BCS Hot Seat: Which Coaches Are In Trouble and Who Replaces Them?
It's make it or break it time in college football for several coaches involved in bowl games this season.
While fans are sitting in their favorite chairs and sipping on eggnog, some coaches are fighting for their jobs, with one final game to prove they deserve their salary.
While coaches campaign to keep their positions, others are frothing at the mouth for their shot.
So which coaches are poised to step in? Which coaches are feeling the pressure, the grim, fiery breath of fate on the back of their neck?
These coaches are hoping a Gatorade bath will put out the heat and save them for another day.
10. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Why He is on the Hot Seat: We begin the countdown with a tough call. Kelly has only coached Notre Dame for one season and the Irish finished 7-5 in the regular season with a bid to play Miami (FL) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
However, as we've seen with Charlie Weis before him, Notre Dame doesn't like to hang around long in the loser's bracket. It may be too early to diagnose, but if the Fighting Irish lose to the Hurricanes, nothing short of a BCS berth in 2011 will be a sure bet for Kelly
Possible Replacements: Mike Leach's name has been thrown around everywhere and you'll see it often on this countdown. His controversy at Texas Tech may be a deciding factor for Notre Dame. At this point, even a Ty Willingham return wouldn't be out of the question.
9. Danny Hope, Purdue
Why He is on the Hot Seat: Hope took over for Joe Tiller and immediately made zero impact in his first two seasons. Purdue has finished 5-7 and 4-8 respectively in Hope's first two seasons, and it doesn't look to get any better quickly.
There has been no indication of a strong recruiting class, with a few exceptions. Hope was intended to be a permanent solution, but he looks more like a bridge to the next coach.
Possible Replacements: Purdue tends to hire from within or bring in someone at a different position, with intentions of grooming them for the head coaching job. Gary Nord has been in the spotlight for superb quarterback coaching while also serving as offensive coordinator.
He may be another stand-in replacement, but the program could see an improvement under him in a short time frame.
8. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Why He is on the Hot Seat: Grobe held a 54-44 mark in nine seasons with Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons finished this season with a dreadful 3-9 mark.
The 2010 disappointment may be the beginning of the end for Grobe. While he is beloved by Deacons faithful, it appears things are drying up with the program.
Possible Replacements: Randy Shannon was recently ousted at Miami, but he has expressed he would like to remain in coaching. He may stay in the ACC and move from Coastal to Atlantic for next season.
7. Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
Why He is on the Hot Seat: The SEC is unforgiving and Ole Miss sincerely misses Eli Manning. Just a year removed from a 21-7 victory over Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, Ole Miss finished this year with a 4-9 mark, good enough for sixth place in the SEC West.
The Cotton Bowl victory is considered a consolation for Ole Miss before Nutt's tenure.
A lack of solid recruits and dismay in the program has Nutt sweating.
Possible Replacements: Mike Leach seems to be a candidate for almost any major program, as the media scrambles to find a front-runner. He could handle a major program in a major conference like the SEC and he may draw in recruits to fill giant holes left behind in the Nutt recruiting era.
6. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Why He is on the Hot Seat: The Washington State Cougars have just two conference victories since the 2008 season and haven't been bowl eligible since 2006 when they finished with a 6-6 mark. The Cougars haven't been notable since 2003 when they won the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl over Texas.
WSU needs a recognizable name to recover the program, and Wulff's status just doesn't warrant enough attention to bring in Blue Chip recruits.
Possible Replacements: Tyrone Willingham may see the Cougars as a possible return to the Pac-10, having coached Stanford and, more recently, Washington.
Houston Nutt may make the trip to the Pacific Northwest, but it seems like a long shot.
5. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
Why He is on the Hot Seat: In his short time at Michigan while replacing Lloyd Carr, Rodriguez has been unable to escape criticism. In 2008, the Wolverines finished 3-9, the worst record in school history.
Rodriguez's second season with the team in 2009 saw modest improvement and the school finished 5-7, just a victory shy of bowl eligibility. This season started out well, but the Wolverines finished poorly. They are 7-5 and will play in a bowl game, but they are disappointed with the final outcome.
