We have barely scraped the surface of the 2013 college football season and it’s already “Butt Check Time” for many of the coaches in America.
It’s time to take a drive around the country in order to measure how hot and cold some of the nation’s loftiest seats are. You ask what prompted this? BYU and Washington State winning, triggering Texas’ and USC’s fan bases into a rage against the machine. That rage already has one head rolling at Texas.
No coaches in their first year, at mid major programs or under NCAA sanctions have been factored into this index. These are simply power conference coaches being based on wins and losses.
10 Coldest Seats in America: Ordered from Antartica to the 7-11 Walk-In Cooler, brought to you by Foreigner
1 – Nick Saban and Bill Snyder: No surprise here! This was a tie for me. One somehow has 15 national titles in six years on campus. The other has the stadium named after him.
2 – Les Miles: I know he has his…unique-ness…but the Mad Hatter always has his Tigers in contention for SEC and national titles.
3 – Steve Spurrier: The man is a living legend and based on USC’s sorry history for the majority of their football program, he is reigning over the highest of high times.
4 – Urban Meyer: Other than not losing yet since being hired, I think things have worked pretty well
5 – Brady Hoke: In two seasons and two games the man has yet to lose in Ann Arbor. He has a BCS bowl under his belt and has revitalized a program that had stagnated under Carr in his final years, as well as slipped during Rich Rod’s.
6 – Bob Stoops: His average win-loss record since being hired is approximately 21-4 per season. I think the intern may have gotten confused on that stat, but either way, he wins a ton and is going to be OU’s winningest coach before soon. Not bad considering some of the greats who have received checks from that institution.
7 – Mike Gundy: He loves his alma mater and his alma mater loves him. Much like Spurrier, he is leading the program to unprecedented success.
8 – Pat Fitzgerald: Ditto about Gundy (minus the unprecedented success). His predecessors only managed to get this program to Pasadena twice. If he manages to book a trip out west, they’ll probably build a statue at midfield for a home field advantage boost.
9 – Dabo Swinney: The man has invested into Clemson’s program like no one else in the nation. He too has re-energized a great fan base that started to turn away at the end of the Bowden era.
10 – Brian Kelly: Notre Dame has been fire happy since Dr. Lou left, but considering Kelly took the Irish to a title game and has stabilized them after the roller-coaster Weis/Willinham period, it is a safe bet (for Notre Dame standards) that he’ll be coaching there for a bit longer.
10 Hottest Seats in America: Ordered from annoying sauna to volcanic eruption, brought to you by Nelly
10 – Kirk Ferentz: What is funny about his predicament is that he brought back Greg Davis. Not re-signing the despised assistant would have made his leash much, much longer.
9 – Kevin Wilson: We can talk all we want about Indiana’s improvements under Wilson, but it still hasn’t translated to wins. He entered this pivotal third season just 4-19 in Bloomington.
8 – Charlie Weis: I’m not sure Kansas can afford to start all over again just two season after hiring the guy, but based on his track record, his inflated salary and how he rubs people the wrong way (even when he was winning), I think his Jayhawks need to have a big bounce-back.
7 – Mike London: He has two four-win seasons at Virginia to go along with an 8-5 year in between the two. UVA doesn’t expect much every year, but they expect better than that, as well as a sign of growth and consistency. He hasn’t really delivered on, well, anything.
6 – Randy Edsall: He came to Maryland in a tough position. The school fired a successful coach in Ralph Friedgen hoping to take the next step. The fanbase was right to be confused why the reigning ACC Coach of the Year was shown the door. Then they hired a guy who had done very little at Connecticut. An uninspiring replacement for a COY—great? You essentially have a two-for. Year three looms big for Randy.
5 – Mark Richt: He doesn’t deserve it, but Georgia fans are insane. His seat is warm every year regardless of how things go. Walking out of the Clemson game I overheard a ton of Dawg fans calling for his head. That of course being Week 1. That of course coming off a top 5 finish, being a play away from an SEC title and playing for a national title. I’m curious how many weeks beating USC gets him off the hook. One? Two? Probably up until the minute North Texas kicks a field goal to cut UGA’s lead to 21-3 next week.
4 – Paul Pasqulioni: He’s old, no one liked the hire when it happened and if Connecticut ever wants to get out of AAC purgatory, they’ll start putting some money towards that football program.
3 – Jim Grobe: I like Grobe as a person and he is at one of the toughest jobs in America. He has, for the most part, succeeded at Wake by winning a conference title and entering the 2013 season right around .500 (73-74). Here’s the bad: 40-57 in ACC play; 9, 8, 5, 3, 6, 5 are his win totals since 2006 (the title). Here’s the really bad: The whole academic argument no longer works. Vanderbilt is improved, Northwestern is improved and Stanford is a national title contender. Even Duke is improved.
