College Football: Coaches and Coordinators on the Hot Seat
Every football season begins with hope and promise for college football fans nationwide. Fans count their team's returning starters, ponder the ability of incoming recruits, pore over the schedule, and debate how the off-season workouts went.
Fall practices flame fans' passions more, building it up until game day arrives. For most fans reality hits somewhere between the first and second quarter. A lucky fan does not see the reality of the season until after the first couple weeks have passed. Once it sets in however, regardless of who you cheer for, the same words will be spoken, “We are not a good team again this year”.
Who or what’s to blame for your team’s bad start? Was the schedule too hard? Did the team incur too many injuries? Or is your favorite college team just not that good? Regardless of what the problem may be, the ultimate responsibility lies on the head coach and his staff.
Here’s a list of head coaches and coordinators who are in trouble four weeks into the 2011 season.
Houston Nutt, Head Coach, Ole Miss
Houston Nutt, Head Coach, Ole Miss
David Lee, Offensive Coordinator, Ole Miss
Many pundits saw this one coming. Houston Nutt had back-to-back 9-4 seasons in 2008 and 2009 including back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories. Then he had a 4-8 2010 season with a 1-7 SEC record. After a last-second loss to BYU at home and embarrassing losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia, Nutt is already in deep trouble.
This is Nutt’s fourth year at Ole Miss. Typically, a head coach wants four years to get “his” players on campus to fit his schemes. There’s no blaming Ed Orgeron for leaving the Rebels without talent, his last recruiting class in 2007 was ranked 27th in the nation. This is all Nutt’s team.
David Lee was brought in from the Miami Dolphins to direct the offense in hopes of repeating the success they had together at Arkansas with Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis. The only problem is they were all NFL caliber running backs. Does Nutt have that type of talent in Oxford?
Ole Miss Recruiting:
In 2008 Mississippi finished recruiting ranked 29th in the nation.
In 2009 Mississippi finished recruiting ranked 18th in the nation.
In 2010 Mississippi finished recruiting ranked 18th in the nation.
In 2011 Mississippi finished recruiting ranked 19th in the nation.
Ole Miss offensive ranking in 2011(out of 120 FBS teams) after week four:
Total offense: Ranked 118th
Scoring Offense: Ranked 103rd, 18.75 points per game
Rushing Offense: Ranked 102nd, 90.5 rushing yards per game
Rushing Offense: Averages 2.85 rushing yards per attempt
Passing Offense: Ranked 113th, 144.5 passing yards per game
Passing Offense: 54 completions, 7 interceptions, 3 passing touchdowns
What excuses can Nutt and Lee provide for their poor offensive showing? None. Should the Rebels return from Fresno State with another loss look for the alumni and boosters to start gathering buyout money sooner than later.
Vic Sealy, Defensive Coordinator, Kansas Jayhawks
Turner Gil has only been the head coach at Kansas since 2010 and the Jayhawks are off to a 2-1 start, but his 5-10 coaching record has to worry fans and alumni. There is some talent left on campus from former head coach Mark Mangino’s days and Turner turned in a solid 2011 class.
In 2008 Kansas finished recruiting ranked 40th in the nation.
In 2009 Kansas finished recruiting ranked 31st in the nation.
In 2010 Kansas did not finish ranked in the top 50 in recruiting rankings.
In 2011 Kansas finished recruiting ranked 36th in the nation.
So what's wrong in Lawrence? Vic Sealy’s defense is a major problem. The Jayhawks have given up 24 points or more in every game so far this season; McNeese State 24, Northern Illinois 42, Georgia Tech 66.
Kansas has given up 18 touchdowns and only held teams to two field goals.
Total Defense: Ranked 120th (last) in the nation, 550 yards per game.
Scoring Defense: Ranked 120th (last) in the nation, 44 points per game.
Rushing Defense: Ranked 120th (last in the nation, 282 yards per game.
Passing Defense: Ranked 102nd in the nation, 268 yards per game.
Rick Neuheisel, Head Coach, UCLA
Rick Neuheisel has no one to blame but himself in 2011. Neuheisel fired five assistant coaches from last year’s staff and made himself the offensive play caller this season. He installed the Pistol in 2010 with mixed results. The Bruins finished the year ranked 32nd in rushing but finished 116th in passing , making them the 100th best offense in the nation.
UCLA has underperformed with the talented recruits they have on campus. There’s no reason or excuse for not having a top 20 recruiting class every year and seeing that translate to wins. Last year’s 45th ranked recruiting class should have the Bruin faithful concerned after a 7-6 record in 2009 and going 4-8 in 2010.
In 2008 UCLA finished recruiting ranked 13th in the nation.
In 2009 UCLA finished recruiting ranked 14th in the nation.
In 2010 UCLA finished recruiting ranked 8th in the nation.
In 2011 UCLA finished recruiting ranked 45th in the nation.
How has Neuheisel’s 2-2 team performed statistically?
Total Offense: Ranked 59th in the nation, 411.25 yards per game.
Scoring Offense: Ranked 74th in the nation, 27 points per game.
Scoring Defense: Ranked 91st in the nation, 20.75 points per game.
