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Post-Week 4 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings – Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire Introduces the Top 10 Coaches on the Latest CHS Rankings



Post Week 4 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings


We have forgotten the past couple of weeks but to introduce the Top 10 Coaches on the latest Coaches Hot Seat Rankings we present the Great Johnny Cash:


Ring of Fire





Top 10 Coaches on Post Week 4 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings



1  Al Groh, Virginia – Al Groh and the Virginia Cavaliers got a much needed off-week after 3 straight losses that have brought the Groh tenure at UVA to the precipice and there is only one way off this cliff, WINS!  One thing that Virginia did not need was this week’s opponent, North Carolina, to lose their game to Georgia Tech on Saturday but alas, Al Groh’s bad luck continues… Now Virginia must travel to Chapel Hill to play a mad North Carolina team just when Groh and the Cavaliers never needed a win more.  Yes, beating UNC is MUST for Al Groh, because an 0-4 start would make a .500 or better season next to impossible and that is what Groh must have to return as the head football coach at Thomas Jefferson’s university.



2.  Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville – Evidently when it rains on Steve Kragthorpe it pours, because how could it get any worse when you are on the Hot Seat and your team has a game scheduled in your former home against a head coach you know very well and then your team gets beat, bad! Well, that is exactly what happened to Kragthorpe and the Louisville Cardinals in their loss to Utah on Saturday.  Now at 12-15 in his third season at Louisville the Coaches Hot Seat standard for third year coaches must be applied in the case of Steve Kragthorpe, and that standard is:  Is the football program going forward or backwards?  By a new coach’s third year if the above question cannot be answered with a strong and positive “YES” that is stated without hesitation then the school has the wrong head coach in its employ.  By the third year a new head football coach should have the football program moving in a very clear and noticeable forward direction both on and off the football field and if that is not the case then the decision comes down to if the decision makers at the school would stake their own jobs on keeping that head coach on.  If they will not stake their owns jobs on that head coach then most definitely the school should make a change.  Now at 1-2 on the ’09 season, Kragthorpe and the Cards host Pittsburgh at home in what either will be a statement game or could send the season into a tailspin.  Should be an interesting Friday night game for the nation to tune into…..



3.  Ralph Friedgen, Maryland – It’s funny how some things stick with people, but several of us here at Coaches Hot Seat remember in Ralph Friedgen’s first year when the Terps went 10-2 and earned a trip to the Orange Bowl to play Florida (in Steve Spurrier’s last game with the Gators) that there was a minor dust-up when a few star Maryland players were found to have broken team rules by drinking alcohol during the season.  At the time it did strike us as odd that a college head coach would have a team rule not allowing players to drink alcohol during the season, but many of us at CHS did live under that very same rule in the 1980s because our coaches thought that drinking during the season and the inevitable carousing that came with that drinking could have a negative impact on our performance.  With that in mind we called up our tape of the 2001 Orange Bowl between Maryland and Florida and after watching only a few series of the Terps on offense and defense it is almost like a completely different coaching staff is now in place at Maryland.  The 2001 Maryland football plays with passion, with discipline, with purpose and most importantly like a football team.  The 2009 version of the Maryland Terps would get the Hell beat out of them by the ’01 team and that difference goes to heart of the problem in College Park.  Whether Friedgen and his staff have not recruited well in recent years or they are just not doing a very good job, there is a difference between the ’01 and ‘09 teams and that difference is why Friedgen finds himself on the Hot Seat right now.  We know what Ralph Friedgen was able to do in the past, but now it looks like the 2009 Maryland team coached by  Friedgen is not as hungry, makes more mistakes and has more sloppy play and overall is just not as tuned in as Friedgen’s teams when he first took over at Maryland.  To illustrate the difference, let’s go to Friedgen’s records at Maryland:


2001 – 10-2

2002 – 11-3

2003 – 10-3

2004 – 5-6

2005 – 5-6

2006 – 9-4

2007 – 6-7

2008 – 8-5

2009 – 1-3


Yes, that’s right, since 2003 Ralph Friedgen is 34-31 (.523).  In his first three years at Maryland, Friedgen was 31-8.  That is a massive difference and makes us think that either Maryland is not recruiting very well (Rivals.com team recruiting rankings below):


Rivals.com Maryland Team Recruiting Rankings

2009 – 26

2008 – 38

2007 – 35

2006 – 29

2005 – 16

2004 – 17

2003 – 32

2002 – 35


Or the Terps are just not getting the coaching they were in 2001 – 2003.  It’s not the competition, because the ACC was a much stronger in ’01 – ’03 than it is today, so there is something going on here that we cannot put our finger on because we are not there to watch practice and the preparation for the games, but there is a big problem and it is a problem that Friedgen must solve if he wants to return in 2010.  Maybe the problem is so bad at Maryland that Friedgen can’t solve it, as was the case with Willingham at Washington last season, and only new blood will be able to reenergize the Terps football program, but whatever the case, something one way or the other has to happen.



4.  Paul Wulff, Washington State – Paul Wulff should put Pete Carroll on his Christmas gift list, and we mean big-time Christmas gift list after the HUGE present Carroll gave to Wulff in the LA Coliseum on Saturday night.  27-6?  Come on Pete, do you think we are a bunch of idiots?  This season Stanford scored 39 points on WSU in Pullman, Hawaii 38 at a neutral site in Seattle, SMU scored 30 on WSU in Pullman, and the mighty USC Trojans can only muster 27 points?  (USC beat WSU 47-14 in ’07 and 69-0 in ’08, so either USC sucks or Pete Carroll bagged the game!)  No, we are not that stupid, because with an USC dance girl under center the Trojans could have scored 50 on Washington State, but Pete was in a giving mood and more importantly he was scared to death that his star pupil Matt Barkley would throw a few interceptions the boy’s precious little ego might get bruised.  For most of the game Carroll was content to let WSU get first downs on offense and to not aggressively attack the Coug offense, because again, if USC has the ball then they would have to put the precious little boy on the field and he might mess up and lose his confidence, and Pete can’t have that, can he?  What in the world has USC football come to?  Worrying about the confidence of its quarterbacks when they are playing against one of the worst coached teams in I-A football?  Pete Carroll is going off the deep end and it all goes back to his massive ego which might get popped in 2009 with multiple losses to Pac-10 teams.  Yes, that is what scares Pete Carroll the most, that the Trojans run might be over and Pete Carroll will again be…just Pete Carroll, average head football coach.  With Stanford schooling his pupil Sarkisian on Saturday and the automatic logic that says that Stanford should be able to whip USC as well, is probably helping  to keep Pete Carroll up at night wondering how the Hell he got himself into a box where he his main activity in life is to kiss the ass of an 18-year old kid so that the kid does not lose his confidence and USC has to go the backup QB that would be the waterboy for the Coaches Hot Seat Flag Football Team if he sent him up to San Francisco tonight and then the real disaster….He might have to play Mitch Mustain, who is 8-0 as a starter in the SEC!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO! Pete Carroll screams in his sleep as he ponders putting Mustain on the field and having a kid from Arkansas lead the boys from Hollywood to a win and conference title!  NO,  we can’t have that and we won’t have that!  Pete my boy, keep kissing that 18-year old’s ass, because if the kid loses his confidence and you have to put in the backup, USC might not have a winning season in ’09!  Oh yes, it is that bad and Pete is scared to death that the whole world may learn the truth come next Saturday night in the land of the fruitcakes, otherwise known as Berkeley, California (and a place full of Bears that don’t seem to want to tackle when they are playing football games in Eugene, Oregon.  Yes, in football you must tackle!  Maybe some fundamental tackling drills and a lecture that the Cal Bears are playing football, not Chutes and Ladders would be a good idea for Tedford and his staff after that Oregon debacle).


Oh, we digress.  Paul Wulff is on the Hot Seat and we would be stunned if WSU won another game in 2009.


Memo to Paul Wulff:  If you are wondering what to get Pete Carroll for Christmas because he took it easy on your ass on Saturday night, we know that it is hard to get something for somebody that has more money than Trump and has all he wants.  Our recommendation, a $1,000 gift certificate to the Ron Jon Surf Shop!  That way Pete Carroll could get some Rad stuff from the best surf shop in the country, which for us Californians is sadly on the other side of the country in Cocoa Beach, Florida!  Merry Christmas Pete!



