Lots of NCAA football coaches who make lots of money will change jobs this year. Winning cures everything including unending questions about job security. Some of these men are in positions of no hope, others can do a lot to help themselves.
10. Mack Brown, Texas – some would say he should never have to worry about his job, but his record over since his 2009 BCS Championship loss to Alabama hasn’t been stellar (.500). Texas has a tough stretch of four games early in the season in which they should only lose one game. The rest of their season is very manageable with their last big test coming to TCU on November 24th. By the time the Horned Frogs roll around, Texas will either be on their way to a good bowl game or Mack Brown will be wondering if he’ll be coaching in Austin next year.
9. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame – coaches not named Ty Willingham always get give years in South Bend. While Kelly is only in the third year of his contract, he should be concerned if his offense isn’t up to snuff this year. Notre Dame has the toughest schedule in college football, and they don’t need to win all their games, but they need to look a lot better losing this year than they did last year. Everett Golson has exactly zero college snaps, but that shouldn’t ease any pressue on Brian Kelly. This is the year the Irish need to make a name for themselves and Brian Kelly.
8. Jeff Tedford, California – no one doubts the magic Tedford has brought back to football in Berkley. The concern is the lack of consistency. The Golden Bears have been all over the success map the past five years, and in 2012 face Ohio State and Southern California back-to-back in the first four weeks of the season. Like Brian Kelly, Tedford doesn’t need to win those games, but his team needs to look really impressive losing. They aren’t expected to be able to win the North with Oregon, Stanford, and Washington having offensive machines, but an upset of any of the three would give great momentum for 2013 and Tedford’s job security.
7. Mike Price, Texas-El Paso – El Paso isn’t exactly the hotbed of college football, and Price is supposed to be using this as a stop to return to the upper echelon of coaching after being fired from Alabama before even coaching, but his .500 record wouldn’t even get him an interview at Kentucky. The Miners convinced Oklahoma to visit El Paso Saturday and will visit Camp Randall September 22. I don’t expect them to win either. Make no mistake, their independent and Conference USA schedule isn’t easy, but nothing short of a bowl game will keep Price in this job next year.
6. Tommy Tubberville, Texas Tech – I like Tommy, in fact he should be a National Champion, but he isn’t and last year was a disaster in Lubbock. The middle five games for Tech are vs. OU, vs. WVA, at TCU, at KSU, vs. Texas. Just when it feels like it may get easier for “The Riverboat Gambler,” he finishes at Oklahoma State and Baylor. That may be the toughest string of games in FBS. He will need to win his first four and pray he can upset two or three the rest of the way to guarantee his job. If his team finishes 5-7 or worse again this year, he’s gone.
5. David Bailiff, Rice – Rice has won ten games in the past three years after winning ten in 2008. Rice isn’t a BCS school, but they have to be a little more respectable than what they’ve been. If crosstown rival Houston can find a way to use the local talent to be good every year Bailiff has no excuses. Last checked, his players were on scholarship too. Rice plays zero opponents in the Top-25, but will face Houston, Marshall, Kansas, and SMU in 2012. The rest of Owl schedule is manageable. If this team finishes below .500 and he’ll be looking for a new job.
4. Danny Hope, Purdue – Astronaut U isn’t known for many things other than great academics and a big drum, and Danny Hope has done very little to change that. In his defense, he is the lowest paid coach in the Big Ten and does have a few upsets to his name (Ohio State, Michigan both 2009). The 2012 Independent schedule features Eastern Kentucky, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan and Marshall. They should win three of four before conference play starts. The middle is tough, but they are rewarded with Penn State and Indiana in West Lafayette. 6-5 is a safe goal and 7-5 with an upset should net Hope a new contract; anything else is disaster.
3. Joker Phillips, Kentucky – Something we know – Kentucky isn’t a football school. The schools all-time football record is 578-572-44. This year the team will drop below .500, and Phillips will be escorted out of Lexington even though he is a graduate. The Commonwealth was rockin’ when UK beat Tennessee for the first time in 26 years, but I don’t expect that to happen this year nor do I expect Phillips to be around to witness the loss. He’s the lucky one. UK plays five ranked opponents including Louisville this weekend. UK should win no more than five games, and that isn’t Joker’s fault. Like Hope, Phillips is the lowest paid coach in his conference. Certainly that is a reflection of the poor expectations they have of the football team.
2. Randy Edsall, Maryland – Edsall left UConn for the fame and mostly the fortune of Maryland. Maryland dumped Ralph Friedgen like a bad prom date after ten seasons and seven bowl appearances. Maryland with Edsall and their interesting uniforms combined for two wins in 2011. TWO! I’d love to not blame Edsall, but I have no one else to put it on. He likely won’t be terminated unless he repeats that performance. Maryland plays three ranked opponents and an improved NC State this season. Edsall should manage seven wins this season.
1. Derek Dooley, Tennessee – Times are not good on ole Rocky Top. Dooley is entering his third year and the team is playing for his job this year. He not only makes people laugh in press conferences, but his orange pants and spitting make him legendary for all the wrong reasons. Derek Dooley is a really nice guy, but he’s no Phil Fulmer. I’m guessing all those in the pumpkin-colored shirts would welcome Fulmer back tomorrow. There is absolutely no reason UT shouldn’t be competitive year in and year in out in the SEC East. Their first big test is Florida at home in Neyland and the house will be packed. The only team the Volunteers hate more than Florida is Alabama, who visit Knoxville on October 20. Beat both and Dooley should get a five-year extension; lose to both unconvincingly along with Georgia and South Carolina and it will be a long fall. Vanderbilt is no longer a guaranteed win and we know how well Kentucky worked out last year. Dooley needs to win seven and a good bowl game otherwise; he may be job searching come New Year’s Eve.
Everyone thinks they could be a head coach until they’re in the position of being under the pressure these ten men are under. I don’t envy them at all, and they hold job security in their own hands.