College football hot seat watch, Week 12: Will Muschamp, our most embattled coach

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A loss to Vandy puts the Florida coach in the crosshairs, the wheels come off at Virginia, and Mack Brown has an eventful week.

Hot Seat Rating: Muy Caliente

Will Muschamp, Florida

Last week: Lost 34-17 to Vanderbilt
Record: 4-5 (3-4 SEC)
Years: 3
Overall record: 22-13
School record: 22-13
Three-year record: 22-13
Salary: $2,928,000
Three-year dollars per win: $399,272
Buyout: $8 million
Football ratio: 58.9%
Subsidy: 3.5%

Ron Zook never lost four in a row at Florida. Zook never even lost three consecutive games, and lost back-to-back contests only twice.

Urban Meyer never lost four in a row at Florida. He had a three-game losing streak at Florida once. He quit at the end of that season.

The Gators could be staring at their first five-game losing streak since 1979.

Steve Spurrier never lost four in a row at Florida. He only lost four in a season twice.

You have to go back 25 years, to Galen Hall's final season in charge at Florida, to find the last pre-Muschamp four-game losing skid. With Saturday's loss to Vanderbilt -- the first Florida loss to the Commodores since the second game of a 1988 losing streak -- Muschamp has now done it twice in three seasons. And with a trip to South Carolina set for next Saturday, the Gators could well be staring at their first five-game losing streak since 1979. A visit from the No. 2 Seminoles at the end of November is looking especially daunting, and Florida will have to win one of those two games just to earn bowl eligibility, injury plague or not.

That modest goal -- a non-losing season -- appears to be all that's left for Muschamp in 2013. But three years of unwatchable offense and mixed results have even the most reasonable Gators fans readying the trap door.

A win against South Carolina won't solve things. Florida still has Georgia Southern on the schedule, however, and improbable bowl eligibility (combined with the goodwill of posting one of the nation's top resumes last season) might be enough to buy Muschamp a fourth year. A loss on Saturday could be the end of the line.

Mike London, Virginia

Last week: Lost 45-14 to North Carolina
Record: 2-8 (0-6 ACC)
Years: 4
Overall record: 42-34
School record: 18-29
Three-year record: 14-21
Salary: $2,556,460
Three-year dollars per win: $547,813
Buyout: $8 million
Football ratio: 21.3%
Subsidy: 16.2%

This is how a season, and a regime, falls away. It begins with close losses -- one point at Maryland, 10 points against Georgia Tech -- that lead to blowout losses -- seven touchdowns against Clemson, 31 points at North Carolina -- until there's nothing left. The Tar Heels, who will probably end the season with a losing record, wiped the floor with London's Cavaliers Saturday, building a 28-0 lead early in the third quarter and rolling up more than 200 yards on the ground. London benched quarterback David Watford in the fourth quarter, but not before Watford threw two interceptions including a crushing pick six.

Barring a miracle, it's going to be a two-win season in Charlottesville. Craig Littlepage is now issuing weekly statements of support. It's gotten so bad that the associate athletic director is in the crosshairs. There comes a time where the athletic director has to change his mind and pull the trigger as a matter of self-preservation. That time is coming soon.

Hot Seat Rating: Spicy

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Last week: Lost 51-41 at Texas A&M
Record: 4-5 (1-4 SEC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 33-27
School record: 33-27
Three-year record: 19-16
Salary: $2,650,000
Three-year dollars per win: $418,421
Buyout: $675,000
Football ratio: 38.3%
Subsidy: 8.2%

Mississippi State posted their highest point total in the SEC this season, but still lost by 10. At 1-4 with Alabama coming to town this weekend, Mullen's team is virtually assured of a losing conference record, and it looks increasingly unlikely that Mississippi State will beat rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to earn bowl eligibility. Whether those things are enough to get Mullen fired remains an open question.

The problem for Mullen hasn't changed. His overall record is solid, especially for Mississippi State, but that record is largely the result of cushy scheduling. Mullen's Bulldogs have now lost 14 straight games to ranked opponents, a losing streak that is now three years old. Three consecutive losses to South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Alabama aren't going to help.

