College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings

Boston College's Frank Spaziani is off to a rocky start this season.

Week 6 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. Phillips' Kentucky team is off to a 1-5 start, while Spaziani and Boston College are coming off of a disappointing loss to Army. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The bad news for Phillips only got worse on Saturday. Highly touted true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles led a touchdown drive on his first series but left shortly after with an ankle injury. With Maxwell Smith and Towles sidelined indefinitely, Kentucky is down to true freshman Jalen Whitlow and struggling senior Morgan Newton at quarterback. The Wildcats are playing a lot of young players, which would seem to help Phillips’ case that he should get another year. However, with six games to go, Kentucky needs to be competitive and pull out an upset or two to give Phillips enough cache to return for 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
If there was any doubt Spaziani was gone at the end of the year, Saturday’s loss to Army clinched his fate. Boston College dropped its third game in a row, falling 34-31 to the Black Knights. Spaziani is known for his background on defense, but the Eagles have struggled on that side of the ball this year, ranking 117th nationally against the run and 104th in total yards allowed. Barring a couple of upsets, Boston College will miss out on a bowl game for the second consecutive season.

3. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 24-43 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
After beating Kansas in Week 2, Bailiff appeared to have Rice on the right track and was moving off the hot seat. However, it’s been all downhill since then, as the Owls have lost four consecutive games, including a disappointing 14-10 loss to Memphis on Saturday. Rice’s offense averaged 34.3 points a game through the first four weeks but is averaging just 12 points over the last two contests. Outside of an Oct. 20 date at Tulsa, every remaining game on Rice’s schedule is winnable. Needless to say, the next six contests will likely decide Bailiff’s fate.

4. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Quinn jumps two spots in this week’s coaches on the hot seat ranking, but let’s give the Bulls a little credit. Buffalo gave Ohio all it could handle before losing 38-31. The Bulls have pushed Connecticut and Ohio in the last two weeks and played relatively well in the opener against Georgia. While Buffalo has shown flashes of promise, Quinn needs to get this team over the hump and convert close games into victories. The Bulls won’t have an easy road over the next three games, as they take on Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh and Toledo.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
The momentum that Central Michigan established with a win over Iowa has quickly eroded over the last two weeks. The Chippewas fell to 2-3 with a 50-35 loss to Toledo on Saturday, which is the third game the defense has allowed 40 or more points. Central Michigan returns home for its next four games, including a nationally televised game against Navy this Friday.

6. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-14 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
After losing 12-10 to LSU in Week 4, most thought Auburn had found some answers on both sides of the ball and was ready to turn things around in the second half of the season. However, the Tigers were awful in Saturday’s game against Arkansas, losing 24-7 and falling to 0-3 in the SEC. Although Auburn has plenty of issues, the Razorbacks came into this game in a freefall and thoroughly handled the Tigers. While Chizik’s overall record (31-14) is impressive, take out the 14-0 national championship season and Auburn is just above a .500 team (17-14) – which won’t get it done in the SEC.

7. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-34 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As we have mentioned in this space about Walker this year, New Mexico State is a difficult job and this program needed a lot of work when he became head coach. However, the Aggies have lost four in a row, including a 35-14 blowout defeat to UTSA (a program in its second year of football) and a 26-18 loss to Idaho. With the uncertainty over New Mexico State’s future conference, Walker is probably safe for another year. However, a 1-11 or 2-10 record this season would be a major disappointment.

8. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 20-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Vandals finally cracked the win column, beating New Mexico State 26-18 in Week 6. Idaho’s schedule hasn’t afford many opportunities for victories, but this team played well in a loss against Bowling Green and nearly beat Wyoming on Sept. 22. The win over the Aggies snapped an eight-game losing streak and should allow this team to build some momentum for WAC play in the second half of the season. Akey is in a difficult position with Idaho’s uncertainty surrounding its conference. However, just like New Mexico State’s DeWayne Walker, this program can’t afford to fall too far behind and a 1-11 season might bring a coaching change for 2013.

9. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 81-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 2-4
With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears responded with a 43-17 victory over UCLA on Saturday night. The win not only snaps a three-game losing streak, but should reduce some of the pressure on Tedford. The veteran coach has taken a lot of heat this year and still needs a few more wins to keep his job. Although California’s 2-4 record is disappointing, its schedule has been one of the most difficult in the nation through the first six weeks of 2012.

10. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
With an upcoming schedule that features games against Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina, the bye week came at a good time for Tennessee. Although Volunteers’ fans want to be undefeated, this team simply lost to better teams so far (Georgia and Florida) and have not played bad in either game. While the next three contests could all be losses, Tennessee could finish out 2012 on a four-game winning streak, as Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky should all be victories. Dooley’s team has made some progress, but the next seven games will be crucial for his future in Knoxville.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As the hot seat watch has mentioned in previous editions, Hauck seems to have UNLV pointed in the right direction. However, the harsh reality remains: The Rebels are 1-5 and lost to Northern Arizona in Week 2. UNLV’s schedule hasn’t been particularly easy and the next two games are daunting: Nevada and at Boise State. Looking ahead to the last month of the season, the Rebels should have a chance to win all four games, which would help Hauck make a case for another year in 2013.

12. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Ferentz has experienced a roller coaster ride on the hot seat rankings this season, as he climbed into the top 10 with a bad loss to Central Michigan but tumbled down the list after beating Minnesota on Sept. 29. With Iowa’s next victory, Ferentz will top 100 victories in his career in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State this week and host Penn State on Oct. 20, which won’t make it any easier for Ferentz to hit that milestone.

13. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-5
2012 Record: 0-5
The disastrous start to Johnson’s tenure at Southern Miss continued with a 40-14 loss to Boise State. In fairness to the Golden Eagles, the schedule hasn’t been easy, as all five of their opponents should be bowl teams. However, Southern Miss’ offense has not scored more than 17 points in each of its last four games and the defense ranks 105th nationally in points allowed. With a game at UCF this Saturday and a home date against Marshall on Oct. 20 coming up, the Golden Eagles could be 0-7 heading into a road trip to Rice at the end of October.

14. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at South Florida: 15-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-4
The Bulls are one of college football’s biggest disappointments through the first six weeks of the season. With a roster that returned 13 starters, South Florida was expected to be in the mix for the Big East title, while erasing the disappointment from a 5-7 finish last year. Instead, the Bulls have slumped to a 2-4 start, which includes losses at Ball State and Temple. South Florida simply has too much talent to be 2-4, leaving Holtz and his coaching staff with much of the blame. Holtz signed a hefty contract extension in the offseason, so it’s unlikely the school will make a change. However, another 5-7 or 4-8 year won’t sit well in Tampa.

15. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at UTEP: 46-57 (8 years)
2012 Record: 1-5
Although UTEP has close calls against Oklahoma and Wisconsin this season, the Miners have only one win at the midpoint of 2012 and are 0-2 in C-USA play. UTEP’s second half schedule doesn’t provide a ton of relief, especially with road trips to Tulsa and Houston, along with a visit from UCF. Price has not had a winning year since 2005 and the Miners appear to be headed for their seventh consecutive season of at least seven or more losses.

16. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Colorado had a bye week on Saturday and return to action against Arizona State on Thursday night. The off date came at a good time for the Buffaloes, as they had a handful of injured players and had a full week to make some much-needed adjustments. Colorado is going to struggle to win another game this year, but Embree doesn’t appear to be in any danger of losing his job.

17. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 38-42 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
The week after beating Georgia Tech on the road, it was no surprise MTSU lost to Louisiana-Monroe. The Blue Raiders had a letdown performance, but the Warhawks are also one of the best teams in the Sun Belt this year. Stockstill’s seat was scalding hot after losing the season opener to McNeese State, but MTSU rebounded and could make a run at six victories.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Record at Western Michigan: 50-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-3
With quarterback Alex Carder sidelined with a hand injury, backup Tyler VanTubbergen led Western Michigan to an easy 52-14 win over UMass. VanTubbergen threw for five touchdowns and 283 yards, while the Broncos’ defense limited the Minutemen to 135 passing yards. Cubit entered this season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as Western Michigan has yet to win the MAC West under his watch. The Broncos were picked by many to win the division but need some help after losing to Toledo 37-17. Western Michigan’s next five games – including four on the road – will decide whether or not this team can play in Detroit for the conference championship in early December.

19. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Syracuse: 19-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Marrone is one of the biggest winners from the Week 6 action. The Orange got a much-needed victory over Pittsburgh, edging the Panthers 14-13. The win was Syracuse’s first over a FBS team since beating West Virginia 49-23 on Oct. 21 last season. Barring a disastrous finish to 2012, Marrone shouldn’t be in any danger of losing his job. However, the Orange needs to show more progress in the second half of the season, especially as a move to the ACC is on the horizon for 2013.

20. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 5-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Saturday’s 19-14 win over Wake Forest wasn’t pretty, but the victory ensured Maryland would finish 2012 with a better record than it did last season. Edsall has been under fire since he took the job in College Park, but the Terrapins are making progress, which has been made possible by a true freshman quarterback (Perry Hills) and a dynamic playmaker at receiver (Stefon Diggs). Maryland still needs some help to get to a bowl game, but upcoming match-ups against Virginia and Boston College are very winnable.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
2012 Record: 2-4
As the hot seat watch has mentioned every week, Smith is on a one-year contract, so he’s not really in any danger of being fired. After a 24-7 victory at Auburn, the Razorbacks are building some momentum for the second half of the season, and they still have a chance to make a bowl game. Arkansas has winnable games against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa but would need to pull off an upset over Arkansas, Mississippi State or LSU to get to six wins. Although Smith has taken a lot of heat over the last few weeks, he deserves credit for Saturday’s win over Auburn. 

by Steven Lassan

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