COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION EIGHT
As we wait for the shoe to drop on the second coach to join Mike Jinks on the Extinct Species List, we have a little bit of drama brewing in College Park, Maryland, where a two-month investigation into the football program may offer some wiggle room for suspended coach D.J. Durkin
EXTINCT SPECIES LIST
Mike Jinks, Bowling Green: After Jinks was fired, Toledo Blade columnist David Briggs wrote that Jinks was “a bad fit in over his head.” Briggs also wrote that the coaching search conducted by Bowling Green AD Bob Moosbrugger that resulted in the hiring of Jinks was done by Google search. Wrote Briggs, “Conservatively speaking, it was the dumbest coaching search in college football history.”
ON LIFE SUPPORT
D.J. DURKIN, MARYLAND: Amazingly, the investigation into the Maryland football program failed to find a “toxic culture” and it seemed to go out of its way to shift blame away from Durkin. The report says that Durkin wasn’t given proper guidance and the help he needed as a first time football coach. It did, however, say there was an atmosphere of fear in the program. So definitely we have some mixed signals. After all the bad publicity and so many parents of Maryland football players saying they’ll pull their kids out if Durkin returns, a pink slip does seem inevitable.
LOVIE SMITH, ILLINOIS: Lovie keeps telling people the Illini are getting better but the last four blowout losses have been by a combined 128 points so nobody is buying the getting better excuse. The Illini are 3-4 and without a win over a Division I team with a winning record. Lovie probably needs to figure out a way to win three games out of the last five if he intends to be a head coach next season.
DAVID BEATY, KANSAS: Kansas plays TCU this week. The good news for Kansas is that TCU’s best and most explosive player, KaVonte Turpin, has been dismissed from the team. The bad news is that TCU’s backups are better than the Kansas starters. TCU is a 13-1/2 point favorite and the Froggies will cover. David Beaty’s career record will drop to 5-39, which isn’t conducive to cashing those monthly checks for $150,000 he gets for coaching football.
RANDY EDSALL, UCONN: Last week’s 8-point loss to South Florida was not a sign that things are getting better at UConn, rather a sign that USF could play about as badly as it’s capable of playing and still beat the Huskies. UMass and Tulsa are next on the agenda. If the Huskies can’t win at least one of those two, then Edsall should find himself on the Extinct Species List.
CHRIS ASH, RUTGERS: Rutgers had Northwestern on the brink of an upset last week, then reality set in and the Scarlet Knights tanked for their seventh loss of the season. There are four games remaining. None of them are remotely winnable. Rutgers faithful are wondering if Greg Schiano would be willing to come back and coach again.
EVERETT WITHERS, TEXAS STATE: The last two losses have been by a combined eight points, which is progress if you’re into moral victories. Unfortunately for Withers, the people who sign his paycheck prefer the kind of victories that show up in the standings. Texas State is 1-6 and only one of the remaining five games (New Mexico State) looks remotely winnable.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
SCOTTIE MONTGOMERY, EAST CAROLINA: UCF sat QB McKenzie Milton the entire game last week and STILL blew the doors off ECU. The Pirates are fortunate to play UConn, otherwise they would finish the season on an 8-game losing streak. Montgomery is 8-23 in his ECU career. He’ll be 9-28 and unemployed when this season ends.
BOBBY WILDER, OLD DOMINION: Talk about bizarre seasons. ODU is 2-6 but one of those wins is over then 12th-ranked Virginia Tech and the other is a win over Western Kentucky in which ODU got a game-winning field goal because WKU was called for a personal foul when a kick six runback was stopped short. Confused? Not half as confused as the powers that be at ODU who have to decide if they’re going to keep Bobby Wilder or send him packing at the end of this season.
BRAD LAMBERT, CHARLOTTE: If the 49ers can’t beat Southern Miss this weekend then they probably won’t win another game. If they could find a way to win two more, Lambert would probably remain gainfully employed, but 3-9 this season won’t cut it, not with an athletic director (Mike Hill) who learned his trade at the heels of Jeremy Foley at Florida.
LARRY FEDORA, NORTH CAROLINA: The last two losses have been by a combined six points and there is a win over Pitt, which had Notre Dame on the ropes. None of that is likely to matter if the Tar Heels go 2-10. The folks in charge will forget all about how Fedora rescued the program when it was at rock bottom due to the NCAA jailhouse.
TONY SANCHEZ, UNLV: This week’s game with San Jose State is probably the last chance for a win this season. After going 5-7 last year, the higher ups figured a winning season was next on the agenda, but the Rebels are destined to finish 3-9 which will likely send Sanchez back to coaching high school football.
