College Football Hot Seat Rankings: Is Dan Hawkins' Run at Colorado Up?
It would be almost unheard of for a coach (even one on the hot seat) to get fired after the first game of the season. But an unexpected loss or shocking victory could set the tone for the future of many coaches.
There are some clear-cut coaches whose jobs are on the line as 2010 gets underway. Of course, there are some others who will unceremoniously work their way onto the list through a subpar season.
So with the 2010 season ready to kick off Thursday, here’s a review of how coaches on the hot seat will do in Week 1.
Greg McMackin, Hawaii
McMackin’s team rallied to win four of its final five games to set a pretty good foundation heading into 2010. While a good number of those players are back, facing No. 14 USC at home isn’t a great way to start the season for a coach on the hot seat.
The Warriors' only chance of winning this game is if they can outgun the Trojans. WR Greg Salas is a tough matchup for any team. He led the WAC with 106 receptions for 1,590 yards. Throwing to him will be Bryant Moniz, who started eight of Hawaii’s final nine games. He threw for 2,396 yards and 14 touchdowns.
McMackin needs to get to a bowl game, something Hawaii didn’t do last year, to save his job. Starting with a loss doesn’t help his cause.
Prediction: USC 45, Hawaii 14
Paul Wulff, Washington State
Washington State is widely considered one of the nation’s worst teams, which is pretty much what everyone has thought about the Cougars since Wulff arrived in 2008. It seems he’s been on the hot seat from the first day, but Wulff inherited a program in disarray.
Wulff has been talking about how the Cougars are going to surprise teams this year. They better, or his time at his alma mater will likely be over.
Do you think Wulff is referring to the season opener at Oklahoma State when he talks about shocking some opponents in 2010? Maybe, but it’s not likely. He won’t quiet many critics with this season opener.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 55, Washington State 20
Dan Hawkins, Colorado
It’s a surprise Hawkins is on this list again in 2010, but only because there are few folks who would have predicted he’d return this season.
But Hawkins, who has three years left on his contract at Colorado, gets another shot to prove his hiring in 2006 wasn’t a huge mistake. So far, the numbers don’t support anything but total failure. Hawkins enters 2010 with a 16-33 record.
He’s also 2-2 against season-opening opponent Colorado State. Colorado lost last year 23-17. The game has usually been competitive (Colorado won 38-17 in 2008 and 31-28 in OT in 2007, and lost 14-10 in 2006), but Hawkins could really use a blowout in his favor to get rolling.
Prediction: Colorado State 24-21
Ron Zook, Illinois
Man, that Zook can recruit. Unfortunately it hasn’t translated into enough victories. The former University of Florida coach has gone 21-39 since arriving at Illinois in 2005.
His big year was 2007 when the Fighting Illini went 9-4 and reached the Rose Bowl. Since then Illinois is 8-16 and hasn’t finished any better than eighth in the Big Ten.
Zook needs a big season, and he could have really used an easier opener. Missouri has dominated this matchup the past three seasons, winning 40-37 (2007), 52-42 (2008) and 37-9 (2009). Since Missouri is clearly in a better place than Illinois, Zook’s hot seat won’t cool off any this week.
Prediction: Missouri 38-17
Tim Brewster, Minnesota
Brewster is sort of a coaching dichotomy. After an abysmal 1-11 first season he has guided the Gophers to back-to-back Insight Bowl appearances (both losses).
Last year’s 6-7 season wasn’t what anyone at Minnesota was hoping for as it opened the new TCF Bank Stadium—and there were a few too many vacant seats. Brewster can save his job with some big wins, including a huge upset of USC in Week 3.
First, Brewster needs to get by Middle Tennessee State on the road. About two weeks ago, you could find a lot of action going Middle Tennessee State’s way. Now that all-everything quarterback Dwight Dasher has been suspended, the Gophers are looking like a big favorite.
Prediction: Minnesota 32-14
Bob Toledo, Tulane
Toledo is confident he is making a difference at Tulane, especially by recruiting some of the hotbeds of Louisiana. Hey may be right. But if he doesn’t win this season he won’t be around to prove it.
