College football Hot Seat Watch, Week 8: Is Mack Brown safe now?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Texas' win over Oklahoma shuffles the deck, but the embattled Texas coach is likely setting up a peaceful parting, not another season. Elsewhere, Mike London heats up.

Now Hiring

Last coach: Lane Kiffin
Interim coach: Ed Orgeron

It would be an eventful week at Southern Cal -- interim coach gets his first winquarterback throws former coach under the busformer coach goes on ESPN to admit his fault -- but it's starting to feel like every week will be eventful at USC this year. There still remains almost no chance that Orgeron gets the job on a full-time basis, but the Trojans who showed up for Thursday's game against Arizona were different than the Trojans who started 3-2, and Orgeron is saying all the right things about the importance of USC. Coach O could parlay this into a job somewhere, especially if he manages a win over Notre Dame next weekend.

As for the search itself, the usual names are all still in contention. Athletic director Pat Haden has been quiet, as expected, and the rumor mill is less solid info and more connect-the-dots speculation. USC is happy with its interim coach, it remains the only major job actually open, and it's not going to move quickly to get rid of Orgeron.

Last coach: Paul Pasqualoni
Interim coach: T.J. Weist

South Florida lost its opener by 32 to McNeese State. It lost to Florida Atlantic by 18 at home. Despite last week's home win over Cincinnati, the Bulls are a bad team. So when the Huskies conceded a late field goal and had no answer, losing 13-10 to the Bulls Saturday, it looked like the Huskies' season had come to its proverbial end.

There were positives, however: UConn outgained USF 356-228, running back Lyle McCombs managed 164 rushing yards on 20 carries (the team was averaging just 56.5 rushing yards per game under Pasqualoni), and the defense wasn't as terrible as usual. Freshman quarterback Tim Boyle struggled in his first collegiate start, but at least he was better than USF's Bobby Eveld. Baby steps, people. Silver linings.

Like USC, UConn is not about to hand the job to an assistant from the deposed head coach's staff, and the Huskies have enough money to hire someone better than Paul Pasqualoni. They will, in due time.

Miami (Ohio)
Last coach: Don Treadwell
Interim coach: Mike Bath

If Bath wanted to make a serious run at keeping the top job at Miami, he could have done a better job of showing it: The RedHawks lost 17-10 at previously-winless UMass Saturday, with the passing offense looking particularly lost (quarterback Austin Boucher went 14/34 for 166 yards and threw a trio of interceptions). Given that Bath was the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach before taking the top job, this is not good for his chances.

Miami has a home game next week against Akron. On the other side of that game are four MAC title contenders and a trip to Kent State. It's likely win or go home for Bath after just two weeks.


Mack Brown, Texas

Last week: Defeated Oklahoma 36-20
Record: 4-2 (3-0 Big 12)
Years: 16
Overall record: 240-119
School record: 150-45
Three-year record: 21-11
Salary: $5,353,750
Three-year dollars per win: $764,821
Buyout: $2.75 million
Football ratio: 63.7%
Subsidy: None

The talk after Texas' 36-20 win over rival Oklahoma Saturday was that Brown had saved his job, but any such talk ignores the factors conspiring against the longtime Longhorn: An embattled unversity president, a new athletic director on the way, a tiny buyout, and a mediocre three-year record devoid of conference titles. Odds are that whoever gets the top job at Texas is going to want his own football coach, will have more than enough money in the budget to buy Brown out, and will not have any serious resistance from Bill Powers in making that happen.

The win over Oklahoma did two things for Brown: One, it gave him a narrative for explaining away the first five games. The much-maligned Texas defense held Oklahoma to 263 total yards of offense. The Sooners, which had averaged 246 rushing yards per game, managed just 130 against the Longhorns. Oklahoma converted just 2/13 third down attempts, and Blake Bell was largely ineffective under center. This was the same Texas defense that allowed 550 rushing yards to BYU under fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, and 272 rushing yards to Ole Miss the following week. There have been some signs of improvement since: 115 rushing yards allowed to run-happy Kansas State was solid, though the 201 recorded by Iowa State the following week made it look like an exception rather than a rule. Brown can now paint the previous defense as the problem -- a problem he created, he will admit, but a problem he remedied quickly once discovered -- and make the case for going forward.

