Which coaches are sitting on the hottest seat heading into 2011?
For the 45th year in a row, Athlon Sports will release its in-depth preseason preview annual complete with coaching changes, behind the scenes features, scouting reports from within the locker room, pages of recruiting rankings, and most importantly, in-depth predictions and previews.
Each year, we order some pizza and lock ourselves in a room until all 120 teams have been hammered into place. And every year, there are some seriously heated discussions that result in not-so-cordial commentary.
The 2011 preseason top-25 countdown will begin with No. 25 on Monday May 2. But every day until then, we will offer the college football fan a peek behind the curtain at some of the most heated debates that we the editors at Athlon had to work through.
Check out all the debates linked below.
The Debate: Which head coach is on the hottest seat heading into 2011?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Mike Locksley at New Mexico. The Lobos are 2–22 in his two years, and 14 of those 22 losses have been by 24 points or more. The talent level is getting better — the guy can recruit — but I don't expect to see much improvement on the field. Next on the list would be Paul Wulff at Washington State and Rick Neuheisel at UCLA.
The cover-up is always worse than the crime. That was true before Richard Nixon’s Watergate and it will be true after Jim Tressel’s Tattoo-gate. THE Ohio State University will be forced to take off its collective sweater-vest, possibly even before the 2011 season kicks off. Tressel could have gotten away with breaking a few NCAA rules; but he won’t get away with lying about it, much less lying about his lies in an attempt to cover his tracks. The stench will only get stronger as the onion continues to be peeled back by NCAA bloodhounds, until THE OSU will have no choice but to kick Tressel to the curb like he was Maurice Clarett. Then, TP2 and Co. will join ex-Gator Janoris Jenkins in a loaded NFL supplemental draft, the Buckeyes will name Luke Fickell the interim coach for the entire 2011 season and Urban Meyer will start building his 2012 recruiting class before he is officially named the Buckeyes head football coach. I just hope Tressel punches somebody Woody Hayes-style on his way out. Honorable Mention: Mike Price, UTEP
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering Mike Locksley and New Mexico essentially adjusted his contract to make it easier to make a coaching change, I'd be surprised if he makes it through the season as the head coach. The Lobos have some nice pieces returning, but they have been poorly coached and it's doubtful Locksley can turn it around to keep his job for another year. In addition to the lack of success on the field, Locksley has had a couple of off-the-field incidents, which have been a black eye for the athletic department. If Locksley isn't the first one fired, Paul Wulff at Washington State would be my next pick. There's a new athletic director in Pullman and even though the Cougars made some progress last year, Wulff needs to probably win five games to save his job.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
While it’s difficult to see Mike Locksley surviving the season at New Mexico, I’ll go with Paul Wulff at Washington State as having the hottest seat in college football. Wulff has had three seasons at his alma mater and has a 5-32 record to show for it. Moreover, two of those five wins have come against FCS opponents. The Cougars ranked 117th (out of 120) in rushing offense last year and 115th in rushing defense. Additionally, Steve Sarkisian has the rival Washington Huskies headed in the right direction and there will be pressure for a change in Pullman. Honorable Mention: Mike Locksley, New Mexico
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden) Since it would just be piling on to mention the Lobos' physical head man, I will stay away from Albuquerque. There are coaches who are sitting on warm chairs because of lack of production — or under-achievement — at UCLA, Ole Miss, Rutgers and Washington State. However, only one National Champion at THE powerhouse university of the Midwest is dealing with potential NCAA sanctions. Jim Tressel has built more clout amongst his fan/booster base than nearly every coach in the nation, but can he survive a strafing from blood-thirsty NCAA investigators? The governing body of the best sport in the world has been on the war path for two years now, making examples of USC, Georgia, Tennessee and now Ohio State. I don't see Tressel making it through this firing squad. The real question is who is next in line? Looking at you Auburn... Honorary Honorable Mention: Les Miles, LSU
Debate: Who will be the biggest surprise teams in 2011?
Debate: Is this the year that Miami breaks through in the ACC Coastal?
Debate: Does Notre Dame deserve to be a preseason top five team?
Debate: Can LSU win a national title with Jordan Jefferson under center?
Debate: Who is the top challenger Oklahoma in the Big 12?
Debate: What will Nebraska's conference record be in the Big Ten?
Debate: Will the Oregon Ducks repeat as Pac-12 Champions?
Debate: Who will win the SEC East in 2011?
Debate: Who is the top challenger to West Virginia in the Big East?
Debate: What is Ohio State's record after five games in 2011?
Debate: Who is the first-team All-Big 12 quarterback this year?
Debate: Who will finish second in the ACC Atlantic?
Debate: How far will Auburn fall in 2011?
Pre-order your team’s Athlon Sports cover here (athlonsports.com/store) and find out where Athlon has your team picked when the 2011 Top 25 countdown begins on Monday, May 2.