The Green Wave have gone 9-27 since Toledo arrived in the Big Easy so getting to 6-6 is a pretty lofty goal. The program has improved its depth, but the overall talent and playmakers are still limited or not even existent at Tulane.
Toledo hopes to get things off on the right track by hosting FCS opponent Southeastern Louisiana, which went 6-5 last year.
Prediction: Tulane 41-24
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
Friedgen went from favorite son to hot seat about as quick as you can. In his first three seasons at Maryland, Friedgen went 31-8 and won the ACC in 2001. Since then, the Terrapins have gone 35-38. Last year’s 2-10 record looked like the final straw, but the administration gave the coach one more season to turn it around.
The Terrapins are in the weaker Atlantic Division, so the opportunity is there for Maryland to be a surprise team and even reach a bowl game. But if the season gets off on the wrong foot it could all go downhill quick.
Opening with a potent opponent like Navy is not a great way to start. The Midshipmen gave Ohio State a scare in Columbus last year, and Navy’s Ricky Dobbs is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the nation.
Prediction: Navy 28-23
Mike Locksley, New Mexico
As Locksley’s second season begins he has to think it can’t be worse than 2009. Chances are it won’t. He probably won’t have any physical altercations with assistant coaches, nor should he have any further sexual harassment charges by New Mexico employees.
What happens on the field may be a lot of the same. The Lobos will be at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference again, and Locksley’s tenure in Albuquerque could be short lived.
So who greets Locksley and the Lobos? How about No. 11 Oregon, which features one of the nation’s most athletic defenses in Eugene. Locksley won’t get his second victory in Week 1.
Prediction: Oregon 63-14
Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
Does anyone remember when Erickson was considered one of the elite coaches in the game? Hard to believe he may be forced out at Arizona State after this year. That’s what happens when the team you’re coaching endures back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the 1940s.
Erickson’s teams have played steady defense, but the offense has sputtered. ASU has turned the offensive play-calling over to first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who brings a more up-tempo approach that he learned under former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.
Erickson gets a little break in the opener as the Sun Devils host Portland State, a Football Championship Series program that went 2-9 last season. A win doesn’t quiet the critics, but a loss will create a frenzy of anti-Erickson rhetoric.
Prediction: Arizona State 35-3
Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
Consecutive losing seasons is not what Michigan’s brass had in mind when they paid millions to get Rodriguez from West Virginia after the 2007 season. But a lot of money later all the Wolverines have to show for their big spending is an 8-16 record and no bowls.
It’s still not clear who will start at quarterback for the Wolverines this season. Rodriguez is still evaluating last year’s starter Tate Forcier, sophomore Denard Robinson and freshman Devin Gardner. It’s never a good sign if it’s this close to the start of the season and you still can’t name a starter. Let’s not forget the defensive issues at UM either.
Michigan opens the season in the Big House against an opponent Rodriguez is very familiar with—Connecticut. The Huskies are experienced and considered a dark horse to win the Big East. So this could be an ominous start to Rodriguez’s final season in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: Connecticut 42-34
Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
Sherman may need an eight-win season to save his job, so after hosting Stephen F. Austin he’s looking for just seven more.
For Texas A&M to do better than the 6-7 mark it put up last year, the Aggies need to shore up a defense that was one of the worst in the Big 12. It won’t be easy, though. Texas A&M has one of the nation’s toughest schedules with games against No. 5 Texas, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Nebraska and No. 17 Arkansas.
Sherman’s future could rely heavily on how super-stud quarterback Jerrod Johnson performs. He should have a big game in the opener. He may even get to sit the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Texas A&M 52, Stephen F. Austin 3
Lane Kiffin, USC
No other coach in the nation may be more pleased to see the season get started than Kiffin. Following all of the offseason turmoil, not to mention his less-than-smooth exit from Tennessee, playing a football game is just what Kiffin needs.
Week one shouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Trojans as they travel to Hawaii. The Warriors are coming off a 6-7 season and, as noted earlier, they have a coach who needs to win more this season.
This is a great way for Kiffin to kick off his first year in Troy.
Prediction: USC 45, Hawaii 14