Firey Pair

CFT 2014 Preseason Preview: Coaching Hot Seat

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Like death and taxes, another certainty in life is that, somewhere, a coach’s backside is feeling a little toasty.

Such is the case as we get set to embark on a sparkling new football season, with a handful of coaches feeling the heat from folks off the field for their collective failures on it. Fair or not, it’s a fact of life in the coaching profession: win or you’re gone, ofttimes with a multi-million buyout serving as a parachute.

So, just who is possibly looking at a spot in the coaching unemployment line at season’s end, or sooner? Recent history suggests that at least 20 of the head coaches who are on the sidelines when the season begins won’t be there when the calendar flips to 2015.

Below are but a few of the coaches who could be entering a make-or-break season at their respective schools, in order from hottest to slightly less hot.

WILL MUSCHAMP, FLORIDA
2013 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD AT UF: 22-16 overall, 13-11 in SEC
By now, everyone’s aware of the carnage wrought by the Gators last season, but we’ll repeat them for those who’ve been in a coma and/or living under a rock.  The 4-8 record was the worst for the football program since 1979; a bowl-less postseason was the first for a non-sanctioned Gators team since 1986; a second 3-5 record in SEC play in three years showed just how far behind the conference elite they currently are; and, arguably the most embarrassing facet of the woeful season, UF lost to FCS Georgia Southern in The Swamp as the latter didn’t complete a forward pass.  The calls for Muschamp’s head on a platter from the media and fans alike were coming fast and furious.  So much so that the athletic director had to offer his beleaguered head coach an in-season vote of confidence. While Jeremy Foley has publicly supported the coach, there is growing concern behind closed doors that Muschamp may not be the man to lead the Gators back to national prominence.  If 2014 is even remotely close to a repeat of 2013, the outcry will be so great that Foley may have no choice but to make a change and go in a different direction.

BRADY HOKE, MICHIGAN
2013 RECORD: 7-6
OVERALL RECORD AT UM: 26-13 overall, 15-9 in Big Ten
I’ll just go ahead and copy & paste what I wrote in an earlier preview as it pretty much covers it all:

Early on, it was all chili puppy dogs and pizza rainbows for Hoke in Ann Arbor.  In his first year at Michigan, the Wolverines went 11-2 and beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.  Most importantly, and even as it came between the tenures of Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, UM ended a six-game losing streak against hated rival Ohio State.  The honeymoon was hot, steamy and sweaty; the marriage since?  Ankle-length robes and open bathroom doors.  The Wolverines have gone a pedestrian 15-11 the last two years — two losses in minor bowls included — and returned to their losing ways in The Game.  Not only that, but UM has watched as “little brother” Michigan State has leapfrogged them, with the Spartans not only turning themselves into a force in the conference but a factor on the national stage as well.  Throw in some coaching changes, uncertainty at the quarterback position, an offensive line that’s subpar and suspect, just add everything all up and this could very well be a make-or-break year for Hoke.

DANA HOLGORSEN, WEST VIRGINIA
2013 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD AT WVU: 21-17 overall, 11-14 in Big 12/Big East
The move to the Big 12 from the old Big East hasn’t been kind to West Virginia in general and Holgorsen specifically.  During his first season in the lesser football conference, Holgorsen’s Mountaineers won 10 games and put a 70-spot up on the scoreboard in the Orange Bowl romp over Clemson.  Since then?  The honeymoon is officially over.  A 7-6 record (4-5 conference) in the first year in the Big 12 gave way to an abysmal four-win season that saw the Mountaineers go just 2-7 in conference play, ahead of only woebegone Kansas.  It was the program’s worst record since 2001 and, more embarrassingly, WVU gave the Jayhawks their lone league win.  Then there’s this sobering statistic: in 38 games under Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia has lost nine of them by 21-plus points.  In 126 games under Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart, which spanned 10 years, the Mountaineers were beaten by 21 or more points a total of eight times.  Another sobering fact?  WVU was 15-3 in its first 18 games under Holgorsen, 6-14 since.  Were it not for a sizable buyout, Holgorsen very well could’ve lost his job last year; another season of subpar results, the size of the buyout won’t matter.