Rodriguez's name has been in headlines for scaring away recruits and mismanaging talent. His coaching staff has been said to degrade players with foul language to the point that they don't want to play for him anymore. Despite the program's improvement since 2008, Rodriguez's job is still in jeopardy.
Possible Replacements: Multiple reports say Jim Harbaugh could be a candidate despite carrying Stanford to a BCS bowl. Harbaugh played quarterback for Michigan from 1983-86, leading it to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Nebraska.
Harbaugh would be returning to his collegiate alma mater, but he is currently coaching in the city where he attended high school. Mike Leach's name is always thrown in to replacement talks these days, but Michigan may not be the best fit.
4. Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
Why He is on the Hot Seat: The two-time national title winner came to the Sun Devils with high expectations. In his first season with ASU, Erickson won 10 games and took the school to a share of the Pac-10 title.
However, since that season, the Sun Devils had back-to-back losing seasons in 2008-09 and finished the 2010 regular season with a 6-6 mark. They were denied a bowl bid because two of their victories were against subdivision schools.
Arizona State expects to win and thus far Erickson has missed the mark.
Possible Replacements: Of course Mike Leach's name is thrown in here, and it may be a solid fit. Leach notoriously favors a fast-paced, run-and-gun style of offense and ASU under Dennis Erickson already looks to fit the bill.
If Houston Nutt departs from Ole Miss, his name might be thrown in the hat as well.
3. Ron Zook, Illinois
Why He is on the Hot Seat: Since being named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2007, Zook has ultimately failed to bring Illinois back to prominence. He inherited a program in disarray and didn't immediately improve it, but gradually brought it out of the cellar and into the guest room.
The Fighting Illini finished the 2010 regular season 6-6 and will play Baylor on Dec. 29th for the right to claim the Texas Bowl.
If Zook can't secure a victory in the small bowl, it would largely be considered a failure on the season and Zook may be out of a job.
Possible Replacements: Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino came to Illinois after leaving the same position at Arkansas. While most saw the move as a new start for Petrino, he may have seen it as a chance to impress enough to take over for Zook.
Illinois may want to promote from within, if the bigger names like Leach and Willingham find work elsewhere.
2. Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Why He is on the Hot Seat: Since taking over the head coaching job at New Mexico in 2008, Locksley has led the Lobos to back-to-back 1-11 seasons. Their only victory this season was a three-point victory over Wyoming.
Off the field, Locksley has had internal issues with his coaching staff and surrounding officials. In 2009, a former administrative assistant filed a suit against him for age and sex discrimination. While the charges were later dropped, the allegations raised eyebrows on Locksley's tactics.
Last season, the coach was suspended without pay 10 days for punching an assistant coach. Fans are beginning to apply pressure on the school to fire him, but New Mexico is reluctant because Locksley is only two years into a six-year deal. The buyout would be costly and the school is in a tight spot.
Possible Replacements: If New Mexico was to pull the plug and pay the price to fire Locksley, possible replacements include Tyrone Willingham and Mike Leach.
1. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
Why He is on the Hot Seat: The school reportedly wants him out, disappointed in the lack of success from Friedgen in recent seasons. Friedgen experienced a 10-2 record in his first season and a 2-10 campaign for the 2009 season.
The head coach has had to prove he deserves the position time and time again, but this year will likely be his last.
Recent reports from The Washington Post and ESPN say Maryland wants him out. Retirement discussions are going nowhere and the school is ready to fire him after the Dec. 29th Military Bowl.
Possible Replacements: ESPN's Joe Schad mentioned three names as possible replacements. Mike Leach's name is included and it appears he is poised to return as a head coach in college football after his less-than-glamorous departure from Texas Tech.
Tyrone Willingham, former head coach of Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington, has been involved in replacement discussions as well, and Schad mentioned him as a possibility.
Finally, New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley's time may be short and his recruiting skills would be considered in D.C., although his name hasn't avoided headlines for questionable tactics and a fight with an assistant coach.