CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Coaching Hot Seat

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Like death and taxes, another certainty in life is that, somewhere, a college 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 very lucrative 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 anywhere from 15 to upwards of 25 of the nearly 130 head coaches who are on the FBS sidelines when the season begins won’t be there when the calendar flips to 2016.

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.

AL GOLDEN, MIAMI
2014 RECORD: 6-7
OVERALL RECORD: 28-22 overall, 16-16 in ACC
Last year at this time it was a coach from North Florida sitting at the top of this list; fast-forward 12 months, and one from South Florida claims the top spot.  And rightly so, actually — especially if you ask THIS former player or THIS one.  In his first three seasons with the Hurricanes, and in the midst of NCAA sanctions, Golden saw his win total go from six to seven to nine.  With expectations high for 2014, the bottomed dropped out in a seven-loss season, the most for the program since Randy Shannon‘s first season with the ‘Canes.  Speaking of Shannon, he was canned after going 28-22 overall and 16-16 in ACC play; look familiar, Coach Golden?  You get the feeling that anything short of at least a nine-win season will have Golden going the way of his predecessor Shannon.

TIM BECKMAN, ILLINOIS
2014 RECORD: 6-7
OVERALL RECORD: 12-25 overall, 4-20 in Big Ten
Were it not for the Illini slipping through the postseason backdoor and landing in a bowl, Beckman wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be included on this list as he already would’ve been out of a job.  As it is, he faces yet another win-or-else campaign.  To his credit, Beckman is overseeing a football program at a predominately basketball school, one that he has guided to two more wins in each of his three seasons: two in 2012 to four in 2013 to six in 2015.  On the flip side, eight of his wins 12 have comes against teams from the FCS (three), MAC (two), Sun Belt (one), Conference USA (one) and AAC (one).  If he can take the two-win step up like he did the last two seasons and get to eight wins in earning a second straight bowl bid, his job should be safe for another season — even amidst allegations of player abuse.   Should the Illini take a step or three back, and with the abuse cloud hanging over his head, he won’t be on the 2016 version of this list as he’ll — maybe — be a coordinator at another FBS program.

MIKE LONDON
2014 RECORD: 5-7
OVERALL RECORD: 23-38 overall, 11-29 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, 2013 and 2014 happened.  UVa. won just 11 games total those three seasons, hitting rock-bottom with a 2-10 collapse in 2013 that was the school’s worst showing since 1982; to London’s credit, though, that was followed by a five-win 2014 season.  Take out the eight-win season, and the Cavaliers are just 11-25 under London.  It was a miracle London not only returned for a fourth year after the two-win season but came back for a fifth; at bare minimum, it’ll take a bowl berth to make it to a sixth.  And, with a schedule that includes games against UCLA, Notre Dame, Boise State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Duke and Virginia Tech, good luck with that.

SCOTT SHAFER, SYRACUSE
2014 RECORD: 3-9
OVERALL RECORD: 10-15 overall, 5-11 in ACC
The third ACC coach of the four already placed on this list, Shafer actually began his time with the Orange on the uptick, guiding the ‘Cuse to its second of back-to-back bowl berths in his first season in 2013.  2014, however, was an abject failure, with the ‘Cuse plummeting to a 3-9 record that left those around the program calling for Shafer’s head after just two seasons.  Two of those three wins came against FCS Villanova (by one point) and the MAC’s Central Michigan.  To show just how far they have to go in the ACC, six of their seven conference losses came by at least 10 points, with those losses coming by an average of 18.5 losses per game.  It may not be a make or break year for Shafer, but it’s as close to it as you can get.

PAUL RHOADS, IOWA STATE
2014 RECORD: 2-10
OVERALL RECORD: 29-46 overall, 14-38 in Big 12
For a football program without much a successful history, Rhoads appeared to have the Cyclones on the right track toward turning that around.  Replacing Gene Chizik and his 5-19 record after he left for Auburn, Rhoads led ISU to 24 wins and three bowl berths in the four seasons from 2009-13. The victims in those 24 wins included Nebraska, Texas and, most famously, the upset of an Oklahoma State team that was unbeaten and ranked second in the country.  Since then, the wheels… and doors… and transmission have fallen off the Cyclones, winning just five games the past two seasons, including just two against Big 12 members — and one of those came against conference doormat Kansas in 2013, with the Jayhawks turning around and curb-stomping the Cyclones by 20 the following year.  Thanks to his passion, Rhoads is one of the more likable coaches at this level.  Unfortunately, it might be a time for a change in Ames, although his contract might give him another season on the sidelines regardless of how 2015 turns out.

KEVIN WILSON, INDIANA
2014 RECORD: 4-8
OVERALL RECORD: 14-34 overall, 6-26 in Big Ten
When your record includes win totals of just one, four, five and four your first four years at a school, especially one in a Power Five conference, you’re going to find yourself on this list.  And, obviously, this is the position in which Wilson finds himself: win and qualify for a bowl berth, or be prepared to look for an offensive coordinator job elsewhere.  Wilson’s predecessor, Bill Lynch, won 19 games in four years before being canned by athletic director Fred Glass; Wilson, Glass’ pick as successor, has won 14 in four years.  Wilson got Glass’ public vote of confidence last November, but here’s to guessing that, if this year’s like the last four, the only public statement being issued by Glass in November will be one that includes “… immediately launching a national search to find a replacement.”

(Overall records are for the respective coaches’ current schools only.)

Northwestern officially adds Indiana transfer QB Peyton Ramsey… and a punter from Kent State

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The quarterback room for Northwestern football has officially received a much-needed infusion of talent.  And experience.

