Stakes have risen. The cost of keeping a poor or even a middling coach has become untenable. Lane Kiffin, Paul Pasqualoni and Don Treadwell have already been fired. Here are 10 coaches that could join them on the unemployment line on a beach with a comfortable contract buyout come November.
Mack Brown [Texas] Mack will last until the end of the season (he still commands that level of respect). The Oklahoma win calms things down a bit. But the powers that be have already made this decision. Even a Big 12 title may not wash away the ugly BYU loss. It’s hard to see a public outcry to keep him. It’s time for a fresh perspective. Maybe that’s a high-priced mercenary. Maybe that’s a former coordinator people liked. Todd Graham has updated his résumé and reconnected with disparate family just in case.
Dan Mullen [Mississippi State] Mullen has done a decent job. But decent, in the same division as Saban, Miles, Sumlin, Malzahn, Bielema and Freeze, does not get you very far, in perception or reality. The Bulldogs have not taken that next step forward, after raising the bar in 2010. Mullen hasn’t found a quarterback to run his offense. Mississippi State has hit either a ceiling, or a ceiling under Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs are 3-3. They still must play a closing stretch of at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama, at Arkansas, Ole Miss. Things could get ugly. 0-8 in the SEC ugly.
Bo Pelini [Nebraska] Nebraska started 5-1. Pelini remains on this list. Your reasoning could be personality conflicts, not getting over the hump, a stream of horrific defensive performances or some concoction of the three. The Cornhuskers may be Legends favorites as of this week. They don’t play Ohio State or Wisconsin. They get Northwestern and Michigan State at home. They are set up nicely for a 10-2 regular season, followed by a demolition against Ohio State and a meeting with an angry SEC program in a bowl game. Essentially, the same sour, four-loss season they have had every year under Pelini. What then?
Mike London [Virginia] London appeared to be building something in 2011, nearly reaching the ACC Title Game. Construction has ceased. Virginia fell back to 4-8 in 2012. They are well on their way toward a similar record in 2013, with a 2-4 start (1-4 vs. FBS). The Cavaliers lost to Ball State at home by three touchdowns. They still must play Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech. London has recruited well. His teams have shown fight, at times. Things just don’t seem to be coalescing. Maybe he gets the benefit of the doubt from a tough schedule. Maybe not.
Dana Holgorsen [West Virginia] Holgo was hired because 9-3 was not ambitious enough. He reached that benchmark his first year. Then West Virginia plummeted. His Mountaineers dropped five-straight conference games and got wrecked in a bowl game to finish 7-6 in 2012. This season, WVU is 3-3 with two wins coming against William and Mary and Georgia State. Two of the losses, Maryland and Baylor, were embarrassing boat races. Program legend Pat White already called for his ouster. It may not be too long before others follow suit.
Paul Johnson [Georgia Tech] Johnson won the ACC in 2009. Since, his teams have gone 20-22 vs. FBS opposition. The season began with optimism and had it doused with an underwhelming 3-3 start. The Yellow Jackets look destined to finish in the six/seven win range. A classic Georgia Tech season. The offense, when not resulting in wins, is not a fan favorite. Georgia Tech does have a new AD. But Georgia Tech is already paying an ample buyout to Paul Hewitt. It’s not clear whether they have enough money to buyout Johnson as well and pay enough to bring in another football coach.
Charlie Weis [Kansas] Weis tried to jump-start the program with JUCO players and transfers for immediate success. Winning one FBS game in two seasons, it has not gone so well. Weis lost a home and a way series to Rice. His offense, complete with a decided schematic advantage, ranks 119th nationally in yards/play. He has neither engineered a quick turnaround nor laid a foundation for future success. If he’s around in 2014, it’s only because Kansas has no better financially palatable option.
Norm Chow [Hawaii] Hawaii may be a good job for an energetic young coach to work out the kinks. Hawaii employs 67-year-old Norm Chow. Chow is off to a 2-15 start vs. FBS teams, 0-6 in 2013. This is a program with three double-digit win seasons since 2006. Their offense ranked No. 1 in yards/play in 2010. In 2012, Chow’s version ranked 123rd. Thus far in 2013, they are 114th.
Ron English [Eastern Michigan] The Ron English Revolution is not happening. We pointed out how the Eagles gave up more than 500 yards on the ground to Army. They are 8-42 against FBS teams in English’s fifth season. EMU is not an easy place to win, but enough may be enough.
Ron Turner [Florida International] Gone after one year? Well, this is the school that hired Isiah Thomas and fired Mario Cristobal. Turner’s Golden Panthers are 1-5. They were blanked 38-0 by UCF at home and were granted a merciful running clock in a 72-0 loss to Louisville. FCS Bethune-Cookman beat them by three touchdowns. A late field goal gave them a 24-23 win over Southern Miss, a team that last won a game in December 2011. Their best opportunity for a win may be at Florida Atlantic on Nov. 29, which will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]