College Football Predictions 2011: 10 Coaches Who Could Stumble
Being a college football coach is one of the toughest jobs in sports. When you are winning, the fans love you, but when your losing, you are always the first to blame.
The coaches on this list have experienced a great deal of success in their career thus far. A few have won BCS titles and look to maintain their program's power.
However, these coaches are also on the list because their 2011 will be uncharacteristically disappointing, for whatever reason.
These are the college football coaches who could have one of their worst seasons ever in 2011.
Chris Ault (Nevada)
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Chris Ault has been the head coach at Nevada since 1976. He has been an excellent 219-97-1 and has won nine conference championships.
In 2010, Ault enjoyed one of his best seasons ever. His team finished with a record of 13-1 and a top 15 ranking.
However, he is losing some key players from that talented team. He will have to do without quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Vai Taua and athletic defensive end Dontay Moch.
Nevada has a tough schedule next season. Early in the season, they play three consecutive road games at Oregon, at Boise State and at Texas Tech.
Losing so many players and with such tough opponents, don’t expect Ault’s Wolfpack to end the season with more than eight wins.
Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech)
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You can always count on a Frank Beamer team to have a strong defense, good running backs and a mobile quarterback.
The defense should still be there for 2011, but the other two positions are big question marks for the Hokies next season.
Four-year starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor has graduated and both running backs from a season ago, Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, are going to try their luck in the NFL. However, he may have an answer at running back in David Wilson.
A disappointing season in Blacksburg is not winning 10 games. Beamer has finished with double-digit wins every season since 2004.
Unless Beamer can find a solid replacement for Taylor, the Hokies are in danger of suffering a down season in 2011.
Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech)
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Last year, Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets had a disappointing 6-7 season, but this might only be the beginning. Their 2011 campaign has the potential to be even worse.
Georgia Tech is only returning 12 total starters and are losing quarterback Josh Nesbitt.
Nesbitt was perfect for Johnson’s option offense. The quarterback is so vital in this system, without Nesbitt the team will have to go through a rebuilding phase.
On the defensive side of the ball, Johnson’s team is losing his entire defensive backfield. These losses might be too much for Georgia Tech to overcome.
They probably will fail to make a bowl game for the first time in Johnson’s tenure.
Gary Patterson (TCU)
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The TCU Horned Frogs have one of the most consistent football programs in recent years. Since 2002, Gary Patterson has led his team to seven double-digit win seasons.
Last season was as memorable as any of them. Patterson’s squad had a 13-0 season that ended with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
However, the Horned Frogs might not be so lucky next season. They play a tougher schedule than usual in 2011 and will need to replace numerous graduating stars.
They are only returning 10 total starters from a season ago, and quarterback and leader Andy Dalton is not one of them. Dalton was the heart and soul of this team last year and will be impossible to replace.
With tough road games against Baylor, San Diego State and Boise State, I could see TCU losing up to three games next season.
Bobby Petrino (Arkansas)
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Bobby Petrino has done an exceptional job at Arkansas and should have a great team in 2011. The reason he is on this list is because his schedule is brutal.
The Razorbacks are talented enough to be BCS title contenders but have to suffer through the hardest schedule in college football first.
They have to play Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU all on the road. Also, they will have tough home matchups against Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
Loaded with talent like running back Knile Davis, the Razorbacks still won’t be able to muster more than nine or ten wins.
That might not seem like a disappointing season. But when you have the talent that Petrino has at Arkansas, anything less than a BCS bid would be disappointing.
Gary Pinkel (Missouri)
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For the first time, Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Tigers will be forced to play a full Big 12 schedule and not just the lowly north division.
On offense, the Tigers are losing only two players. Unfortunately, one of those players is star quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
People around the program seem to be very high on his replacement, James Franklin, but it is hard to replace someone with Gabbert’s talent.
On defense, it is a different story. The Tigers are only returning six starters from a season ago and lose most of their defensive backfield.
The last and most major concern Pinkel and the Tigers should have is their schedule. An early road matchup against Arizona State would be one of the toughest matchups on most team’s schedules—but not Missouri.
They have to play three preseason top-10 teams in 2011—Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
Mike Riley (Oregon State)
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For most of his tenure at Oregon State, Mike Riley has coached one of the better teams in the conference. However, those days appear to be passing fast.
Oregon State had a disappointing 5-7 season in 2010 and have lost many key players this offseason.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea and linebacker Keith Pankey will be tough to replace on the defense, but nobody will be missed more than running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
Rodgers has carried the Beaver offense on his back for years. Without him, Riley will be forced to put a lot of pressure on inconsistent quarterback Ryan Katz.
Don’t be surprised if Riley finds himself on the hot seat in Corvallis by the end of next season.
Jeff Tedford (California)
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California fans were growing tired of Tedford’s consistent seven or eight-win seasons, but I am sure they would love to see one of those in 2011.
Last season, Tedford and the Golden Bears were just 5-7, and there doesn’t seem to be too much hope for a better record in 2011.
The Golden Bears are returning seven starters on offense but are losing their star running back in Shane Vereen and have a hopeless quarterback situation. It is almost a certainty that the offense will be poor in 2011.
The team’s strength last season was the defense, but they are only returning five starters from a season ago.
Tedford has his work cut out for him if he wants to revive the California football program.
If he can't, they might find themselves battling with Washington State near the bottom of the conference, and Tedford might be looking for a new job.
Jim Tressel (Ohio State)
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Jim Tressel has been dominant at Ohio State since 2002. Since that time, he has won a BCS title, seven Big Ten championships and five BCS bowl games.
There is no doubt that Tressel is one of the best football coaches alive, but lately, he has found himself in a lot of trouble.
He is going to miss the first five games of the season (along with five of his players), including tough battles against Miami (FL) and Michigan State.
If Ohio State can get through these games without losing, then they will still be contenders for the BCS title and Big Ten Championship. However if they lose, the season will be a failure, and Tressel will be to blame.
This season is huge for Tressel. He needs to fight through the adversity and show that he and his players can stay out of trouble and still win.
Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
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Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes are the first of the “little guys” to finally get an invitation to a big conference. It is a big moment for college football and everyone will be watching.
I predict that Utah falls flat on their face.
Whittingham has been great during his tenure at Utah. He has won two BCS games and has had a winning record in every season since his 2004 arrival. But those seasons were in the Mountain West.
This season, he will be forced to go up against Pac-12 talent every week.
His team is full of question marks. Nobody has stepped up to become the new featured running back yet, and they are losing seven defensive starters from a season ago.
Utah will be a middle of the road team in the Pac-12. Whittingham is used to dominating, so this will be a new challenge for his team to overcome.