College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 8 Rankings

Boston College's Frank Spaziani is 1-6 through seven games.

Week 8 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. SEC coaches own three of the top four spots, as Auburn's Gene Chizik and Tennessee's Derek Dooley both join Phillips in the top tier of this list for the second week in a row. The hot seat watch claimed its first coach of the year, as Idaho's Robb Akey was fired on Sunday and replaced by former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser as its interim head coach. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 8 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Although the Wildcats are out of the mix for a bowl game and have lost six consecutive games, Phillips deserves some credit for keeping this team together. Kentucky gave Georgia all it could handle on Saturday night before falling 29-24. With injuries taking its toll on the depth chart, along with a handful of young players stepping into key roles, the Wildcats have managed to at least be competitive in games against Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Whether or not it’s enough to save Phillips’ job remains to be seen but winning a SEC game before the year is over certainly wouldn’t hurt.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Eagles continued their dismal 2012 season with a 37-17 loss to Georgia Tech. Boston College trailed 28-3 at halftime but was able to cut the lead to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. Despite the second-half turnaround, the Eagles couldn’t slow down the Yellow Jackets’ option attack and dropped their fifth consecutive game. Spaziani is now 21-25 during his four seasons at Boston College and is just 5-14 since the start of the 2011 campaign.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-16 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
With a 17-13 loss to Vanderbilt, Auburn is in danger of its first losing season since 2008. The Tigers have lost four consecutive games and the road doesn’t get any easier with match-ups against Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama still to come. Auburn should beat New Mexico State and Alabama A&M in November, but a 3-9 mark will make it difficult for Chizik to return in 2013. Even though this has been mentioned frequently, Chizik’s record without Cam Newton is just 17-16 and his overall mark is just 36-35 in six overall seasons as a head coach.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-4
There weren’t many who expected the Volunteers to give Alabama much of a game, but Dooley needed to show his team was closing the gap on the Crimson Tide. Tennessee trailed 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but the Crimson Tide rolled to a 44-13 victory, adding even more pressure to Dooley’s hot seat. The Volunteers take on South Carolina this Saturday, before closing with four winnable games: Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Finishing with a 7-5 record nearly matches the preseason expectations for this team, but that may not even be enough for Tennessee to keep Dooley around for one more year.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-5
The Chippewas’ slide continued with a 41-30 loss to Ball State on Saturday. The defeat dropped Enos to 4-15 in MAC play and 8-23 overall in three seasons in Mount Pleasant. While the losses are starting to add up for Enos, Central Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the way, including back-to-back home games against Akron and Western Michigan. And its not out of the question the Chippewas could finish with five consecutive victories, provided they find the form that was good enough to beat Iowa in late September. 

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-25 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Bulls have been a tough team to get a read on this year. They played well against Georgia in the opener but allowed 34 points to Morgan State the next Saturday. Buffalo lost to Connecticut and Ohio by only seven points and dropped a 20-6 game to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Although this team has shown some promise, Quinn needs to pick up a couple of wins the rest of the way to save his job. Unfortunately, victories could be hard to find, as Toledo visits Buffalo this Saturday and the Bulls host Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan the following two weeks.

7. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 82-53 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
After back-to-back wins seemed to quiet some of the hot seat talk surrounding Tedford, a disappointing showing in the rivalry game against Stanford only ratcheted up the pressure once again. The Golden Bears were dominated by the Cardinal, losing 21 to 3 and were outgained 475 to 217. With four games remaining, California needs three victories to get bowl eligible, which won’t be easy with Utah, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State on the schedule. Tedford could survive if the Golden Bears finish 5-7, but the program is trending in the wrong direction and it’s probably time for a change.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-35 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Aggies’ bye week didn’t seem to help much against Utah State, as New Mexico State was pounded 41-7 in Logan. The Aggies have lost six consecutive games, including match-ups against Idaho and UTSA. With Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, BYU and Auburn left on the schedule, New Mexico State likely has only one more shot at a win this year – Texas State on Dec. 1. Walker inherited a difficult situation and it's not easy winning in Las Cruces. However, finishing with a 1-11 record and winning just 10 games in five years would make it difficult to keep Walker around for 2013.

9. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 25-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
With Tulsa missing two of its key offensive performers, Saturday was a prime opportunity for Rice to score an upset victory. The Owls led for most of the game, but the Golden Hurricane scored the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to go, dropping Rice to 0-4 in Conference USA play this season. Bailiff’s future is still up in the air, and he will have a chance to save his job over the final four games of the season. Remaining games against Southern Miss, Tulane, SMU and UTEP are very winnable and getting to 5-7 or 4-8 might be enough for Bailiff to return in 2013.

10. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-7
2012 Record: 0-7
Even though Johnson is in his first season at Southern Miss, it’s fair to wonder if he will get a second year in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles dropped to 0-7 with a 59-24 defeat to Marshall on Saturday night. The loss to the Thundering Herd assured Southern Miss of its first losing season since 1993, and the Golden Eagles rank as one of the nation’s worst teams in total offense and scoring defense. The schedule does get easier for this team, especially with UAB, UTEP, Memphis and Rice still to come. It’s tough to pull the plug on a coach after just one season, but Johnson was a poor hire and clearly a bad fit for Southern Miss.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-28 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
As expected, the Rebels didn’t have a shot to beat Boise State on Saturday. UNLV’s offense managed only 210 yards and failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season. The loss dropped the Rebels to 1-7 and there’s not a guaranteed win remaining on the schedule. UNLV is at San Diego State this Saturday and one of the few winnable games in the preseason (New Mexico), suddenly looks like a game the Rebels will be underdogs in.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at South Florida: 15-17 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-5
The last few weeks haven’t been easy for Holtz and South Florida’s coaching staff. There’s plenty of unrest surrounding the program, and the Bulls have opened the year 0-3 in Big East play. However, South Florida played Louisville tough on Saturday, losing 27-25 to the Cardinals. Even though the Bulls are in danger of missing out on a bowl game once again, this team has three very winnable home games left and is capable of beating Miami in mid-November. All is not lost for South Florida this year, but Holtz and his staff need to build on Saturday’s close call against Louisville.

13. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies were thoroughly embarrassed at Syracuse on Friday night. The Orange defense didn’t allow any points in the second half and held Connecticut to -6 rushing yards. Even though Pasqualoni is just in his second season in Storrs, finishing with a 3-9 record will be very difficult to survive. The Huskies rank as one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, while the defense is not as dangerous with end Jesse Joseph sidelined for the year with an Achilles tear. Connecticut has a bye week this Saturday and returns to action on Nov. 3 at South Florida.

14. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 50-44 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
A season that started with high expectations has quickly gone downhill for Western Michigan. The Broncos were a popular pick to win the MAC West in the preseason but have lost three out of their last four games. Not having All-MAC quarterback Alex Carder is a big reason why this team has faltered, but Western Michigan has lost two conference games by at least 17 points. The final three games of the season are very winnable but even finishing 6-6 would be a disappointment for Cubit.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-16 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
The Buffaloes were heavy underdogs in their Week 8 matchup against USC and they fell behind 19-0 just six minutes into the first quarter. It’s hard to find many positives for Embree in a game like that, especially as his team committed six turnovers and failed to score a touchdown. It’s one thing to start 1-6 with some competitive losses. And it’s another to lose by at least 28 points in three consecutive conference games and fail to show much improvement as the year has progressed. Embree will be back for 2013, but he needs to show marked improvement to stick around for more years in Boulder.

16. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UTEP: 47-58 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-6
It wasn’t pretty, but the Miners held off Tulane for a 24-20 victory on Saturday. The win over the Green Wave was UTEP’s first in a conference game this season and sets up the team to build some momentum in the final four games of the season. The Miners play Houston and UCF the next two weeks but close with Southern Miss and Rice. Price is a veteran coach with a lot of experience. However, UTEP has failed to win more than six games in its last six seasons and has struggled to gain on Houston and Tulsa in the West Division.

17. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Syracuse: 20-24 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
The Orange improved to 2-1 in Big East play with an easy 40-10 victory over Connecticut on Friday night. Although two wins in conference play isn’t much to get excited about, Syracuse has already surpassed its win total in Big East games from last season. A closer look at the Orange’s resume also reveals this team has lost three games by eight points or less, including a 23-15 defeat to Rutgers on Oct. 13. With four road contests in their next five games, Syracuse will have trouble getting to six wins. However, Marrone should be safe to return to the sidelines in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Texas: 146-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 5-2
After back-to-back losses, beating Baylor 56-50 was a much-needed win for Brown and his coaching staff. The Longhorns’ defense struggled once again, but the offense used five touchdowns from running back Joe Bergeron to snap the two-game losing streak. As the hot seat watch has mentioned before, barring a complete disaster to end the season, Brown isn’t really in danger of losing his job. However, at a program like Texas – arguably the No. 1 job in college football – going 13-12 from 2010-11 is simply unacceptable.

19. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at SMU: 27-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
A week after an inexplicable loss to Tulane, the Mustangs bounced back into the win column with a 72-42 victory over Houston. SMU is still in the mix for Conference USA’s West Division title but it needs to win out, which includes a date against Tulsa on Nov. 24. Although Jones is a good coach, the marriage between he and SMU hasn’t provided huge results and there’s little doubt he wants to move on after missing out on the Arizona State job last season.

20. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Purdue: 19-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
Hope was granted a contract extension after the 2011 season, so it would take a disastrous close to the year for him to lose his job. Purdue took Ohio State into overtime on Saturday but the loss dropped the Boilermakers to 0-3 in Big Ten play this season. Purdue’s non-conference wins also came against Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Marshall – not exactly the most challenging of slates. The Boilermakers have never won more than seven games in a season under Hope and eclipsing that mark in 2012 seems unlikely. 

by Steven Lassan

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