Phil Steele's Daily Blog - Tuesday July 14th

Last July I posted my Coaches on the Hot Seat article and here is how that looked in reverse order with what happened in 2008.

12. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame – Barely hung onto his job at the end of the regular season.
11. Chuck Long, San Diego St – Fired after season.
10. Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville – Opened 5-2 but survived despite losing final 5 games.
9. Tommy Bowden, Clemson – Fired midseason.
8. Mike Stoops – Arizona – Did what he needed to in guiding the Wildcats to a bowl win.
7. Joe Glenn – Wyoming – Fired after season.
6. Mike Sanford – UNLV – Upset Arizona St, beat Iowa St and did enough to survive another year.
5. Brent Guy – Utah St – Fired with one game left in regular season.
4. Kirk Ferentz – Iowa – Guided team to Jan 1 bowl romp and also a win over #1 Penn St.
3. Ron Prince – Kansas St – Despite a new contract was fired with 3 weeks left in the season.
2. Tyrone Willingham – Washington – Willingham resigned with 4 games left in the season.
1. Greg Robinson – Syracuse – He was fired with two games remaining in the season.

Here is this year’s list of coaches on the hot seat. I want the coaches to know that I am rooting for every one of them to have a good season and get off the hot seat. I know that coaches can do all the preparation and have a team poised to win but costly turnovers or injuries can result in some tough losses and the fans usually only look at the wins and losses. Here are the coaches that are on the hot seat in 2009.

13. Mike Price, UTEP – Price started out his tenure here with back-to-back 8-4 seasons but has since led the team to 3 losing seasons in a row. UTEP lost their 1st 3 games last year including a blowout loss at Buffalo and a 1 pt loss to cross-town rival New Mexico St and that was a hole they failed to climb out of and they finished the season 5-7 and short of a bowl again. I have the Miners pegged as my choice to grab the CUSA West title this year because they have 55 lettermen returning and the most favorable schedule in CUSA. A bowl trip will save Price’s job.

12. Randy Shannon, Miami FL – Though Shannon took Miami to a bowl in his 2nd year, they lost to Cal and finished at 7-6 which is certainly not a record that the Miami fans expect. Miami faces a killer schedule this year (#12 in my rankings), but I think Shannon has the talent available to make it off the hot seat in 2009.

11. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame – Charlie made my list last year and barely survived. He is probably on a hotter seat than most of the names on this list as another 6-6 or 8-5 season probably will not be tolerated. I have him here at #12 because I feel the Irish with their talent and their schedule will have a big year in 2009 and he will be off the hot seat. I think he would need to have at least 9 wins to feel secure.

10. Pat Hill, Fresno St – I am a Pat Hill fan and I love his motto, “Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime”. They have pulled off some startling upsets. Last year he was a candidate at several BCS schools early in the year but after being the WAC favorites in 2008 he was fighting for his job at Fresno at the end of the year. I am still stunned that he has not yet won a WAC title! Since the high point of his tenure when they were 8-1 and almost upset #1 USC (with Leinhart, Bush and White) he is just 20-21 and probably needs at least 7 or 8 wins to be around for a 14th year.

9. Todd Dodge, North Texas – Todd was expected to bring North Texas back to the top of the Sun Belt where they were from 2001-2004. In his first two years they have just 3 total wins and the defense has allowed 46.3 ppg and his high flying offense has averaged just 22.4 ppg, which means they are being outscored by an amazing 23.9 ppg. I expect better fortunes this year. He probably does not need a winning year but they have to be more competitive.

8. Doug Martin, Kent St – Here is another coach who has had some hard luck with injuries, blown leads, close losses, turnovers and poor special teams. His best year was 2006 when they went 6-6 and could have easily had a winning record. He does have 15 returning starters and loses just 13 lettermen from last year and takes on the softest schedule in the NCAA. He probably needs to avoid a losing season to be around for a 7th year.

7. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan – The Wolverines could be an underdog in as many as 7 games this year and they really must have a winning season. I think Rodriguez will get them to a decent bowl and make major strides just like he did in his 2nd year at West Virginia. Amazingly there are a lot of Michigan alumni who think Rodriguez runs a pass-happy spread offense! In his last 6 years at West Virginia his teams averaged 270 ypg rushing the football (148 ypg pass) while Michigan in that same span had 229 ypg PASSING and just 163 ypg rush.

6. Mark Snyder, Marshall – Snyder enters his 5th year at Marshall and is only 16-31 with 4 losing years out out of 4. He has not caught many breaks with turnovers, injuries and close losses and must get a bowl bid to stay in charge. He is another coach that I think will gain that elusive bowl bid and stick around, but a losing season would end his tenure.

5. Mike Sanford, UNLV – Sanford bought himself some time last year with their upset of a ranked Arizona St on the road and a home win vs a Big 12 school. I believe Sanford will also escape the hot seat this year with a winning season and a bowl bid and they could win as many as 8 games. The Rebels have had 5 losing seasons in a row (4 under Sanford) and anything short of a winning season will signal a coaching change.

4. Dan Hawkins – Colorado – CU fans were happy with the hire of a successful coach but the first 3 years have produced 3 losing records. They did get to a bowl in 2007 but when they lost the Independence Bowl they dropped to 6-7. Last year Nebraska needed a 57 yard FG at the end of the game to keep CU from 6-6 and a 2nd straight bowl. Hawkins has said 10 wins, no excuses. I do see 8 wins for CU and I see him escaping the hot seat.

3. Al Groh – Virginia – After a horrible 1-3 start last year which included an embarrassing 31-3 loss to Duke it looked like he was out the door in 2008. Virginia went 4-4 down the stretch and only lost to rival VT by 3 on the road or they could have landed a bowl. This looks like another rebuilding year and I believe Groh needs to get them to a bowl to hang on. When I analyze the schedule it looks like 6 wins will be hard to come by.

2. Bill Lynch – Indiana – Lynch did a great job taking over for the late Terry Hoeppner and he guided them to a rare bowl game in his first year. Last year did not go as planned as they finished 1-7 and were outgained by 177 ypg in Big Ten play which was by far the worst in the conference. This year they unexpectedly lose QB Kellen Lewis and I project them to finish in the Big Ten basement for a 2nd straight year. There are some very successful up-and-coming coaches in the MAC and Indiana could grab one of them to replace Lynch.

1. Steve Kragthorpe – Louisville – It is never easy to take over a team that is coming off of unprecedented success. Louisville was 88-20 this decade and finished #6, #19 and #6 in the country the previous three years plus they were coming off an Orange Bowl win and 6 bowls in 6 years. There was a lot of talent left in the cupboard for Kragthorpe who was very successful at Tulsa. Kragthorpe’s first 2 years yielded 6-6 and 5-7 records with no bowls. They were 5-2 last year but lost their last 5 and if Louisville is not in a bowl this year, the Cards will likely turn to someone else next year.