Rushing Defense: Ranked 93rd in the nation, 183.25 yards per game.
Passing Defense: Ranked 72nd in the nation, 229 yards per game.
Total Defense: Ranked 98th in the nation, 412.25 yards per game.
Little offense and no defense should make for another long season in Westwood, especially in the offensively minded Pac-12.
Frank Spaziani, Head Coach, Boston College
Frank Spaziani has only been the head coach at Boston College for three years but his 17-14 record is worrisome. Starting 2011 at 1-3 isn't making Eagles fans feel a whole lot better, either.
BC lost to Northwestern at home, 24-17, University of Central Florida on the road, 30-3, and Duke back at Chestnut Hill, 20-19. Their lone win is against an FCS school, UMass, 45-17.
Spaziani did not walk into the Boston College top spot without knowing the team and the system ahead of time. Spaziani was on the BC coaching staff for 12 years as a running back’s coach and defensive coordinator before becoming head coach in 2009.
Each year the Eagles’ record has slowly dipped under Spaziani; 8-5 in 2009, 7-6 in 2010, and 1-3 to date in 2011. Spaziani has taken the Eagles to back-to-back bowl games, the Emerald Bowl and Fight Hunger Bowl, but both ended in losses.
What’s the problem in Chestnut Hill? Recruiting could be better… a lot better. The last time BC finished in the top 25 in recruiting was in 2004 at 24th in the nation.
Boston College Recruiting:
In 2008 Boston College finished recruiting ranked 33rd in the nation.
In 2009 Boston College did not finish ranked in the top 50 in recruiting.
In 2010 Boston College finished recruiting ranked 47th in the nation.
In 2011 Boston College finished recruiting ranked 38th in the nation.
BC has not played the toughest part of their schedule and they have underperformed against lesser quality teams thus far. The Eagles still have to play Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami (FL.).
Total Offense: Ranked 99th in the nation, 328 yards per game.
Scoring Offense: Ranked 99th in the nation, 21 points per game.
Total Defense: Ranked 92nd, 406 yards per game.
Scoring Defense: Ranked 50th in the nation, 22.75 points per game.
Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn University
How can a defensive coordinator coming off a BCS Championship be on the hot seat? Having the 60th ranked defense in 2010 and the 110th ranked defense in 2011 is a start. This has to drive Auburn head coach Gene Chizik crazy as he's known as a defensive mind both with the Tigers and when he was still with the Texas Longhorns
Auburn has as much talent on campus as any other team in the nation. (Auburn fans will argue this point to their advantage or to their defense one way or another.) They lost eight defensive starters to graduation, the NFL, and in former free safety Mike McNeil's case, armed robbery. Roof did not substitute for linebackers Josh Bynes or Craig Stevens much last year, so they do have a lack of experience this season at those positions.
Regardless those are all excuses, with the recruiting classes they have hauled onto campus (25 four-star recruits and 4 five-star recruits since 2009), if Auburn was shutting teams down, they would point out how great they have recruited over the past three years.
In 2008 Auburn finished recruiting ranked 20th in the nation.
In 2009 Auburn finished recruiting ranked 19th in the nation.
In 2010 Auburn finished recruiting ranked 4th in the nation.
In 2011 Auburn finished recruiting ranked 7th in the nation.
Auburn has allowed 90 points scored by opponents so far in 2011, and given up touchdowns in the red zone 15 times on 17 scoring opportunities.
Scoring Defense: Ranked 92nd in the nation, 31 points per game.
Total Defense: Auburn is giving up 477.50 yards of offense per game.
Rushing Defense: Ranked 112th in the nation, allowing 226.50 rushing yards per game.
Passing Defense: Ranked 90th in the nation, allowing 251 yards per game.
Gus Malzahn needs Roof to come up with quality stops to take some of the pressure off of Auburn’s offense. When a two-touchdown lead becomes a two-touchdown loss, who do you blame?
Other head coaches on the hot seat:
University of Memphis, Larry Porter: a 1-10 season last year and zero wins to start the 2011 season will not help Porter keep his job. The Tigers' offense is ranked 117th in the nation in scoring, managing just 11 points per game.
University of Georgia, Mark Richt: 2-2 record in 2011. Richt has not advanced to SEC Title game since 2005. Bulldogs fans expect more.
University of Illinois, Ron Zook: a 4-0 start and a win against now-ranked Arizona St.(#25) helped start the season out well, but if things go south, Fighting Illini fans will remember last year's 7-6 record quickly.
Arizona State University, Dennis Erickson: The Sun Devils haven't gone bowling since 2007. If ASU stumbles through the season, the school will look to replace the former National Championship winner.
Ohio State University, Luke Fickell:. Fickell could be replaced by an elite coach before the bowl season is over.
Washington State University, Paul Wulff: His record entering this season was 5-32 (two wins, one win, two wins). A 3-1 start has Cougar fans excited but "Wazzu" hasn't hit the heavy part of their schedule yet. A bowl appearance would take Wulff off the hot seat, but three or four more wins will be tough to reach.
*All recruiting rankings based off of Rivals.com.
**All statistics provided from the NCAA.
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