2 – Mack Brown: Texas believes they are one of the titans of the game. Whether they are or aren’t doesn’t matter because that is what the fan base and athletic department believe. The school has already surprised us with giving Brown this much slack, but entering 2012 he was supposed to have his best team since Colt McCoy got hurt in the 2010 BCS title game. Yet, here we are watching the same old Horns from the past few years; they looked sluggish in Week 1 and got hammered at BYU. There is also a theory by the great Bill Simmons: He calls it the speed limit theory where a coach peaks by 55 and it is downhill after that because of the long days and fatigue from the job. The theory works great in the NFL where coaches having success past a certain age is well documented. It’s a little trickier in college thanks to the Snyder’s and the Joe Pa’s. Even Nick Saban is past that number. But it is worth kicking around in your mind. Even with these listed exceptions, it can’t be easy to have all the demands of a job at a place like Texas where a coach is being paid to win titles – not games – but titles.
1 – Lane Kiffin: He rubs the fan base wrong and anything he does is under a microscope, not a good combo. The deafening “Fire Kiffin” chant in just week two against Washington State…an upset I proposed!!…tells the university where the fans, aka pocket liners, stand on the guy.
Coach Poach – Top 10 guys who should be on the above athletic directors’ speed dial
- Chris Petersen: It would take quite a bit to get him out of Boise, but I would be a terrible AD if I didn’t at least tell my fans I made the call.
-Bobby Petrino: He’d probably be a rental at a place like Wake, Kansas, Indiana or even Iowa as he stepped his way to a better job in the NFL or at a marquee college football program, but boy those 2-to-3 years would be fun. Hey coach, did you know the National Motorcycle Museum is in Anamosa, Iowa, a mere 45 minutes from Iowa’s campus? Just saying…
- Pat Narduzi: MSU’s amazing defensive coordinator has been working for Mark Dantonio, a defensive guru in his own right, for years now giving him a wonderful pedigree. Hiring him at say, a school that just gave up 550 rushing yards, would certainly help.
- Bronco Mendenhall: His worst season at BYU? His first. His average wins a season? 9.25. Number of years at the school and number of bowls? Eight for eight. Total career record, 75-30. Let’s also not kid ourselves about BYU being an easy place to win, because it isn’t. Between the academics and the religious aspect of the school, it is also going about things as an independent, scheduling some big bad teams. The 2012 season included Texas, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Boise and in-state rivalry schools Utah and Utah State. He has ties to the Pac 12 via Oregon State and has been in the west his whole life. If I was a little school in LA, I would bend over backwards to try and scoop this guy up.
- Mark Hudspeth: Other than recording back-to-back nine-win seasons with two bowl wins at Louisiana-Lafayette, of all places, what else has he done? Well that ULL team had won no more than eight games since 1993. The Ragin’ Cajuns last nine-win season before he was hired was 1976, so let’s not say he stepped right into a good small-ball program. He also won a ton at Division II North Alabama, going 66-21 with two undefeated seasons before losing in the NCAA tournament (hmm, it works in all the other divisions but not in the FBS…don’t get me started). He has spent his whole coaching life, except for one season at Navy, in the ACC/SEC sphere and even had a stint at a big school (Mississippi State). If I was, I don’t know a certain team from Virginia or North Carolina, I’d love to get this guy.
- Ken Niumatalolo and Troy Calhoun: Both men entered this season 40-25 (Niumatalolo) and 47-31 (Calhoun) as coaches at Navy and Air Force, respectively. Let me repeat that, a .615 and .603 winning percentage at military academies. Their option attacks are great equalizers, meaning recruiting top-flight talent isn’t a requirement for their team’s to have success. I wonder if there is a school in a certain east-coast state that doesn’t snag top recruits, hmm. Side note: If Georgia hired either it would be hilarious. The Tech-Dawg rivalry would become a must see for me.
- Brent Venables (DC, Clemon), Chad Morris (OC, Clemson), Kirby Smart (DC, Alabama), Doug Nussmeire (OC, Alabama): In addition to all being great at their current jobs, each of them have been at other big schools such as Washington, Georgia and in Venables’ case, Kansas State and Oklahoma. The oldest, Morris, is only 44 and the youngest, Kirby Smart, is a scant 37. Wouldn’t you love to snag a talented up-and-comer and have the possibility of getting a lifetime of joy out of his tenure?