You see it too often in college football these days. A program is doing okay, winning maybe eight, nine, even 10 games a year, going to a nice bowl game, but not making the playoffs. People get impatient. They also get unreasonable. There are dozens of programs across the country who have winning the national championship as its goal. At least it sounds good to say that. However, there are not that many programs where that goal is actually realistic.
So you see changes. It’s kind of funny really. Coaches get fired all over the place, then end up on sports channels having discussions about what’s wrong with this program and that program, and why this or that coach can’t win, when they got fired because they couldn’t.
And these days the athletic director wants to make his mark too, wants some credit. So he fires the guy that was there before him, hires a new guy, and then when they win he gets to say he did it, he hired the right guy. Only trouble is, sometimes it’s not the right guy, and reality, although it’s fashionable to ignore, tells us that it likely ain’t going to happen. I’ve been a Nebraska fan most of my life. The reasons why are not relevant. But when Bo Pelini was fired and Mike Riley hired for the wrong reasons in this opinion three years ago, I said it ain’t going to happen.
If you really take out a list and just study it for a few minutes, there are maybe what you would call three dozen secure coaching jobs at this time, and that’s likely a bit of a stretch. But people go nuts, Have a nine-win season, that’s not good enough the next season even though maybe your seven best players are gone. And then you have coaches stand up and tell crowds of boosters that the goal is to win it all. Do the people at Iowa State really believe that just because the coach says it?
Tennessee is about to get a rare win over Florida. The Volunteers are up, last play of the game. Hail Marry time from 63 yards, but wait, a Gator wide receiver is running wide open at the five yard line behind the Tennessee secondary. Florida wins! That’s as close to a no excuse play as any. The Gators have now scored exactly nine offensive touchdowns in eight games, but the 9th one was big, and might be the one that leads to the door for Butch Jones who has been under pressure for three years. The Vols have not been able to win a big game. There is also a new AD in Knoxville.
Then Joe Alleva ran Les Miles out of Baton Rouge. So Ed Orgeron loses 37-7 to MIssissippi State, the worst loss ever by an LSU team to M-State, the offense was horrible, there were nine penalties for 112 yards, and a total of 30 penalties in three games.
Then you have Nebraska. AD Shawn Eichorst felt that Bo Pelini was just too politically incorrect. He didn’t hug people enough. He wasn’t the nicest, most outgoing guy in town. What he was is a hard working tough guy from Youngstown, Ohio who at least got his teams to play tough. He averaged nine wins a season at Nebraska. Not good enough because Bo just wasn’t a nice enough guy.
So in comes Mike Riley, the guy who wins the nicest coach of the year award every year. He smiles all the time, hugs everybody, and is totally politically correct. And his teams play soft. The Cornhuskers lost to a good Northern Illinois team at home, but that doesn’t matter, you still lost to a Mid-American Conference school. Riley is one of those guys that likes to pass the ball on first and goal from the one. I doubt that he or Eichorst will make it to the end of the season.
There will be more hot spots pop up all over the country as the season progresses. But at the moment, these three are sitting in a very hot chair. I wouldn’t bet a dime on any of them surviving.
I’m not sure if you could call any seat the “easy chair,” but there have been some obvious good hires over the past three years. First of all Justin Fuente certainly looks like a home run for Virginia Tech. The future is always very uncertain in college football, but for the moment at least, it appears the Hokies have followed up the greatest coach (Frank Beamer) with their next greatest coach.
After somewhat of a rocky start, it also appears that Dana Holgorson has been a solid hire for West Virginia. Without question, Penn State’s hire of James Franklin from Vanderbilt was a grand slam home run, and Jim Harbaugh has certainly put Michigan back in the picture.
And I suppose many of you saw Clemson’s thrashing of Louisville. Gosh, it was impressive. The new quarterback looks as good as the last one. The defense very aggressive. There is talent at Clemson, and right now, the Tigers look like the best team in the country. My other three playoff teams if the picks were made today are Alabama, Oklahoma, and Penn State. Oklahoma State would be next. I guess maybe we shouldn’t feel too bad about the Big 12.
Also, congratulations to Todd Grantham. The old Cougar and Hokie, is the new defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. Quite a debut as Grantham’s defense did not allow LSU a single play of 20 yards.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot