National Signing Day 2011: Which Classes May Have Cost A Coach His Job?

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IFebruary 3, 2011

National Signing Day 2011: Which Classes May Have Cost A Coach His Job?

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    Signing Day is basically an unofficial holiday for true college football fans. 

    However, it is not all about congratulations and anticipating a bright future for everyone involved. 

    Head coaches that fail to produce winning teams are often the victims of poor recruiting classes. 

    Poor recruiting classes equal a team that remains in the basement of their division, which finally leads to the head coach getting fired. 

    Not every team on this list is a perennial loser though; some are storied programs that just have not been able to produce at the elite level fans have come to expect from them in recent years. 

    Let us take a look at the coaches who may be in trouble after National Signing Day 2011 is all said and done.  

Rick Neuheisel, UCLA

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    TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Rick Neuheisel of the UCLA Bruins watches from the sidelines during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated th
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Two of the past three years saw the Bruins finish 4-8, and although they made the EagleBank Bowl in 2010, they are not far above water right now. 

    Even in the midst of a winning season, their offense was inept at moving the ball and committed a ton of inexplicable turnovers. 

    So much for UCLA hanging tough with teams like USC once Neuheisel took over. 

    As of writing, UCLA’s recruiting class is well outside of the top 50 since a good portion of their recruits are unranked two and three star players.

    Four star recruit Brett Hundley (QB) has a lot of promise, but will likely red shirt his freshman year. 

    Considering he is by fair their best acquisition, UCLA looks like they are going to have a tough season in 2011.  

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

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    BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 04: Head coach Paul Johnson of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets stands on the sidelines against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on November 4, 2010 in Blacksburg, Virginia.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
    Geoff Burke/Getty Images

    Georgia Tech snuck into the Independence Bowl with a .500 regular season record, only to come up short against Air Force.

    Finishing 6-7 is a pretty rough season, considering the Yellow Jackets were ranked No. 16 in the AP preseason poll.

    Truth be told, it is pretty unlikely that Johnson would get fired even after another poor season in 2011.

    After all, he won two consecutive ACC Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and 2009, his first two years as the Georgia Tech head coach.

    However, consider that he is 0-3 in Bowl Games with the Jackets and went just 4-4 conference play last year.  This is after going 7-1 in 2009. 

    This has obviously impacted recruiting this offseason, as only one 4-star prospect is coming in with linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days. 

    Georgia Tech needs to hope to find some diamonds in the rough amidst a sea of 3-star recruits; otherwise 2011 could be another down year.  

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

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    FORT COLLINS, CO - NOVEMBER 01:  Head coach Bronco Mendenhall of the Brigham Young Cougars prepares to lead his team onto the field to face the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on November 1, 2008 in Fort Collins, Colorado. BYU
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Cougars dropped to 7-6 last year after four consecutive 10 or 11 win seasons.  While everyone is entitled to an off year, it is hard to ignore that their recruiting class is awfully weak this time around. 

    Their class currently ranks just 67 across the nation, with only 17 recruits overall, just one of whom earned a 4-star rank. 

    A mediocre season where the team fell well below expectations, coupled with their independent conference status, has certainly discouraged a lot of young players giving them serious consideration. 

    Another down year could certainly leave Mendenhall’s job status in jeopardy since this is an organization used to being dominant in recent seasons. 

Danny Hope, Purdue

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    COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 23:  Head Coach Danny Hope of the Purdue Boilermakers directs his team from the sideline as they play the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    While Purdue is not exactly a perennial powerhouse, Hope is just 6-10 in the conference and 9-15 overall, since taking over in 2009.

    It does not look like the road is going to get any easier in 2011, as Purdue has just 15 recruits, and not one 4-star player. 

    Unless Hope can pull off a small miracle and produce a winning season next fall, his coaching status likely hinges upon what head coaches are looking for a job come January.  

Dennis Erickson, Arizona State

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    TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches from the sidelines during the college football game against the UCLA Bruins at Sun Devil Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Pete
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Erickson has not had a winning season with the Sun Devils since his inaugural year as head coach in 2007, where the team went 10-3. 

    2008 and 2009 marked the Sun Devils first back to back losing seasons in over 50 years, and a 6-6 finish last year does not inspire much confidence for the immediate future. 

    2011 is not going to get any easier for AS when the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and while Arizona State did recruit two 4-star players in Michael Eubank (QB) and Mo Latu (OL), they managed a measly 13 recruits overall

Joe Paterno, Penn State

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    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1: Head coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions leaves the field following the 2010 Capital One Bowl against the LSU Tigers at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Penn State won 19-17. (P
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Nittany Lions had a very mediocre 2010, going 7-6 overall and just 4-4 in the Big 10. 

    Would Penn State ever honestly fire JoePa? Incredibly unlikely, but he makes the list since Penn State had a very weak off season recruiting after a disappointing season. 

    Penn State was unable to secure any 5-star recruits, somewhat surprising for such a storied franchise. 

    While they likely hit pay dirt with at least one of their five four star recruits, a small recruitment (16 players) class, questions at quarterback, and an always tough schedule assures that 2011 will be no cake walk for the Lions. 

Mike Riley, Oregon State

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    TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Head coach Mike Riley of the Oregon State Beavers during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Tucson, Arizona.   The Beavers defeated the Wildcats 29-27.  (Photo by Chris
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010 was only the second losing season Riley had with the Beavers in his eight seasons since returning from his unsuccessful stint with the San Diego Chargers. 

    However, as a whole, Riley has been slightly above average at best in his time with OSU. 

    In 10 seasons with the Beavers, he is 69-54 overall, but just 43-42 in Pac-10 play.  He has also never managed to lead his team to a Pac-10 conference championship. 

    Even if the Beavers are absolutely terrible next season, it is hard to imagine Riley getting the pink slip since he recently signed an extension though 2019. 

    Still, it is hard to ignore the fact that this year’s recruiting class is rather underwhelming.  Eight of the 24 recruits are 2-star players, and only managed to get the commitment of one 4-star recruit: wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

    Back to back losing seasons would certainly put Riley on the hot seat and raise the question about which proven coaches are available and looking for a new home.  

For Further Signing Day Coverage...

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    ...check out this live blog for signing updates by the minute:

    As well as this slideshow tracking where the top 100 recruits sign: