Top 10 College Football Coaching Hot Seats
Win or Go Home ...
The college football season is still months away but the temperature isn’t the only thing rising this May. Plenty of FBS coaches already find themselves squarely on hot seats with big seasons needed to keep their jobs.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley (pictured) is one of them after an 11-14 record in Knoxville over his first two years. Where does he fall among the Top 10 Hottest Coaching Seats based on performance, fan and media pressure and job security - or lack thereof? We examine.
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10. David Cutcliffe (Duke)
Overall Record: 15-33
We know that Duke football doesn’t have much tradition, and that’s probably what’s saving Cutcliffe’s job. The Blue Devils haven’t been to a bowl game since 1995 or won one since 1961. That makes it easier to swallow that Cutcliffe hasn’t had a winning season in his four years in Durham. To make matters worse, though, the Blue Devils lost their last seven games in 2011 after starting the season with a loss to FCS Richmond.
Duke likely expected more out of Cutcliffe, who had four bowl wins in seven seasons at Ole Miss and had a great reputation as Peyton Manning’s offensive coordinator at Tennessee - where he was a longtime assistant from 1982-1998.
Cutcliffe better hope that Manning’s offseason workouts with him on Duke’s campus rub winning ways off on his players because back-to-back 3-9 seasons doesn’t fly anywhere.
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9. David Bailiff (Rice)
Overall Record: 23-38
Bailiff is barely keeping himself afloat. As the head coach at his alma mater, Texas State, from 2004-06, Bailiff had a 10-win season and a trip to the FCS semifinals that was sandwiched by two five-win seasons. He moved on to Rice, where he won 10 games in 2008; that has been surrounded by losing seasons in his other four campaigns with the Owls. In fact, Bailiff has won 10 games in the last three seasons combined.
His one winning season and bowl win at Rice earned him a five-year contract extension in January of 2009, but Bailiff can’t rest on his laurels. Remember, he took over the Owls from Todd Graham, who was one and done in Houston.
Bailiff could be heading out the door soon - but not by his own choice.
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8. Robb Akey (Idaho)
Overall Record: 19-43
We understand that Idaho wanted some stability. The school had a revolving door of coaches before Akey was hired in December of 2006. It seems as though Idaho is giving him a heck of a leash. Akey’s teams have had just one winning season during his tenure - losing in double digits three times, including a 10-loss campaign in 2011.
Akey also stopped scheduling the rivalry game with Washington State, which is close in proximity to Idaho’s campus. It’s probably better off that the teams haven’t played since 2007 since Mike Leach certainly wouldn’t have mercy on the Vandals. Neither will the Idaho administration if things don’t change this fall.
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7. Dan Enos (Central Michigan)
Overall Record: 6-18
Enos is skating on thin ice at Central Michigan, which had five straight winning seasons under Brian Kelly and Butch Jones - coaches that now guide Notre Dame and Cincinnati, respectively. Jones’ final season in 2009 was an 11-win campaign in the senior season of star QB Dan LeFevour. Granted, Enos hasn’t had the services of the prolific LeFevour, but he must do better than consecutive three-win outputs. Oh yeah, and one of the wins last season came against FCS South Carolina State.
Yes, Enos signed a controversial one-year contract extension in February. His contract now lasts until 2015. But it’s clear that he needs to produce results since the fans now are staying away. MLive.com reported in February that CMU had averaged less than 15,000 fans per game last season - the minimum to remain a Division I program.
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6. Joker Phillips (Kentucky)
Overall Record: 11-14
Phillips better hope that Kentucky still is riding high from its basketball national championship. Of course, everyone knows that hoops is first in the hearts of those in Lexington, but that doesn’t mean that Phillips won’t be held to a certain standard of success and an 11-14 mark in two seasons isn’t exactly John Calipari-esque.
The Wildcats suffered a 30-point loss to Vanderbilt, an improved team but not exactly a powerhouse, a 51-point loss to South Carolina - which was in turmoil at the time - and a setback to rival Louisville. A three-point win over Tennesee in the season finale might have saved Phillips’ job - for now.
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5. Mike Riley (Oregon State)
Overall Record: 72-63
Raise your hand if you think Riley will last to the end of his contract, which was extended through the 2019 season in January of 2010. Anyone? Well, we can say this much: He won’t be around for long at the rate that he’s going now. Since the extension, Riley’s Beavers haven’t made a bowl game and have combined for just eight wins in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Riley also must be feeling the heat from the success of in-state Oregon, which followed a trip to the national championship game with a Rose Bowl win under coach Chip Kelly in the last two seasons. A four-touchdown defeat on the gridiron at the hands of the Ducks last fall didn’t help, either.
There doesn’t seem to be much hope for the Beavers this season, with Wisconsin coming in Week 2 before the Pac-12 slate. We won’t hold our breath for any improvement.
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4. Frank Spaziani (Boston College)
Overall Record: 20-19
What happened to Boston College football? That’s the question that Spaziani will have to answer from the B.C. administration. The once-proud program has been on the steady decline since the former Eagles assistant took over as the head man in 2009. In 2011, Boston College finished with four wins and now has booted all-time leading rusher Montel Harris off the team for violating team rules.
Spaziani can’t afford to duplicate 2011’s 1-6 start, with that lone win coming against UMass. The coach needs B.C. to be at least bowl eligible to retain his job in an increasingly apathetic Chestnut Hill, where just 200 fans showed up to the school’s spring game - the lowest among BCS conference members.
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3. Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech)
Overall Record: 13-12
Tuberville better hope that Mike Leach gets off to a slow start at Washington State, especially if Texas Tech doesn’t come with immediate results in Tuberville’s third season. Red Raiders fans still want their coach to be Leach, who was forced out for reasons that have been well-documented but have nothing to do with his prowess as a football coach.
Leach had 84 wins in a decade in Lubbock. Tuberville has followed that up with 13 wins in two campaigns - including an underwhelming 5-7 season in 2011 that ended with the thud of seven losses in eight games. The Red Raiders gave up 66 points twice - in late-season setbacks to Oklahoma State and Baylor - which certainly got the attention of the powers-that-be at TTU.
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2. Derek Dooley (Tennessee)
Overall Record: 11-14
Tennessee fans hate Lane Kiffin with every fiber in their being - but they’d love them as their coach instead of Dooley, who has posted just 11 wins in two seasons with the Vols. Granted, Kiffin won just six games in his lone season in Knoxville, but Dooley has the Vols heading in the other direction - partly due to some defections of top talent after the coaching turnover.
But Dooley needs a big season if he wants to keep his job. To put it into perspective, Phil Fulmer had just two losing seasons in his 16 full campaigns as the Vols’ coach - the second being his last on the sideline. Dooley better hope QB Tyler Bray has a big enough season to keep the coach in UT’s good graces because Tennessee fans expect to compete for national titles, not bowl eligibility.
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1. Randy Edsall (Maryland)
Overall Record: 2-10
The only thing uglier than Maryland’s uniforms last season was its play on the field. After starting out with a victory over Miami (FL), the program went off the rails as the Terps went 1-10 the rest of the way and finished 102nd in scoring defense out of 120 teams. That’s despite the fact he inherited a nine-win team with plenty of talent that returned last fall.
Edsall has been ripped incessantly by local columnists who are already calling for his head and mocked his “my way or the highway” attitude.
Many Maryland players have chosen the highway as there’s been a steady flow of transfers, including quarterback Danny O’Brien. AD Kevin Anderson doesn’t want the embarrassment of firing a guy he hired so quickly but if Edsall doesn’t turn things around quickly, he will be the one hitting the road soon.
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