MIKE LONDON, VIRGINIA
2013 RECORD: 2-10
OVERALL RECORD AT UVA: 18-31 overall, 8-24 in ACC
London was the toast of Charlottesville in 2011, with the Cavaliers’ 8-5 mark coming after the program won just 12 games total the three previous years combined.  Then 2012 and 2013 happened.  UVa. won just six games total those two seasons, hitting rock-bottom with a 2-10 collapse in 2013 that was the school’s worst showing since 1982.  Take out the eight-win season, and the Cavaliers are just 10-26 under London.  Wholesale changes made to the coaching staff showed London realizes and understands just how tenuous his hold on the job is.  It was a miracle that London returned for a fifth year; it’ll take even more of a miracle for London & Company to navigate a scheduling gauntlet of death that includes UCLA, Louisville, BYU, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Miami and come out on the other end with his job.  In other words, godspeed, Coach London.

TROY CALHOUN, AIR FORCE
2013 RECORD: 2-10
OVERALL RECORD AT AF: 49-41 overall, 29-27 in MWC
Three years ago, it would’ve been preposterous to put Calhoun on a list like this.  The Falcons were in the midst of a run that saw Calhoun start his coaching career at the service academy with a pair of nine-win seasons and a pair of eight-win years as well.  The bottom has, however, dropped out the past three years, with the win totals going from seven in 2011 to six to two in 2013.  The two wins last year represents the football program’s worst showing since 1980.  Add in the scandal that’s rocked the service academy to its core and is expected to result in a monumental shift in athletics at the academy, and Calhoun, who was a Falcons quarterback in the mid- to late-eighties, could find himself on the outside looking in come December if things aren’t turned around post-haste.

TIM BECKMAN, ILLINOIS
2013 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD AT UI: 6-18 overall, 1-15 in Big Ten
Most times when a head coach sees his team double its win total from the year before, you’d say he did an outstanding job.  When the previous year was just a two-win season, however, questions concerning the coach’s ability to make it to a third season grow louder and more forceful.  That’s the situation Beckman finds himself in, one that includes an embarrassing one win in conference play in his two seasons with the Illini.  Beckman’s wins in non-conference play have come against teams from the MAC (twice), the AAC and a pair of FCS schools.  His lone conference win?  A four-point squeaker last season over a Purdue team that went 1-11.   If Beckman is unable to push the Illini above the .500 mark and into a bowl game, there’s a very good chance he won’t see another year in Champaign.

CHARLIE WEIS, KANSAS
2013 RECORD: 3-9
OVERALL RECORD AT KU: 4-20 overall, 1-17 in BIG 12
What we have here is arguably the worst Power Five conference football team in the country, although there were slight signs of improvement in 2013.  In 2012, Weis’ first season in Lawrence, the Jayhawks won just one game, the first time that had happened since 1988; in 2013, Weis tripled the win total to three, although the three wins did come at the expense of an FCS team as well as two teams that were a combined 8-16 (hello WVU, Louisiana Tech).  Weis is in the third year of a five-year contract, and it’s hard to gauge whether the KU administration would be willing to pull the plug on this experiment with two years remaining and a substantial buyout in the offing.  Here’s one thing I do know: the Jayhawks won 20 games over a two-year stretch with Mark Mangino in charge just a few years ago, so it is possible to have football success at a basketball school.  Whether Weis, who’s been an abject failure as a college coach by just about any measure, is the man to lead them back to respectability remains very much up in the air.

NORM CHOW, HAWAII
2013 RECORD: 1-11
OVERALL RECORD AT UH: 4-20 overall, 1-15 in MWC
What was supposed to be a dream job for Chow has turned into an utter nightmare.  After getting his tenure started off with a 3-9 record in 2012, Chow’s Rainbow Warriors plummeted to a one-win season in 2013, with that one win coming in the regular-season finale against three-win Army.  The single win was the least for the program since 1998.  The schedule this season doesn’t bode well for Chow and his future at the school, with the Rainbow Warriors staring back-to-back one-win seasons square in the face — and that’s provided UH can get past FCS Northern Iowa, which beat Iowa State in Ames last season.  A winless season with a loss to an FCS program would seal Chow’s fate in his first head-coaching job.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Louisville RB L.J. Scott reportedly transfers to Eastern Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 30:  L.J. Scott #27 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates after a first down in the second quarter against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on October 30, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville running back L.J. Scott has transferred to Eastern Kentucky, according to a report Sunday from Kennedy Hardman of WTVQ in Lexington, Ky.

The school has not announced Scott’s arrival, but Hardman reports Scott is already enrolled in classes at EKU.

Scott was a reserve runner in his first two seasons at Louisville and fell out of favor in Bobby Petrino‘s offense in 2016. He carried 29 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2014 and rushed 39 times for 180 yards and four scores in 2015. His numbers dipped dramatically in 2016, though, totaling only three rushes for 15 yards. Scott battled a hamstring injury during the season but saw his usage dip even before the ailment popped up.

