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Home | Sports |

College football coaches on the hot seat in 2013: Whose cushion is heating up?

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Who gets canned for a poor showing in 2013?

Who gets canned for a poor showing in 2013?
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has been known to stand for "Not For Long" in coaching circles, but some similar acronym would work with 'NCAA' at the college level as well.

For example, eight of the 14 head coaches in the SEC have been on the job for two seasons or fewer -- and that is in the nation's most impressive and winning conference, let alone somewhere else where the game play has not been up to par.

Further, if there is one thing college football has taught us over the years, it is simply to expect the unexpected. No one foresaw Auburn's putrid 3-9 finish in 2012, or the subsequent firing of 2010 national title-winning coach Gene Chizik.

But it happened.

Thus, with spring practices gearing up and lineups and depth charts slowly rounding into form, we enter the 2013 season knowing that a number of coaches jogging out onto the practice field will not be doing so during this same time next season.

Who are they? Well, depending on performance in 2013, these are the 10 coaches opening the year with their seats already simmering.

As a quick note, we are basing this off of potential 2013 records. For example, Illinois might only win three games, but Tim Beckman is only in his second year so should be alright. On the other hand, USC's Lane Kiffin might be canned even if he wins seven. Got it? Good.


10. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes

10. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Ferentz is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten, and yes, he has put together a few excellent seasons in Iowa City.

However, the coach himself admitted to being behind the times when it comes to what high school stars are looking for out of a college football program these days. The utter lack of any real recruiting success has manifested itself on the football field.

After winning 11 games and the Orange Bowl in 2009, Ferentz' Hawkeyes have provided its fans with embarrassingly diminishing returns since. In 2010, it was a still-respectable eight wins, then in 2011 there was some slippage to seven wins and finally the bottom fell out a season ago.

Iowa embarrassed itself with only four wins on the year.

While generally speaking, a coach of such lengthy tenure should receive more leeway, the fact of the matter is this program has only finished within the top 25 at the end of five of Ferentz' 14 seasons as the face of the program. That is not a good percentage for the kind of program Iowa strives to be.

The team loses starting (and ultimately disappointing) quarterback James Vandenberg to graduation, meaning another sub-.500 year could be in the works. Would that be enough to call for Ferentz' job?


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9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri Tigers

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri Tigers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pinkel's Mizzou squad was not supposed to lose seven games in 2012. The Tigers were not supposed to miss out on a bowl game in their first year in the SEC.

That was supposed to be Texas A&M.

Both Mizzou and the Aggies left the Big 12 and joined the SEC together. A&M was bringing in Kevin Sumlin from Houston to coach and breaking in a freshman quarterback in Johnny Manziel. On the other hand, Pinkel had led Mizzou to double-digit win totals in three of the previous five years and was trotting out junior dual-threat star James Franklin as his signal-caller.

However, Sumlin went on to lead A&M to a top five finish, Manziel took home the Heisman Trophy, and the only thing Pinkel and Franklin managed to do was upset the entire city of Columbia.

Another embarrassing five-win season, and more blowouts at the hands of the elite of the SEC, may wind up costing this longtime coach his job.

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8. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia Mountaineers

8. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia Mountaineers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Like Pinkel, Holgorsen was leading his program into a new league, and towing the weight of heavy expectations along for the ride. After winning 10 games in 2011 and absolutely obliterating Clemson in the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers were supposed to show the rest of the Big 12 what an unstoppable offensive force looked like.

Well, the team, led by quarterback Geno Smith, did that. However, Holgorsen's defense made pretty much every team they played look like an unstoppable offensive force as well.

Further, the team started out as the nation's darling, making WVU's fall from grace all the more spectacular.

Thus, should the team open up the 2013 season with a 5-0 record, no one is going to care. However, if the team drags the losing ways of their 2-6, 2012 finish with them, everyone is going to care.

Simply put, West Virginia has reached a level of success in which 7-6 is unacceptable, and the Mountaineers won't be afraid to show Holgorsen the door should it continue.

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7. Steve Sarkisian, Washington Huskies

7. Steve Sarkisian, Washington Huskies
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

After spending 2005-2008 as quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator for some elite teams at USC, Sarkisian was hired to bring Washington up to the same level of national dominance.

However, in his four seasons at the helm, the Huskies have never won more than seven games. Making matters worse, Sarkisian's expertise is supposed to be with quarterbacks. However, after entering 2012 as a dark-horse Heisman candidate, Keith Price absolutely fell flat throwing the ball.

The starting signal-caller position has been opened back up to competition. Price should use this as motivation to work, grab the job by the metaphorical horns and go on to absolutely dominate the Pac-12 in 2013.

This is a team that beat Stanford last season. The talent is there. Thus, as he enters his fifth season at the helm, the onus will be on Sarkisian to make it all work.

A fourth-straight seven-win season simply may not cut it, and any regression whatsoever will make Sarkisian's seat sizzle (and yes, we love using alliteration aplenty over here).

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6. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

6. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

The only reason why Johnson and his Yellow Jackets were able to celebrate a Sun Bowl win over the dumpster-fire that is USC (more on the Trojans later) is because the school's athletic department petitioned the NCAA for bowl eligibility. Seriously: Georgia Tech was 6-6 when it earned an invite to the ACC title game after North Carolina was ruled ineligible and Miami voluntarily held itself out of the game against Florida State. The Seminoles went on to beat Georgia Tech, as expected, forcing the team under .500 on the year and begging the NCAA for a postseason spot.