Two, it gave him a plausible route to a conference title. Brown has set his sights on a Big 12 championship ever since the Ole Miss loss, and with the conference in complete disarray, Texas' 2-0 start certainly makes that a possibility. Texas has a brutal stretch of games in November to negotiate -- home dates with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, followed by a potential de facto title game in Waco against Baylor -- but there's a better-than-average chance the Longhorns enter that stretch at 7-2 (5-0), and a coach who wins 10 games and a BCS conference title isn't getting fired, regardless of external circumstances. However, many Longhorns analysts predict he'll choose to leave at the top if that happens.

Mike London, Virginia

Last week: Lost to Maryland 27-26
Record: 2-4 (0-2 ACC)
Years: 4
Overall record: 42-30
School record: 18-25
Three-year record: 14-17
Salary: $2,556,460
Three-year dollars per win: $547,813
Buyout: $2 million
Football ratio: 21.4%
Subsidy: 16.2%

The good news: The Cavaliers outplayed Maryland in almost every category Saturday. Virginia outgained Maryland 505-468, racked up 10 more first downs, had fewer penalties and penalty yards, forced three Maryland turnovers, and dominated time of possession by more than 15 minutes. The bad news: They still lost by a point, with the Terps' backup quarterback throwing for 332 yards and completing a game-winning touchdown pass with five minutes left.

Virginia's remaining schedule is liquid death. The Cavaliers get Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech in November, with a road trip to UNC far from a guaranteed victory. Even with a healthy adjustment for the mere fact that this is the ACC, it's hard to find more than two more wins for London, and 4-8 (2-6) for the second consecutive season probably gets him the axe. A loss next week against the Blue Devils accelerates that process exponentially.

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Last week: Defeated Purdue 44-7
Record: 5-1 (2-0 B1G)
Years: 6
Overall record: 54-21
School record: 54-21
Three-year record: 24-9
Salary: $2,875,000
Three-year dollars per win: $359,375
Buyout: $4.5 million
Football ratio: 65.4%
Subsidy: None

The seats at Memorial Stadium are still full. The Cornhuskers are still undefeated in the Big Ten and 5-1 for the third time in the last four seasons. A trip to Minnesota in two weeks should be a sixth win, and Nebraska should be 6-1 as the calendar turns over to November.

What happens next should be interesting: Nebraska gets Legends Division games with Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. Pelini is just 3-6 in games against ranked teams since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011, and the Huskers will likely need wins in two of those three games to repeat as division champions. Not that a division championship will save Pelini's job -- he probably needs to win the Big Ten Championship Game, as well -- but anything short of that virtually guarantees his ouster.

Marvin Gentry, USA Today

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Last week: Defeated Bowling Green 21-20
Record: 3-3 (0-2 SEC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 32-25
School record: 32-25
Three-year record: 18-14
Salary: $2,650,000
Three-year dollars per win: $441,667
Buyout: $675,000
Football ratio: 38.3%
Subsidy: 8.2%

There's generally no shame in playing to a draw with a MAC contender -- Kirk Ferentz isn't even on this list anymore, despite a season-opening loss to Northern Illinois -- but Mullen is a special case. For one, he's in the SEC, where these things are simply not allowed to happen. For another, he's a coach knocked for his tendency to feed on non-conference patsies and struggle in the conference season. If Mullen's team can't pummel a team like Bowling Green, what will the Bulldogs do against Ole Miss? Texas A&M? Alabama?

Mississippi State fans don't ask for much, but they do expect a modest bowl trip at the end of the year. That means three more wins are necessary, and there aren't three wins on the schedule unless the Bulldogs spring an upset in the Egg Bowl. It is shaping up as Mullen's worst season in Starkville, and that's not good for business going forward.

Ron English, Eastern Michigan

Last week: Lost to Army 50-25
Record: 1-5 (0-2 MAC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 11-43
School record: 11-43
Three-year record: 9-21
Salary: $360,517
Three-year dollars per win: $120,172
Buyout: $524,906
Football ratio: 23.9%
Subsidy: 83.6%

In 2008, English was hired to replace Jeff Genyk. The longtime Northwestern assistant had been given five years at the helm of the Eagles and gone 16-42 overall and 13-26 in the MAC. That was enough to warrant a termination.

With six games left in his fifth season, English has already lost more games than Genyk lost in his five-year stint. If the Eagles won their last six games, English would nearly match Genyk's win percentage. English is 7-25 in the MAC, and six straight wins would leave him a half-game better than Genyk in conference play. And with Ohio, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Bowling Green on the schedule, Eastern Michigan is not winning six in a row.