CHUCK MARTIN, MIAMI (OHIO): The Red Hawks are 3-5. Chucky needs three wins in the last four to (a) get bowl eligible and (b) escape a trip to the Extinct Species List. Of the four remaining games, Miami will only be favored in the last one against Ball State.
MIKE SANFORD, WESTERN KENTUCKY: They’ve grown accustomed to winning seasons and bowl games in Bowling Green, KY but this isn’t going to be one of those seasons and the faithful are getting rather antsy, particularly after the most bizarre ending to a football game, perhaps in history. You should check out the account of how WKU snatched defeat from the jaws of victory three times (count ’em) in the final two seconds. Yeah, you read that right.
PHIL MONTGOMERY, TULSA: The Golden Hurricane were shut out last week by Ar-Kansas. Things are bad, but there are winnable games remaining with the likes of Tulane, UConn and SMU. It might take winning those three for Montgomery to avoid the Extinct Species List.
BOBBY PETRINO, LOUISVILLE: As if things weren’t bad enough in The Ville, suspended tight end Kemari Averett has been arrested and charged with rape in addition to pending charges of threatening a woman at gunpoint. If someone would pony up $14 million, the fine folks in the administration would happily clear the football deck and bring in someone new but right now there isn’t enough cash in the till to do it.
DEREK MASON, VANDERBILT: Was last week’s close call with Kentucky a sign that Vandy is so close and all that’s needed is a little bit of patience or that close calls are about as good as it’s going to get while Derek Mason is the head coach? To keep the wine and cheese tailgaters from doing into full panic mode while contemplating an answer to that question, he needs to win three of the last four to go to a bowl. A loss this weekend to Ar-Kansas would not help the cause at all.
WILLIE TAGGART, FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles beat Wake Forest Gump last week to go 4-3 on the season. It will be back to .500 this week with Climpson coming to Tallahassee. That’s followed by roadies to North Carolina State and Notre Dame. There is a really good chance the Seminoles will post a losing record this year. That won’t get Taggart fired but it will mean he better win nine or more next year.
PAUL JOHNSON, GEORGIA TECH: Just when you think Paul Johnson is going to go belly up, he does something like he did Thursday night and blows the doors off Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Hence the dilemma for the people who hire and fire football coaches at Georgia Tech. Johnson is just inconsistent enough that they want to fire him and just good enough that they can’t. The Jackets are now 4-4 and two wins away from bowl eligibility.
DOUG MARTIN, NEW MEXICO STATE: He’s out in the middle of nowhere with no facilities and in a state that probably hasn’t produced a single player who could make Alabama’s roster in the last 20 years. He works cheap ($425,000 a year) and he went 7-6 last year. Unfortunately, there are folks who think 7-6 is achievable EVERY year. When donkeys fly, but the alums are going to be the alums.
THE SAYER SAYS SOOTH: Ever since LSU put Georgia in its garbage disposal and flipped the switch at Tiger Stadium on the same day the Gators rallied from 18 down to beat Vanderbilt on the road, I’ve had a really good feeling about the annual Florida-Georgia matchup at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. In the two weeks since, nothing has altered my perception that this is not just a game 9th-ranked Florida can win, but SHOULD win. I spent the first half of the season wondering what would happen when Georgia actually played a decent team. Thanks to LSU we no longer have to wonder. Now Georgia folks have been spinning that loss as a bad day at the office but the reality is the same LSU team Florida beat should have beaten Georgia by 40. Florida comes into the game brimming with the confidence that comes with improving every single game since the Kentucky loss. Georgia comes into the game filled with lingering doubt and with the decommitment of yet another 5-star commit (running back John Emery). I think the Gators play with poise and a chip on their disrespected shoulders. I think Georgia’s championship hopes sink faster than the Titanic Saturday afternoon. I like it something like Florida 24, Georgia 14.
SOME NON-COACHING THOUGHTS: Former University of Miami coach Al Golden has sued the school for $3 million, claiming Miami still owes him money from his buyout in 2015 … The Pac-12 athletic directors have voted unanimously to change the conference replay system after a conference executive interfered with a targeting call during the Southern Cal-Washington State game on September 21 … Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins says the Jacksonville Jaguars are living proof that Colin Kaepernick deserves an NFL quarterback job. Wrong. If Kaepernick was actually that good, some NFL team would have signed him long ago … Game three of the World Series will be played tonight in Los Angeles. After watching the Dodgers lose the first two to the Red Sox in Boston, I give them about a 3% chance to storm back to win the World Series … Rick Pitino’s lawyer says the convictions of James Gatto, Merl Code and Chris Dawkins in the college basketball corruption trial proves that Pitino didn’t have a clue Brian Bowen Jr. and family got a boatload of under the table money to sign with Louisville … Kansas basketball coach Bill Self denies that he was in on a scheme to pay some high profile recruits to attend KU.