Scott will have one year to compete for the Colonels.

Not to be confused with the Michigan State running back of the same name, Scott was a consensus 3-star recruit when he signed with the Cardinals out of Harding, Ohio, in 2014.

Baylor and Houston lighting up the skies for recruiting purposes

Photo credit: Matt Rhule
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New Baylor head coach Matt Rhule is absolutely loving being in charge of a football program that has its own stadium to call home. The look on Rhule’s face as he walked on to Baylor’s football turf and soaked it all in after years as the head coach of Temple and having to share space in an NFL venue said it all. It did not take long for Rhule and his staff in Waco to find a way to show off the stadium and the atmosphere either, as Baylor has been lighting the stadium Baylor green for recruiting visits since Rhule’s arrival.

It has become apparent that “Baylor Lit” is Rhule’s go-to catchphrase any time he receives positive recruiting news for the program, like a player committing to the university. Coaches are not allowed to directly and publicly comment on recruits before they are enrolled, so many coaches have taken to Twitter with a brief catchphrase to let their followers know something good just happened. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, for example, would say “Yessir!” on his Twitter account.

Because ideas are stolen all the time around college football, Houston appears to have been inspired by Baylor and is lighting their stadium red for similar purposes.

And because College Football Twitter will never let such a thing slide, the jokes have been running wild between fans of the schools.

There are some other schools I’d be curious to see duplicate this light show exhibition. Maybe Middle Tennessee could light the sky blue? Notre Dame could provide a golden shine to the sky. Syracuse plays in a dome, unfortunately, but an orange-lit sky would be cool to see. And of course, Hawaii could go with a full spectrum of the colors of the rainbow.

What I am trying to say is, lighting the sky in your team’s colors is cool and more schools should give it a try.

Helmet sticker to Reddit.

Newly hired David Reaves placed on administrative leave by Oregon following DUI arrest

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 6: Close-up of the Oregon Ducks 'Liquid Metal' helmet during the the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies on October 6, 2012 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 52-21. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Oregon co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. In response to the arrest, Oregon has placed Reaves on administrative leave and is already moving to terminate his contract.

According to a report from The Oregonian, Reaves was pulled over at 2:12 a.m. in Eugene. Suspected of being impaired while operating the vehicle, and following an on-scene investigation, Reaves was charged and booked into a county jail at 5:18 a.m. He was released from jail later Sunday morning. There was an adult passenger in the car.

“University of Oregon assistant football coach David Reaves was arrested last night and charged with Driving Under the Influence by members of the Eugene Police Department,” a statement from Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens said. “Reaves has been placed on administrative leave and the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced. The University has high standards for the conduct of employees and is addressing this matter with the utmost of seriousness.”

Reaves was hired specifically to coach tight ends and take on the role of passing game coordinator while he and Mario Cristobal shared the role of offensive coordinator.

Reaves was hired by Oregon just five days ago to join the coaching staff assembled by new head coach Willie Taggart. For Taggart, this is just the latest in a bizarre sequence of events since being hired away by USF to take on the head coaching responsibility at Oregon. Taggart’s strength coach Irele Oderinde has already been suspended by the university after multiple Oregon football players were hospitalized following offseason workouts. All players that were receiving treatment have since been released from the hospital.

Ex-Nittany Lion DT Kam Carter joins Pitt as JUCO transfer

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 19:  James Conner #24 celebrates his touchdown with head coach Pat Narduzzi of the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter against the Duke Blue Devils at Heinz Field on November 19, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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What was once Penn State’s is not Pitt’s. Former Nittany Lion Kam Carter has announced, via Twitter, he will transfer to Pitt, where he will be eligible to play right away in 2017.

Carter will be a junior college transfer, which is why he will be eligible to play right away this upcoming college football season. Carter was dismissed by Penn State last spring for a violation of team rules. The former four-star recruit continued his football career at East Mississippi Community College for the 2016 season with the hope of returning to a FBS program this year. That will be the case after Pitt started to show some interest in him as an option earlier this month. Carter made an official visit to Pitt this weekend and did not head home before giving head coach Pat Narduzzi the good news.

The addition of Carter to the Pitt roster could pay immediate dividends this fall. With defensive tackles Tyrique Jarrett and Shakir Soto no longer in the fold, Carter has an excellent opportunity to slide right into a key role on a Pitt defense that has plenty of room for improvement in 2017.

Just as a reminder, Carter and his new teammates head to Happy Valley to face Penn State on September 9. It is the second of a four-game series between the in-state rivals.