In late January, Peyton Ramsey entered the NCAA transfer database.  Two months later, the erstwhile Indiana quarterback committed to the Northwestern football program.

Monday, Northwestern formally confirmed Ramsey’s addition to its football roster.  Also, former Kent State punter Derek Adams was added as well.

Both players come to the Wildcats as graduate transfers.

“We are thrilled to welcome Peyton and Derek to our football family,” said Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald in a statement. “The graduate education opportunities at Northwestern are unparalleled, as is the opportunity to compete at the highest level of college football. We look forward to welcoming them properly when we all return to Evanston to prepare for the 2020 season.”

Of the 32 games in which he played for the Hoosiers, Ramsey started 23 of those.

During his time in Bloomington, Ramsey completed 66.5% of his career pass attempts for 6,581 yards, 42 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.  The Cincinnati native also ran for 832 yards and another 14 touchdowns. This past season, he earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after finishing second in the conference in completion percentage (68%), fourth in yards per attempt (8.2) and fifth in passer rating (147.7).

This past season, Northwestern was 126th (out of 130 FBS schools) in passing yards per game (117), 124th in completion percentage (50%) and dead last in passer rating (84.5). NU’s six touchdown passes in 12 games?  129th in the country.

“I would like to thank everyone at Indiana University for allowing me to live out my dream of playing college football,” said Ramsey. “I would especially like to thank my teammates that pushed me, encouraged me, and trusted me. Sometimes the road to realizing your dreams can take you in a different direction than you expected. I am grateful to Coach Fitz and his entire staff for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.”

Adams, meanwhile, was a three-year starter for the Golden Flashes.  He averaged 42 yards per punt in that span.  Last season, the average was at 43.1.

Twice, Adams earned All-MAC honors.

“It has been one heck of a journey so far,” said Adams. “I am beyond grateful to Coach Fitz, Coach Genyk and the entire Northwestern Football program for providing an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Second Mississippi State player reportedly set to flip Egg Bowl sides, transfer to Ole Miss

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Fabien Lovett spent the first portion of the Egg Bowl rivalry on the Mississippi State side.  Now, he’s headed to the other.  Reportedly.

Lovett was one of a handful of individuals offended by a Mike Leach tweet earlier this offseason.  The MSU defensive lineman subsequently became the first of five Bulldogs to enter the NCAA transfer database in the past two months or so.  A couple of weeks later, Lovett tweeted that he would be transferring to Florida State.

Monday, however, it was reported that Lovett Will Likely become the latest MSU player to find a new home as the lineman has flipped to the Ole Miss side of the Egg Bowl rivalry. Whispers have been growing of later the Lovett could be headed to Oxford.

Thus far, none of the schools involved or the player have confirmed anything.

If it comes to fruition, Lovett would be the second MSU player in less than a week to switch Egg Bowl sides.  Friday, defensive back Jarrian Jones announced that he is committed to Ole Miss.

It’s thought that Lovett would have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves to another FBS program. However, he is expected to file an appeal for an immediate eligibility waiver. It’s believed that he will use the Leach tweet as the basis for his appeal.

Lovett was a three-star 2018 signee. He was rated as the No. 7 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi.

The past two seasons, Lovett appeared in 15 games. 13 of those appearances came in 2019. A year ago, the defensive end was credited with 19 tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and a sack.

Because he appeared in four or fewer games in 2018, Lovett was able to take a redshirt for that season. Depending on how the waiver appeal turns out, Lovett would have either three years of eligibility starting in 2020 or two starting in 2021.

For those keeping score at home?  Leach’s Bulldogs and Lane Kiffin‘s Rebels will next meet Nov. 26.  In Oxford.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Steve Spurrier predicting Tim Tebow will ‘do super’ in the NFL

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on May 27, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Report: Bru McCoy re-transferring from Texas back to USC
THE SYNOPSIS: The five-star 2019 prospect signed with USC.  Then transferred to TexasThen moved back to the Trojans.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Proposed California amendment would cap coaches salaries at $200,000
THE SYNOPSIS: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL…

2017

THE HEADLINE: WATCH: FCS player paralyzed in 2015 game vs. Georgia walks
THE SYNOPSIS: Southern’s Devon Gales is such an inspirational story.

2016

THE HEADLINE: Art Briles’ daughter calls firing ‘outrageous’ and ‘disgusting’ in Facebook post
THE SYNOPSIS: Oddly enough, outrageous and disgusting described the scandal that cost her father his job at Baylor.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Amidst controversy, Dabo Swinney cancels planned appearance
THE SYNOPSIS: The Clemson coach was caught up in an LGBT kerfuffle.

2014

THE HEADLINE: Bill Hancock says CFB Playoff not expanding past four teams
THE SYNOPSIS: Six years later, momentum is building for expansion.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Michigan commit burns Buckeyes recruiting literature
THE SYNOPSIS: The Greatest Rivalry In All Of Sports knows no offseason.

2009

THE HEADLINE: Spurrier On Tebow & The NFL: ‘He’ll Do Super’
THE SYNOPSIS: Was the Ol’ Ball Coach correct?  Let’s go to the Tale of the Statistical Tape:

GAMES: 35
ATTEMPTS: 361
COMPLETIONS: 173
COMPLETION PERCENTAGE: 47.9
PASSING YARDS: 2,422
PASSING TOUCHDOWNS: 17
INTERCEPTIONS: 9
YARDS PER ATTEMPT: 6.7
PASSER RATING: 75.3

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.