Seven College Football Coaches Who Could Get a Pink Slip

Logan DaltonCorrespondent IMay 7, 2010

TUSCALOOSA - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks watches the scoreboard during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 17, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The Crimson Tide beat the Gamecocks 20-6.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

In 2009, many high-profile coaches were fired or left their program.

After an unsatisfying tenure at Notre Dame where the highlight was a Hawaii Bowl win, Charlie "Fat Chuck" Weis was put out to pasture. Texas Tech fired Mike Leach, who took the Raiders to 10 straight bowls, for vastly different reasons.

This list of coaches is based strictly on their lack of success on the field. If last year is any indicator, off-field incidents will continue between overzealous coaches and players.

With conference expansion of the horizon, and high-profile coaches like Mike Leach and Phil Fulmer virtual free agents, some big and small teams could be looking to make a change.

Todd Dodge - North Texas (5-31 in three seasons)

Before heading out to coach the Mean Green, Dodge was one of the most creative and accoladed coaches in Texas high school history. He won five championships at Southlake High and coached stud quarterbacks like Greg McElroy (Alabama) and Chase Daniel (New Orleans Saints).

However, success in high school doesn't usually translate to FBS football. Dodge's defenses have been the laughingstock of the Sun Belt, surrendering 36.4 points per game last year.

This season will be especially tough because his son and starting quarterback Riley Dodge has to move to wideout because of arm issues.

It's safe to say that Dodge will be out this year unless he wins at least six games. His "Air Raid" offense hasn't made up for a porous defense and a lack of athletes even in football-rich Texas.

A program that won four Sun Belt titles under Darrell Dickey hasn't been the same, and Dodge will likely go down as the worst coach in North Texas history (.139 winning percentage).

Mike Price - UTEP (34-38 in five seasons)

Price was very successful at Washington State winning two Pac-10 titles, but some off field issues at Alabama led to his dismissal and disgrace. The lowly UTEP Miners gave him a chance for redemption, and he took them to a bowl with Carson's little brother, Jordan Palmer, at QB.

But the blue chip recruits haven't come in for Mike Price, and he's suffered four straight losing seasons. This season could be even worse as the Miners only bring back one starter on offense.

Price has been out-recruited by other Conference USA schools like East Carolina and Tulsa, and the results on the field are showing.

Price is all but fired. Last year, with so many senior starters returning, the Miners had a shot at at least six or seven wins and a bowl.

Their inability to recruit talented defenders has really hurt them because Trevor Vittatoe can really put points on the board (58 points in a win over Houston). Mike Price must win many shootouts to have another year in El Paso.

Dan Hawkins - Colorado (16-33 in four seasons)

Hawkins, who had taken Boise State to four straight bowls, was supposed to be a breath of fresh air in this roadkill program that had been rocked by scandals and seven-win seasons.

But Hawkins has never been able to recruit the kind of talent to win in the Big 12 (same with a lot of coaches). His last recruiting class, for example, didn't have any recruits ranked higher than three stars.

He also has had zero success on the road, winning only two games away from Folsom Field. A signature win versus No. 3 Oklahoma is the only thing keeping him afloat. Speculation swirled last year about his axing, but the AD gave him a vote of confidence.

With Cody Hawkins as a senior and 13 other starters returning, Hawkins has experienced vets in a Big 12 North that should be wide open except for Nebraska.

A season of at least 7-6 should save his job, because Hawkins has never had a winning season at Boulder. This is definitely Hawkins' last chance at coaching a BCS school.

Ron Zook- Illinois (21-39 in five seasons)

Ron Zook's time is running out. Unlike the previous coaches, recruiting isn't his problem. Five star studs have come and gone in Champaign including quarterback/receiver duo Juice Williams and Arrellious Benn. In 2008, Zook's recruiting class was ranked number 17.

Even though he's had four losing seasons, Zook led the Illini to a Rose Bowl in 2007, getting pummeled by USC. They beat Ohio State and were very talented with Williams, Benn, and future Pittsburgh Steeler Rashard Mendenhall at tailback. But mostly Zook's teams have underachieved.

Last year, the Illini were supposed to challenge for a top 20 ranking. However, they couldn't defend giving up 53 points to Fresno State, and Illinois was held under 17 points six times even with senior Juice Williams at quarterback.

Zook's offense will struggle this year with eight underclassman starters. The defense must perform to the highest levels under Ron Zook to save his job.

Ralph Friedgen - Maryland (66-46 in nine seasons)

Friedgen has had success at Maryland, leading this predominantly hoops school to six bowls in nine seasons. However, 2009 was a wake up call that the Terps have only had two winning seasons since 2004 and are slipping away in the expansion-era ACC.

This year's Terps team could be just as big as a disappointment. No skill players return on offense, but the newcomers should be well protected by four returning O-Line starters.

Friedgen's old teams could spring the occasional upset (Tennessee in the 2003 Peach Bowl; top 10 Boston College and Rutgers in 2007), but they've lost two straight to Sun Belt squad MTSU.

A bowl season will ensure Friedgen's peaceful retirement in 2011 unless he pulls a Joe Paterno and stays 20 more years at the program he built.

But if the defense doesn't help the inexperienced quarterback and receivers stay in game, the "Fridge" could get an early pink slip.

Dennis Erickson - Arizona State (19-18 in three seasons)

This might be jumping the gun for this college football nomad, but Erickson won more games his first year in Tempe than he has the rest of his career. That team was led by accurate quarterback Rudy Carpenter (68.4 completion percentage).

There is some optimism for the Sun Devils with Michigan transfer Steven Threet coming in and five four-star recruits for a class ranked a little bit outside of the top 25.

Recruiting hasn't been a problem for ASU, but closing out tight games has been. The Sun Devils lost four games by less than a touchdown, including a three-point home loss to hated rival Arizona.

The Wildcats are slightly more talented than ASU this year, boasting shutdown corner Trevin Wade (5 interceptions) and nine returning starters on offense.

The Pac-10 is tough league this year with teams like USC and Oregon continuing to dominate, and Washington, Arizona, and UCLA finally starting to reap the rewards of their highly rate recruiting classes or taking advantage of a senior quarterback (Jake Locker of Washington).

Erickson has won conference titles at three different schools (Miami, Oregon St., and Arizona St.), but he'll need to do one of his best coaching jobs to get this team out alive in the Pac-10 jungle.

Steve Spurrier - South Carolina (35-28 in five seasons)

The Gamecocks hired Steve Spurrier to win SEC titles, but all he's given them is seven win seasons and PapaJohns.com bowl appearances.

The Ol' Ball Coach has shown flashes of greatness in his tenure at USC, posting wins against old foe Tennessee (South Carolina football's first win in Knoxville) and old school Florida.

But he hasn't made an SEC title game yet or won more than eight games, marks he surpassed after three seasons at Duke.

Over the spring, Spurrier showed his desperation by saying he would call all offensive plays. This Gamecock squad has 10 returning starters on offense and steady quarterback Stephen Garcia (2,862 yards) could thrive in the old "Fun and Gun" which made Danny Wuerffel into a Heisman winner.

With 18 returning starters from a decent 7-6 squad that beat Ole Miss and Clemson, South Carolina must win at least nine games or reach the SEC title game to save Spurrier's job.

The 'Cocks have two nationalchamps.net preseason All SEC players (Cliff Matthews, Chris Culliver) and have a good chance of making Spurrier look like a genius again.

Or he could replace Lee Corso on the College GameDay...


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