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TGS 2014 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW...COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT!
by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor


With the 2015 college football season not far away, it's a good time to set the table for the upcoming campaign and look at the coaches in the hottest seats entering the fall. In coming weeks, and into July, we will also commence our TGS college conference previews, with the NFL division previews in August!

Will Muschamp, Florida...Mushchamp barely survived the j4-8 meltdown of 2013 that was the Gators? worst SU mark since Charley Pell?s first season in charge (0-10-1) back in 1979. Many regional sources expected longtime AD Jeremy Foley to pull the plug, but Foley, who famously hit the eject button on Ron Zook in 2004 after just three seasons on the job, resisted temptation, perhaps fearing the sort of revolving door that has stalled progress at Tennessee the past few years. Muschamp, however, walks on the thinnest of ice after recording a pair of non-winning regular-season marks in his three years on the job, and with offenses that have ranked in the triple digits (113th in 2013) each of his three seasons in Gainesville. To that end, Muschamp has changed offensive coordinators, with Brent Pease (now on Chris Petersen?s Washington Huskies staff) out and Duke o.c. Kurt Roper recently hired to revive the attack. Muschamp?s team had injury issues this past season, including at QB, although sr.-to-be Jeff Driskel has never posted big numbers in his career. Muschamp was also saved by the BCS season of 2012, but even that campaign ended on a sour note with a Sugar Bowl loss to big underdog Louisville. No one expects Foley to give Muschamp another mulligan if the Gators can?t rebound strongly next fall.

Brady Hoke, Michigan...It?s bad enough for Michigan fans to see Ohio State beat the Wolverines and advance to the BCS bowls. It?s even worse when in-state Michigan State has bypassed ?the U? as well, with the Spartans having throttled Michigan in 2013 and now being the talk of the college football world after winning the Rose Bowl. All of which making things more uncomfortable for Hoke, whom some believed might have been in some trouble after the 7-6 season that is far below Ann Arbor standards. The program now sits not far from where Hoke inherited it from Rich Rodriguez?s disastrous tenure that ended after the 2010 season. Moreover, Michigan didn?t look ?like Michigan? this season with a running attack that too often disappeared, and few playmakers on defense. Hoke will probably need to at least get the Wolverines back in contention for Big Ten honors next season to get a chance to return in 2015.

Mike London, Virginia...Chalk up London?s continuing employment as one of the surprise developments of the past season, when it looked like the Cav job was going to be involved in the coaching carousel. Especially after UVa regressed to an unsightly 2-10 in 2013, London?s fourth year in charge. In the end, London was apparently saved by a couple of factors, not the least of which being a buyout of reportedly in the neighborhood of $11 million for London and staff. Which should probably put the man who negotiated those deals, AD Craig Littlepage, on the hot seat as well. But sources say Littlepage was sensitive to possible political blowback in the Commonwealth by dismissing London, and might not have been feeling as much pressure from the biggest Wahoo boosters, who apparently are more concerned with the school?s lacrosse program than they are with football. But with the buyout amounts reduced next year, London will have a hard time surviving another bowl-less season in Charlottesville (cover from the lacrosse program or not).

Charlie Weis, Kansas...If you?re a coach and you want someone in your corner, it might as well be your AD. Especially if he?s the only guy in the state who believes you should stay on the job. So it goes at Kansas, where AD Sheahon Zenger, in a classic ?I know more than anybody else? move, not only hired Weis above booster complaints two years ago, but continues to stand by Weis despite barely-detectable progress from the Jayhawks, who ?improved? from 1-11 to 3-9 IN 2013 and finally won a Big 12 game for Weis (against West Virginia...more on the Mountaineer job in a moment). Moreover, Weis? sour-milk personality is hardly a hit with the support base, which has hardly rallied around Zenger?s decision to bring Weis back for another try in 2014. Along the way, Weis? reputation as an offensive guru (which had been diminished by previous work at Florida, the NFL Kansas City Chiefs, and his last couple of years at Notre Dame) has hardly been rehabilitated at Lawrence, with his Jayhawk ?O? again ranked among the nation?s worst, finishing 2013 at 117th in total offense and 118th in scoring. We can?t be sure Zenger will hit the eject button on Weis if things don?t improve in 2014, either, and Charlie?s continuing employment at KU continues to be a source of amusement elsewhere in the league.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia...Holgorsen?s star has fallen awfully fast since midway in the 2012 season, when the Mountaineers and QB Geno Smith looked to be BCS-bound. Since then, however, WVU has lost 14 of 20 games (including the ultimate embarrassment vs. Kansas), and Holgorsen?s once-progressive offense has looked quite pedestrian, ranking a middling 63rd in total offense and 78th in scoring (26.3 ppg) this past season. Moreover, the Mountaineers have often played sloppily, and there are plenty of sharp elbows in the Big 12 that will make it tough to ascend the league table. Holgorsen?s penchant for frequenting casinos for traditional gaming is also said not to sit too well with many boosters who would rather see their coach concentrating on football instead of games of chance at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.

