Lane Kiffin [USC] The Trojans began 2012 No. 1, then lost five of six to close the season. That included three rivalry losses to Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame and a pathetic loss to 6-7 Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. He has a 25-13 record after three years, just 17-10 in the conference. He has no successful track record as a head coach. Kiffin gets a chance next year with a new defensive coordinator. He’s still one of the top recruiters in the country, a quality USC needs with its scholarship restrictions. He won’t survive another sour season.
Mack Brown [Texas] After the 2009 title game, Mack Brown’s team was derailed by coordinator rot and a five-star flameout at quarterback. Influxes of highly-touted recruits and coordinators have not cleared the muddle. Just 22 wins over three years. Two horrendous Oklahoma losses. The Longhorns were only the third best team in Texas and even that might be crediting them. Texas has begun resembling the Dallas Cowboys, awesome brand furnished by mediocre football operation. If they don’t at least compete in the Big 12 next year, Mack may be out. Not sure whether that would be a bigger adjustment for the team or the Longhorn Network.
Randy Edsall [Maryland] Maryland improved in Edsall’s second season with a 3-8 mark vs. FBS, which tells you how well his first season went. Their defense was Top 30. Their offense suffered so much quarterback attrition they had to start a freshman linebacker who had played in high school there. Maryland is about to increase its cash flow and expectations for football performance in the Big Ten. If Edsall does not reach a bowl game and improve on his 3-13 mark in the ACC in year three, he may not see the fourth one.
Charlie Weis [Kansas] Charlie Weis made headlines creating off-the-field controversies. His team went 0-11 vs. FBS, despite bringing in his former Notre Dame charge Dayne Crist at quarterback. Weis is gambling on a quick turnaround with a large number of JUCO recruits. Even that turnaround, though, could see Kansas fail to leave the cellar in a deep Big 12. Weis is a longshot to get fired after 2013, but only because Kansas might not be able to afford it.
Dan Mullen [Mississippi State] Two years ago: danced all over Rich Rodriguez’ coffin and was linked with Florida and Penn State. Now: Meh. Mullen has hit the ceiling with the Bulldogs, but to unrealistic boosters 7-9 wins over bad teams may look like a plateau. Losses in the Egg Bowl and to Northwestern on New Year’s won’t help matters. Nor will the excitement at every other program in the SEC West (especially at Ole Miss). Mullen is not on the hot seat currently, though in the SEC one let down season could change the situation radically.
Paul Johnson [Georgia Tech] Johnson has lost a fair bit of luster since bringing the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl in 2009. Georgia Tech is 19-19 vs. FBS the past three seasons. The bowl game upset over USC helps, though this was still a 7-7 season with a 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee State at home. Georgia Tech has not finished higher than 65th nationally in total defense since Johnson’s first year. He may need Ted Roof to work his Ted Roof magic to avoid another mediocre season and some uncomfortable discussions.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]