Let's just say when there are unfounded rumors about fleeing a SEC job for UConn, things aren't going well.

Norm Chow, Hawaii

Last week: Lost 42-28 at Navy
Record: 0-9 (0-6 MWC)
Years: 2
Overall record: 3-18
School record: 3-18
Three-year record: 3-18
Salary: $550,000
Three-year dollars per win: $366,667
Buyout: $1.3 million
Football ratio: 20.9%
Subsidy: 32.6%

Hawaii's sojurn to the mainland ended in about 6,000 frequent flyer miles and a pair of losses, with two third-quarter touchdowns by Navy enough to do in Hawaii on Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors are winless and a November 30 date with Army looks like the only opportunity at changing that fact.

The bigger news for Chow's future this week came off the field. After his comments about being "way too old for this" -- comments that were made in jest, according to the reporter who asked the question -- caused a stir on the islands, athletic director Ben Jay was forced to make a statement. FIRE UP THE VOTE OF CONFIDENCE SIREN:

The $1.3 million buyout for a cash-strapped athetics department could be the determining factor here; Hawaii might not have the financial wherewithal to make a move this offseason. Otherwise, the axe could, and probably should, fall.

Hot Seat Rating: Medium

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Last week: Defeated Michigan 17-13
Record: 7-2 (3-1 B1G)
Years: 6
Overall record: 56-22
School record: 56-22
Three-year record: 26-10
Salary: $2,875,000
Three-year dollars per win: $331,731
Buyout: $4.5 million
Football ratio: 65.4%
Subsidy: None

Another week, another huge comeback win for Pelini. Nebraska backup quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (who is right-handed) threw a shovel pass with his left hand to halfback Ameer Abdullah with two minutes left to play and the Huskers down by three at Michigan. Abdullah dove into the end zone for the game-winning score, and Nebraska's Rose Bowl dreams remain alive.

Pelini's biggest game of the year comes this Saturday: a de facto Big Ten Legends championship game against Michigan State. The winner of that game -- to be played in Lincoln -- has the inside track for a spot in the conference championship game. Even with everything that has happened to Pelini this season, that could be enough to save him from the guillotine.

Mack Brown, Texas

Last week: Defeated West Virginia 47-40
Record: 7-2 (6-0 Big 12)
Years: 16
Overall record: 240-119
School record: 147-45
Three-year record: 24-11
Salary: $5,353,750
Three-year dollars per win: $669,219
Buyout: $2.75 million
Football ratio: 63.7%
Subsidy: None

Two big off-field developments this week changed the calculation on Mack Brown's future. First, an email from Texas regent Tom Hicks surfaced, in which Hicks states that Nick Saban's agent has told him that "UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for." If that is indeed the case (and there's no reason, at this point, to believe it is), Texas should be writing that $2.75 million buyout check as we speak.

The other development: Texas hired Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson to replace DeLoss Dodds. Patterson became athletic director at ASU in March 2012, and as a result has not made a high-profile football hire. He is a former NFL and NBA executive, but he does not bring an apparent short list of football coaches with him; not only did Patterson not hire current Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham, he is prohibited from hiring anyone from Arizona State. Patterson is a marketing and facilities guy, not a coach-killer. All in all, it's the best possible news for Brown.

If Texas can continue winning and take the Big 12, Brown's future likely becomes whether or not Saban is ready to make the leap. If Brown wins and Saban (and Art Briles) balks, Brown could well return for one more year.

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

Last week: Lost 59-3 to Florida State
Record: 4-6 (2-5 ACC)
Years: 14
Overall record: 110-112
School record: 77-80
Three-year record: 15-20
Salary: $2,254,798
Three-year dollars per win: $450,960
Buyout: Unknown; $9 million left on contract
Football ratio: Unknown
Subsidy: None

Two weeks ago, Wake Forest almost took out Miami. The Demon Deacons have not scored a touchdown since. A shutout loss to Syracuse and this week's blowout home defeat against Florida State have Grobe firmly back on the hot seat.

