College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings

California's Jeff Tedford is likely done at the end of the season.

Week 9 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 third week in a row. California's Jeff Tedford jumps into the top five, while Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat watch.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 9 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Kentucky: 12-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
With Missouri struggling in its first season of SEC play, the Wildcats had a chance to pull off an upset in Columbia. Instead, Kentucky committed three costly turnovers and allowed the Tigers to win by throwing for just 87 yards. Although Phillips has a young team, it’s hard to find much improvement from game one to now. Unless Kentucky beats Vanderbilt and Tennessee in its final two SEC games, the Wildcats will have a new coach in 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 22-25 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-6
In an overall disappointing season, the Eagles finally had some good news to talk about on Sunday. Boston College knocked off Maryland 20-17 to score its first win over a FBS team in 2012. The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak in ACC play. Although the win was crucial to this team’s confidence heading into the last few weeks of the season, it’s unlikely to make any difference in Spaziani’s future. Boston College plays Wake Forest, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State to close the year, which likely means the Eagles finish with a 2-10 mark.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-17 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The adjectives to describe just how bad Auburn has performed this season are beginning to run short. The Tigers were demolished by Texas A&M 63-21 on Saturday night, dropping Auburn to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in SEC play. The Tigers should beat New Mexico State this Saturday and Alabama A&M on Nov. 17, but this team will be a heavy underdog against Georgia and Alabama. Chizik is only two years removed from a national title. But the rest of his tenure has been largely mediocre and a likely 3-9 season should be enough to force a coaching change.

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Close, but not good enough. That’s been the motto for Dooley and Tennessee this year. The Volunteers have played a difficult schedule and lost to Georgia by seven points and South Carolina by three. With the toughest part of the schedule out of the way, Tennessee should be favored to win its final four games and will likely be 7-5 heading into a bowl. Will that be enough to save Derek Dooley’s job?

5. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 82-54 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
If there were any doubts about Tedford’s future at California, they were sealed after Saturday’s 49-27 loss to Utah. The Golden Bears trailed 42-6 before tacking on a few late touchdowns to make the final more respectable. Since winning 17 games from 2008-09, California has been trending in the wrong direction. The Golden Bears are just 15-19 over the last three seasons and are unlikely to make a bowl game this year. It seems Tedford and California both would benefit from a fresh start.  

6. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-8
2012 Record: 0-8
Not many first-year coaches have jumped onto the hot seat watch over the past couple of seasons, but it’s clear Southern Miss made a bad decision when it hired Johnson. The schedule and roster turnover is to blame for part of the struggles, but the Golden Eagles haven’t been competitive in most of their games and were blown out 44-17 by Rice on Saturday. Considering the upcoming schedule – UAB, at SMU, UTEP and at Memphis – is it possible this team goes winless? UAB, UTEP and Memphis are winnable but with the way Southern Miss is playing, there’s no guaranteed win on the schedule.

7. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 6
Record at Buffalo: 6-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
The Bulls have had some chances to beat quality teams this year but just can’t seem to make enough plays to turn those into victories. Buffalo lost 25-20 to Toledo on Saturday, dropping its record to 1-7 and 0-4 in MAC games. The Bulls have lost by seven points or less to Connecticut, Ohio and Toledo. With a 6-26 mark, Quinn needs to win a couple of games over the final four weeks to save his job. The remaining schedule isn’t daunting but there’s not a guaranteed win.

8. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-36 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
After suffering a 41-7 defeat to Utah State in Week 8, the Aggies weren’t expected to put up much of a fight against Louisiana Tech. However, New Mexico State gave the Bulldogs all they could handle before losing 28-14. With the loss to Louisiana Tech, the Aggies were eliminated from bowl contention and could struggle to win another game the rest of the season with a difficult schedule ahead. With an uncertain conference future, it’s hard to envision many coaching candidates being interested in New Mexico State if Walker is fired. However, a new coach might help spark this struggling program get to a winning season.

9. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 9-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Chippewas kept their slim bowl hopes alive with a 35-14 victory over Akron. The win over the Zips was Central Michigan’s first in MAC play this season and sets this team up for a favorable four-game stretch to close the year. The Chippewas host Western Michigan this Saturday, before taking on Eastern Michigan, Miami and UMass. All four of those games are winnable and a 6-6 mark is probably good enough for Enos to return in 2012. However, a 4-8 record or 5-7 should be enough for a coaching change.

10. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 26-44 (6th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
After narrowly losing to Tulsa in Week 8, the Owls won their first Conference USA game of the season with a 44-17 victory over Southern Miss. And considering the upcoming schedule – at Tulane, SMU and at UTEP – Rice should have a chance to finish 5-7 or 6-6. It’s not easy winning at Rice, but Bailiff has shown very little progress in his tenure. If the Owls can get to .500, it would be a good sign that the program is headed in the right direction going into 2013.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-29 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-8
The Rebels are showing signs of life under Hauck, but the win column hasn’t gotten much better this season. UNLV dropped its fifth consecutive game with a 24-13 defeat to San Diego State in Week 9. The Rebels have lost five games by 11 points or less and suffered a disappointing defeat to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The next four games – New Mexico, at Colorado State, Wyoming and at Hawaii – are very winnable for UNLV. And it’s not out of the question to suspect Hauck’s future could rest on the team’s performance in the next few games.

12. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at South Florida: 15-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-6
The Bulls’ disappointing season continued with another close loss. Syracuse scored on the final offensive play of the game, dropping South Florida to 0-3 in games decided by four points or less this season. After the Bulls’ second-half collapse last season, Holtz and his staff need to show some progress in the final few games of 2012. South Florida hosts Connecticut this Saturday but take on Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to close out the year. Holtz signed a huge contract extension at the end of last year, but the Bulls are just 7-13 over the last two seasons.

13. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UTEP: 47-59 (8 years)
2012 Record: 2-7
The Miners were officially eliminated from bowl contention with a 45-35 loss to Houston in Week 9. With the loss to the Cougars, UTEP will have at least seven losses for the seventh consecutive season. Price did a good job of leading the Miners to back-to-back bowl games in 2004-05, but the program hasn’t made much progress. Considering the lack of improvement, Price is not expected to return to El Paso in 2013.

14. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Connecticut: 8-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-5
The Huskies had a much-needed bye in Week 9 and return to action at South Florida this Saturday. The off date came at a good time for Pasqualoni and his team, especially after the offense has managed just 27 points over its last three games. Connecticut still has a chance to make a bowl game, but the bigger question to be decided over the final four matchups is what direction this program is headed. The Huskies have wins over UMass, Buffalo and Maryland this season and have yet to face Louisville and Cincinnati – two of the top three teams in the Big East.

15. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 50-45 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-6
The Broncos haven’t had much luck in the way of injuries this season, as leading receiver Jaime Wilson missed Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois, and quarterback Alex Carder is not expected back for the Week 10 matchup against Central Michigan. All of the injuries have taken a toll on Western Michigan’s offense and its record, as Cubit’s team is 3-6 and has a three-game losing streak. The last three contests are very winnable – at Central Michigan, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan – but 6-6 might not even be enough for Cubit to return for 2013.

16. Danny Hope, Purdue
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Purdue: 19-26 (4th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Hope is on a steady climb in the hot seat watch and even though he received a contract extension at the end of last year, he is in jeopardy of being fired at the end of the year. Since starting 3-1, the Boilermakers have lost their last four games, including a 44-28 dismantling at Minnesota in Week 9. If Purdue can salvage a bowl game, Hope will probably be safe to return for 2013. However, the schedule isn’t particularly easy, as Purdue hosts Penn State and an improving Indiana team, along with a road trip to Iowa.

17. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-17 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-7
Embree drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch but that’s only due to other coaches moving higher on the list. Colorado’s miserable 2012 season continued with a 70-14 loss at Oregon, dropping the Buffaloes' record to 1-7. Embree has done little to suggest the program is headed in the right direction but all signs point to the second-year coach returning in 2013. Colorado wants to hire more support personnel for the football program, but coaching changes – especially on defense – might be the only way this team is more competitive in 2013.

18. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Texas: 147-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 6-2
There’s really only one word to describe Texas’ victory against Kansas on Saturday: Ugly. The Longhorns needed a touchdown with less than a minute to go to knock off a Jayhawks’ team that lost to Rice and has just one victory this year. Considering the grumblings from the Texas fan base after a win, the calls for Brown’s job would have been almost deafening had the Longhorns lost. Texas could surpass last season’s eight-win mark, but it’s also fair to question whether or not this team is headed in the right direction.

19. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Georgia Tech: 37-24 (5th season)
2012 Record: 3-5
Johnson started his Georgia Tech career with a bang. The Yellow Jackets went 20-7 through his first two years and played in the 2010 Orange Bowl. However, the program hasn’t made much progress since, recording a 17-17 mark over the last three years. The Yellow Jackets are also in danger of missing out on a bowl game this season and their only two wins over FBS teams came against Boston College and Virginia – a combined 4-12. Another reason Johnson could be in trouble? Athletic director Dan Radakovich left his post at Georgia Tech for Clemson.

20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at SMU: 28-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 4-4
The Mustangs evened their 2012 record to 4-4 with a victory over Memphis in Week 9. With just one loss in conference play, SMU still has Conference USA title aspirations and hosts frontrunner Tulsa in the season finale. Although Jones has transformed the Mustangs into a bowl team, he hasn’t raised the program like many expected. And of course, there are still some hard feelings after he nearly landed the Arizona State job last year. Could Jones throw his name into the mix for more jobs this offseason? A fresh start might be a good idea for both parties.

by Steven Lassan

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