Rose Bowl berths -- a feat not done since the Michigan Wolverines of the '70s.

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Gene Chizik, Auburn Tigers

Gene Chizik, Auburn Tigers
John Reed-US PRESSWIRE

Only two years removed from going 8-0 in the SEC and winning the BCS National Championship, Chizik's squad crumbled in 2012. After suffering a 49-zip smackdown at the hands of Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Auburn finished the year 0-8 in conference play.

The swift fall from hero to zero had, of course, resulted in a vacant head coaching position at the University of Auburn.

War Eagle Nation breathed a sigh of relief when a familiar face in Gus Malzahn step back onto campus. Malzahn was one of the most highly-rated offensive coordinators in the game while serving under Chizik from 2009-2011. His offensive schemes in both practice and in games helped quarterback Cam Newton flourish in his 2010 Heisman Trophy-winning season at Auburn.

Not to mention help Newton and his offensive teammates dominate en route to the 2010 BCS National Championship.

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Jeff Tedford, Cal Golden Bears

Jeff Tedford, Cal Golden Bears
Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Cal's all-time winningest coach had produced steadily decreasing wins over the last few seasons, culminating in a 3-9 disaster in 2012 that would ultimately prove to be Tedford's downfall.

Tedford will always be respected on a campus that he helped bring into the modern era of college football with massive renovations to the school's athletic facilities, but his diminishing returns as a coach had finally proven too much for the athletic department.

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Robb Akey, Idaho Vandals

Robb Akey, Idaho Vandals
Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

Akey inherited a program in total disarray when he was hired to be the Vandals' fourth head coach in a 37-month span. He led Idaho to a Humanitarian Bowl victory in his third year, its first bowl win in over a decade. Unfortunately he was fired years later having left the program in just as poor a shape as he had found it.

After a 1-7 start to the 2012 campaign, Akey became the first casualty of the season and would finish at Idaho with a 20-50 overall record, ouch.

Idaho has brought in a name most members of the SEC and the nation are familiar with in hiring a Petrino as its newest head coach. However, it is not the motorcycle-crashing, mistress-keeping Bobby, but rather his brother, Paul. Paul had been hoping to work with his brother in accepting the offensive coordinator position at Arkansas after spending two years at Illinois in the same capacity. After one year in Hogs Nation under flailing interim man John L. Smith, however, bother Paul is now putting his own skills to the test with the downtrodden Vandals.

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Joker Phillips, Kentucky Wildcats

Joker Phillips, Kentucky Wildcats
Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

Joker oversaw the clown show that has been the Kentucky Wildcats football team over the last few seasons.

He had inherited a program that had been on the up-and-up, but after losing a bowl game in his first year at the helm, things continued to spiral out of control until the decision was made to fire Phillips but allow him to finish out the 2012 campaign.

Now that the 2-10 and 0-8 in-conference season has come to an end, so has the tenure of Phillips at his alma mater. Of course, with every end there is a new beginning, and now the search for a new coach begins in earnest over in Lexington.

Recently, Phillips was replaced by Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who oversaw one of the nation's most dominant defensive units. He also comes from a coaching family, as his brother Bob currently heads up Oklahoma while his other brother Mike spent six years at the helm of Arizona.

Phillips himself has landed on his feet. One of the best wide receivers in the history of Kentucky has been hired on to coach up the receivers at the University of Florida.

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Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State Wolfpack

Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State Wolfpack
Rob Kinnan-US PRESSWIRE

Tom O'Brien did not do a poor job by any means while at the helm of the Wolfpack. In fact, his 7-5 2012 record is good enough for NC State's fourth-straight bowl appearance.

However, inconsistency plagued a program that lost to putrid Tennessee and beat ACC kings Florida State. Because the school saw its football program as simply spinning its wheels, a decision that a change in leadership was necessary was made, leaving the team high and dry for its bowl game.

The Wolfpack athletic department has found an excellent replacement, however, in former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren. Doeren led the Huskies to the first-ever BCS bowl berth for a team from the Mid-American Conference, and he headed straight to NC State to get started instead of coaching NIU in the Orange Bowl.

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Danny Hope, Purdue Boilermakers

Danny Hope, Purdue Boilermakers
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Hope inherited a program that had boasted one NFL-ready quarterback after another, including Drew Brees and Kyle Orton, and a Rose Bowl berth.

However, Hope was only able to compile a 22-27 record at Purdue, including a 13-19 mark in Big Ten Conference games and a 15-13 mark at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Hope shot himself in the foot with poor management of his two quarterbacks, consistently benching eventual starter Robert Marve for reasons unexplained. For a team that had had high hopes entering the 2012 season, Hope left an entire fan base disappointed for a fourth-straight season.

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Derek Dooley, Tennessee Volunteers

Derek Dooley, Tennessee Volunteers
Don McPeak-US Presswire

If you really want a good gauge of the type of negativity swirling around Dooley's entirely unsuccessful campaign at the helm of the Vols, just ask any random Tennessee fan.

One would be hard-pressed to find a single member of Vols Nation in support of a coach that led a historically successful program directly into the toilet.

After losing to bottom-dwelling teams like Kentucky over his tenure, an 0-7 start to SEC play in 2012 was enough to fire Dooley immediately, as opposed to waiting until the season had even ended.

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Mike Price, UTEP Miners

Mike Price, UTEP Miners
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Price is the only man on this list who was not fired, but instead voluntarily stepped down. After nine years at the helm of Texas El-Paso, the signs were there that Price's time had come following a 3-9 season.

