COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION 11
Think of this as the weekend before all hell breaks loose. Four coaches have already been burned at college football’s equivalent of the stake. With only two weekends of the regular season remaining, don’t expect there to be more than a firing or two – if that – this weekend. Thanksgiving weekend? Now, that’s a totally different story. When the firing season concludes, expect at least 12 more coaches to be talking with their brokers about how to invest their buyout money.
EXTINCT SPECIES LIST
MIKE JINKS, BOWLING GREEN: Former Nebraska and current Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini is thought to be the leading candidate to replace the fired Mike Jinks.
D.J. DURKIN, MARYLAND: Durkin will get a $5 million settlement from Maryland, which just goes to show what a great country this is. Where else can you do something so rotten that you get fired and you still get to walk away with $5 million in cold, hard cash? Meanwhile, Maryland might find it tough sledding to bring in a new head coach and that might mean interim Matt Canada replaces Durkin by default.
DAVID BEATY, KANSAS: Beaty will coach wide receivers for someone next year. Meanwhile, did Les Miles clear the way for KU to hire him? He accepted a settlement to take $1.5 million from LSU, paid immediately, which cancels out a payment schedule for $6.5 million that would last until 2023. Another out of work former head coach (Todd Graham) is also high on the KU list.
BOBBY PETRINO, LOUISVILLE: For all practical purposes, AD Vince Tyra fired anyone who works for the Louisville athletic department that sent Petrino a birthday card back in March when he turned 57. Where will they come up with the $14.1 million they owe Petrino and the millions they’ll owe fired Petrino family and assistants who will be jettisoned soon as there is a new coach?
ON LIFE SUPPORT
LOVIE SMITH, ILLINOIS: The euphoria of scoring 55 points and winning a game wore off in a hurry as the Illini gave up 54 to Nebraska to drop to 4-6. Barring a miracle of Jonah being swallowed by a whale proportions, there will be losses to Iowa and Northwestern, which will be the end of Lovie’s career as a college coach.
LARRY FEDORA, NORTH CAROLINA: Back when Tennessee fired Derek Dooley, the first call went to Fedora, who was guiding Carolina through an NCAA jail sentence. What Fedora did was admirable. Will the administration remember his loyalty and take into consideration two years of devastating injuries or will they fork out the $12 million it will take to buy him out?
RANDY EDSALL, UCONN: Buzzards are circling the football offices at UConn after the Huskies gave up 62 points in their loss to SMU. They’re giving up 49.3 points and 623.6 yards per game. Losses to East Carolina and Shirley Temple are looming as is that dreaded press conference when the AD tells the world that UConn has elected to go in a different direction rather than state the fact that Edsall is being canned because he’s plunged the program into unfathomable depths.
TONY SANCHEZ, UNLV: Okay, so he got a win over San Diego State last week, which is akin to the Christians scoring a win over the lions before a packed house at the Colusseum in Rome way back win. The Rebels are still only 3-7 this year and unless they find a way to win these next two games to finish out on a 3-game winning streak, Sanchez will join the Extinct Species List.
SCOTTIE MONTGOMERY, EAST CAROLINA: Montgomery would probably already be gone except they fired the athletic director a few months ago and they are rushing to get someone in place very soon so the new AD can (a) fire Montgomery and (b) bring in his own guy. The Pirates likely get a win this week over hapless UConn, but then they finish with Cincinnati and North Carolina State, almost guaranteed to be losses that will plunge ECU to a 3-9 finish.
EVERETT WITHERS, TEXAS STATE: The Bobcats actually won a Sun Belt Conference game last week but they’re still going to bring up the rear in the East Division. Everybody likes Withers and thinks he’s a great guy. There aren’t too many people in San Marcos who think he can coach a lick, however.
MIKE NEU, BALL STATE: Just when Neu’s coaching obituary was being written, he did the unthinkable and beat Western Michigan Tuesday night to improve to 4-7 on the season. If he manages to beat Miami (Ohio) next Tuesday night he will make it very difficult for an athletic department that isn’t exactly rolling in the dough to come up with severance pay.
BOB DAVIE, NEW MEXICO: He’s 6-16 combined in the last two years. The Lobos have been blown out five times this season. They’ve spent much of the season doing a football re-enactment of the sinking of the Titanic. The only thing that might save him are the three years and approximately $2.7 million remaining on his contract.
CHRIS ASH, RUTGERS: The record (7-27 in three years) is enough to get him fired. The combination of a $9.8 million buyout and the fact that this is such a bad job that it will be next to impossible to get a coach as good as Ash might save his skin.
MIKE SANFORD, WESTERN KENTUCKY: The scuttlebutt is that Sanford has already been told he won’t be back next year. This week’s game with UTEP is winnable but the Hilltoppers will be stomped by Louisiana Tech in the final regular season game.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
JOHN BONAMEGO, CENTRAL MICHIGAN: CMU has gone bowling the last three years which might have bought enough good will to offset this year’s 1-10 record. The natives are restless, though, and well aware that Butch Jones is working as an analyst for Nick Saban. The Chips were great when Butch was their coach years ago. One more time?
