With Week 6 set to get underway on Wednesday night with a very interesting game with La. Tech traveling to the Rocky Mountains (why is La. Tech in the WAC? Just makes no sense at all.) to play Boise State, we look back at Week 5 to select the Coaches Hot Seat Coach of the Week, “Goat” Coach of the Week, and thankfully for the third straight week will not be awarding the “Cry Baby” Coach of the Week.
For the Coaches Hot Seat Coach of the Week we had several nominees on the ballot including: Houston Nutt, Frank Beamer, Mike Riley, Nick Saban, Rich Rodriguez, Ken Niumatalolo, Kevin Sumlin, Ralph Friedgen, Pat Hill, Jim Harbaugh, Randy Edsall, and the winner is: HOUSTON NUTT (Mike Riley was a very close second, but he got his big win at home!)
Week 5 Coaches Hot Seat Coach of the Week
Coach: Houston Nutt
School: Ole Miss
Could the Week 5 Coaches Hot Seat Coach of Week be anyone else but Ole Miss head coach Houston Dale Nutt? Of course not! Let’s just look at what happened in Gainesville last Saturday to understand how big of an upset Ole Miss over the vaunted Florida Gators really was. Houston Nutt took over a SEC team at Ole Miss that DID NOT WIN A SEC GAME IN 2007! Yes, DID NOT WIN A SEC GAME IN 2007! In 2008, the Rebels got off to a tough start losing a game at Wake Forest that they could have easily won and lost to Vanderbilt at home in another tough one, but somehow Nutt got his team back up and ready to play against the defending Heisman Trophy winner in Tebow and the mighty Florida Gators! With all that being said, let’s not forget that Florida has on their roster 2 to 3 times as much talent as Ole Miss and easily has twice as much speed at the ball-handling positions. Urban Meyer believes he has the best quarterback in college football (although he has him running a high school offense), so there really should be no way that Ole Miss could go into The Swamp and beat the Florida Gators. Really? No, that was not the case though, because as good of a coach as Urban Meyer is, he refuses to utilize the talent that he has on his roster, and when a coach like Houston Nutt shows up with a hungry football team you have a recipe for a major upset. Yes, a MAJOR upset, which is what Ole Miss going into Florida and winning really is, and Houston Nutt, his coaching staff, and his players should get all the credit in the world for playing a terrific and fearless game against the Gators in The Swamp! Houston Nutt has done a great job at Ole Miss up to this point, handling the transition, changing the entire mindset in Oxford, putting offensive and defensive systems into place that the players can buy into, and keeping his team up and focused through a tough part of the early season. As Bill Dooley has said, “In turning a program around, the hardest thing to do is convincing players that they can win.” Congratulations to Houston Nutt for winning the Week 5 Coaches Hot Seat Coach of the Week!
Next up for Ole Miss: A big game against Steve Spurrier and South Carolina at home.
For the “Goat” Coach of the Week we had several nominees including: Pete Carroll, Al Groh, Tommy Bowden, Kirk Ferentz, Phil Fulmer, Bobby Petrino, and the winner is: PETE CARROLL
Week 5 Coaches Hot Seat “Goat” Coach of the Week
Coach: Pete Carroll
Mike Riley did a tremendous job getting his team ready to play against the USC Trojans and he had a great gameplan that could get under Pete Carroll’s skin if executed correctly, and that gameplan did get under Pete Carroll’s skin. To really try and understand what a HUGE upset that Oregon State over USC was, we took at look at the Oregon State roster and by our count there is only 1, maybe 2 players on the Beavers football team that Pete Carroll and his staff “might” offer a scholarship to. Yes, the very real difference between the talent on Pete Carroll’s USC team and Mike Riley’s Oregon State team cannot be overstated, and watching how the Beavers took apart and even dominated to some extent the Trojans’ offensive and defensive lines was a stunning thing to see.
With that being said, Pete Carroll is not the Coaches Hot Seat “Goat” Coach of the Week because of talent level advantage he had over Oregon State, but rather because he did not have his football team ready to play Oregon State last Thursday night and that is inexcusable. It has been well documented recently about all of the letdowns that Carroll has had in recent years to teams that the Trojans were heavily favored to beat, and we believe that with Oregon State ’06, UCLA ’06, Stanford ’07, and now Oregon State ’08 we do not have a series of random of events, but a damn serious trend. Inside the belly of the beast that is the USC football program Pete Carroll is in deep denial about what really happened in these recent shocking losses, because to deal with the problem Carroll would have to look into the mirror and directly deal with the weakness of his coaching style.
Anyone that has watched USC practice, and several us here at Coaches Hot Seat have watched the Trojans practice on several occasions (thanks to Pete for keeping his practices open) have to be impressed with the focus on competing, physical play, the challenges that the USC players personally face at each practice, and the vital importance of Trojan players executing in practice if they want to start and play on Saturday. At the center of every USC practice are Pete Carroll and his personality which then finds itself into every USC football player in a very direct way. When and if Pete Carroll and his personality are not “ON” USC will always be in danger of losing football games, and Pete Carroll is usually not “ON” when the team they are facing in the next game is not a perceived threat to Southern Cal. As Keith Jackson said during a phone conversation with the ABC announcing crew in the middle of the Virginia game earlier this year, “Only the USC Trojans can beat the USC Trojans.” Not only was Keith Jackson right, a lot of people have pointed out that USC is vulnerable when a decent opponent that is big underdog pops up on the Trojans’ schedule, and the game last Thursday night at Oregon State was just another case study of what will continue to happen if Carroll does not take action in the weeks when his Trojan team could be susceptible to an upset. Pete Carroll can easily correct this problem in the future if he recognizes the games where his team could be “trapped,” if he makes sure to provide a shock to his team that will get them focused on the upcoming opponent that could beat them if the Trojans were not ready to play. An example for last week’s Oregon State game, which we predicted before the season that USC would lose (http://www.coacheshotseat.com/PeteCarroll.htm), we would have recognized the danger that Oregon State poised and we would have drastically changed up the USC practice regime, by maybe taking the team over to the LA Coliseum for a mini-scrimmage that would have also included showing the team a presentation on the big screen at the Coliseum highlights of the times that Oregon State has played well in recent games. Of course, we would show highlights from the ’06 Oregon State game and after showing those highlights we would have had a handful of USC players that were on the ’06 team that lost to OSU, but are not currently on the team, and have them tell the team Oregon State was very dangerous opponent. At the end of the mini-scrimmage at the Coliseum, and showing the highlights of Oregon State on the big screen and having some former USC players talk about the recent loss to OSU, we would had done some conditioning drills to really get the players attention. We would have broken the team into 4 parts and have them do conditioning drills that were competitively based so that the portion of the team that “won” the conditioning drill would be able to head to the locker room until only the last section of the team was left. The reason that we would have done the above type of things is that we would have noticed early in the week that the team was flat and that they were tending towards not being ready to play Oregon State, and when something like that confronts a coach, CHANGE to the practice schedule is a must. It can be a trip to the beach to run sprints, toss the football around, and a cook out, or it can be something as little as changing the practice venue to the home stadium.
Whatever we would recommend, there is one thing that we do know, what Pete Carroll has been doing before some of these heavy favorite games in recent years has not been the right thing to do. We would like to think that Pete Carroll and the Trojans have learned a good lesson with the Oregon State game, but we think that the Trojans are now vulnerable in a couple of other games this season: at Arizona and against California at the Coliseum. For the other remaining USC games the Trojans will either be very fired up to play the games or they will be so much more talented that they will win easily, but there is still danger lurking on the USC schedule, and let’s hope Pete Carroll recognizes that danger this time around and deals with it before the games are kicked-off.
Next up for USC: A big game against Oregon at the LA Coliseum.
Week 5 Coaches Hot Seat “Cry Baby” Coach of the Week
Coach: No Award this week
There you have the Coaches Hot Seat Coaches Awards for Week 5.
Let’s hope we have a great Week 6.