The pressure to win in college football has reached an all time high. There is no job security in the college football ranks for head coaches, coordinators and position coaches. At any given time during the season a head coach could be axed without any notice. Here is a list of the 2011 college football coaches on the hot seat going into the 2011 season.
5: Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: Neuheisel has been nothing but below average at UCLA. His overall record is 15-22, at the school, and an 8-19 PAC 10 Conference record. Going into year four, Neuheisel needs to get the Bruins back to promise. Previous coach Karl Dorrell had an overall record of 35-27 in five seasons and that still wasn’t enough to keep his job at UCLA. Neuheisel has brought in two new coordinators this fall. Former San Francisco 49er Offensive Coordinator Mike Johnson will take over the offense and Joe Tresey will lead the defense. In a recent spring interview with the LA Times Neuheisel seemed very excited and confident about the upcoming season. Neuheisel told the LA Times,”We also have a number of weapons on offense that can help us win games, and I think our defensive personnel is buying into Coach Tresey’s system. When we get everyone healthy, it’s going to be a fun-looking defense.”
OUTLOOK: UCLA needs to win at least eight games this season for Neuheisel to keep his job. With two new coordinators and a realignment in the PAC 10 ( or 12) the Bruins will have difficulty getting eight wins, but anything is possible. My guess is UCLA will go 7-5 in the regular season and win their bowl game to get win number eight.
4: Paul Wulff, Washington State: Wulff has a record of 5-32 in three seasons and only 2 Pac 10 Conference wins. Wulff needs to get both the offense and defense playing better. The offense was ranked 98th in total offense only averaging 19.6 points per game. Defensively the Cougars gave up 35.8 points per game and ranked 110th in points allowed. Quarterback Jeff Tuel returns for the Cougars. Tuel passed for 2780 yards and 18 touchdowns but will need help from a sluggish running game that averaged only 91 yards per game last season.
Outlook: Washington State needs to win at least five games for Wulff to keep his job. With the newly renovated Pac -12 I think this will be a tall order for the Cougars.
3: Mike Locksley, New Mexico: Locksley holds a 2-22 record in two seasons at New Mexico. The Lobos have failed to find an identity on both sides of the ball. Offensively New Mexico had averaged only 15.8 points per game and gave up an average of 44.3. Fans and alumni wanted Locksley fired at the conclusion of the 2010 season, but he was retained due to a high contract buyout.
Outlook: If Locksley can get the Lobos to five wins he will be given another year. However, New Mexico has struggled continuously for two seasons and need a lot of help to be competitive.
2: Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: Houston Nutt has done a good job at Ole Miss holding an overall record of 22-16. However, Nutt has a 10-14 record in the SEC and that has angered the Ole Miss fan base. In 2009 the Rebels were predicted by some experts to win the SEC and play for a BCS bowl game. The Rebels were ranked fourth in the AP poll but ended up losing four games. This resulted in a third place finish in the SEC West Division. Following 2009, the Rebels finished with a 4-8 record in 2010. The Rebels struggled on defense allowing 35.2 points per game.
Outlook: If the Rebels can show improvement from 2010 and can have a winning record in the SEC I think it’s safe to say that Nutt will keep his job.
1: Mark Richt, Georgia: Arguably the coach on the hottest seat in the country. Following Georgia’s disappointing loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl, the seat has gotten hotter for Richt. The bulldogs went 6-7 in 2010 and have finished below school and fan expectations in every season since 2008. At the start of the 2008 season Georgia started the year ranked number one in the AP Poll. With the return of Quarterback Matthew Stafford and Running back Knowshon Moreno many experts picked the Bulldogs to win the SEC Championship and compete for a National Title. The Dogs failed posting a 10-3 record and losing to rivals Florida and Georgia Tech. In 2009 and 2010 Georgia holds a 7-9 record in the SEC.
Outlook: Richt must win at least 9 games in 2011 to keep his job. Posting a 9-3 regular season record is possible for the Bulldogs. Second year Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham showed promise in his first season as coordinator leading Georgia to a 23rd national ranking in 2010. Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo should be able to get the offense rolling with second year starting Quarterback Aaron Murray.