COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY 2018: EDITION ONE
It’s true that we’re only one week into the 2018 football season but it’s never too early to start the Countdown to Firing Day. It is entirely possible that we’ll have three or four notches on the Extinct Species List by the time October rolls around. Here is our first edition.
ON LIFE SUPPORT
1. David Beaty, Kansas: In all fairness, Beaty inherited 38 scholarship players when he took the job. Now into his fourth season, Kansas still doesn’t have a full complement of scholarship players and the players that are on scholarship aren’t very good. That, in a nutshell, explains why it will take a miracle of parting the Red Sea proportions for Beaty to make it all the way through the season. Really, with Central Michigan and Rutgers on the agenda the next two weeks, he might not make it until October 1. Athletic director Jeff Long’s reputation was tarnished when Arkansas fired him last year so he’s not likely to give Beaty a whole lot of slack. Long will act quickly and then he will need to make a splash hire but really, who wants this job? Facilities are terrible and football is always going to be second place to basketball in the hearts of Jayhawk fans and boosters.
2. D.J. Durkin, Maryland: The silence in College Park is deafening. Durkin is still suspended while Maryland investigates and it goes far beyond the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who passed away after a summer workout. Even if Durkin were to survive that, the allegations that he provided legal assistance to players accused of sexual assault would do him in. The clock is ticking. Retaining Durkin is not going to be a popular choice. Expect him to move to the Extinct Species List soon.
3. Lovie Smith, Illinois: Ron Zook took the Fighting Illini to the Rose Bowl in 2007. When he was fired after the 2011 season, Illinois had gone to two straight bowl games. In retrospect, they probably long for a return the good old days of Ron Zook. In the seven seasons and one game since Zooker was pole-axed, Illinois is 23-51 and has yet to post a winning season. Lovie is 6-19 and if he doesn’t (a) post a winning record and (b) go to a bowl game, he will join the Extinct Species List. Judging by the way the Illini struggled to beat perennial bottom feeder Kent State in the season opener, four or fewer wins is in the 2018 cards.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
1. Everett Withers, Texas State: He was really, really good at James Madison. He should have stayed there. At Texas State he’s 4-21 and there is no indication the bleeding is going to stop anytime soon. With the talent that’s available in Texas, the facilities they have at Texas State and the fact the Sun Belt isn’t exactly like playing in the SEC West, there aren’t a lot of excuses for not winning. If he doesn’t score a win over D1AA Texas Southern this week, he will be prominently displayed on next week’s On Life Support list.
2. Brad Lambert, Charlotte: Charlotte should have spent at least five years in D1AA before taking the Division I plunge. Hindsight is always best. Lambert is probably a decent football coach, but unfortunately, he’s in Conference USA, which is many levels above his pay grade. The school doesn’t have any history and its facilities don’t even rank with the best in D1AA. Lambert is 18-41 and things aren’t going to get much better. It’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when he goes On Life Support.
3. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina: They had a perfectly fine football coach at ECU in Ruffin McNeill, but then they fired him because the folks that make the decisions had championship illusions. As my grandmother used to say, some folks have more money than brains. Enter Scottie Montgomery, who has taken ECU in the opposite direction of championships. He’s 6-19 so far and after losing to D1AA North Carolina A&T in game one, it’s fairly apparent the Pirates are well on their way to another losing season
4. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green: Since the days of Urban Meyer, they are accustomed to winning at Bowling Green. The Falcons aren’t winning with Jinks at the helm (6-19 so far) and if they don’t figure out a way to post a winning season and go bowling this year, he’ll be on the Extinct Species List. This Saturday isn’t very promising since it’s against a Maryland team that beat Texas last week.
5. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech: It’s only a matter of time before Kliffy is On Life Support. He’s 30-34 so far as Texas Tech’s head coach and he’s been there long enough for folks to figure out that it’s not going to get a whole lot better. Ole Miss hosed the Red Raiders in game one. There will be more hosings in the future although the Red Raiders will win this week when D1AA Lamar comes to town. Houston is the opponent in two weeks so the glow of a win won’t last long. Texas Tech isn’t very good. Again. And they won’t be very good as long as Kliffy is the head coach. He’s a fine assistant and offensive coordinator. Average or below average as a head coach and very likely to be unemployed as a head coach very soon.
1. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan: His base salary is $8 million a year and he’s got a ton of incentives that add a pile of money to that already astronomical amount. He takes his team to Rome to meet the Pope or to Florida and he hires assistant coaches such as Jim McElwain. He spends lavishly. Nobody would care about money spent on frivolity if he could beat Ohio State. Since he can’t beat Ohio State – or Penn State or Michigan State – the fine folks who write the checks are starting to wonder if they’re pouring money down a rat hole. The offense was supposed to be explosive with Shea Patterson at QB but what we saw against Notre Dame is the same old dink and dunk. A bad offense and another 8-4 season isn’t going to cut it.
2. Tom Herman, Texas: He’s only in his second year, but after a 7-6 first year and starting 2018 by losing to a lousy Maryland team led by an interim coach, the folks in Austin are starting to sweat. All the experts in the Big 12 thought Texas would challenge Oklahoma for the conference championship and the Longhorns might still do it, even after this rocky start. Ten wins – one of which better be Oklahoma – will cure a lot of ill will but if the rocky start is an indication of things to come, then Herman’s stay in Austin might be very, very short lived.
3. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio): Miami is known as The Cradle of Coaches because so many great coaches got their start in Oxford, Ohio. Greatness seems to be escaping Chuck Martin, who seems to have absolutely nothing in common with Earl Blaik, Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Weeb Eubank, Sid Gillman, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and Paul Dietzel, all of whom won big and used Miami as the springboard to a very successful career on the big stage. Martin is off to an 0-1 start this year (16-34 for his career) and with Cincinnati and Minnesota the next two weeks, it’s likely he’ll be 0-3 to start. Anything less than seven regular season wins will mean the buzzards will start circling.
4. Larry Fedora, North Carolina: After a year with an incredible number of debilitating injuries, Fedora is off to a shaky start in 2018. Barring a season in which UNC wins three or fewer games, it’s highly unlikely anything will happen to him this year, but if the Tar Heels don’t make a bowl game it’s likely he will be in a win or else situation for 2019.
5. Mike Neu, Ball State: Everybody is Muncie, Indiana is giddy about starting the season with a 36-point win over Central Connecticut. The giddiness ends this week in South Bend and with Indiana, Western Kentucky and Kentucky the next three games, Neu will soon be on the Endangered Species List. He’s 7-18 so far and he’s likely to get all of this season and next year, too, but nothing is certain these days and times.