Pac-12 Football: 5 Coaches on the Hot Seat
It's no secret that one of the story lines in the PAC-12 this year will be coaches on the hot seat. Unlike other conferences, the PAC-12 already has several coaches entering the season in trouble from last year and the seats are expected to get even warmer.
Whether it be lack of performance on the field or the inability to recruit, coaches will most likely fall for one reason or another by season's end. As for the PAC-12, I predict at least one of the coaches will be fired before season's end.
5. Lane Kiffin, USC
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Kiffin is already on the hot seat at USC? Yep, without a doubt. To be honest, Kiffin started this job on the hot seat. Although Kiffin has been relatively quiet since he stepped in as the head man for Troy, he is still one mistake away from unemployment. Even being all minor, violations still follow Kiffin from when he was at Tennessee. One thing we know about USC is that their Athletic Director, Pat Haden, won't tolerate anything that may result in NCAA action.
Kiffin's track record suggests that he has already overstayed his visit at USC. For a guy who's used to bolting after a season, the hot seat almost seems necessary for year two. Fortunately for Kiffin, wins and losses won't mean much this season as far as his job goes. If he can stay away from a disaster of a season on the field we will see him back in 2012. The bigger question will be if he can stay away from violations.
4. Mike Stoops, Arizona
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Since arriving at Arizona in 2004 Stoops has proven that his bark is indeed bigger than his bite. With his short temper and intense coaching style, it's no wonder 'Zona has been unable to get over the hump, even with improvements early on. One thing is for sure, Stoops has been able to deliver several knock out blows to highly ranked teams during his run at U of A. Unfortunately for Stoops, a handful of wins won't keep you your job.
The final outlook on Stoops this season is that he should be alright. A lot of talent comes back for him in 2011 and the Cats are expected to compete in the uncertain PAC-12 South. A bowl win would be nice for Stoops, but a January bowl win would lock him up for a few more years.
3. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
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You got to hand it to Erickson, he has been around forever and he keeps landing solid jobs. In his coaching career Erickson has been to Idaho, Wyoming, the PAC-10, the PAC-12, the NFL, back to Idaho and several places in between. His best accomplishment wasn't winning two titles at Miami, but more so being able to keep control of the Canes for five seasons. Not to mention being able to keep Chad Ochocinco grounded while at Oregon State.
Nowadays, Erickson is at a constant struggle in Tempe as coach of ASU. He hasn't made a bowl the past three seasons and is staring straight ahead at expectations this year. Picked to finish near the top of the conference, Erickson needs at least eight, maybe nine, wins to keep his job. By the looks of him on the sideline, I'm not sure he even cares.
2. Paul Wulff, Washington State
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Unfortunately for Wulff this may be it for him in Pullman. After compiling a whopping five wins in three seasons, the light at the end of the tunnel is all but gone for Wulff. Riddled with horrible talent left over by Bill Doba, it almost seems as if Wulff's job was doomed from the start. Frankly, the only bright spot during Wulff's tenure has been Washington's inability to win games as well.
This season could very easily be Wulff's last. Fortunately for Wulff, though, a 6-6 season will most definitely save his job. Unlike other schools, five wins would be an incredible improvement and one that should be good enough to extend his stay. I don't see that happening though, especially with a tough PAC-12 slate.
1. Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
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If the previous four coach's seats were hot then consider Neuheisel's torched. The question is not if, but when Neuheisel will be fired this season. A once proud program, UCLA has found itself in neutral the last decade and the fan base and players are more than tired of it. Almost certain Neuheisel would be able to turn around a dormant team, UCLA instead took a few steps back with two out of Neuheisel's three seasons resulting in four wins.
Neuheisel will need at least eight wins this season to stay put. The schedule gives them a chance with Texas coming to the Rose Bowl and Oregon off the schedule, but UCLA's roster most likely won't have that fire power. All the blame is on Neuheisel, who has been unable to put together a single coaching staff on the same page.