COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION 13
What had been a relatively quiet firing season red lined last weekend when at least seven coaches were asked to clean out their desks and take buyout money. That whirlwind of activity was quickly forgotten because the firing season has turned into the hiring season.
EXTINCT SPECIES LIST
MIKE JINKS, BOWLING GREEN: In his place, Boston College offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who spent 2009-10 coaching quarterbacks at Florida. Loeffler got a 5-year deal that will pay him $525,000 a year.
D.J. DURKIN, MARYLAND: The top candidate to replace Durkin is Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who is refusing any interviews with any school until after the SEC Championship Game.
DAVID BEATY, KANSAS: While Beaty is working to help Texas prepare for Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game with Oklahoma, Les Miles is already on the recruiting trail and trying to hire a staff.
BOBBY PETRINO, LOUISVILLE: Jeff Brohm said no. Salary was the sticking point, which tells us Louisville’s cash flow problems are quite real. That should mean they’ll go for a coach like Troy’s Neal Brown of Appalachian State’s Scott Satterfield, who would work for far less than the $5 million that was offered to Brohm.
EVERETT WITHERS, TEXAS STATE: Kendal Briles said no and is staying at Houston as offensive coordinator. West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was quick to take the offer. Spavital should thrive in the Sun Belt West Division.
BRAD LAMBERT, CHARLOTTE: AD Mike Hill has offered the job to James Madison HBC Mike Houston. JMU is in the D1AA playoffs so Houston isn’t going to make a decision – at least a public one – until the playoffs are over. Will Houston take the Charlotte job or will he go to East Carolina which is also expected to offer him a hefty raise?
MIKE MACINTYRE, COLORADO: His buyout was $10.3 million and this is not an athletic department with bucks to spare. They have three candidates in mind – Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, Oregon defensive coordinator and former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt and Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, all three who won’t demand big bucks. The one to watch here is Mason.
MARK WHIPPLE, UMASS: This is going to be a tough sell. The school has no business playing Division I football. In Division IAA UMass would have some of the country’s best facilities. In Division I, UMass is on every power five athletic director’s speed dial for a paycheck game. Whipple was a fine coach who couldn’t overcome the handicaps of being a Division I independent. UMass doesn’t pay much so it’s going to be hard to find a decent coach.
KLIFF KINGSBURY, TEXAS TECH: Kliffy is reportedly off for the glitz and glam of LA where he will be Clay Helton’s new offensive coordinator and QB coach. Meanwhile, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocut wasted little time going after and hiring Utah State HBC Matt Wells.
LARRY FEDORA, NORTH CAROLINA: UNC bit the bullet on Fedora’s $12 million buyout (they’ll pay him $3 million a year the next four years) and then promptly hired Mack Brown at $5 million a year. Fedora will likely take an offensive coordinator job somewhere and stick it to UNC by making them pay the bulk of the $12 million.
MIKE SANFORD, WESTERN KENTUCKY: One day after Sanford got his pink slip, Tyson Helton was hired as the head coach for $800,000 a year with another $400,000 in incentives.
JOHN BONAMEGO, CENTRAL MICHIGAN: The powers that be were not the least bit amused by Bonamego’s 1-11 record so they told him don’t let the screen door hit him in the butt on the way out. He will be some NFL team’s special teams coordinator next year. Football Scoop is reporting that CMU is moving quickly to hire former Florida HBC (now the WR coach at Michigan) Jim McElwain. CMU’s school colors are maroon and a shade of yellow that should match McElwain’s teeth quite well.
PAUL JOHNSON, GEORGIA TECH: Johnson voluntarily joined the extinct species list by retiring. Tech’s top choice for a replacement is Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who played at Georgia Tech (1980-84) and was a teammate of current Tech AD Todd Stansbury. It is being reported that Whisenhunt will interview for the Tech job this weekend. Considering the Chargers are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, an interview would seem slightly awkward, wouldn’t you think?
SCOTTIE MONTGOMERY, EAST CAROLINA: They don’t have an AD yet so they were trying to hold off to let the new guy decide to fire or keep Montgomery. Then came Charlotte offering Mike Houston and the fine folks who write the checks at ECU decided to go ahead and pink slip Montgomery so they can make an offer to Houston.
ON LIFE SUPPORT
RANDY EDSALL, UCONN: File this under fact stranger than fiction. UConn gave Edsall a bonus after the Huskies went 1-11 and had the worst defense in the country. There are people who believe UConn will evaluate the situation and send Edsall packing. That would make sense but whoever said UConn had any sense. After all, the school just gave Randy Edsall a bonus for going 1-10.
BOB DAVIE, NEW MEXICO: There are all sorts of calls for New Mexico to send Davie on his merry way. So far, the school has either ignored the calls or is busy evaluating the situation.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
Some of these folks are safe for next year, but they’ll start 2019 on the Endangered Species List and could be On Life Support or the Extinct Species List in a hurry.
BOBBY WILDER, OLD DOMINION: This is where a body of work trumps a bad season. They appreciate what Wilder did in the years prior to this season’s 4-8 record so he will be back next year and they expect him to produce a bowl season.
PHIL MONTGOMERY, TULSA: The AD says Phil gets another year because he runs a clean program and he’s such a nice guy. If he has a third straight loser next year all those nice things they’re saying about him will be forgotten.