It was his worst mark in his nine years, and after 44 years overall in the college game, Price realized his time had come. Now it is up to the UTEP brass to find someone else to fill a coaching legend's shoes.

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Bill Cubit, Western Michigan Broncos

Bill Cubit, Western Michigan Broncos
Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

The search for WMU's 15th head coach begins immediately following the firing of Cubit with only one year remaining on his contract.

Over his eight-year tenure, the Broncos defeated a big-time, BCS automatic-qualifying school in five different seasons. His teams participated in three of the school's five bowl game appearances, including a Little Caesar's Bowl loss at the hands of Purdue and their now-fired head man, Danny Hope.

The Mid-American Conference is on the rise, however, and a 2-6 record within the conference was simply too much for the athletic department to bear at this point.

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Frank Spaziani, Boston College Eagles

Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Rob Kinnan-US PRESSWIRE

Spaziani spent 10 years as the Eagles' defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach, but his tenure at the helm was far shorter.

After going 8-5 and 7-6 in his first two seasons, respectively, Spaziani's team struggled in 2011 before falling flat on its face in 2012. Thus, after finishing out the year with an embarrassing 2-10 record, the search for a new coach began immediately over in Chestnut Hill.

Fresh off the dumpster fire that was the Eagles' 2012 season the athletic department brought in Steve Addazio from relatively nearby Temple. After helping Urban Meyer win the the 2009 BCS National Championship as the Florida Gators' offensive coordinator, 'The Daz' helped the Owls make the transition from the MAC to the Big East. He finished with a 13-11 record with the formerly downtrodden program and is expected to breathe new life into another rudderless team.

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Jon Embree, Colorado Buffaloes

Jon Embree, Colorado Buffaloes
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Surprised? So was the rest of the nation.

Yes, Embree's Buffs were only 1-8 in the Pac-12, and yes, Colorado was only 1-11 on the season. In fact, so poorly did Embree's squad perform that Colorado was left without a home win for the first time since 1920.

Yikes.

All that being said, Embree was a star tight end for Colorado back in the 1980s. Joker Phillips was given three seasons to run his alma mater, Kentucky, into the ground, but Embree was fired after only his second season taking over a disaster of a football program.

Embree has a fantastic football mind and will be back on the national scene sooner rather than later.

As for Colorado, who would want to coach there now? No one can expect any sort of job security if the athletic department was willing to fire an alum after only two seasons into what everyone and their mother understood to be a rebuilding project.

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Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Chuck Cook - US PRESSWIRE

Johnson was provided even less time than was Colorado's Embree, as he was fired after a mere one season in his very first gig as a head coach at the collegiate level.

However, the circumstances were very different. Whereas Embree was taking over a dumpster fire of a program and trying to bring them up to a competitive level, Ellison took over an extremely competitive team and drove them straight into the ground.

Southern Miss was coming off one of the best seasons in its program's history, winning 12 games and the Conference USA championship. Ellison came aboard, and his squad suffered one of the most dramatic and devastating turnarounds not just in school history but that of the entire nation. An 0-12 finish was the worst in all of the FBS and it was enough to get this long time defensive coordinator at various programs fired.

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Skip Holtz, South Florida Bulls

Skip Holtz, South Florida Bulls
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Holtz was brought aboard at South Florida after winning the Conference USA championship with East Carolina, but he promptly crashed and burned.

In his introductory press conference, someone in the crowd shouted 'Beat Florida!' to which Holtz replied, "That's why I'm here!"

The Bulls went on to lose to the Gators, 38-14, and that just about wraps up Holtz' tenure in a nutshell.

After going 3-9 in 2012 and 16-21 overall, Holtz was canned despite having been signed to an extension following a 5-7 2012 campaign -- Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?

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Skipped town: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin Badgers

Skipped town: Bret Bielema, Wisconsin Badgers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The hand-picked successor to Barry Alvarez spent seven years at the helm of the Badgers and put up spectacular wins totals in the process. He reached the 11-win plateau in three seasons, a feat that had only been reached once in the history of the program prior to his arrival.

He engineered three straight Rose Bowl appearances for Wisconsin. Only Michigan back in the '70s can claim to have done so.

Bielema's departure to Arkansas shocked most, if not all, of Sconnie Nation, where only he and Alverez, now the athletic director, have headed up the program since 1990.

Bo Jackson was a part of the search committee to select the new Auburn head coach. Now is the time for Wisconsin's most high-profile member of the athletic department, Alvarez, to pick yet another Rose Bowl-bound coach.

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Skipped town: Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois Huskies

Skipped town: Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois Huskies
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Doeren, like so many assistants and now Bret Bielema, spent significant time with the Wisconsin Badgers before taking on a head coaching job. Doeren was the Badgers' defensive coordinator from 2008-2010 before earning his first head coaching job at Northern Illinois.

All he did at the helm of the Huskies was win football games. His teams finished 11-3 and 12-1 (with a bowl game yet to be played in 2013) in his only two seasons in charge, respectively. After winning the MAC for the second consecutive year, the Huskies finished ranked No. 15 in the BCS. The ranking earned NIU the conference's first-ever BCS Bowl berth, as the team will be taking on Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

However, Doeren couldn't be bothered to stick around to help his squad make history. He skipped on out of Dekalb and is already on the recruiting trail for North Carolina State.

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