There’s one college football game left in 2014. Here’s a look ahead at some coaches who may be facing calls for their head if things don’t improve in 2015. A few will bounce back a la Dan Mullen or Paul Johnson in 2014. A few, we suspect, will not.
Larry Fedora [North Carolina] The Freak Show is 18-17 vs. FBS after three years and trending downward. Highlights under Fedora have been six pack abs and fake championship rings. North Carolina’s defense gave up 55 and 70 points in consecutive losses to East Carolina. The Tar Heels closed 2014 being body slammed by N.C. State and getting torched by Rutgers in a bowl game. Maybe Gene Chizik’s fashion sense will be the missing ingredient?
Al Golden [Miami] Golden appeared to have it together there. Then his Miami team coughed away a lead against FSU, quit, and lost four straight to end the season with a losing record. After four years, Golden is 25-22 vs. FBS and 16-16 in a mediocre ACC. NCAA sanctions have played a role. Still, the number of Miami players heading to the draft begs the question why Golden did not do more with them. The only reason fans aren’t in an uproar: there is not enough of them.
Tim Beckman [Illinois] Beckman needed to reach a bowl game for safety. Mission accomplished, followed by a three-score loss to Louisiana Tech. Ron Zook was fired because mediocre was not good enough. Beckman’s Illinois has not even been that. The Illini are 4-20 in the B1G after his third year. One of those wins came by more than four points. Retaining him still feels like delaying the inevitable.
Willie Taggart [South Florida] Not many folks left on Willie Taggart’s bus after year two. The Bulls improved to 4-8 from 2-10. But, they ranked 116th in Offensive FEI, 95th in Defensive FEI and 106th in Special Teams FEI. So … yeah. Taggart has cleared out both coordinators. If the Bulls aren’t close to the AAC power they should be with their recruiting advantage in year three, Taggart probably won’t get a year four.
Kirk Ferentz [Iowa] Ferentz had a good run. Since then, Iowa has finished in the Top 25 twice in 10 years. The Hawkeyes have had a winning Big Ten record once in the last five years. Ferentz has lost three of four to Iowa State. A bad Iowa State (see below). Set up with as soft a schedule as one could hope for in 2014, Iowa went 7-5. Ferentz has spent five years trying to round the corner, and still has not turned the wheel. His infamous buyout is steep, but not as steep with the present and future TV money.
Paul Rhoads [Iowa State] Paul Rhoads has his players and his system implemented. The Cyclones are 7-25 since October 2012 and 2-16 in the Big 12 the past two seasons. Iowa State has lost to its FCS opponent in consecutive seasons. They have been unlucky in one-score games over that stretch, but still. Rhoads may survive another bad season, but only because of the 10-year extension he signed through 2021.
Mike London [Virginia] London is one heck of a recruiter. That’s the major reason the Cavaliers have kept him on board. UVA did make progress last season. Progress was 5-7 with a few moral victories. London has a 17-38 FBS record over five seasons, with one bowl trip. If he can’t compete in his sixth season, that should be that.
Kevin Wilson [Indiana] Indiana beat Missouri last season. QB injuries scuttled what could have been an interesting B1G campaign with Tevin Coleman. Things seem to be moving in the right direction. That said, Wilson is 6-26 in the B1G after four years. At some point, even at Indiana, one must reach a bowl game.
Frank Beamer [Virginia Tech] Technically, this is not a hot seat. There’s no way Frank Beamer will be (or should be) fired. However, the Hokies have a 19-17 record vs. FBS opponents the last three seasons. Virginia Tech’s best yards/play offense over that stretch is 97th. Two of those seasons were with a QB who had enough talent to be drafted. It is time to hand the reins off to Bud Foster.
Mike Leach [Washington State] Leach faced an uphill battle in Pullman. His Cougars have not made it very far up the hill. WSU had some terrible fortune last year. Nonetheless, they have lost 14 of their last 18 vs. FBS teams. Leach has been laying a foundation. His team has a lot coming back next year. His track record warrants patience. But, Washington State has invested heavily to be good at football. Another belly up season in a deep, brutal Pac 12 could make his situation interesting.