9 College Football Coaches Who Need 10 Wins in 2013 to Keep Their Jobs
When you combine top-tier recruiting, a storied history and recent success, you’ve got a cocktail that spawns very high expectations.
And when you’ve got your eye on a championship each and every year, you’ve got a coach that is constantly under pressure to over-achieve.
The irony associated with of some of the best head-coaching jobs in college football is that where there exists a delicious spotlight, there is always invariably the glare of overwhelming expectations.
And these are high hopes that can send a guy from the top of the world to the hot seat in a single season.
The following slideshow celebrates this rather fraught mentality and pinpoints nine college football coaches that need 10 wins in 2013 to keep their jobs.
In each case, these gridiron leaders need to be in the championship conversation from a divisional and conference standpoint in 2013, and then they need to have their hats in the ring for the BCS.
If not, 2013 could be their last season at their current post, and even if they do push their luck into 2014, they’ll be fighting for their jobs with each and every win.
Mack Brown, Texas
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The truth about Mack Brown is that he’s already managed to survive three seasons under the 10-win mark, a fact that makes it difficult to think he could last another.
Brown and Texas managed a string of double-digit win seasons from 2001-09 before posting a 5-7 record in 2010, an 8-5 mark in 2011 and then the 9-4 mark this season.
To put a finer point on the Longhorns' free fall since 2010, Texas had lost 16 total Big 12 games in Brown’s first 12 seasons at the helm only to suffer 15 league defeats in the last three seasons.
Though Brown’s numbers are obviously moving in the right direction, he’ll need to cash in on his continued recruiting success (the Longhorns have only been out-recruited by Alabama and USC since 2009) and high number of returning starters in 2013 to stay employed.
Given the expectations at Texas, Brown will need a minimum of 10 wins and a BCS berth to either keep the whistle or finally retire gracefully.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska
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Bo Pelini is a guy who may not belong on this list.
Indeed, Pelini has never dropped below the nine-win mark in five seasons at Nebraska, and he comes straight off a 2012 season which included a Legends division title and a trip to the second-ever Big Ten title game.
But, what makes Pelini a candidate for this list is the fact that the Huskers finished the season ranked No. 92 nationally against the run and coughed up 538 yards to Wisconsin in the conference championship.
Really, you can’t overstate the pain and worry associated with a 63-38 loss to Ohio State and then the 70-31 beatdown at the hands of the Badgers.
If Pelini posts 10 wins again in 2013, then you’ve got to figure he stays in the driver’s seat. But, if he and Nebraska take a dive next season and win, say, eight games and look somewhat questionable doing it, all bets are off.
This doesn’t mean that Pelini loses his job after next season, but it does mean that he could find his name on the “hot seat” list in 2014.
Brady Hoke, Michigan
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After leading Michigan to an 11-2 season in 2011 which included a win the BCS Sugar Bowl, Brady Hoke looked like the answer to the Wolverines' football woes.
But, after returning a stockpile of starters in 2012 and diving to an 8-5 finish and a narrow loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, you’ve got to wonder what’s next for Hoke at Michigan.
It’s fairly simple to see that this is a situation that could go one of two ways.
First, Hoke could win 10 games in 2013 and retain the confidence of Michigan fans and continue recruiting and building the program back up until championships are back in the picture.
Or, Hoke could hit eight wins again next season, or less, and suddenly Wolverine enthusiasts might wonder why it was they hired the enthusiastic Kettering, Ohio native whose last coaching stop had been at San Diego State.
The truth is, when you are the head man at a major program, an eight-win campaign in your second season is a bridge that clearly leads to two distinctly different destinations.
So, for Hoke will it be the land of milk and honey that means a long-term role at a big-time program, or instead the lonely Isle of Hot Seat?
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
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First and foremost, there is no logical way to argue that if Ohio State tanks in 2013 that Urban Meyer will be out the door.
But, it’s pretty safe to say that if Urban Meyer doesn’t deliver a double-digit win season and a realistic run at the Big Ten crown and the BCS that rumbling will begin at Ohio State.
Well, first you’ve got the lifting of the postseason ban for next season which means that the Buckeye fans, who sat somewhat patiently and watched their squad get all dressed up with a 12-0 record and then go no place, will be blood-thirsty for some sort of meaningful title.
Secondly, you’ve still got the sneaking feeling that maybe, just maybe, Ohio State wasn’t as good as its perfect record indicated in 2012.
Yes, they won every single game, and nobody can take that away from the Bucks, but boy wasn’t it interesting how it played out?
Ohio State narrowly beat UCF (31-16), Cal (35-28), UAB (29-15) and Michigan State (17-16) early in the season and then after blowing out Nebraska (63-38) continued a string of paper-thin victories.
Indeed, what measure of confidence was gleaned from the 52-49 win over Indiana, the 29-22 OT win over Purdue, the 35-23 victory over Penn State, the 21-14 OT win over Wisconsin and then the turnover-ridden 26-21 victory vs. Michigan?