TONY SANCHEZ, UNLV: Late season wins over bowl bound teams San Diego State and Nevada earned Sanchez one more year to try to make UNLV a consistent winner. Patience will wear thin next year if he doesn’t win enough games to go to a bowl game.
CLAY HELTON, SOUTHERN CAL: He’s back for one more season. Those same folks who wanted him gone a week ago are probably changing their minds now that Kliff Kingsbury is coming to USC as the offensive coordinator and QB coach. Give Kliffy a year with JT Daniels and the Trojans might have a Heisman candidate on their hands.
MIKE NEU, BALL STATE: Ball State finished 4-8 then surprisingly announced Neu is coming back for one more year. This is a combination of (a) the higher ups at Ball State like him and (b) they really can’t afford to buy him out and then pay what it would take to bring in a new HBC and staff.
DOUG MARTIN, NEW MEXICO STATE: Martin is a perpetual member of the Endangered Species List. The reason he doesn’t go On Life Support or join the Extinct Species List is because he works cheap. If they fired him they would have to pay somebody more money and would have to commit to some decent facilities.
MIKE BOBO, COLORADO STATE: Bobo got another year even though the Rams went 3-9. He’s well aware that a second straight losing season will be the end of his tenure in Fort Collins.
WILLIE TAGGART, FLORIDA STATE: FSU president John Thrasher said there will be changes to Taggart’s coaching staff. That wasn’t a suggestion. It was a shot across Taggart’s bow that said he better bring in better coaches and do some winning if he wishes to remain gainfully employed.
BILL SNYDER, KANSAS STATE: Because of what he’s done at K-State all these years they aren’t going to fire him, but he’s 79 and they would like him to conclude on his own that it’s time to hang up the whistle.
CHUCK MARTIN, MIAMI (OHIO): Making a bowl game with a 6-6 record will keep him around one more year but there will have to be much more progress in 2019.
KALANI SITAKE, BYU: Sitake got the Cougars to a bowl game, so he’s safe for one more year. A lot of folks in the BYU hierarchy would like to see Sitake gone but firing is so unpleasant so unless Sitake elects to resign – he won’t – they’re stuck with him for another year.
SAVED BY THE BUYOUT
CHRIS ASH, RUTGERS: Because the buyout is $9.8 million that Rutgers can’t afford, Ash will be back next year. Besides, this is such a rotten job that it would be impossible to get a coach as good as Ash who is stupid enough to want to coach there.
LOVIE SMITH, ILLINOIS: For all the talk by the AD about how happy they are with the progress Lovie has made (9 wins in three years) it really is a smokescreen. It’s all about the money. To fire him now would cost Illinois $12 million. To fire him next year will only cost $4 million.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Nick Saban is 15-0 against his former assistant coaches. The people in Las Vegas think he’s going to make it 16-0 against Kirby Smart and Georgia. Alabama (12-0) is a 13-1/2 point favorite. If Georgia can’t generate a better pass rush (only 14 sacks against SEC opponents) Tua Tagovailoa is going to slice and dice the Bulldogs. Alabama has given up only 11 sacks all season.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Clemson (12-0) is a 27-1/2 point favorite over Pitt (7-5). Two years ago when Clemson won the national championship, Clemson was a huge favorite to destroy Pitt in Death Valley. Pitt won that game, 43-42. Lightning couldn’t strike twice could it?
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The big bad Buckeyes (11-1) are 14-1/2 point favorites to beat Northwestern (7-5). That should scare the bejabbers out of every Ohio State fan. The Buckeyes are at their worst this season against the teams they should blow away.
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The winner of this game between Washington (9-3) and Utah (9-3) gets to go to a Rose Bowl that nobody in the country will watch. This is the fifth year of the playoff and it will be the third time the Pac-12 hasn’t been represented. Washington is favored to win by 5-1/2 points.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: This is UCF’s “Win one for the Gipper” moment. With McKenzie Milton relegated to watching on television from his hospital room, the students and fans at the Bounce House will try to provide such an emotional charge that the Knights (11-0) beat Memphis (8-4) to extend their winning streak to 25 games and put the pressure squarely on the playoff committee to move them up in the event of Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State all losing their championship games.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: CBS Sports issued grades for the first year football coaches. Florida’s Dan Mullen was the only power five conference coach to get an A grade with Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher grading out at A-. Scoring an F was Florida State’s Willie Taggart. Surprisingly, CBS only gave Arkansas coach Chad Morris a D- for a 2-10 season. In the non-power five conferences, Josh Heupel of UCF graded out A+ and Chad Lunsford of Georgia Southern scored an A … Tiger Woods had a 3-put bogey on the fifth hole and a triple bogey on the 12th at his own Hero World Challenge Tournament in The Bahamas. Woods finished the day 1-over par 73, eight shots behind co-leaders Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed … Cleveland Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield has thrived under offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens since Hue Jackson was fired as head coach and Todd Haley was fired as offensive coordinator. Under Jackson and Haley, Mayfield averaged 6.6 yards per pass attempt while completing 58.3% of his passes. With Kitchens calling the plays, Mayfield is averaging 8.8 per attempt while completing 73.9% of his passes … Virginia Tech will try to get bowl eligible Saturday against Marshall. The Hokies (5-6) are favored by 3-1/2 points over the 8-3 Thundering Herd … South Carolina is a 30-point favorite to improve to 7-5 against Terry Bowden and Akron (4-7).