Before we get to the Post-Week 1 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings, we would like to discuss briefly how we come up with our Rankings of the Coaches and how a small group of fans in the San Francisco Bay area can possibly evaluate 120 coaches at 120 different schools. In 2006 when we were in the early planning stages of Coaches Hot Seat we determined that one of the things we had to have was relationships across the country that could provide us both inside information and people’s opinions on the state of their school’s head coach and football program. During our travels in the past 24 months to college football games across the United States we have endeavored to make contact with both people that work at colleges and universities, and with fans, alumni, and boosters at every I-A school. We specifically have never talked to any of the football coaches we cover, head or assistant coaches, and we also have not tried to establish any relationships with members of the media. We do exchange occasional e-mails with media members, but the core of the information that we gather on head coaches and football programs comes from the over 500 people (a low of 1 contact and a high of 6 contacts at each school) that we have established relationships with to provide us insight into the goings on at their school and with their head football coach. Our goal in establishing this nationwide network of contacts was to model it on the type of networked system that a reporter like Bob Woodward of the Washington Post (known for Watergate and his books) has established to provide him information on the goings on in our federal government and in Washington D.C.. No, we do not have any clandestine meetings in parking garages with strange folks calling themselves “Deep Throat,” but we do believe that our network of contacts is unrivaled by any member media or any media organization in this country, because we reach much deeper into the schools, conferences, alumni & fan bases, and even into media organizations than anyone else in the game of college football. We receive dozens of “intelligence reports” everyday on dozens of different schools and head football coaches, and we combine that intelligence with our own opinions to come up with our Coaches Hot Seat Rankings and our other takes on the game of college football. No, our information and opinions are not perfect, but there is a very large effort made by members of Coaches Hot Seat to dig deep into the goings on of college head football coaches and college football, and we then try to give our unvarnished opinion on the coaches and the state of the game at a given time. With all of that being said, very little, if any of the intelligence that we gather ever goes verbatim onto the Coaches Hot Seat website, because some of it is impossible to verify with second or third sources, and rumor and innuendo is not what Coaches Hot Seat is all about. Coaches Hot Seat is about our opinion, our informed opinion, but our opinion and our opinion only. We here at Coaches Hot Seat believe that the American people speaking up on the issues of the day is the bedrock of our Republic, and we are confident that the Founders not only made sure that our freedom of speech would be assured (First Amendment to the US Constitution), but that they also wanted us to speak up, and to speak up loudly. We plan to keep speaking up in spades. Now let’s get to the first Coaches Hot Seat Rankings of the 2008 season.
The long offseason between January and the kickoff this fall only wets the appetite even more for the great game of college football, and there is NO other sport that can match college football for its passion, pageantry, intrigue, history, unpredictability, and downright fun. With that in mind let’s get to the Post-Week 1 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings.
Here are the Top Ten Coaches on the Post-Week 1 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings:
1. Tommy Bowden, Clemson– The clock is now ticking on the Tommy Bowden era at Clemson. The Clemson fans are fed up with the mediocrity that has been allowed to exist at Clemson in the Bowden era, and the debacle against Alabama has only inflamed the Tiger fan base and puts Tommy Bowden in a very perilous situation. Tommy Bowden is now coaching the rest of the 2008 season for his job. The mark that Bowden has to get into in terms of number of wins for 2008 is 8 wins. Anything less than 8 wins by Tommy Bowden in 2008, and the Tommy Bowden era is OVER at Clemson. Tommy Bowden is not only coaching for his job, but if he does not get to 8 wins in 2008, Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips will find himself out of a job as well. Let’s just be very clear about the Alabama game: Alabama came out and smashed Clemson in the mouth, and the Clemson players QUIT on Tommy Bowden. This is not the first time the Clemson players have QUIT on Tommy Bowden, and it will not be the last. Bowden entered the game against Alabama with four times the talent and four times the experience of the Tide, and the Tigers got their ass handed to them. For some reason, Tommy Bowden believes that he can continue to put mediocre and underperforming teams onto the field at Clemson and keep his job, but make no doubt about it, Tommy Bowden is now fighting for his coaching career. Luckily for Bowden, he is not coaching in the SEC, or it would already be “turn out the lights the party is over.” In the ACC, a high school team could put up a .500 record in the conference, so let’s see just see what Bowden and Clemson can do ’08. More importantly, let’s see if the Clemson players QUIT on Tommy Bowden again this season. If they do, Bowden should be fired on the spot.
2. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M – Someone needs to tell Mike Sherman that he is not coaching in the NFL anymore, because the team he put on the field against Arkansas State on Saturday was the typical pro team: Uninspired, playing without passion, acting way too much like a pro team by not destroying a clearly weaker opponent, and most disturbing to us, not playing the way a Texas A&M football team is supposed to play. How is a Texas A&M football team supposed to play? With passion, with fire, with grit, which they did many times even under Franchione, which really makes us wonder what exactly is going on with A&M under Sherman. Mike Sherman was touted by A&M AD Bill Byrne and others as someone that understood the college game, because he had coached at A&M before, but it looks to us the years that Sherman spent away from the college game in the NFL has only turned him into someone that does not have a clear understanding of what the college game is all about. Anyone on the planet can coach a pro team that is led by a future Hall of Famer at the quarterback position, but college players must be coached, and it looks like Sherman might have badly misjudged the amount of very personal and direct coaching that is necessary in the fall camp to build a championship college football team. Sherman and the Aggies have a road trip to New Mexico next up on the schedule, with UNM coming off a 26-3 whipping by TCU, and a loss to the Lobos would mean A&M would have some real problems even getting to the 4 win mark in ’08. Any random person off any street in America could win 6 games with this ’08 Texas A&M football team, so if Sherman does not at least get to a .500 record this season, then why in the hell is A&M paying this man $1.8 million dollars a year? Just like Tommy Bowden, Mike Sherman is coaching the rest of this year not only for his job, but for AD Bill Byrne’s job as well, because Byrne is in this whole hog with Sherman, whichever way this entire Sherman-experiment turns out.
3. Ty Willingham, Washington– We fully expected Willingham and the Huskies to lose to Oregon on the road in the opener, but the score of the game, 44-10 in favor of the Ducks, just raises some more questions on if the UW program under Willingham is improving at all. One thing that Ty Willingham must do is prove to his bosses and to Washington fans that the Husky football program is moving forward, and it would be impossible for anyone to make the argument that they are moving forward after week 1. Earlier this year, we predicted that Willingham and Washington would start the season 0-3, as would many teams in I-A football that had to play Oregon on the road, and then BYU and Oklahoma at home, but still 0-3 is 0-3. We believe that no matter what the UW record gets to in ’08, Washington is going to give Willingham every opportunity to either prove himself, or walk the plank, and at the end of this season people will be able to look back and easily see if Willingham has gotten the job done in his 5 years at Washington. Of course, Notre Dame did not give Willingham that opportunity, and we have no doubt that Washington has given and will give Willingham every chance to get the UW program back on track. We still stick to our prediction of a 6-6 record for Willingham in ’08, even if they start 0-3, and a 6-6 record that includes a win over Washington State will at least give Willingham a chance to make an argument for his performance. It is way too soon to worry about the end of the year right now, especially with BYU and Oklahoma looming, and the biggest thing that the Husky players need to do is to show-up in these two upcoming games to prove that they are actually going to play hard for their head coach and university in ’08. If Washington does get blown out by BYU and Oklahoma, “Bar the door Katy,” because anything is then possible, and we mean anything.
4. Dave Wannstedt, Pittsburgh – In one of hundreds of very entertaining Seinfeld episodes, in one of them Elaine is dating a very attractive man (“Tony”) and Jerry accuses her of dating “Tony” only for his looks, which Elaine challenges at first, but finally comes around to reconciling herself to. Jerry calls “Tony” a male bimbo, or rather a “mimbo,” and after watching the mainstream sports media fawn over Dave Wannstedt for the past 20 years, we are convinced that Wannstedt is the head coaches version of “Tony” or rather the “mimbo” of college head coaches. Yes, the coaching mimbo talks a great game, he looks exactly what a good head football coach “supposed” to look like, and he has worked for one of the best coaches in the last 50 years in Jimmy Johnson, but then games and losses like Bowling Green continue to happen. Just what exactly is going on here? Has the media fallen in love with their “coaching mimbo” just because he looks and talks like a top head coach, or is there actually something behind that “Tom Selick” moustache? That is exactly what we are going to find out over the next 12 weeks or so, as Pitt plays a schedule in Wannstedt’s fourth year that they should win 8 or more games with, but which now seems damn near impossible if they cannot even beat Bowling Green. Dave Wannstedt is now coaching for his career for the rest of the ’08 season, and we are going to be very interested to see who shows up, the “mimbo,” or the head football coach. Don’t ask the media about Dave Wannstedt, because they are deeply in love with the man! He is there “MIMBO!”
5. Greg Robinson, Syracuse– There was a time when Syracuse football losing to Northwestern would have been a big story, but to fully realize just how far the Orangemen football program has fallen, no one hardly noticed that the Wildcats whipped Syracuse on Saturday 30-10. It doesn’t really look like Syracuse is a badly coached football team, but there were noticeable times throughout the game with Northwestern where Orangeman players got themselves out of position or made significant mistakes that did real damage to Syracuse’s chances to win the football game. It must be obvious to everyone by now, including Greg Robinson, that barring a miracle turnaround with this Syracuse football team in ’08, the Orangemen will be looking for a new head coach come December. That doesn’t mean the Syracuse players shouldn’t play like hell and try their damndest to win every game on their schedule, but it does mean that without wins and lots of them, Syracuse will have a new man at the top in ’09.
