COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION SEVEN
The firing season was officially kicked off this week when Bowling Green elected to beat the December rush by pink slipping head coach Mike Jinks. At some point Jinks will be joined on the Extinct Species List by D.J. Durkin of Maryland, but there are procedures that have to be followed before he’s told to bring cardboard boxes to his office so he can pack up. It could be another 10-12 days before that happens. Meanwhile, there are five other coaches On Life Support and nobody would be shocked if one of them gets the axe after rising to crashing defeat this weekend.
EXTINCT SPECIES LIST
MIKE JINKS: When Bowling Green snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Western Michigan last Saturday the inevitable became immediate. Rather than wait until the end of the season, Bowling Green pulled the plug on Jinks, who departs with a 7-24 record.
ON LIFE SUPPORT
D.J. DURKIN, MARYLAND: There is no imaginable circumstance in which Durkin could return as Maryland’s head coach, not after parents of some current UM players told ESPN that if Durkin is reinstated their kids will do the big adios. So here’s what is in store at Maryland. Today the Board of Regents will be briefed on the results of an investigation into the death of Jordan McNair and the overall football culture in College Park. There will be no media statements issued. Next Tuesday the board will meet once again to discuss the investigation and to determine a final outcome. Within a week of that meeting a press conference will be held to announce the outcome. If you have been known to place a wager, put it on the powers that be at Maryland (a) firing Durkin and (b) begging Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to try his hand at coaching the Terps.
LOVIE SMITH, ILLINOIS: After getting run over by a runaway cement mixer known as Purdon’t (it was a brutal 46-7), Lovie said, “I thought we had a better game plan than we had.” Imagine that. The Illini are 8-22 in Lovie’s tenure. They will be 8-23 after Wisconsin takes out the frustration of getting hosed by Michigan last week. This has the making of a 200-yard game by Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.
DAVID BEATY, KANSAS: Thanks to an open date, Kansas avoided getting its eyelids smoked last week. The Jayhawks travel to Lubbock Saturday. This will be the first game for Kansas minus offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, who was fired last week. It will be offensive coordination by committee with Beaty having the final say-so. This sounds like a recipe for at least 10 delay of game penalties in a game that KU should lose by at least two touchdowns more than the 18 points by which Texas Tech is favored.
RANDY EDSALL, UCONN: The last time UConn played (two weeks ago) Darrell Henderson of Memphis ran for 174 yards and three touchdowns on only 14 carries. This week that vaunted UConn defense, which ranks dead last in Division I, gets to try its hand stopping former Gator Jordan Cronkrite, who has run for 453 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games. This will get ugly early. The Huskies are 1-5 and there isn’t a winnable game remaining on the schedule.
CHRIS ASH, RUTGERS: When it gets right down to it, football comes down to two stats: PF and PA, as in points for and points against. You get more PF than PA you win. You get more PA than PF you lose. Hence, the explanation for why Rutgers is so bad. They are 130th (dead last) in the country in PF (14.3 per game) and 112th in PA (36 per game). This week Rutgers will have more PA than PF because the opponent is Northwestern. Barring donkeys sprouting wings and flying, the Scarlet Knights will fall to 1-7 without a winnable game in sight. Ash is 7-24 for his career. He won’t be a head coach much longer.
EVERETT WITHERS, TEXAS STATE: The Bobcats were a two-point conversion away from forcing overtime against Georgia Southern last week. The two-pointer failed, of course, which is the story of Withers’ life as the head coach at Texas State. The Bobcats are 1-6 this season, 0-6 against Division I opponents. Withers is 5-26 for his career at TSU. The next loss on the schedule is Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
SCOTTIE MONTGOMERY, EAST CAROLINA: Hope sprung eternal when ECU beat Old Dominion the week after ODU had knocked off Virginia Tech. Reality set in the last two weeks with huge losses to Shirley Temple and Houston We’ve Got a Problem. They’re starting to ask themselves what the hell were we thinking when we fired Ruffin McNeill? This week the Pirates will become the next notch on UCF’s winning streak belt and the week after it’s a loss to Memphis. The Pirates are 2-4. A 4-8 record would almost seem like a miracle.
BOBBY WILDER, OLD DOMINION: Since that manna from heaven win over Virginia Tech, the mighty Monarchs have lost three in a row, the last two in most embarrassing fashion. ODU is 1-6. That’s the bad news. The not so bad news is ODU closes its season with VMI and Rice. The Monarchs will win those two but will a 3-9 record save Wilder’s job? This is his ninth year on the job and he’s got 73 wins under his belt.