Kevin Wilson, Indiana...Football expectations are tempered somewhat at Indiana, although that doesn?t mean the Hoosiers are satisfied just to be competitive. Most of the IU coaches over the past four decades have been forced out the door because of lack of success, and we wonder how much rope Kevin Wilson has after a third-straight non-bowl trip in 2013. Although IU did improve to 5-7 with a high-powered offense, even the Hoosiers are going to eventually want to get to a bowl, and Big Ten sources believe Wilson needs to produce a postseason bid in 2014 in order to last into 2015.

Darrell Hazell, Purdue...So much for Purdue?s decision to ?upgrade? after 2012 and run off the competent Danny Hope, who had been leading the Boilermakers to a succession of minor bowls, and replace him with ex-Kent State HC Hazell, who presided over perhaps the worst Big Ten team since Northwestern?s last weakling years in the early 1980s. Purdue finished 2013 at a disastrous 1-11, with only a 6-point win over FCS Indiana State preventing the big donut, and the offense was unspeakably bad all season, poorly conceived and so impotent that it scored a grand total of 7 points over one three-game stretch at midseason. No one in West Lafayette was expecting this sort of dropoff under Hazell, who is going to be on the Turner Gill at Kansas two-year watch if things don?t improve considerably this fall.

Kyle Flood, Rutgers...There were some regional observers who believed Flood might not make it beyond 2013 after Rutgers faded badly down the stretch and barely qualified for bowl eligibility, where it proceeded to lose a dull Pinstripe Bowl to Notre Dame. With distractions surrounding the program and Flood making staff changes defensively before the bowl game, the situation remains dicey in East Brunswick for the head coach, entering his third year in charge this fall. Moreover, ?Gers is moving into the Big Ten?s tough East Division (with Ohio State, Penn State, and both Michigan schools), and a lot of observers wonder if Flood is dynamic enough to lead with the upgraded change of scenery on the horizon. Flood enters 2014 squarely on the hot seat; is it possible that former Scarlet Knights HC Greg Schiano could end up back at Rutgers after next season?

Tim Beckman, Illinois...In another Big Ten example of be careful what you wish for, Beckman has not provided an upgrade for from predecessor Ron Zook, who was canned after the 2011 season, further depressing Illini backers who thought Beckman might be the man to lead the program back to prominence. But Beckman, whose Toledo teams impressed a few years ago, has been unable to pick the lock at Champaign-Urbana, with defensive issues (Illinois ranked 110th in 2013) the most pressing concern. Most regional observers believe Beckman is probably on a bowl-or-bust edict in 2014 after a subpar 4-8 campaign in 2013 brought his two-year Illinois record to 6-18.

Norm Chow, Hawaii...Some Mountain West insiders were surprised to see Chow survive a second straight brutal campaign, one that almost ended winless until the Rainbow Warriors beat Army 49-42 in the finale. But Hawaii did make palpable progress in 2013, and reversing enough close losses could have put Chow?s team in line for a bowl bid. Because Hawaii was more competitive in 2013, native son Chow is being given one more chance to get it right in 2014, but the honeymoon period in Honolulu (one of college football?s nastiest fishbowls) long since ended for Chow, whose decision to junk the June Jones/Greg McMackin Red Gun in favor of a more pro-style, multiple offense has mostly backfired. Chow probably needs to get the Rainbow Warriors into the local Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (which reserves a place for bowl-eligible UH) if he wants to last into 2015.

Others also perhaps on the hot seat entering 2014: Ron Turner, Florida International; Skip Holtz, La Tech; Paul Petrino, Idaho; Sean Kugler, UTEP; Kyle Whittingham, Utah.


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