No Sleep Till Football

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Coaches That MUST Win in 2012

Continuing with some themes that are unique to the beginning of each college football season, let’s look at some coaches that must win now or potentially be looking for a job this upcoming winter. I could have just as easily noted that these were the coaches on the hottest of hot seats, but doesn’t saying they MUST win sound a bit more ominous!?

DEREK DOOLEY – TENNESSEE

Let’s be honest. Dooley wasn’t all that great at Louisiana Tech before heading to Knoxville. Yes his father is famous, but he had a losing record at LA Tech overall with only one good season where the finished 8-5. In his first two seasons as the Volunteers HC, he’s posted two straight losing seasons with an overall record of 11-14! That’s not going to get it done in the SEC. Admittedly the Vols were a mess when Dooley took over after Lane Kiffin spurned Orange Nation for USC. With tons of player turnover the first couple of seasons along with injuries & brutal schedules, maybe Dooley has done better than his record indicates. Then again, UT has 19 returning starters and at a minimum should win 8 games and potentially a 9th if you count the bowl. If Dooley can’t win now, can he ever?

JOKER PHILLIPS – KENTUCKY

Beating Tennessee in the season finale probably saved Joker’s job for one more season, but unfortunately the SEC East got a lot better and Kentucky has just 11 starters back from a 5-7 team. Kentucky isn’t an SEC powerhouse, but Rich Brooks spoiled the faithful by running off 4 straight winning seasons from 2006-2009 including a 3-1 bowl record during that span! Joker has come in and led UK to a couple of losing seasons with a record of 11-14! What is a bit problematic for UK is that they could be the 3rd best team in the commonwealth this year. Louisville is tough & Charlie Strong has that program headed in the right direction. Willie Martinez is doing a great job at Western Kentucky. UK has 2 guaranteed wins this year against Samford & Kent State. That’s it. At best UK finishes 3-9. At worst they finish 2-10 and Joker is done. I think Phillips has to get 2-3 SEC wins to keep this job and I don’t see them on the schedule.

DANNY HOPE – PURDUE

This might be because I live in Indiana, but last year on talk radio, the notion of Hope being on the hot seat got a significant amount of traction. I don’t totally get it other than Purdue did drop a game to Rice early in the season. Some of the Purdue heat is due to Hope not replicating the success that Joe Tiller brought to West Lafayette, but the Big 10 is a much different animal now. Purdue has 15 starters returning from a bowl winning team, but in the Big 10 Leaders division it’s going to be difficult to circumvent Ohio St. & Wisconsin from this point forward. A year ago we’d be talking about Penn State in that conversation & don’t forget that Illinois was in the Rose Bowl not too long ago. Hope’s first 3 seasons have culminated in a 16-21 record. Even at Purdue that’s not acceptable. I don’t know how many wins Purdue can manage this season, but I think if things break their way they can win 8 games and get to a bowl for a potential 9th. If that happens then Hope is good. If Purdue blunders to 5-6 wins, then Hope might be gone.

KEVIN WILSON – INDIANA

This might be a stretch but even Gerry DiNardo & Bill Lynch avoided 1-11 seasons! You might not think Wilson wouldn’t have to win now, but he got off to a terrible start with the local media and I’m not sure there is anyone really pulling for him to succeed in Bloomington other than your most ardent Hoosier diehards. Throw his acerbic personality on top of a season in which Indiana went 0-11 against FBS opponents and you can see why Wilson could be on a very short leash this season. This team is still significantly less talented than most every other team in the Big 10. They don’t play Minnesota and all their winnable conference games are on the road! Indiana opens up the season with 3 straight against Indiana State (home), Massachusetts (road) & Ball St. (home). If they don’t start out 3-0, Wilson is in trouble because then you are looking at a potential 1-11 or 2-10 start. The problem might be that Wilson will once again go winless in conference play giving him a two year conference record of 0-16! That might be all she wrote.

FRANK SPAZIANI – BOSTON COLLEGE

From 2002 to 2008 the worst record Boston College posted was 8-5 with the best being 11-3. Spaziani took over in 2009 and led BC to an 8-5 record but then followed that up with a 7-6, culminating in a disastrous 4-8 season in 2011. Spaziani has been with the program forever, but this simply might be a case of an assistant coach being more geared towards being an assistant for life rather than stepping up and taking the reigns of an entire program. Boston College has a winning tradition and that’s being put on the line. They aren’t going to be contend with Clemson & Florida State this season, but they need to be better. With 17 returning starters back, Spaziani has a team that could make some noise. Boston College doesn’t have the easiest of schedule so 6-7 wins might be their ceiling, but Spaziani has to ensure the Eagles get to that ceiling. Another 3-9/4-8/5-7 season could mean exit stage right for a guy who has shown tremendous loyalty to the program for going on twenty years!

RANDY EDSALL – MARYLAND

I don’t necessarily agree with this, but there is heat on Edsall after the former UConn HC turned in a 2-10 season for the Terps. I think the problem here is that Ralph Friedgen was a helluva coach and Maryland somehow wanted to get rid of the Fridge in hopes that James Franklin would take over the program. When Franklin bolted for Vanderbilt, Maryland was left holding the bag. I don’t think Edsall should have jumped from Connecticut to Maryland. He led UConn to a Big East championship and a BCS bowl. Throwing his hat into the ring at Maryland was at best a lateral move and he had to know that it was going to be impossible for him to win at Maryland. Friedgen cashed in during a period of time in the ACC where Florida St. & Miami-FL were down. Shenanigans were going on in Chapel Hill. NC State was floundering under Chuck Amato. Now there is tremendous stability at Florida State & Miami-FL. Tom O’Brien has NC State on the right path. Paul Johnson is a tremendous coach at Georgia Tech. Dabo Swinney is doing solid things at Clemson. Larry Fedora took over in Chapel Hill. Mike London is doing a fantastic job with Virginia and of course there is always the stalwart Frank Beamer & the Virginia Tech Hokies. At best Edsall has 4-5 wins. Will 6-18 over his first two seasons be enough?

SKIP HOLTZ – SOUTH FLORIDA

Skip Holtz & Derek Dooley sort of remind me of one another. Holtz didn’t do that great a job at East Carolina before taking over South Florida in much the same way that Dooley didn’t do a fantastic job at Louisiana Tech before taking over Tennessee. Jim Leavitt was this close to taking South Florida to unknown heights. The Bulls weren’t going to win a national championship playing in the Big East, but Leavitt was on the cusp of making USF a legitimate Top-20 program on an annual basis. Holtz came in for the 2010 season and led USF to an 8-5 record which felt like a disappointment. If 8-5 was disappointing then imagine how last year’s 5-7 campaign feels!? With West Virginia now a member of the Big XII and so many teams in the Big East transitioning, the Bulls have a solid chance to dominate the conference and bring home a Big East championship and their first BCS bowl. With 15 returning starters, USF has a legitimate shot at going 11-1. As with Dooley and Spaziani, if Holtz can’t win now, when can he?

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July 16, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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