5.  Dan Hawkins, Colorado – After getting their first win of the 2009 season against Wyoming, Hawkins and the Buffs got a week off to ponder just what the Hell went wrong on the way to the 2009 Big 12 North title.  Oh, that’s right, CU has not played a Big 12 game yet so there is still a chance…., but if you can’t beat Toledo does anyone really think the Buffs have a chance against Texas, Kansas, Missouri, etc….?  Now as CU heads toward Week 5, Dan Hawkins and his Colorado team have to travel across the country to play West Virginia on a Thursday night in what may end up being the biggest game of Dan Hawkins career.  A loss at WVU and the Buffs drop to 1-3 and they have a trip to Austin to play Texas next and we can tell you right now that Mack Brown and the Longhorns will not lose at home to anyone in 2009.  With Kansas at home, at Kansas State, Missouri at home, Texas A&M at home, at Iowa State, at Oklahoma State and Nebraska at home, there are a few chances for wins left on the CU schedule, but not very many chances.  Yes, the West Virginia game is big, mighty big, but when you get right down to it does Colorado even have the money to fire Dan Hawkins even if the Buffs lose every remaining game on their schedule?  Probably not, unless a wealthy alum or booster can write a big check, which puts Hawkins in the enviable position of being able to be mediocre at his job but still stay employed.  Why can’t the rest of us out in the real world get that kind of deal? 



6.  George O’Leary, UCF – After losing to East Carolina the UCF Knights dropped to 2-2 on the season and 0-2 in conference play and that means that George O’Leary’s seat is heating up again.  When you are 28-38 (.424) overall at your current job and you are coming off a 4-8 season and you start the season at 2-2 then you expect to find yourself on the Hot Seat.   With Memphis coming to town for Week 5 of the college football season, O’Leary has probably never played in a bigger MUST WIN game in his coaching career.  Of course, across the field from O’Leary will be Memphis HC Tommy West who will also be coaching in a MUST WIN game and that should make for a rather entertaining spectacle in Orlando this Saturday.  We believe George O’Leary needs 6 wins at a minimum to return to UCF in 2010 and with Memphis, Miami, Marshall, Houston and Tulane at home and Rice, Texas, and UAB on the road, we can conjure up 6 or 7 wins, but only if UCF starts playing much better football.  They need to start doing that this Saturday against Memphis in what is a huge game for both teams and coaches.



7.  Tommy West, Memphis – In nine seasons at Memphis (seems like yesterday that Tommy West took over at Clemson!) Tommy West is 48-54 (.471) and the folks in Memphis that we know are getting mighty damn tired of the mediocrity that the Tiger football program has fallen into in recent years.  Memphis is not an easy place to build a championship football team, but if it can be done at Tulsa and Houston in C-USA, then there is no reason it can’t be done at Memphis, and the success of the above two mentioned programs is one of the biggest things working against West as he struggles to get the ship righted in the home of Elvis, Blues, and lots of good barbeque.  After starting the ’09 season at 1-3, with the only win coming against Tennessee-Martin, West is facing a gauntlet to get to a .500 record or better and we believe he will need that to return in 2010.  After a loss to Marshall at home, a big game at UCF is looming that will match Hot Seat coaches, but after UCF there are several tough C-USA games and a trip to play Tennessee in Knoxville that the Tigers must deal with.  Can Memphis get to 6 wins in ’09 to secure West’s job for 2010?  If they can, then West will have done a Hellava coaching job.