Since defeating Maryland 34-10 on October 19, Wake Forest has scored 24 points in three games, all losses. The Wake offense is 117th nationally in scoring. And the Demon Deacons face a visit from Duke and a trip to Vanderbilt -- two teams that look considerably better than they have as of late -- needing wins in both to earn bowl eligibility. Grobe survives at 6-6. His future is considerably murkier at 4-8.

Tim Beckman, Illinois

Last week: Lost 52-35 at Indiana
Record: 3-6 (0-5 Big Ten)
Years: 2
Overall record: 26-32
School record: 5-16
Three-year record: 5-16
Salary: $1,600,000
Three-year dollars per win: $640,000
Buyout: $2.1 million
Football ratio: 36.1%
Subsidy: 5.0%

Beckman's Illini won three of their first four games, including a blowout win over Cincinnati that showed some significant improvement over last year's debacle, but Big Ten play has not been good for Beckman's team. The second-year coach is now 0-for-13 in conference games, with only an overtime loss to Penn State last week and a three-point loss to Purdue last year within a couple of touchdowns. Illinois' 19-game Big Ten losing streak going back to Ron Zook is the second-longest in the history of the conference. And Ohio State is coming to Champaign next week (Illinois has opened as a 33-point underdog. At home.) Cue the VOTE OF CONFIDENCE SIREN:

"We talked about moving the needle, showing progress," [Illinois AD Mike Thomas] said. "I think, in most cases, we have."

---

"I'm not going to get into hypotheticals," Thomas told the Sun-Times. "You ask the question, ‘Is the program developing and getting better?' I think it is. I'm looking forward to continuing progress in the program."

Beckman's actions after taking the Illinois job, particularly his shameless recruiting at Penn State after the sanctions were announced, ensured that his honeymoon with Illinois fans would be brief. That honeymoon has long since ended, and little evidence exists to counter the public narrative that Beckman -- who got the job by winning eight games at Toledo twice -- is out of his depth. The only question is whether Illinois, which is still paying Ron Zook to not coach its football team, wants to spend the money to end the experiment early.

Ron Turner, Florida International

Last week: Lost 48-0 at Middle Tennessee State
Record: 1-8 (1-4 CUSA)
Years: 1
Overall record: 43-69
School record: 1-8
Three-year record: 1-8
Salary: $500,000
Three-year dollars per win: $500,000
Buyout: $2.5 million
Football ratio: 30.3%
Subsidy: 80.3%

Florida International lost again, this time a 48-point blowout against Middle Tennessee State in which the Blue Raiders could have broke 60 had they kept their collective foot on the gas. The Golden Panthers rank in the nation's 15 worst teams in nearly every category, on both offense and defense. We're not saying that Pete Garcia can afford Ron Turner's buyout. We're just saying that Turner should watch for that plumbing van that has been parked across the street for the last few weeks.

Charley Molnar, UMass

Last week: Off
Record: 1-8 (1-4 MAC)
Years: 2
Overall record: 2-19
School record: 2-19
Three-year record: 2-19
Salary: $400,625
Three-year dollars per win: $400,625
Buyout: $1 million
Football ratio: Unknown
Subsidy: 81.9%

Nothing new for Molnar on the field -- UMass had the week off -- but the firings of Ron English and Carl Pelini should concern the UMass head coach. Carl Pelini was dismissed for cause after an investigation by Florida Atlantic. English was terminated mid-season because an audiotape gave Eastern Michigan justification for a for-cause termination. Each of these coaches were struggling for small programs that could not afford buyouts, but their behavior provided ways to fire them.

Molnar is already under fire from former UMass players, who are circulating a petition related to a practice video in which players are seen "helmet boxing," wrestling, and running drills in what appears to be Soviet Russia. Three weeks from now, UMass could be announcing Molnar's firing, with that video running on a loop in the background as the "reason" that a 1-23 head coach is no longer employed.

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