Note that we haven't even mentioned that Army running back Terry Baggett broke the service academy's single-game rushing record Saturday by rolling up 304 rushing yards and four touchdowns on Eastern Michigan. Army scored 50. That really happened.

So, yeah. This experiment is probably over.

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Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

Last week: Off
Record: 3-3 (1-2 ACC)
Years: 14
Overall record: 109-109
School record: 76-77
Three-year record: 14-17
Salary: $2,254,798
Three-year dollars per win: $483,171
Buyout: Unknown; approx. $7 million left on contract at end of season
Football ratio: Unknown
Subsidy: None

Grobe is moving down the list for two non-football reasons: Wake Forest is both self-aware of its circumstances and gearing up for another basketball hire. Even coming up with a short list of coaches who might be interested in the Wake Forest job is difficult. Last year, NC State -- a much, much bigger institution with a much, much higher upside -- had to go to Northern Illinois for a head coach.  North Carolina -- a sleeping giant in football for decades -- went to Southern Miss. The most comparable program to Wake Forest, Duke, hired a coordinator from Tennessee and gave him six years to show some improvement. Would Wake really pay $7 million to fire its most successful football coach since 1950, only to hire a first-time head coach? Would it spend that money if it knew that Jeff Bzdelik is walking the plank in basketball this winter? The answer to both is likely negative, barring a true late-season meltdown.


Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Last week: Lost to BYU 38-20
Record: 3-3 (2-2 ACC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 151-68
School record: 43-30
Three-year record: 18-15
Salary: $2,445,700
Three-year dollars per win: $407,617
Buyout: $1.3 million
Football ratio: 41.5%
Subsidy: 10.9%

Johnson has a perfect storm headed his way. His Yellow Jackets have now lost three consecutive games and still have Clemson and Georgia to come. His new athletic director walked in the door talking of a "more positive feel" for a program that runs the triple option. Johnson's past shelf life in other jobs is five to six years, and his offensive system becomes less jarring to conference opponents with every passing season. His buyout is manageable, to say the least. And his six-year record nearly matches that of Chan Gailey, who was shown the door after going 44-32 over six years.

There are still plenty of wins on the calendar -- Syracuse, Virginia, Pitt, and Alabama A&M are still to come -- but a 6-6 record with two FCS victories isn't going to do much to make Yellow Jackets fans feel better. This might be the end of the line.

Ron Turner, Florida International

Last week: Lost to UAB 27-24
Record: 1-5 (1-1 C-USA)
Years: 1
Overall record: 43-66
School record: 1-5
Three-year record: 1-5
Salary: $500,000
Three-year dollars per win: $500,000
Buyout: $2,500,000
Football ratio: 30.3%
Subsidy: 80.3%

His buyout is still prohibitive. The school's state subsidy is still one of the highest in the nation. His athletic director still has some skin in hiring him in the first place. But holy hell, Ron Turner, that's a bad loss. Alabama-Birmingham kicker Ty Long connected on a chip shot field goal at the final gun to beat the Golden Panthers 27-24 Saturday, and all goodwill engendered by FIU's win over Southern Miss is now gone.

Dan Enos, Central Michigan

Last week: Defeated Ohio 26-23
Record: 3-4 (2-1 MAC)
Years: 4
Overall record: 16-28
School record: 16-28
Three-year record: 13-19
Salary: $325,600
Three-year dollars per win: $75,138
Buyout: $900,000
Football ratio: 24.8%
Subsidy: 67.1%

What to make of the Chips' stunning road win at Ohio? CMU, which had lost badly to Toledo and UNLV earlier this year, played the Bobcats to a virtual draw, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just 22 seconds remaining to improve to 2-1 in the MAC. Fantastically-monikered quarterback Cooper Rush went 20/28 for 224 yards, throwing three touchdowns, while Saylor Lavallii ran for 184 yards on Ohio's defense. It was as impressive as the Chips have looked this year, to be sure, and the program's biggest win since knocking off Iowa more than a year ago.

With the victory, CMU has a legitimate shot at 6-6 overall and 5-3 in the MAC; the Chips will be heavily favored in their last three games, regardless of what happens against Northern Illinois and Ball State in coming weeks. Enos is on the list because his place had to be resolved -- he was listed at "Medium" last week -- but the possibility of another six-win season and the complete lack of money in the CMU athletic department means he's likely safe.

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