College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings

Athlon takes a look at the top 20 coaches on the hot seat.

Week 5 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 and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. One new coach makes an appearance in this week's top 20 (Ellis Johnson), while Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville drops out after beating Iowa State to move to 4-0 this season.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Wildcats showed some signs of life in Saturday’s loss to South Carolina. Despite an injury to quarterback Maxwell Smith in the first quarter, Kentucky held a 17-7 lead at halftime. However, the Gamecocks were simply a better team in the second half and pulled away for a 38-17 victory. With Smith sidelined, true freshman Jalen Whitlow stepped in at quarterback and played relatively well considering the circumstances. However, Kentucky had an opportunity to score points at the end of the first half, but a disastrous sequence cost the team of at least a shot at a field goal. Although the Wildcats still would have lost the game with those points, it’s a coaching blunder that Phillips has to avoid.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Eagles put up a fight against Clemson, but the Tigers simply had too much firepower on offense and pulled away in the second half for a 45-31 victory. While the offense has made progress since last season, the defense ranks ninth in the ACC in yards allowed, pass defense and points allowed. Spaziani is still searching for his first win over a FBS team this season, and Boston College has a tricky road date at Army this Saturday.

3. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 80-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Golden Bears’ disappointing start to 2012 continued with a 27-17 loss to Arizona State. For a coach that is known for his offensive background, it has been a surprise to see California struggle the last two seasons. The Golden Bears rank ninth in the Pac-12 in passing offense, while they are averaging 25.6 points a game (seventh in the conference). California’s only win of 2012 came against FCS opponent Southern Utah, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with UCLA, Washington State, Stanford and Utah coming up in October.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 24-42 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
It’s hard to penalize Bailiff much for Saturday’s 35-14 loss to rival Houston. The Owls were without quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is averaging 321.5 yards of total offense per game. Without McHargue, the offense struggled to move the ball, while the defense allowed over 600 yards for the third time this year. The good news for Bailiff is the next two games are very winnable, with a road date at Memphis and a home game against future C-USA foe UTSA.

5. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 19-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-5
As expected, Idaho’s trip to Chapel Hill was ugly. North Carolina blanked Idaho 66-0, and the Vandals managed only 189 yards of offense and committed five turnovers. Idaho is one of only eight teams without a win this season, but the schedule lightens over the next two months, as the Vandals host New Mexico State this Saturday and play at Texas State on Oct. 13. Considering Idaho’s uncertain conference future, it’s important for this team to finish the second half of the season on a high note.

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Bulls gave Connecticut all it could handle but were stopped around midfield late in the fourth quarter for a potential game-tying touchdown. Buffalo has had an interesting 2012 season, as it played well against Georgia and Connecticut but lost to Kent State and gave up 34 points to Morgan State. The Bulls have back-to-back road games the next two weeks, as they travel to Ohio and Northern Illinois – two of the MAC’s best teams. Running back Branden Oliver could return for this Saturday’s game against the Bobcats, which would be a huge boost to a team averaging 199.5 rushing yards per game.

7. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
After a huge win against Iowa, the Chippewas came back to Earth with a 55-24 defeat at Northern Illinois. There’s no doubt Central Michigan would struggle to match last week’s intensity, but the loss to the Huskies drops Enos to 8-20 in his third season in Mount Pleasant. Although the win over the Hawkeyes was huge, Enos is still in a lot of trouble, especially with a trip to Toledo this Saturday, followed by games against Navy and Ball State. The Chippewas could still get to six wins, which might be the mark needed to save Enos’ job.

8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-25 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up their first win of 2012, the Rebels were soundly defeated 35-13 at Utah State. UNLV has showed progress this season but Saturday’s loss was the biggest margin of defeat for the Rebels in 2012. Although Hauck seems to have the program on the right track, wins could be difficult to come by in the next few weeks, as Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Boise State are UNLV’s next three opponents. The Rebels finish the year with New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming and Hawaii, which are all winnable games. Hauck didn’t inherit a full cupboard but needs to show a little more progress before guaranteeing himself a fourth season.

9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
In some ways, Saturday’s 51-44 loss to Georgia was a good sign for Tennessee. The Volunteers rallied from a 27-10 deficit in the first half and eventually held a 30-27 late in the second quarter. The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half, but Tennessee hung tough and had a chance to tie late in the game. While close losses are good for morale, it’s still another defeat for the Volunteers. At 0-2 in the SEC, Tennessee’s East title hopes are probably over. A challenging schedule awaits this team in October, as the Volunteers play at Mississippi State and South Carolina, while hosting Alabama on Oct. 20. It’s clear Tennessee is a better team in 2012. However, Dooley has to show more progress to guarantee his return in Knoxville for 2013.

10. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-33 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Although New Mexico State is a difficult place to win and Walker is in a tough position with an uncertain conference future, there’s really no excuse for the performance against UTSA on Saturday night. The Aggies were blown out 35-7 by a team playing only its second season of football. Ouch. The Roadrunners are a promising program, but that’s a game New Mexico State has to have. The Aggies are running out of chances for wins, with a date at Idaho on Oct. 6 as their best shot the rest of the way.

11. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
A disappointing season in Iowa City got a little better with a 31-13 win over Minnesota. The victory over the Golden Gophers returned the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy to Iowa after a two-year absence. Ferentz is under a lot of pressure to win, but a schedule that features games against Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern in October will be difficult to navigate unbeaten. Considering he is closing in on his 100th win in his Iowa tenure, Ferentz has built up some goodwill, but the Hawkeyes are just 4-4 in their last eight games. Still, barring a complete disaster, Ferentz will be back in Iowa City in 2013.

12. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Syracuse: 18-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Orange had their only bye week of 2012 in Week 5 and return to action against Pittsburgh this Saturday. Syracuse has lost seven consecutive games to Pittsburgh and has been defeated by 10 points or more in the last four matchups against the Panthers. Unless the Orange suffers a major collapse over the next eight games, Marrone is probably safe to return to Syracuse in 2013. However, the Orange need to avoid another one-win season in Big East play.

13. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Maryland: 4-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
Some coaches may not like an early bye week, but this setup might work out best for Maryland. With true freshman quarterback Perry Hills starting, the off date should allow Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley some time to work out a few kinks before ACC play begins this Saturday. The Terrapins have matched their win total from last season but still need to show a lot of improvement to make a bowl game in 2012.

14. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Southern Miss: 0-4
2012 Record: 0-4
Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat rankings. The first-year coach is off to a horrible start, as Southern Miss is 0-4 with losses to Nebraska, East Carolina, Western Kentucky and Louisville. While the competition hasn’t been bad, it’s never a good sign when your athletic director has to release a video asking for people to show support for a team just four games into a coach’s tenure. With Boise State coming to Hattiesburg this Saturday and a trip to UCF on Oct. 13, the Golden Eagles are staring at an 0-6 start.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up a win against Washington State, the Buffaloes lost 42-14 against UCLA. The loss to the Bruins continued to highlight how much work Colorado needs on defense, as UCLA recorded 281 yards through the air and 211 on the ground. The Buffaloes have a bye this Saturday, which is a much-needed break considering Arizona State, USC and Oregon are the next three opponents.

16. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 49-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Last week was one to forget for Cubit and Western Michigan. Although the Broncos pulled off an upset over Connecticut in Week 4, they lost quarterback Alex Carder to hand surgery, and his absence was clearly felt in the loss to Toledo on Saturday night. Backup Tyler VanTubbergen threw for 232 yards but tossed three picks. With Carder sidelined, Western Michigan needs to regroup this week, but it catches a favorable match-up against UMass this Saturday.

17. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-13 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
While you never want to enter a bye week off of a loss, Auburn had to be feeling better about itself after a 12-10 defeat to LSU on Sept. 22. While the offense is still a work in progress, the defense held LSU’s rushing attack to 182 yards and forced two turnovers. The next few weeks will be critical for this team, as Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M are the next four opponents. All of those games are winnable but if the offense doesn't show any improvement, the Tigers could easily be staring at a 6-6 or 5-7 finish to the 2012 season.

18. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Houston: 2-3 (1st full season)
2012 Record: 1-3
There’s no question Levine is breathing a little easier this week. Houston snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday, beating Rice 35-14 for its first win of the season. The Cougars have struggled at times on both sides of the ball, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Houston has a good chance to be 3-3 after its next two games, as North Texas and UAB visit Robertson Stadium in the next two weeks.

19. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 38-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-1
It’s still early in the 2012 season, but Stockstill probably assured himself of another season at MTSU with a huge 49-28 win over Georgia Tech in Week 5. After losing to McNeese State in the season opener, the Blue Raiders have won three consecutive games and have already surpassed their win total from last season. MTSU looks to go 2-0 in Sun Belt play this week, as Louisiana-Monroe visits Murfreesboro this Saturday.

20. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at South Florida: 15-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Holtz drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch, but he’s still feeling plenty of heat after five games. The Bulls have a three-game losing streak and have back-to-back upcoming road contests against Temple and Louisville. Although South Florida lost to Florida State, the Bulls hung around and trailed one of the best teams in college football 13-10 early in the third quarter. Holtz is in no real danger of getting fired, but the Bulls need to avoid a repeat of last season’s 5-7 record and just one win in Big East play.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
2012 Record: 1-4
As we mention each week in the hot seat watch, Smith is essentially on a one-year contract, so he was never expected to return for 2013. Since he’s not going to be fired, we’ll keep Smith in his own space each week. Arkansas’ miserable 2012 season continued in Week 5, as the Razorbacks lost 58-10 to Texas A&M.

by Steven Lassan

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