6. Chuck Long, San Diego State – Hey, Cal Poly has a decent football team, but there is just no excuse for San Diego State football in year 3 of the Chuck Long era to be losing to anything called the California Polytechnic State University. We don’t exactly know what Chuck Long is doing at San Diego State, but it is most certainly not what he learned from Bob Stoops when he was on the staff at Oklahoma. San Diego State football needs wins, and lots of them, or one day we are all going to be reading a story about an Aztec home football game and it is going to say at the end of the article: Attendance: 250 (counting both teams and all cheerleaders). Just when San Diego State could use a high school team on their schedule (not one from Texas!) so they could get a sure win, they have to go to Notre Dame to play a pissed off Irish team coming off a 3-9 season. Good Luck Chuck!
7. Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville – Steve Kragthorpe and the Cardinals REALLY needed to beat Kentucky in the opening game, but they REALLY were not in the game past the first quarter. We wonder what is REALLY going on at Louisville with Kragthorpe? We watched Kragthorpe at Tulsa and he put some very good football teams on the field there, but for whatever reason he has taken over the national football power that Bobby Petrino built at Louisville and has turned it into an also-ran. There have been loads of off-field problems since Kragthorpe got to Louisville, and there has been some turnover in his coaching staff as well, but one thing remains constant: Inconsistent play and losses. Something has to give here, because Louisville athletics cannot sustain a dwindling fan base and lower football game attendance, which is real possibility if the losses keep piling up, and that means that there is only one way out of this hole: “Just win Baby!” As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Keep going Kragthorpe, keep going!
8. Phil Fulmer, Tennessee– Yes, the UCLA-Tennessee game could have gone either way, but it went against the Vols in overtime, and that loss to the Bruins raises some serious questions about Fulmer, with the most serious being: How can a head coach in his seventeenth year at the helm of a top SEC team (Phil Fulmer), lose to a coach that was tossed out of the game of college football just a few years ago (Rick Neuheisel), and took over an UCLA football program that was on the verge of disappearing from the Pac-10? Answer: There is no legitimate answer to that question, and that is why Phil Fulmer finds himself right back on the Hot Seat! Tennessee was breaking in a new QB and offensive coordinator, but it was the Tennessee defense that let the team down in the fourth quarter, when they could not stop a third-string QB and a banged-up UCLA offense. Phil Fulmer and his staff got out-coached on a beautiful night in the Rose Bowl, and that has become an all too familiar story in recent years in Knoxville, and that means the pressure is going to very high and intense as the Vols look ahead to a “MUST-WIN” game against Florida in two weeks. Welcome back to the Hot Seat Phil Fulmer! As tough as the SEC is these days, it is going be damn hard to get off of the Hot Seat this time. (Congratulations to Rick Neuheisel for a nice win in his opening game at UCLA. One really wonders what UCLA would have done to Tennessee if they had been able to play the 10 or so starters that got injured in fall camp and in the first quarter of Monday night’s game?)
9. Al Groh, Virginia– Someone needs to send a tea set to this Virginia football team so they can have high tea at practice this week instead of putting on the pads, because after watching the USC Trojans embarrass the Cavs, we really doubt if there is a real man on this Virginia football team. The Cavalier players can boil up some tea, break out some sugar cookies, put on their white gloves and have a grand time trading stories about the latest blouse that they bought at Macy’s! Memo to Virginia: Football is a contact sport and the object is to tackle and take to the ground the opposing team’s players, not wave at them as they run by you on the way to the endzone. Luckily for Virginia, they are playing in a conference where there are a number of teams that seem to be having high tea instead of practicing the game of football (Hello Clemson!), so yes, UVA could win a few tea parties, we mean football games this season. Al Groh and Virginia won about 10 games in ’07 by 3 points or less, and we just hope that the luck doesn’t run the other way in 2008, or the Groh era in Charlottesville will be over. If that happens, then Virginia has a former player and alum, Derek Dooleywaiting in the wings, who would be more than happy to come up to Charlottesville to show the Cavs how to play the game of football. In the meantime, how about a Virginia football player actually hitting someone? Is that doable?
10. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa– The Hawkeyes looked good in their opener putting up a 46-3 win over Maine, but the only problem was that they put up a 46-3 win over Maine. Seriously, we watched a replay of the Iowa game again on Monday and the Hawkeyes seemed to play with a lot more passion than they have in recent years, and if they keep playing like that…. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but there is no reason Iowa should ever lose to Florida International and the Hawkeyes should be fired up to avenge the Iowa State loss from last year, so there is every reason in the world to think that Iowa can keep the wins coming. Of the remaining 10 games on the Iowa schedule, they will enter the games with equal or better talent 8 times, and that means a lot of wins can be had this year if Iowa continues to play good football
Well, there you have the Top 10 Coaches on the Post-Week 1 Coaches Hot Seat Rankings. As you look through the rest of the Rankings, one will notice that lots of coaches moved up or down in the Rankings due to their team’s performance on the opening weekend, and there were certainly some very favorable impressions made by coaches that brought huge swings from where they were ranked just a week ago. The one sure thing about the game of college football, is that if you get after your opponent and give them no quarter, a lot of good things will start to happen. In week 1 a lot of coaches had their teams getting after people and giving them no quarter. Let’s just hope that keeps up all season, because that is the way the game of college football is supposed to be played.
The football season is underway, and we are already having way too much fun!