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College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 3 Rankings

Colorado's Jon Embree is off to an awful start this season.

Week 3 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips easily ranks as the No. 1 coach on the hot seat after a disappointing loss to Western Kentucky. SEC foe Tennessee lost to Florida on Saturday, which only adds to the pressure under coach Derek Dooley. Colorado was blown out by Fresno State, allowing Jon Embree to jump into the top five of our hot seat rankings after three weeks.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 3 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Phillips’ seat has officially gone from hot to scalding hot. Kentucky rallied from a 17-0 deficit to Western Kentucky to force overtime, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hilltoppers matched the Wildcats’ score in overtime and won on a two-point conversion on the final play of the game. It’s hard to fault Phillips for all of Kentucky’s woes, but the schedule is only going to get more difficult the rest of the way. The Wildcats have only more guaranteed win (Samford) and open SEC play at Florida this Saturday. Kentucky needs to show progress the rest of the way for Phillips to return, but that’s no guarantee considering the upcoming schedule.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-21 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
A week after breaking into the win column against Maine, Boston College failed to build on that momentum and lost 22-13 to Northwestern. Despite the 1-2 record, there have been a few positives for the Eagles. New offensive coordinator Doug Martin has been able to spark the passing attack, but the Eagles rank a disappointing 109th nationally in rushing. The next stretch of games could decide Spaziani’s future in Chestnut Hill. Boston College hosts Clemson on Sept. 29, before traveling to Army on Oct. 6. The schedule doesn’t get any easier following those two games, as the Eagles have road dates at Florida State and Georgia Tech. Spaziani faces an uphill battle to return next season but could save his job if the Eagles pull off an upset or two in the next few weeks.

3. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 3-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 0-3
Considering this is Embree’s second season with Colorado, he deserves a chance to turn things around in 2013. However, it’s hard to ignore how bad the Buffaloes have been under his watch. Colorado closed out last season by winning two out of its final three games but has opened 0-3 in disastrous fashion. The Buffaloes lost to in-state rival Colorado State in the opener, followed up by a loss to FCS opponent Sacramento State and a blowout defeat to Fresno State. Colorado is playing a lot of young players, so some growing pains can be expected. However, the Buffaloes haven’t shown much progress through three games and could finish 0-12.

4. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 7-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Chippewas had a bye week in Week 3 and head into Saturday’s game at Iowa with a 1-1 record. Under Enos’ watch, Central Michigan has yet to beat a team with a BCS record and is 0-3 against teams from the Big Ten. Needless to say, the Chippewas will need to play their best game of the season if they want to have any shot at beating the Hawkeyes.

5. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 19-46 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-3
It’s hard to place any blame on Akey after Saturday’s 63-14 loss to LSU. After all, the Vandals were heavy underdogs and didn’t have much of a shot to win. While Akey has a tough job, Idaho has won only one game against FBS competition in its last 13 contests and is off to a 0-3 start. One promising sign for Akey has to be the play of quarterback Dominique Blackman, who threw for 352 yards and one touchdown against Bowling Green in Week 2. The Vandals host Wyoming this Saturday.

6. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 4-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 0-3
The weekly hot seat watch has been harsh on Hauck the first two weeks, so it’s time to give him a little credit after Friday’s game against Washington State. After a disappointing loss to Northern Arizona in Week 2, the Rebels played the Cougars tough and lost 35-27. Of course, Hauck needs wins to keep his job, but this team has a few pieces to build around, including quarterback Nick Sherry and running back Tim Cornett. UNLV opens Mountain West play this Saturday against Air Force and a win against the Falcons would be a huge boost after opening the season 0-3.

7. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Record at MTSU: 37-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
After opening up the 2012 season with a loss to McNeese State, the Blue Raiders have won back-to-back games, allowing Stockstill’s seat to cool going into Week 4. MTSU has a bye in Week 4 and returns to action against Georgia Tech in Week 5. Stockstill doesn’t necessarily need a winning season to save his job, but the Blue Raiders can’t afford to go 3-9 and struggle to compete against Sun Belt competition. 

8. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at Rice: 24-40 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
A week after upsetting Kansas on the road, the Owls failed to build upon that momentum and lost 56-37 at Louisiana Tech. There have been positive signs for Rice through the first three weeks, as quarterback Taylor McHargue ranks 36th nationally with 273 total yards per game. Although Rice upset the Jayhawks and the offense has been solid, this team still has a long ways to go. The Owls rank 118th nationally in scoring defense and are allowing 531.3 yards per game. Rice opens C-USA play this week against Marshall and hosts rival Houston in Week 5.

9. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Houston: 1-3
2012 Record: 0-3
Houston continued to slide under Levine, losing 37-6 at UCLA on Saturday. While the Cougars weren’t expected to win, the defense was gashed for over 500 yards, and the offense had six turnovers and failed to generate much of a passing attack. After firing offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt, Houston’s offense showed signs of life in a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech but looked out of sync against the Bruins. Levine’s tenure is off to a disastrous start, but the Cougars still have a chance to win Conference USA’s West Division, starting next Saturday against Rice.

10. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 80-50 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Thanks to California’s solid performance at Ohio State, Tedford slides down the hot seat watch by a few spots. Despite hanging tough against the Buckeyes, the Golden Bears own a 1-2 record, and the schedule won’t get easier with a road trip to USC this Saturday and a home date against Arizona State in Week 5. California has a tough schedule, and considering the personnel in place, getting to 7-5 or 8-4 would be a good season for this team. However, would 7-5 or even 6-6 be enough for Tedford to return in 2013?

11. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 4-11 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Edsall was the center of attention this week, as he took on his former team (Connecticut). The Terrapins had a chance to win late but lost 24-21, which snapped their two-game winning streak. Edsall seems to have this team on the right track, but Maryland still has a long way to go in order to be a bowl team this season. The Terrapins face an uphill battle to win this Saturday, as they play at West Virginia. The matchup against the Mountaineers is the final non-conference game for Maryland, and it will be interesting to see how far this team has come once ACC play arrives on Oct. 6 against Wake Forest.

12. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 13-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Dooley nearly fell out of our top 20 coaches on the hot seat, but Saturday’s loss to Florida is enough to jump into the top 15 of the rankings. Tennessee jumped out to a 14-10 lead at halftime but was outscored 27-6 in the second half. Both sides of the ball struggled in the final two quarters, including a defense that allowed two scores of over 75 yards. Tennessee should get back into the win column with Akron visiting Knoxville this Saturday. However, the schedule only gets tougher with SEC games against Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina coming up.

13. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-12 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Tigers managed to avoid at upset at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday but that’s not enough to move Chizik down the hot seat rankings. Auburn was largely unimpressive and anytime a SEC team needs overtime to beat a Sun Belt team, it’s never good news for the head coach. Chizik has recruited as well as anyone in the country over the last few years, but the results on the field aren’t adding up.

14. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Syracuse: 18-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
After losing close games to Northwestern and USC to open the season, Saturday’s 28-17 victory over Stony Brook was a much-needed win for Marrone. The victory was not only crucial to get into the win column for 2012 but snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Orange. Barring a complete collapse this season, Marrone will probably return for 2013. However, getting to a bowl game and winning more than one contest in Big East play would certainly help earn more job security.

15. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 98-67 (14th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
It wasn’t the most glamorous victory, but Iowa eased the disappointment over the loss to Iowa State with a 27-16 win over Northern Iowa in Week 3. The Hawkeyes had more injuries at running back, as Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon were banged up and did not return. Quarterback James Vandenberg was steady, completing 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards, but he is still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season. Ferentz and the Hawkeyes should move to 3-1 with a matchup against Central Michigan this Saturday.

16. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-1
The Bulls had a bye in Week 3 and return to action on Wednesday night against Kent State. Buffalo has some momentum after beating Morgan State in Week 2 but needs to show some progress in MAC games for Quinn to feel secure about keeping his job in 2013. Oddly enough, even though Kent State and Buffalo are in the same division (MAC East), this will be the first meeting between these two teams since 2009.

17. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-31 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
As we have mentioned in the hot seat column in previous weeks, it’s hard to fault Walker for what’s going on at New Mexico State. The Aggies have only one winning season since 2002 and have failed to record a season of more than four wins since 2004. The Aggies dropped to 1-2 thanks to a 41-28 loss to UTEP. Up next for New Mexico State is rival New Mexico, a team the Aggies have beat for three consecutive seasons.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 19
Record at Western Michigan: 48-41 (8th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Broncos were close but not good enough to beat to Minnesota in Week 3. Western Michigan has another shot to beat a BCS team in Week 4, as Connecticut visits Kalamazoo this Saturday. The Broncos were picked by many as the favorites to win the MAC West crown, so it’s hard to judge how hot Cubit’s seat can get until conference play arrives on Sept. 29 against Toledo.

19. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Texas Tech: 16-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-0
So far, so good for Texas Tech this season. The Red Raiders seem to have a much-improved defense, while the offense will be one of the best in the Big 12. The competition hasn’t been great, but Tuberville has to be pleased with his team so far. Thanks to Texas Tech’s 3-0 start to begin the season, Tuberville has fallen from a spot in the top 10 of the hot seat rankings to nearly out of the list.

20. George O’Leary, UCF
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UCF: 52-52 (9th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
The Knights jumped out to a 23-0 lead against FIU and cruised to a 33-20 victory on Saturday night. UCF’s only loss came against Ohio State, and the Knights appear to be Conference USA’s No. 1 team after three games. The biggest news out of UCF wasn’t on the field this week, as it has officially decided to appeal its postseason ban for 2012. The appeal may not be heard before the end of 2012, which would allow the Knights to play in a bowl game this year. However, if UCF loses the appeal after the season, it would have to miss out on the postseason in its first Big East campaign in 2013. 

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas: 1-2
2012 Record: 1-2
As we mentioned last week with Smith, he's essentially on a one-year deal and the odds of him returning to Fayetteville were slim for 2013. However, Smith's tenure in Arkansas has not gone well, and the Razorbacks are a disappointing 1-2 after three games. Smith can't be blamed for everything, especially since quarterback Tyler Wilson did not play against Alabama.

by Steven Lassan

(published Sept. 18, 2012)

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