KLIFF KINGSBURY, TEXAS TECH: Back when the Red Raiders were 5-2 and nationally ranked, everybody thought Kliffy would live to coach another year. Since then, the Raiders have done a Klavin and lost three in a row. Even if they beat K-State and Baylor in their last two games, it’s going to be dicey for Kliffy. The $5.1 million buyout is manageable and that works against him.
BRAD LAMBERT, CHARLOTTE: During his days as Jeremy Foley’s caddy at Florida, athletic director Mike Hill had this pounded into his head: What must be done eventually must be done immediately. Translation: Brad Lambert might want to start collecting cardboard boxes from his neighborhood Costco so he can pack up his office nice and neat.
BOBBY WILDER, OLD DOMINION: Just when it seemed Wilder’s fate was sealed, he scored a most unlikely win over North Texas, fueling speculation that he’ll get one more year to return the program to winning ways. Wilder is 3-7 this year, 72-37 in the previous eight.
PHIL MONTGOMERY, TULSA: With Navy and SMU still on the schedule, it’s likely the Golden Hurricane will post a second straight 2-10 record. If they lose to Navy this week, Montgomery will be On Life Support.
DOUG MARTIN, NEW MEXICO STATE: Cats are said to have nine lives. Martin has spent the last six years with his head on the chopping block. Okay, so six lives down and three to go. Martin only makes $425,000 a year. Where will they get a coach as good as Martin who will work as cheap?
KALANI SITAKE, BYU: A year ago, BYU went 4-9. The Cougars are 5-5 this season and if they get their doors blown off by arch-rival Utah in the final game of the season Sitake will be looking for a coordinator’s job somewhere.
MIKE MACINTYRE, COLORADO: The Buffs started the season 5-0 which had the faithful talking contract extension for MacIntyre. Now that they’ve lost five in a row, he might need to win one of the last two (vs. Utah; at Cal) to break even and go bowling to save his job.
WILLIE TAGGART, FLORIDA STATE: The last time the Seminoles were this bad, Gerald Ford was the president and Dr. Darrell Mudra was the football coach in Tallahassee. They’re 4-6, needing wins over 20th-ranked Boston College and 13th-ranked Florida just to break even.
PAUL JOHNSON, GEORGIA TECH: Two weeks ago, Johnson had a foot out the door but wins over North Carolina and Miami have made the Yellow Jackets bowl eligible. If he beats Virginia this weekend, he’s back next year no matter how back the Jackets get stomped by Georgia on the 24th.
MIKE BOBO, COLORADO STATE: This is another dicey situation. The Rams have a good chance to lose by five or more touchdowns this weekend against 23rd-ranked Utah State. That won’t settle well with the people who hire and fire, but this will be Bobo’s first losing season so he’ll be back next year. Next year, however, he’s going to need eight wins to survive.
BILL SNYDER, KANSAS STATE: The folks who write the checks would love to see Snyder volunteer to hang up his whistle, but they also know that K-State would still be the laughing stock of college football is the 79-year-old Snyder hadn’t come to the rescue back in 1989. Do they ask him to step aside or do they wait for him to leave on his own terms?
CLAY HELTON, SOUTHERN CAL: There is a lot of speculation that Helton will get the pink slip but AD Lynn Swann and the school prez seem adamant that there will not be a new head coach next year.
CHUCK MARTIN, MIAMI (OHIO): By whacking Ohio U and Northern Illinois in the last two games, Chucky has saved his job. He only needs a win over Ball State Tuesday night to send the Red Hawks to some exotic location like Montgomery, Alabama for the Camellia Bowl. He will need to do better than 6-6 in 2019 to remain gainfully employed.
THE SAYER SAYS SOOTH: In the immortal words of Dennis Hopper, when it comes D1AA Idaho’s chances to knock off the 13th-ranked Florida Gators (7-3, 5-3 SEC) Saturday at The Swamp (12 noon, ESPNU), there are two chances the Vandals score an upset – “no way and no how.” The Gators are favored by 40 and that’s probably being kind. If Dan Mullen played only redshirt freshmen, true freshmen and scout teamers the Gators would still win and it wouldn’t be close. Not only will this win keep the Gators in the hunt for a New Year’s Six bowl, it will also be the eighth of the year, which doubles last year’s total. I like it something like Florida 57, Idaho 7.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I won’t be surprised if Syracuse (8-2) scores the upset over 3rd-ranked Notre Dame this weekend in South Bend. Dino Babers has the Orange playing with confidence and a chip on their collective shoulders … It only took 10 games for the Houston Rockets to decide they had all the Carmelo Anthon they could handle. Details are still being worked out, but Anthony’s days as a Rocket are done … Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox and Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers won MVP honors in Major League Baseball. Betts hit .346 with 32 homers and 80 RBI to win the AL MVP. Yelich hit .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBI to take the NL MVP … Former Gator Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy after he transferred to Auburn, will provide Thanksgiving dinner for 1,200 needy kids. The Charlotte Panthers QB will also be on hand to serve dinner to the kids … The team plane carrying Georgia’s basketball team to Philadelphia to face Temple, slid off the tarmac and got stuck in the mud Tuesday night, forcing an unexpected overnight stay … The only way to describe Duke’s 6-7, 285-pound freshman forward Zion Williamson is scary. Through three games he has hit 32-39 shots (82.1%) while averaging 25.7 points and 10.7 rebounds. He’s also blocked nine shots.