Though Meyer is a proven winner, he’s precariously positioned as a coach straight off a perfect season that has an awful lot to prove.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
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Like Meyer at Ohio State, it’s fairly ridiculous to think that the Irish would part ways with Kelly anytime soon.
Yes, Kelly is the guy that finally, at long last, brought Notre Dame back into the city limits of Title Town, and so regardless of how next season plays out, it’s nearly impossible to think that his job would be in jeopardy.
But, is anyone else wondering how easily the Irish will forget what has to be considered one of the most devastating championship performances in history?
Seriously, if Notre Dame begins to tank, even ever so slightly moving forward, how long will it take for folks to start bringing up the exposure of the Irish vs. Alabama?
Especially is the Irish start coughing up the ball and losing bizarrely a la 2011.
There is no doubt that for now Kelly is locked in at Notre Dame, but think back to how quickly guys like Mack Brown, Gene Chizik and Lane Kiffin fell from grace.
Mark Helfrich, Oregon
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Though it’s hard to say that a first-year head coach needs to win 10 games or be out, Oregon’s former OC and now head coach Mark Helfrich might be that guy.
What will both help and hurt Helfrich is that he’s taking over a Chip Kelly-led program which won the Pac-12 title three of the last four years and went to the BCS four consecutive times.
What helps Helfrich is that he’s left with a program on the rise, which means stockpiles of speedy talent, a fluid recruiting pipe and the type of recent success that breeds, well, more success.
On the flip sidem what hurts Helfrich is the fact that Duck fans now have heightened expectations and will anticipate at minimum 10 wins, especially since they haven’t fallen under this number since way back in 2007.
Helfrich isn’t likely to lose his job if he wins nine games in 2013, but if he repeats that total or less in 2014, he’ll be looking for love in all the wrong places.
You can’t help but want to root for Helfrich at Oregon and hope that the transition between him and Kelly is more like what took place between David Shaw and Jim Harbaugh at Stanford as opposed to the Jim Tressel-to-Luke Fickell conversion at Ohio State.
Lane Kiffin, USC
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The issue of Lane Kiffin’s job security at USC is a lot like that of Mack Brown at Texas, only Brown at least has a long history of success at his current post to aid his plea to stay.
Both Kiffin and Brown have so much talent on their respective rosters that it’s impossible not to expect way more than seven and eight win seasons, but as far as Kiffin is concerned, he’s yet to take the Trojans to the Promised Land.
What helps Lane Kiffin is that in 2011 is that USC looked oh so good when they finished, under the shadow of the postseason ban, 10-2 and first in the Pac-12 South division.
What hurts Kiffin is that in 2012 he returned virtually the entire team only to tank in an ugly fashion with a 7-6 record that ended with a thud via the loss to 6-7 Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Kiffin is one of the guys on our list that absolutely must win 10 games and be in the mix for at least a league title to stay on board.
Mark Richt, Georgia
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Frankly, Mark Richt is a guy who is tough to include on this list.
Richt will go into the 2013 season as the guy who fell just a couple plays short of making the BCS title game in 2012, and this makes you think that he is rock-solid for at least a couple of more campaigns at Georgia.
But, this is still the coach that teetered dangerously on the edge of being canned just two seasons ago when the Bulldogs finished the 2010 season 6-7 and lost to UCF 10-6 in the Liberty Bowl.
Things didn’t look much better for Richt when the Bulldogs suffered two consecutive losses to Boise State and South Carolina at the beginning of 2011, but disaster was avoided with 10 consecutive wins to close out the regular season.
So, how viable is Richt’s spot at Georgia coming off the 12-2 season that came oh so close at a shot at the biggest, cheesiest enchilada in all of sports?
Well, though you’ve got to figure that Richt has bought himself at least a season or two, if the Bulldogs drop under 10 wins in 2013 and then tank again in 2014 that he’ll be gone.
Perhaps it’s not fair, but at some point Georgia will expect a conference crown and a shot at the BCS title.
Will Muschamp, Florida
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In terms of guys who really will get fired if they don’t win 10 games in 2013 vs. guys who probably could survive one sub-10 win season, Florida’s Will Muschamp is somewhere in the middle.
On one hand you’ve got a coach who just took the Gators to their first double-digit win season since Urban Meyer went 13-1 in 2010.
And then on the flip side, you’ve got the gridiron leader that managed to eke out 11 wins with a highly favorable turnover margin, virtually zero offense and a great defense.
And this is the same guy who engineered narrow margins of victory over Bowling Green (27-14), Vandy (31-17), Missouri (14-7) and Louisiana-Lafayette (27-20).
Additionally, this is coach that led the team in its dubious, 33-23 upset loss to Louisville in the BCS Sugar Bowl.
And that’s a bad taste that gets to stay in everyone’s mouth for nine full months.
So, what does Will Muschamp have to do to calm the shouts of the naysayers who just 12 months ago where screaming their heads off after Florida went 6-7?
Well, win 10 games, or more.
If not, Muschamp may not be immediately out the door but given the lofty expectations at Florida, it may be just a matter of time.