What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 11/26/2011 – The Up-To-The-Minute Coaches’ Death Watch Edition
Lots of stuff has happened since we originally started this Coaches’ Death Watch a month ago. Some of it we saw coming, some of it we didn’t, and some of it is simply inexplicable.
There’s the guys who bought it before we ever published the inaugural death watch issue. Granted, we messed up when we listed New Mexico”s Mike Locksley as a certainty to be fired when in fact he had already been fired two weeks before hand. But what difference does it really make? New Mexico is firmly rooted in the “Who Cares? conference.
Firings We Didn’t See Coming:
1) Joe Paterno, Penn State
Let’s be honest…nobody saw this coming a month ago. We need not get into the details here, we all know them.
2) Ron Zook, Illinois
Captain Coke-Machine Head Butt was 6-0 to start this season, and the Illini are going to a bowl game. Zook was the first coach to take the University of Chief Illiniwek to the Rose Bowl in about a bazillion years.
Trouble is they finished 0-6, going 2-6 in B1G conference play and that’s includes a season-ending 27-7 debacle at Minnesota.
3) Bob Toledo, Tulane
We’ll be honest…we really weren’t paying attention to Tulane football. They are in the same conference as New Mexico.
Firings We Totally Saw Coming (with Breaking News):
1) Houston Nutt, Mississippi
Houston, you have a problem. The million-dollar question: Is their really a difference between getting fired and being asked to resign? Not really, because for a coach, there’s still a contract buy-out involved.
2) BREAKING NEWS #1 – Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
As of right now, CBSSports.com is reporting Slick Rick is as gone as a cool breeze after the Pac-12 Championship.
UCLA was blown out 50-0 by USC on Saturday night to finish the season at 6-6 and 5-4 in the Pac-12, but thanks to some NCAA sanctions currently in place at USC, the Bruins will be playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship against Oregon on Friday. Which means that there’s a chance the 6-6 Bruins could end up playing in the Rose Bowl.
Though it doesn’t seem that is going to be enough to save Rick Neuheisel’s job at the school. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Neuheisel will meet with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero after the game to discuss his future at the school, and the report says the chances Neuheisel will retain his job are “bleak.”
Neuheisel is a dead man.
2) BREAKING NEWS #2 – Paul Wulff, Washington State
Again, it’s CBSSports.com as the bearer of bad news for at least one guy on the Pelouse…
Washington State head coach Paul Wulff is expected to be dismissed according to a local report, possibly as early Sunday or Monday.
The Seattle Times, citing sources close to the situation, report Wulff will be dismissed in a meeting with athletic director Bill Moos “barring a last-minute change of direction.” The Cougars finished their season with a 38-21 loss to Washington in the Apple Cup on Saturday.
If the reports are true, Wulff will finish with a 9-40 record in four years as the head coach in Pullman. His .184 winning percentage is the worst in college football, and the worst in Washington State school history. Moos has been WSU’s athletic director for 18 months, and reportedly has big plans to refresh and revive the football program. With an $80 million stadium remodeling project and new football offices in the plans, it’s not surprising they want to make a change to help encourage donations.
Wulff is a dead man. That end-of-season meeting with the AD is never a good deal.
2) BREAKING NEWS #3 – Dennis Erickson, Arizona State
CBSSports.com hits the Pac-12 trifecta, this time in Tempe.
Black Sunday in the college coaching ranks continues, with the latest coach on the verge of losing his job reportedly being Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. Multiple sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com Arizona State Rapid Reporter Craig Morgan that Erickson will be fired this week with a news conference coming as soon as Monday.
Erickson still has one more year left on his contract, and if he’s fired he’ll receiver half of the $1.5 million he was due in his contract. Though it’s also possible that both sides will work out another agreement.
Arizona State had a disappointing end to its season in 2011, as the Sun Devils began the season with a 5-1 record but limped to the finish line losing 5 of their last 6 games. Losing out on a golden opportunity to play for a Rose Bowl berth in a very winnable Pac-12 South Division.
While we don’t see a meeting with the AD yet, this can’t be a good development.
Guys Who Saved Their Asses
1) Mark Richt, Georgia
Richt’s survival in Athens is a combination of getting the Bulldogs into the SEC Championship combined with having a $7 million buy out. It will be forgiven
if when Georgia gets crushed by LSU, but the Bulldogs really could stand to make a good showing in their bowl game.
2) Jeff Tedford, California (probably)
Like I said before, Tedford is like a Bay-Area version of Mark Richt. He’s a nice, well-tanned guy who started out strong, but has a bit of a “what have you done for me lately?” problem. Since 2006 when Tedford led the Golden Bears to 10 wins and a share of a Pac-10 title, Cal hasn’t repeated that success, even in the light of USC’s troubles. Tedford was the most 50/50 guy on this list, and I think going 4-2 in his last six in Strawberry Canyon gets him off the hook, at least for one more year.
Guys Who Are Still Under The Sword of Damocles
- Turner Gill, Kansas
- Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins
- Neil Callaway, Alabama-Birmingham
- Mike Riley, Oregon State
- Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
- Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams
- Frank Spaziani, Boston College
- Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
- Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs
- Luke Fickell, Ohio State (those Urban Meyer rumors just won’t go away)
- Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
- Lezlie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
- Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts
- Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
The Unkindest Cut of All
A tweet from Pete Thamel of the New York Times sums it up.
Man, there are some stone cold mofos in this world.