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)

Florida State AD Stan Wilcox takes over Oliver’s Luck’s old NCAA job

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Boston College at Florida State
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As had been rumored, Florida State is in search of a new athletics boss.

The NCAA announced Monday that Stan Wilcox has accepted the position of executive vice president of regulatory affairs. Wilcox has been the athletic director at Florida State since August of 2013, and FSU will now be forced to launch a national search for a replacement.

Wilcox will replace Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia athletic director who left the NCAA in June of this year to take on the job of XFL commissioner.

“Stan is a highly-respected, visionary leader in intercollegiate athletics, and I’m excited to have him join our senior leadership team at the national office,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “Stan’s nearly three decades of experience working in athletics administration at Notre Dame, Duke and Florida State, among others, have clearly demonstrated his commitment to providing student-athletes with the opportunity to excel in both academics and athletics while being successful in life.”

“I want to thank Stan for everything he has done at FSU. We’re excited for him, and we all wish him the best in his new position,” said FSU president John Thrasher in his statement. “Our success on the playing fields under his leadership has been exceptional, with national championships in football, soccer, and softball over that time. We finished ninth in the 2017-18 Learfield Director’s Cup last year, and our student-athletes reached a cumulative 3.0 GPA this past year.”

Below is Wilcox’s full statement on his departure from Tallahassee:

I am honored and humbled to join Mark Emmert’s leadership team at the NCAA.

I am so grateful for the opportunities and experiences that have led me to this point. The Big East Conference, Notre Dame University, Duke University and most recently Florida State University have provided a depth and breadth of experiences on which I will rely heavily moving forward.

I am excited to return to the NCAA, where my intercollegiate athletics career began.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to former Florida State University Presidents Eric Barron and Garnett Stokes, and current President John Thrasher. The success we have enjoyed in Tallahassee would not have been possible without their trust, guidance and support, and without the fine efforts of our student-athletes, coaches and athletics support staff.

My wife Ramona and I are excited to start this new chapter in my career and in our lives together.

Ohio State board likely to recommend suspension for Urban Meyer

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In the last few days, there’s been a growing sense that Urban Meyer could very well survive and keep his job at Ohio State.  One report Monday did nothing to extinguish the hopes of Buckeye Nation.

OSU announced earlier in the today that the university’s Board of Trustees will meet Wednesday morning to discuss “personnel matters related to the investigation involving Urban Meyer.” The two-week probe into the head coach’s handling of domestic abuse allegations leveled against a now-former assistant was completed Sunday.

The 19-member board will review the investigative committee’s final report on the results of their investigation, with OSU president Michael V. Drake determining Meyer’s fate after receiving a recommendation from the regents. And, according to a pair of Columbus Dispatch sources, “the likely recommendation [from the board] is a suspension for Meyer.” Just how long of a suspension potentially facing Meyer was not relayed by the newspaper.

Not only that, Meyer might also avoid any further punitive measures, period. “Drake and the board could also opt for a ‘time served’ punishment since Meyer has been removed from football activities for more than two weeks.” the Dispatch wrote.

While the board will meet Wednesday and present its recommendation to Drake the same day, it’s unclear at this point when the university’s president will make his announcement.

Meyer was placed on paid administrative leave Aug. 1 as questions into his handling of domestic abuse allegations made against his now-former assistant coach, Zach Smith, surfaced.  The university announced the launching of an investigation into Meyer’s actions the day after the head coach’s leave was announced.

Zach Smithfired by Meyer as OSU wide receivers coach July 23 in the wake of allegations that he abused his ex-wifeCourtney Smith, during their marriage, met with the investigative team on Tuesday of last week.  Courtney Smith, along with her attorneys, met with investigators the day before her ex-husband.

In a statement Aug. 3, Meyer claimed that he has “always followed proper reporting protocols and procedures when I have learned of an incident involving a student-athlete, coach or member of our staff by elevating the issues to the proper channels.” Allegations of domestic abuse stemmed not only from Zach Smith’s time at OSU, but while he was on Meyer’s Florida staff in 2009 as well.

Meyer’s boss in Gainesville, former UF athletic director Jeremy Foleydeclined comment on that 2009 incident earlier this month.  Meyer’s current boss in Columbus, OSU athletic director Gene Smith, could also be in the university’s crosshairs as Zach Smith alleged that the AD contacted him about the allegations in October of 2015.

As the investigation reached its midway point, Gene Smith was on vacation but “available to speak with the investigative team.” It’s unclear if Smith spoke to the investigators; it’s also unclear if Smith, also on the selection committee for the College Football Playoff, will continue on as OSU’s athletic director moving forward.

As Meyer is barred from interacting with his players and coaches during his leave, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has been handling OSU’s preparations for the Sept 1 opener against Oregon State after being named as the Buckeyes’ acting head coach. The university has also kept players or coaches from speaking to the media throughout Meyer’s leave.

Louisville places TE coach Klenakis on leave following DUI arrest

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Louisville tight ends coach Chris Klenakis was arrested early Sunday for driving under the influence, and now he has been placed on administrative leave by the Cardinals.

According to an Associated Press report, Klenakis was driving with a BAC of 0.165, which is more than twice the legal limit. From the report, it sounds as though Klenakis was lucky to have been caught with by police, because a police report says Klentakis walked into the road during a sobriety test and was nearly hit by a passing truck.

Police charged Klenakis with reckless driving, wanton endangerment and possession of open containers on top of the DUI charge.

How long Klenakis remains suspended by the university remains to be seen, as does his overall job status with the football program. Klenakis has been Louisville’s coaching staff since 2014 and has previously coached offensive line.

Louisville opens the 2018 season on September 1 against No. 1 Alabama in Orlando, Florida.

Mike Bobo remains hospitalized as Colorado State prepares for season opener vs. Hawaii

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Colorado State will begin a brand new college football season this weekend at home against Mountain West Conference opponent Hawaii, but it remains to be seen if head coach Mike Bobo will be on the sidelines to coach the Rams. Bobo remains in a hospital after checking in for medical evaluations last week.

An update from Colorado State Athletics Director Joe Parker on Monday confirmed Bobo has moved to a new hospital in Denver and continues to be evaluated to determine why he might have felt numbness in his feet recently. Parker said it is possible Bobo could be released from the hospital any day, but the Rams coaching staff will continue preparing the team for this weekend’s game as if Bobo will not be available just in case.

With that being the case, there is some uncertainty over how the staff would run the team with responsibilities like calling plays. That appears to be a detail the staff will worry about later in the week in the event it is determined such a need arises. In the meantime, Bobo has been able to stay in touch with the staff and review film to keep sticking to his job as head coach, but nobody at Colorado State is going to push Bobo to get back as soon as possible if there are concerns about his health still to deal with.

Colorado State faces Hawaii in the season opener on Saturday, August 25.