8.  Ron Zook, Illinois – Let’s not count the Rose Bowl from the 2007-08 season because Big Ten teams have had a habit of getting their ass whipped in recent years by the Trojans, but since that Rose Bowl, Ron Zook’s Illini are 6-9 and that record cannot make anyone happy that follows Illinois football.  There was just something not right about the Illini in 2008 when they put up a 5-7 record, but they actually look a little worse and less focused in 2009 and that downward slide has got to be a concern to Ron Zook and Illinois fans.  Watching a replay of the Illinois – Ohio State game on Sunday we couldn’t help but notice that many Illini players did not come close to playing 100 percent on many plays throughout the game and when you have players taking plays off you have a very serious problem with your football program.  We have had someone looking into the Illini situation for the past year and we don’t know if Zook getting tougher and more critical with his players is the answer, because it seems to us that the players are starting to tune out the coaches.  To us it looks like that the Illini football players are not really enjoying playing the game of football and that is leading to a lack of effort on many plays and thus the poor results for the past 15 games.  Can Ron Zook turn it around at Illinois?  Well, they have Penn State coming in on Saturday and if Zook can get his players into the mindset they had in 2007 when the looked like they enjoyed playing the game, then the Illini could pull a big upset and get the season going in the right direction again.  A loss to Penn State and this could get very ugly in Champaign.



9.  Greg McMackin, Hawaii – Hawaii and McMackin got a much needed off week after a tough loss at UNLV, but it doesn’t get any easier this with a road game against a hungry La. Tech team.  After La. Tech, Fresno State comes to Honolulu, there is a trip to suddenly revitalized Idaho team, Boise State at home, at Nevada, Utah State, New Mexico State, at San Jose State, and then Navy and Wisconsin at home to end the year.  Now at 2-1 and with 13 games on the schedule, we believe that McMackin will need 7 wins to return in 2010 and that is not going to be an easy thing to accomplish with what Hawaii has left on the schedule.  A win at La. Tech would be BIG, but can the Warriors travel that far and play a good football team?  We shall see…



10.  Charlie Weis, Notre Dame – Charlie Weis was within only a couple of points of getting off the Top 10 of the Coaches Hot Seat Rankings, but when you are the head coach at Notre Dame and your team struggles to beat a Purdue team that just lost to Northern Illinois…..well, you probably deserve to stay on the Hot Seat.  Amazingly, Notre Dame could easily be 4-0 right now OR they could be 1-3, which goes to show how even they are with the last 3 teams they have played.  That may be a scary thing though because the collective record of the three teams that Notre Dame has beat in ’09 is a whopping 2-9!  Yes, those were some real heavyweights that Notre Dame beat, and it must make the folks in South Bend worried that the Irish could have very easily lost to two those teams, if only Michigan State had a QB that could hit the broadside of a barn on clear day in Iowa and if Purdue’s Danny Hope had a clue how to coach a team at the end of a football game.  (Danny Hope has come out and said that he was “right” in calling the timeout at the end of the Notre Dame game, to which we can only say, “keep lying to yourself Danny, keep on lying!”  If there is a head football coach on any level that would have called a timeout at the end of that game, we would love to hear from them, because not only was Hope’s decision to call a timeout wrong, it was the biggest bonehead move by a head coach that we have seen in the last decade in college football.  The fact is that when a team is in chaos you leave them in chaos and the way that Notre Dame looked down on the goal line would have caused every coach we know besides Danny Hope to not call a timeout, but rather make the Irish spike the ball to blow a play and then have to regroup quickly for the final play of the game.  Instead, Hope gave Notre Dame HOPE by calling the timeout and the rest if history.  What really makes Hope’s use of that timeout bad is that Hope took the game out of his player’s hands and it was entirely predictable that Notre Dame was able to set-up a play where they got both one-on-one coverage and a mismatch as well.  Danny Hope, that timeout was a stupid call, and there is just no getting around that fact and if you do not go on to great success at Purdue, you will be remembered for that call, which should really motivate the Hell out of you.)


Getting back to Charlie Weis, whatever happened against Michigan State and Purdue, Weis has the Irish at 3-1 with Washington coming to town and again this will be a MUST WIN game, because the USC Trojans come to town after a bye week and the Irish could easily be sitting at 3-3 by the middle of October and Weis’ rear-end will be a roaring fire again!  With probably 10 wins needed for the Irish to get to a BCS bowl game, the Irish only have one sure win in Washington State, and 7 pretty tough games.  Can Charlie win 7 of the next 8 and get Notre Dame back “in the BCS conversation?”  We put the odds of that at around 50-50, but at least the Irish have a chance, something we did not give them in 2008.






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