BRAD LAMBERT, CHARLOTTE: Just when Lambert was ready to go On Life Support, he stopped the buzzards from circling with an emphatic win over Western Kentucky. That brings the 49ers to 3-3 this season. They should embrace the moment. There isn’t a winnable game remaining. Lambert is 20-44 for his career.
LARRY FEDORA, NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels had Virginia Tech on the ropes before they figured out a way to lose last week. They get Syracuse this week and while it’s entirely possible they will play the Big Orange close, it’s even more possible that they will lose. Larry Fedora is a fine football coach but he’s in a bad situation that isn’t going to get better.
TONY SANCHEZ, UNLV: This is year four for Sanchez, who was a hotshot high school coach before he made the leap to Division I without spending any time as an assistant or coordinator much less with three straight losses, the last two by a combined 67 points. This is season four (20-44 record). Odds are strong he doesn’t make it to season five.
CHUCK MARTIN, MIAMI (OHIO): Chucky has won the last two to improve to 3-4 this season. That’s the good news. The bad news is the final game of the year against Ball State might be the only winnable game remaining on the schedule. Chucky has a 19-37 record through four-plus seasons. It’s dicey whether he’ll be back for a sixth season if he doesn’t go bowling. A bowl game probably saves his job for another year.
MIKE SANFORD, WESTERN KENTUCKY: The Hilltoppers are 1-5 this season and they’re coming off a seriously embarrassing loss to Charlotte (40-14). There aren’t many win opportunities remaining on the schedule and it’s unlikely Sanford will get canned since it’s only his second year on the job, but nothing is certain.
WILLIE TAGGART, FLORIDA STATE: Hurricane Michael made FSU’s bye week memorable but it shouldn’t hurt the Seminoles this weekend. They’re playing Wake Forest Gump, which was pulverized by Climpson, 63-3, last week. FSU probably couldn’t score 63 points if they played a 12-quarter game, but they’ll score enough to win Saturday. Willie the T won’t get canned this year, but if he doesn’t get to a bowl game, he’ll start 2019 on the Endangered Species List.
DEREK MASON, VANDERBILT: For 25 minutes against Florida last week, Vandy looked like a team ready to win enough games to go bowling. Then reality set in and by the time the game was over, most of the Vandy fans had retreated to their tailgates where they lamented their loss over Triscuits, gouda cheese and grapes and chasing it down with a bottle of chardonnay. They would prefer not to fire Mason and won’t if he gets two more wins to make it a 5-7 record.
BOBBY PETRINO, LOUISVILLE: Louisville has lost four in a row. The only wins are over D1AA Indiana State and a bad Western Kentucky team. This season has 2-10 written all over it but Petrino won’t get fired. That’s because Louisville doesn’t have the cash on hand to pay off Petrino’s $14,056,250 buyout since they had to pay a buyout for former AD Tom Jurich, signed basketball coach Chris Mack to a megadeal and face a huge settlement to make former hoops coach Rick Pitino’s $35 million lawsuit go away.
PAUL JOHNSON, GEORGIA TECH: After back-to-back games scoring more than 60 points, the Yellow Jackets tapped their own brakes and put up only 14 last week in a loss to Duke. This is that time of year when Georgia Tech typically sucks it up enough to get bowl eligible, which keeps Johnson gainfully employed. The Jackets are 3-4 and they need to win three of the last five, unlikely but do-able.
SOME NON-COACHING STUFF: The Boston Red Sox punched their World Series ticket Thursday night. The Los Angeles Dodgers can punch theirs tonight if they can knock off the Brewers in Milwaukee … I get the feeling that Saturday’s matchup between 16th-ranked North Carolina State and #3 Clemson is going to be a whole lot closer than the 17-1/2 points Clemson is favored by … It will be interesting to see how Ohio State’s defense holds up Saturday against Purdue, which is averaging 510.1 yards and 33.8 points per game. I think Ohio State wins the game, but will it take a shootout? … Starting in 2019, the NBA G-League (used to be the D-League) is expected to offer high school kids $125,000 to play a year in the minors rather than do a one-and-done year in college … Did you watch the Denver Broncos whomp the Arizona Cardinals on TV Thursday night? Neither did I … If you want to take a chance that you might be able to see the biggest alligator you’ve ever seen, play a round of golf at the Buffalo Creek Golf Course in Palmetto where a 15-footer occasionally takes a hike across the fairways.