Johnson headed over to Atlanta after turning Navy into a respectable, triple-option offensive team. His innovative, extremely run heavy play-calling style was highly successful early on, as his teams won nine games and then 11 in his first two years at Tech.

He only won six games in 2010, then eight in 2011 and seven a season ago. He loses 20-rushing touchdown scorer in quarterback Tevin Washington to graduation, making an eight-win season all the more difficult.

Granted, Johnson does not need eight wins to keep his job -- but another year's struggle to get to .500 will upset plenty of Yellow Jackets fans.

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5. Charlie Weis, Kansas Jayhawks

5. Charlie Weis, Kansas Jayhawks
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas itself is a scrapheap of a football program, and the Jayhawks went out and found themselves a coach out of the scrapheap to lead them.

That being said, while Rock Chalk does not expect much out of its football program, they do look for more than one stinking win on an entire season. However, that is what Weis and his "offensive brilliance" provided in 2012.

Of course, the next issue is the fact that no coach should be on the hot seat after just one year at the helm, but Weis is a bit of a different case. He brought high expectations with him to Lawrence. Further, he has mortgaged the future for short-term success.

Of the 25 scholarships Weis had available for the 2013 football season, 18 were awarded to junior college players. Thus, the team could turn around in a hurry, as these guys will have had a year or two in a college weight room and several will be expected to start next year.

However, should the team continue to struggle, these players will be out of school in just another year or two. Thus, the program will be forced to wait while the very few freshmen recruited are able to develop in order to try to win again -- and no one is going to want to give Weis another four year's leeway.

Just look at how the stress is affecting Weis; the guy is obviously stress-eating (zing!).

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4. Randy Edsall, Maryland Terrapins

4. Randy Edsall, Maryland Terrapins
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

When Edsall took over the UConn football program in 1999, the Huskies were an FCS-level school (at the time, it was known as D-IAA). He helped oversee the program's move to the big time, and when he finally left the school in favor of Maryland, he did so as UConn's winningest coach with 74 wins.

Thus, Terrapins fans had been expecting a real level of sustained success under Edsall at Maryland. Instead of watching their team win games, however, those fans watched as a whopping 24 players transferred out following the firing of alum Ralph Friedgen.

With so few scholarship players on the roster, the team went 2-10 in Edsall's first season in 2011. Last year, Edsall's second with the program, he and his staff were forced to deal with losing an unprecedented four starting quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. A true freshman linebacker ended up playing under center -- seriously.

The team doubled its win total to four. With a lot of time to bring those passers back into the fold, Maryland should win at least six games in a weak ACC in 2013. After the season, the entire athletic department is moving to the Big Ten in 2014.

If the football team does not raise its win total yet again, Edsall's bosses might want to go in a different direction in order to get a fresh start in their new league.

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3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska Cornhuskers

3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The top three coaches on the hot seat entering the 2013 season, beginning with Pelini, will in all likelihood win nine games. However, all three, again beginning with Pelini, will be entering the year under almost crushing expectations.

While the rest of the Big Ten fell flat in 2012, the league's newest member was poised for a Rose Bowl berth after 12 regular season games. However, from there, Nebraska fell flat while other programs rose to the occasion.

The Huskers' legendary Black Shirt defense was thrashed in the Big Ten title game, giving up an unbelievable 70 points to Wisconsin. From there, Nebraska had several weeks to lick its wounds before facing Georgia in the Capital One Bowl, but gave up 45 points in a losing effort as well.

Pelini is a good coach, and a respectable recruiter. However, Husker Nation is as passionate of a fan base as any in the country. Their patience for a coach who is perceived as not being a big-game coach is wearing thin.

Lest we forget, six months dealing with the bad taste in their mouths should be fantastic motivation. If history repeats itself, and Pelini leads a great regular season but then struggles on national TV, he may not be around in 2014 to rectify his issues.

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2. Mack Browns, Texas Longhorns

2. Mack Browns, Texas Longhorns
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Longhorns fans would have loved to have seen Brown out of Austin yesterday. However, an athletic department does not simply fire a legend following a few relatively sub-par years.

But a fourth consecutive disappointing season is another story altogether. Athletic director DeLodd Doss has been forced to deal with questions regarding Brown's safety at his position and should be about as sick of answering it as members of the media are sick of asking it.

Texas lost to Alabama in the BCS National Championship game in 2009, and has not sniffed the type of game-play the nation has come to expect from the cream of the conference crop since. In 2010, the team won seven games. 2011 resulted in eight and 2012 came with nine.

Quarterback David Ash is primed for a big year and the team returns a whopping 19 starters from last year's Alamo Bowl-winning squad -- a number that is tied for the most in the nation.

If there was ever an opportunity for Brown to prove his coaching prowess and lead his team back into the BCS, this is it.

It might be bizarre to think about, but should Texas not win double-digit games in 2013, the calls for Brown's dismissal will be louder than ever.

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1. Lane Kiffin, USC Trojans

1. Lane Kiffin, USC Trojans
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports


Kiffin's Trojans became the first team in college football history to open the year at No. 1-overall and end it with six losses. He was scolded time and again for bending (some people, including yours truly, might call it breaking) the ethical rules of the game. He embarrassed the 'Trojans' name by trying to deflate footballs, by having players change numbers at halftime, and finally, and obviously, not having his players prepared for an eventual Sun Bowl defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech.

Kiffin has been a cancer at every stop thus far.

If the hijinks continue in 2013 -- and the wins don't -- Kiffin will be kicked to the curb.

And with good reason.

We're not going to waste any more of our time on this guy, and after 2013, the USC athletic department might not either.


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