Mailbag: Which Pac-12 Coach Will Not Be Coaching the Same Team in 2014?
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor
College football fans have an opportunity to ask questions about their favorite team or anything else related to college football every Thursday.
David Kaufer asked a great question on Twitter.
@LisaHorne which Pac12 coach will not be coaching same team next season?— David Kaufer (@DavidKaufer) August 1, 2013
A coaching change can be viewed as positive or negative. Let's focus on the positive first.
Two current coaches have a good shot of moving up to coach in the NFL in the near future: Stanford's David Shaw and UCLA's Jim L. Mora.
Shaw has been named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for two consecutive years. He's a proven winner who has NFL blood running through his veins.
Shaw's father, Willie, was a defensive backs coach for the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints. He was also the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders.
With a 23-4 record and two consecutive BCS Bowl berths heading into his third year as Stanford's head coach, Shaw is a great NFL coaching candidate. He is polished, well spoken and emphasizes accountability and discipline.
Mora has already ventured into the NFL as a head coach. He was the Atlanta Falcons' head coach from 2004-06 and the Seattle Seahawks' coach in 2009. Mora's teams went 26-22 in Atlanta and 5-11 in Seattle.
Mora led UCLA to to its second consecutive Pac-12 Championship game in his first season as its head coach. A football program that has been viewed as mediocre in the past 10 years is now garnering more respect. The improvement is due to Mora's intense practice sessions and stronger conditioning of his players.
The USAToday Coaches preseason poll was released on Thursday. UCLA was ranked No. 21, three spots ahead of its rival USC. Mora's team is attracting attention from pollsters and elite football prospects.
The Bruins' recruiting class of 2013 was ranked No. 7 by 247Sports. USC's class was ranked No. 12.
UCLA also picked up prospects previously committed to USC, including five-star defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes, 4-star receiver Eldridge Massington and 4-star defensive end Kylie Fitts. Massington and Fitts are enrolled at UCLA. Vanderdoes, who signed with Notre Dame in February after decommitting from USC, has been cleared to transfer to UCLA, a source confirmed to CBSSports.com.
Mora and Shaw could both jump to the NFL if vacancies occur.
There are an additional two coaches who may not be coaching the same team for a different reason. USC head coach Lane Kiffin is sitting on the hottest coaching hot seat, according to Athlon Sports. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is sitting on the 17th-hottest seat, according to the same report.
In an interesting twist of irony, Sarkisian and Kiffin served as offensive coordinators for former USC head coach Pete Carroll—Kiffin in 2005-06 and Sarkisian in 2007-08.
The Washington Huskies are playing with 85 scholarshipped players. USC is forced to play with 75 as a result of NCAA violations discovered during Carroll's tenure. The Trojans were stripped of 10 scholarships per year for three years and were banned from postseason play for two years as a result of the NCAA's findings. Carroll left USC for Seattle before the sanctions were announced, and newly hired Kiffin was left to deal with the repercussions.
Sarkisian has not been able to win more than seven games in a season, thus prompting some fans to nickname him "Seven-win Steve." Last year's team was youthful and its offensive line was riddled with injuries. This year the expectations are high.
The Huskies open their season with Boise State, the same team that ended their season in 2012. Washington lost to Boise State 28-26 in the Las Vegas Bowl. If Washington loses to Boise State on August 31, expect Sarkisian's hot seat to warm up considerably.
Kiffin needs to get the Trojans in the double-digit win column. A Rose Bowl berth would make his job secure. USC Athletics Director Pat Haden has been vocal in his support of Kiffin, according to the Los Angeles Times' Gary Klein. Haden has even gone so far as to make a video showing his support of Kiffin.
So who is the most likely to not return as his Pac-12 team's head coach?
If Shaw takes Stanford to another BCS Bowl, he may be off to the NFL. Mora probably needs another year or two before he is wooed.
If Sarkisian loses to Boise State, he could be in trouble, but only if the Huskies produce another 7-5 regular-season record. Eight or more wins will show improvement.
Kiffin needs to produce an improved defense. His father Monte resigned as USC's defensive coordinator last season. Former Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is now in charge.
Although Kiffin does not have the luxury of 85 scholarshipped players—which should be taken into consideration by his detractors—he will be judged on the team's improvement. With a roster filled with elite 5-star talent, any record with fewer than nine wins may not save his job.
USC is underrated. It is capable of winning the conference championship. If it does not, Kiffin is probably not going to be back at USC.
Here, in order, are the coaches most likely to not return[Order of who is the most likely to not return]:
1. Shaw (to NFL)
2. Kiffin (not retained)
3. Sarkisian (not retained)
4. Mora (to NFL)
If you have a question about college football, ask Lisa on Twitter.
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