Believe it or not, we’re a quarter of the way finished with the college football season. Sad as that is for many of us, it is even more sad for those unlucky coaches who are a quarter of the way (or less) to being unemployed.
Week three gave us fans lots of close calls and upsets, but it also made those hot seats just a little hotter. With this much of the season in the books, who will be the first coach to get axed during the regular season?
The race to follow Tim Beckman
Kyle Flood, Rutgers
record this year: 1-2*
record at Rutgers: 24-18
Possible replacements: Greg Schiano (!)
Since Flood wasn't technically on the sidelines for Rutgers defeat against Penn State, can you really hold it against him? It seems inevitable that Flood will be the second head coach followed this season (B1G leading the way), but he got a bit of a reprieve with a three game suspension coming down last week for his inappropriate contact with academic staff.
It's the off the field stuff that seems to be the nail in the coffin for Flood. The arrests, scandals, and recruiting losses are impossible to ignore despite Flood guiding the Scarlet Knights to three straight bowl games.
The on the field product is waning too, however, as the program transitions from Schiano recruits to truly being Flood's team. Rutgers doesn't exactly have a rich football tradition, but keeping talent in-state is a good way to counteract that. Under his watch, Flood has seen other teams raid an increasingly talented New Jersey pool of players. Michigan went so far as to hire a successful New Jersey high school coach after Flood has previously extended an offer to join Rutgers in a recruiting capacity. In other words, the competition is only increasing and it's difficult to see this ending anything but poorly for Kyle Flood.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
record this year: 1-2
record at Iowa State: 30-48
possible replacements: Brock Spack, Matt Wells, maybe a Stoops brother
This seemed like the perfect landing spot for Tom Herman, but Iowa State waited too long and it's likely Herman's next stop is someplace a little nicer than Ames. Heck, his current job is probably better than Ames. Rhoads is now in his seventh season as head coach at ISU, but the results have been, at best, mediocre.
In an act of true wizardry, he somehow managed to turn a 6-6 year and a Pinstripe Bowl invitation into a 10-year/$20 million contract in 2011. Since then, Rhoads has come in with a 12-28 record, but with a buyout of $750k per year until 2021, it's costly to make a move. However, losing to MAC teams - even if they are as good as Toledo - may force the Iowa State administration's hand. Rhoads seems like a decent coach doing the best with his resources, but sometimes mediocrity is just as costly as hefty buyouts.
Willie Taggart, South Florida
record this year: 1-2
record at USF: 7-20
possible replacements: Mario Cristobal, Dameyune Craig, Jim Leavitt
USF is one of the more confusing programs in the country. USF successfully transitioned into FBS football reaching as high as #2 in 2007. Since then, the program has seen a coach leave through scandal, Skip Holtz fail, and life on the wrong side of conference realignment. Ultimately though, the job remains appealing due to its talent-rich recruiting base.
Taggart, a Jack/Jim Harbaugh disciple, hasn't been able to build any positive momentum at USF. He came into the job with a shining star following two successful years in a three year stint at Western Kentucky, but it's safe to say his star has dulled considerably, even though he has recruited well. And while no one expects a consistent winner at USF, the rebuilding process is reaching a critical point. If Taggart can't get anything going -- it'd be a quick and relatively cheap option for the Bulls to move in a different direction.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
record this year: 1-2
record at South Carolina: 85-47
possible replacements: Kirby Smart, Mark Dantonio, Steve Spurrier Jr?
The Ol' Ball Coach is one who seems more concerned about the schedule of others than the quality of his own football team.
Spurrier was once a quirky offensive genius and built Florida into a powerhouse. His time at South Carolina is in someways just as impressive as his time in Gainesville, but it's quickly growing old and stale.
At 70 years old, no one would fault Spurrier for hanging up his coaching visor and spending more time on the golf course, but he seems defiantly set on avoiding that. If he digs his heels in and refuses to go this has the look of a situation that could grow really ugly. Maybe it already has. We watched the Georgia game, after all.
Either way, South Carolina could very much be a top-25 level job and will have many a coach willing to take his shot with the Gamecocks. A certain South Carolina alum has done very well for himself building his own program in East Lansing, but time and loyalty may work against his odds of returning to his alma mater.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
record this year: 1-2
record at Arkansas: 11-17
possible replacements: Kirby Smart, Justin Fuentes ... uh, Nolan Richardson?
Oh, Bert. Is it possible to feel a little sorry for this big oaf? Probably not.
Not only did the Bert get dealt his second straight loss to an talent-inferior opponent, he also managed to get some verbal comeuppance courtesy of Coach Hansom at Texas Tech.
Jokes aside, Arkansas is now staring down the brutal SEC stretch of their schedule. It's very possible Arkansas might be favored in only one remaining contest in 2015. That's a 2-10 season you're facing. Probably not good enough for one of the most demanding and unrealistic fan bases in existence.
On a positive note for Arkansas fans, this could be one of the most appealing jobs opening up. Opportunities for SEC jobs, despite their demands, do not grow on trees and the athletic department at Arkansas has shown some effort to at least chase top tier candidates. For Razorback fans sake, I just hope their next coach can keep his mouth shut and stay off motorcycles.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
record this year: 2-1
record at Michigan: 2-1
possible replacements: Ron English, Mike Deboard, Les Miles, John U Bacon
Harbaugh spent week three seeing his offense light up the UNLV Running Rebels to the tune of 28 points. UNLV's coach is a year removed from running a high school program and if Harbaugh struggles against him - maybe that's the level of football he's best suited for.