September 2 marks the start of the 2010 college football season and, as always, there are plenty reasons to be excited.
The usual suspects will be in the national championship race this season. Also there is sure to be a ton of surprises.
But before the season starts there will be coaches that are feeling the heat—and not the kind of heat they will face when practice begins in August.
This is the heat they will face if they want to save their jobs and nearly every BCS conference has a coach on the hot seat.
The unique thing is that to save their jobs these coaches will be held to different standards. Just a winning season might save some coaches, showing improvement might save others, and some coaches might have to win a bowl game to retain their positions. Others might have worn out their welcome and a super season might be the only thing to save them.
Let’s break down the BCS conferences and the coaches who could be on the hot seat for the 2010 season.
At Wake Forest Jim Grobe suffered his first losing season since 2005. Since the Demon Deacons went to the Orange Bowl in 2006 this team has slowly slid backwards. Another losing season could see the seat getting pretty hot for Grobe.
Tom O’Brien has run out of time at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack are 16-21 under O’Brien’s leadership and have only made one bowl game during his tenure. The only thing that might save O’Brien is an eight win season and a bowl trip.
In his last six seasons at Maryland, Ralph Friedgen is 35-38 after starting out with three straight seasons of ten wins or more. The Terrapins have been up and down since those three years of ten or more wins. Friedgen might get this season and 2011 since he is set to retire after the 2011 season. Another bad season might end up with a change coming quicker if the buyout money can be found.
After two seasons of 4-8, Baylor coach Art Briles is on the hot seat. The Bears might have to post a winning season and keep star quarterback Robert Griffin healthy for Briles to keep his job. Another 4-8 or worse season could spell doom for this coach.
Mike Sherman is 10-15 in two seasons at Texas A&M and has not beaten arch rival Texas during his tenure as Aggies coach. This team is a sexy dark horse pick in the Big XII and another 6-6 season might not save Sherman’s job in year three. The Aggies might need to finish 8-4 for Sherman to get a fourth year.
Colorado is leaving the Big XII after the 2011 season and if Dan Hawkins does not turn things around after 16-33 in four seasons as the Buffaloes coach the university might want to start with a clean slate when they jump to the Pac-10. Hawkins has to win at least eight games and maybe the bowl game as well to keep his job.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart has had different starting quarterbacks in the three seasons he has been head coach. The Mountaineers will now have Noel Devine and high expectations. Stewart has done well but how will he fare if this team does not win the Big East.
Dave Wannstedt has had back to back winning seasons but entering his sixth season as coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers he has yet to bring a conference title back to Pitt. Dion Lewis is considered the best player in the Big East and even without quarterback Bill Stull a Big East title might be needed or Wannstedt will feel the heat.
In three seasons at Michigan State, Mark Dantonio has led his teams to a bowl game. The Spartans have only been more than a game above .500 once in Dantonio tenure. Those three bowl games were also loses and time could be running out on the Dantonio era.
After three seasons Tim Brewster is 14-24 at Minnesota. Under Brewster, the Golden Gophers have never had a winning regular season. The past two years they have gone 7-6 in 2008 and 6-7 in 2009 going 6-6 in the regular season both years. A major jump in improvement might be needed if Brewster is going to be around after this season.
Since taking over for Terry Hoeppner due to his illness, Bill Lynch has only had one winning season at Indiana which was his first in 2007. Since that time Lynch’s teams have been hampered by injury (2008) and failed to hold fourth quarter leads (2009). If Lynch cannot find seven to eight wins for the Hoosiers this season he might be out of a job.
In five seasons at Illinois, Ron Zook has only had one winning season and has compiled a 21-39 record. Since going to the Rose Bowl in 2007, the Illini have regressed the last two seasons. A third straight losing season could end Zook’s time in Champaign.
Since leaving West Virginia to Michigan after the firing of Lloyd Carr things have not gone well for Rich Rodriguez. In two seasons as the Wolverines head coach Rodriguez has an 8-16 record. Going into his third season at Ann Arbor, Rodriguez needs at least eight wins to stay around for the 2011 season.
After a spectacular first season at Arizona State, things have gone downhill for Dennis Erickson and the Sun Devils. Two losing seasons has the coach on the hot seat if he cannot turn things around this season. It might take six to seven wins for Erickson to keep his job.
Washington State enters year three of the Paul Wolff era and so far there has been nothing to get excited about. In two years as the Cougars head coach Wolff has a 3-22 record. A major improvement in wins might be the only thing that will keep Wolff on the job.
Normally a first year coach is not on the hot seat but with all the changes at USC including a new athletic director has Lane Kiffin in trouble as the Trojans coach. With the program already on probation for Pete Carroll’s mistakes and Pat Haden as the no nonsense AD, Kiffin cannot afford any mistakes. Kiffin will be on a short lease at USC and will have to watch everything he does.
It is rare that coaches who have never had losing seasons to be on the hot seat but that is exactly where two SEC coaches find themselves. One of these coaches even has an national Championship.
Georgia has been blessed to have Mark Richt leading the Bulldog program the last nine years. Since he has taken over the Bulldogs have gone 90-27 overall and 50-22 in the SEC.
Entering his tenth season at Athens and much like Nutt at Ole Miss it seems the Georgia faithful and Richt are growing tired of each other. This could be the Bulldogs first chance since 2007 to win the SEC East and not winning could mean it is time for Richt to move on.
Les Miles has a national championship and has a 51-15 record at LSU. The Tigers fans are getting restless after 8-5 and 9-4 season the last two years.
Many think the LSU program has underachieved and it might not be an understatement with the recruiting classes the Tigers have had. Still, Miles has only finished third in the SEC West once. But LSU fans want titles not excuses and if Miles does not choke away games like he has done the last couple of years with bad coaching he should be around for another season.
Since taking over at South Carolina things have not gone as well for Steve Spurrier as they did at Florida. Entering his sixth season with the Gamecocks, Spurrier has not won more than more than eight games, which he has done once.
Spurrier has a losing SEC record at 18-22 at South Carolina and has a 35-28 record overall. He has had three seven win seasons and one six win season. If the Gamecocks do not show vast improvement Spurrier could find himself on the chopping block at the end of this season.
Of course there will be plenty of coaches from the Mountain West, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt, and Western Athletic Conference that will find their way on the hot seat.