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College Football Hot Seat Watch: Picking up the Pieces at Arizona State, Nebraska and Who’s Next?

Herm Edwards, Arizona State Sun Devils Football

Let it be known, officially, that the NCAA never gets their man. Ever. Throughout history, the now-decomposing NCAA enforcement division has struck out at tagging any major head coach atop a program committing violations with any kind of significant punishment.

Herm Edwards might have truly been their best bet, just as the NCAA announced it will soon shift away from postseason bans, effectively squashing what little authority their fake cops ever had. Edwards was fired Sunday, but not for overseeing one of the sloppiest, most brazen rule-breaking outfits in college sports – he just shouldn’t have lost to Eastern Michigan. He was fired for losing, like almost every coach is.

Edwards, an… “esoteric” NFL veteran, was a reach hire by A.D. Ray Anderson, his former agent. The former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach promised an NFL development program the likes of which college football had never seen. What we got was yet another chapter of mismanaged, under-performing Arizona State football and a pile of rules violations, sacrificed assistant coaches to investigators, and general mediocrity.

Before we can forecast a real idea of who Arizona State will pursue, we need to know who will be in charge. Sources indicated that Anderson gave up Edwards now in mid-September to try to salvage a contract extension of his own and save his job by landing a big, new coach. Whether or not Anderson’s bosses let him do that remains to be seen, but the overwhelming consensus in college football circles is that he absolutely should not be trusted to fix the gaffes he created by tapping Edwards in the first place.

Arizona State remains, as usual, a story about potential, promise, and little actual achievement.

Related: Coaching Candidates to Replace Herm Edwards at Arizona State

When will Auburn drop?

This summer I established a sort of party line for when Auburn would move on embattled head coach Bryan Harsin: After the Tigers get beaten physically by Penn State in a 10-ish point loss, I predicted that Missouri’s fast-paced offense would run the Harsin era right out of Jordan-Hare the following week.

I was very right about Penn State, but unless Missouri completely humiliates the Tigers this week, I’m betting on Oct. 8 against Georgia as Harsin’s last game as head coach. Both Missouri and LSU on Oct. 1 are technically winnable games for this roster, but with the defending champs (and hated rivals) still, very much a war machine, a blowout by the Bulldogs should serve as a logical endpoint to this incredibly bizarre chapter at Auburn.

Who would serve as interim for the Tigers? With former Boise assistants at both coordinator positions and assistant head coach, it’s possible Auburn could name one of their own as acting head coach to finish out the season. Maybe associate head coach Zac Etheridge or running backs coach Carnell Williams could grab the nod.

The much bigger problem is then what? A snapshot of Auburn two months from now will look wildly similar to Auburn two years ago, when a feckless administration couldn’t hold warring booster factions back from tampering in the hiring, leading to former A.D. Allen Greene’s snap-hiring of Harsin in the first place. Nothing has changed to prevent another wonky move that puts us right back here in a few years.

Why is Nebraska still firing?

Nebraska interim head coach Mickey Joseph doesn’t seem to be content serving as some kind of hospice overseer for his alma mater’s transition. After the Cornhuskers were destroyed by Oklahoma 49-14, Joseph fired defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. Nebraska’s defense was horrible before Scott Frost was fired after their loss to Georgia Southern, so reason holds that Joseph can gamble making a change here and being able to claim any improvement down the line this season.

Is Joseph a legit candidate for the full-time job? Sure, as much as anyone else is right now. Is it likely? No, not really. But he’s a native son and currently in control of the roster, so until a favorite emerges in the rumor mill, he’s the best bet. And a consolation prize might be an HC job at another opening.

Related: Coaching Candidates to Replace Scott Forst at Nebraska

Who’s Next?

Here are three schools that suffered significant enough losses on Saturday to start movement internally to make a change

Colorado: Remember the weird 2020 Covid-19 season? Karl Dorrell sure does, because he guided the Buffaloes to a 4-2 record in the wake of Mel Tucker’s departure. Since then CU has cratered and Dorrell is 4-11. After a 49-7 blowout by Minnesota, this looks like the worst team in the Pac-12, and Dorrell is owed something in the neighborhood of $8-11 million in buyouts if terminated. A.D. Rick George just issued the dreaded “statement of confidence” in Dorrell, so be warned.

Georgia Tech: It seems impossible that Geoff Collins could salvage Tech’s ACC season after being blown out by Ole Miss Saturday. The Yellow Jackets are non-existent, especially on offense. Collins is now 10-27 in Atlanta but is likely to finish out the season only because Tech A.D. Todd Stansbury will likely follow him out the door. If Collins is fired before January 1, he’ll be owed around $11.3 million, no small amount of cash. That drops to around $7 million after the new year, but it seems crazy for Tech to wait that long.

North Texas: Both the Mean Green and head coach Seth Littrell have a lot of respect for each other, which is why this long-term relationship might end gracefully. UNT was whipped by a moribund UNLV program last weekend, and it’s unlikely they’ll create the bounce-back season the end of 2021 seemed to hint at. Now a significant step behind C-USA/American transition programs like UTSA and UAB, this marriage is likely over. If UNT moved now, they’d only owe Littrell around $1.9 million, although that number could go down if they fired him at season’s end or later. UNT is aspiring to Houston-levels as they enter the American, and this will be a sought-after job.

You can hear more from Steven Godfrey at Split Zone Duo, or watch his work at Secret Base. He’s on Instagram and Twitter at @38Godfrey.

Podcast: Week 3 Recap, Arizona State's Coaching Search, Which One-Loss Teams Can Rebound and What Undefeated Teams are Real Contenders?