Tag Archives: Tony Sparano

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

Dennis Erickson reported to be fired. Not exactly a "Shocker."

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.

What We Learned From This Weekend in Football 10/22/2011 – The Inaugural Coaches’ Death Watch Edition

Former 49ers head coach and NFL legend Bill Walsh always said the four most powerful words in leadership were “I believe in you.” The irony is when a coach here’s those words coming from his owner or general manager, he might as well just packing up his office then.  Let’s be honest. We are deep enough into this years college and NFL seasons to see which coaches are getting those dreaded “votes of confidence.” In other words, the front-runners in the race to the unemployment office are emerging.

1) Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

Odds of Getting Fired: May Actually Be Fired By The Time This Article Is Posted

If you are reading this, and it is later than 5 p.m. eastern time Monday, and Tony Sparano is still the head coach of the Dolphins, then he might survive for at least another week.  This guy defines the term “living on borrowed time;” Sparano has had the sword of Damocles hanging over his head ever since last year when Dolphins ownership tried to secretly hire Jim Harbaugh. There’s lots of reasons for that.

His judgement is questionable at best.  Sparano continually stood by quarterback Chad Henne, even after he proved beyond a doubt he lacked any semblance of leadership skills and a tendency toward inconsistent play and making impulsive (meaning horrible) decisions.

Then, he he brought in Reggie Bush to be a “feature running back.” Anybody with eyes  (I blame Sparano’s ever-present sunglasses) saw in New Orlaeas that Bush had no ability to a) carry the ball at a “feature” level b) run between the tackles and c) is little more than a “third down” back useful only in a screen-passing or perimeter role. Besides, he’s damaged goods.

There was a lot of talk that this week’s game against the Broncos would be a referendum on Sparano’s reign in Miami. After all, how many times have you seen a situation in which the visiting team’s starting quarterback is the attraction that sells out your stadium? You can’t honor the University of Florida’s 2008 national championship team without showering roses on Tim Tebow, and doing it with Sparano standing on the sideline only adds Heisman to injury.

Let’s be honest…yesterday’s overtime loss; letting Timmy Rah-Rah lead a comeback in the 4th quarter to beat the Dolphins in overtime…well, that simply can’t help.

Can Save His Job By:  Getting Tim Tebow to personally plead for his future and winning 75% of his remaining games. Even then, he will need to invent a 3-in-1 cure-all for cancer, erectile dysfunction, and the Dolphin defense.

2) Rick Neuheisel, UCLA

Odds of Getting Fired: The Same as Dr. Phil Waking Up Bald Tomorrow

Frankly, I think the blow-out loss at Arizona was the final nail in the Neuheisel coffin.  For all his swagger, Neuheisel never engrained that same attitude in his teams in Westwood, which is  really why he was brought into Bruin Land on the first place.

Neuheisel is 18-26 in three and a half seasons with the Bruins, he is in the fourth year of a five-year contract, and he just got the afrementioned “vote of confidence.”

Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero told ESPNLosAngeles.com late Thursday night that replacing Neuheisel after Thursday’s loss “isn’t even a remote possibility,” his strongest statement to date on Neuheisel’s immediate future.

“Rick is my coach,” Guerrero said after watching the lopsided loss. “I don’t know who is talking about him being relieved early, but it’s certainly not me. He’s a great Bruin. I want to see him succeed.

“We’ll evaluate at the end of the year like we always evaluate and make determinations (of) what we’re going to do at that point. But right now, all this talk about him staying or him going, that does nothing for our team that is trying to regroup and go out there every week and play hard and try to win football games.”

Neuheisel is a dead man.

Can Save His Job By:  Having incriminating photos of Dan Guerrero.

3) Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars

Odds of Getting Fired: Right Now, Moammar Qaddafi Has A Better Chance of Keeping His Job, and He’s Dead

Actually, it would be a more relevant use of space to discuss the proper spelling of “Qaddafi.” Lord knows I wouldn’t want to inadvertently disrespect a murderous, terrorist-supporting dickweed. I’d like to make sure it was intentional. However, that isn’t the point here.

In eight years, Del Rio has one playoff win.  His own players don’t believe in him anymore,  and his handling of the David Garrard situation is reason enough to show him the door.

Realistically, the Jags are 1-5, are currently on a five-game skid and have a realistic chance to enter their bye week at 1-7.

4) Houston Nutt, Mississippi

Odds of Getting Fired: It’s Not That They Don’t Want To…

The following quote is from Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone back on September 19th after the Rebels’ 30-7 drubbing at the hands of Vanderbilt.

The fullness of the Ole Miss football experience that you deserve and have generously invested in, has not lived up to expectations recently. Coach Nutt and I met today and discussed the current state of Ole Miss football. Both of us are extremely disappointed in our performance this year. We agreed that to be successful, this disappointment must be met head on with solutions for improvement. We discussed several areas that needed improvement and I support Coach Nutt in his effort to correct those areas.

As I have said, Saturday’s performance and our running two-season SEC record are unacceptable. Our commitment to compete at a championship level is as strong as ever and we will succeed! We need your continued support of the team as Saturday is another SEC weekend and we need you here!

Considering since then, the Rebels have only managed a win against Fresno State and are 0-4 in SEC play, they would love to put Nutt on the next train out of town.  However, Ole Miss doesn’t have $6 million to buy out Nutt’s contract, so expect Boone to keep blowing this kind of smoke for a while.

Can Save His Job By:  Keeping the Boosters From Ponying Up To Get Rid Of Him

5) Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams

Odds of Getting Fired: As soon as they find somebody who wants the job…

Spagnuolo might be a victim of expectations set too high. The Rams won one game in Spagnuolo’s first year and seven games in his second year. Everybody thought with a combination of Stephen Jackson and Sam Bradford  this might be the “breakout” year. Well, the Rams are 0-6  and are staring down a date with New Orleans.

Can Save His Job By:  Getting his offense to score more than 9 points per game

6) Mark Richt, Georgia

Odds of Getting Fired: Decrease exponentially if he beats a ranked team

Georgia has a real problem. Its fan base expects the bulldogs to be in contention for the SEC East every year, and every year those dreams dissolve either after the South Carolina or Florida game.

But it might be the Boise State loss that really sealed Richt’s fate.  The way the Bulldogs fell behind by three touchdowns after a 28-point Boise State romp that chewed up nearly half the game; that made Georgia look so over-matched you could tell the Bulldog alum had seen enough of the Richt show. Georgia just comes up short too often against the big-name competition, was simpluy isn’t going to keep the faithful in Athens happy.

Can Save His Job By:  Starts by beating Florida, but his $7 million buy out helps

7) Jeff Tedford, California

Odds of Getting Fired: The most 50/50 guy on this list

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.

Guys we didn’t list because their firing is more of certainty than Moammar Qaddafi’s:

  • Mike Riley, Oregon State
  • Mike Locksley, New Mexico State
  • Paul Wulff, Washington State

Guys who can coach their way on to the list:

  • Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
  • Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Danny Hope, Purdue
  • Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
  • Steve Fairchild, Colorado State
  • Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Lezlie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis Colts

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