College football hot seat watch, Week 13: Muschamp Watch is officially on

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

We are dangerously close to firing season. Could Florida, Texas, USC, and Nebraska all be in play?

Hot seat rating: Muy caliente

Will Muschamp, Florida

Last week: Lost 19-14 at South Carolina
Record: 4-6 (3-5 SEC)
Years: 3
Overall record: 22-14
School record: 22-14
Three-year record: 22-14
Salary: $2,928,000
Buyout: $8 million
Football ratio (percentage of the athletic department's overall revenue derived from football): 58.9%
Subsidy (percentage of the athletic department's budget that comes from John Q. Taxpayer): 3.5%
Dreaded vote of confidence? Yes.

Saturday's loss to South Carolina has sent Florida to depths not seen since the Carter administration. It's been 34 years since the Gators lost five in a row. It has been even longer since Florida has finished under .500 in the SEC twice in three seasons (1971 and 1973), as they now have under Muschamp. And Florida will have to beat No. 2 Florida State in the season finale to get six wins and a bowl trip. In other words, we are a mere 14 days from the nation's second-longest bowl streak going up in smoke.

Muschamp, who injured his hand punching a chalkboard at some point Saturday and then said that "some of our fans gotta get a grip," has been dealt a horrible hand (no pun intended). His team has been decimated by injuries. He has lost eight players from his depth chart for the year. He sent a third-string quarterback onto the field against South Carolina's defense and damn near won the game. We cannot say his team has given up. Muschamp was, is, and will be a good coach.

But injuries or no, once-in-a-generation failure at a flagship program usually ends in termination, and Muschamp's team has somehow gotten to that point. No matter what insane percentage of Jeremy Foley is behind Muschamp, this one might be unfortunate cost of doing business.

Mack Brown, Texas

Last week: Lost 38-13 against Oklahoma State
Record: 7-3 (6-1 Big 12)
Years: 16
Overall record: 240-120
School record: 147-46
Three-year record: 24-12
Salary: $5,353,750
Buyout: $2.75 million
Football ratio: 63.7%
Subsidy: None
Dreaded vote of confidence? Yes, but that AD has since announced his resignation.

There was a moment late in the second quarter of Texas' game with Oklahoma State where it looked like the Longhorns might survive. With 3:39 left before halftime, Malcolm Brown took in a seven-yard touchdown run to finish Texas' most impressive series of the day and narrow the Oklahoma State lead to 14-10. Despite being outplayed for the first 27 minutes, it looked like Texas would get to the locker room down by just four points, with a chance to regroup and mount a comeback before a fired-up home crowd.

And then Clint Chelf annihilated the Texas defense in a 67-yard drive that took just six plays and two minutes. And then Case McCoy threw a horrible interception to Justin Gilbert. And then Gilbert returned the interception for a touchdown. And then Mack Brown made this face.


And in just three minutes, Oklahoma State had silenced the crowd, laid waste to Texas' Big 12 title hopes, and sent Brown to the steps of the gallows.

Texas is now staring squarely in the face of a potential 7-5 finish -- the Longhorns still have to deal with Texas Tech and Baylor -- and with a new athletic director on the way and the school president under fire for non-athletic issues, Brown's defenders (except for the boosters) will be leaving or preoccupied. If he wins both games, he could make a case for staying, but the odds of that happening look particularly long, especially given Texas' problems on defense.

Mike London, Virginia

Last week: Off
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
Buyout: $8 million
Football ratio: 21.3%
Subsidy: 16.2%
Dreaded vote of confidence? YesTwice, in fact.

Nothing new on the field for London, as the Hoos had a week off before a trip to Miami. London did land a pair of commitments this week, and with recruiting being essentially the only reason left for him to stay, that might be more important than what is happening on the field anyway.

"So this is rock bottom."
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

Last week: Lost 31-19 at Kansas
Record: 4-7 (2-6 Big 12)
Years: 3
Overall record: 21-16
School record: 21-16
Three-year record: 21-16
Salary: $2,500,000
Buyout: $11.3 million
Football ratio: 33.0%
Subsidy: 7.2%
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

When Holgorsen appeared here a few weeks ago, it was less because of West Virginia's on-field performance and more because athletic director Oliver Luck looked like a shoo-in for the vacancy at Texas. Then Texas passed on Luck, and West Virginia beat TCU on the road, and everything looked OK for Holgo.

And then Saturday happened:

So this is rock bottom.

We've thought we'd been here before, giving up yards in record fashion and points faster than a scoreboard could count and suffering blowouts that forced us to look way back in our WVU history books for comparisons and records. We thought that was rock bottom, because we really didn't know what rock bottom was. We'd been spoiled by a generally winning program for awhile now and BCS games and national adulation and we thought rock bottom meant giving up 73 to Baylor.

We'd never been to Kansas.

It didn't take long for The Smoking Musket to turn to Holgorsen's performance:

The performance of head coach Dana Holgorsen will certainly be a topic of debate and no summary of this dumpster fire would be complete without an evaluation. For me the key decision of the game was Holgorsen's decision to punt on 4th and inches from his own 38 with little more than a minute left in the first half. The resulting punt gave KU the ball at their own 33 but more importantly set the stage for James Sims' 68 yard touchdown run to end the half. It demonstrated a total lack of confidence in his team's ability to gain a few inches against one of the worst defenses in the FBS and the results it set in motion for the first time cracked the door on the unthinkable happening to WVU.

The loss takes a fairly simple path to the Pinstripe Bowl -- beat Kansas and Iowa State -- off the table and leaves the Mountaineers home for the holidays for the first time since Rich Rodriguez's first season. I think everyone knew it would be a rebuilding year in Morgantown, given the impressive amount of talent that left for the NFL. But no amount of patience is going to keep the wolves at bay after a loss to a team that hasn't won a conference game in three years. No excuse can explain the ineptitude of West Virginia's offense, given the exalted status of the head coach. Holgo's in trouble.

Norm Chow, Hawaii

Last week: Lost 28-21 to San Diego State
Record: 0-10 (0-7 MWC)
Years: 2
Overall record: 3-19
School record: 3-19
Three-year record: 3-19
Salary: $550,000
Buyout: $1.3 million
Football ratio: 20.9%
Subsidy: 32.6%
Dreaded vote of confidence? Yes.

Chow's Rainbow Warriors, bedecked in glorious throwback uniforms, nearly pulled off one of the upsets of the year late Saturday, taking San Diego State to overtime before falling. It was a sign of hope, yes, but also par for the course this season: Hawaii has been fairly good at home, with only USC defeating the Rainbow Warriors by more than 10 at Aloha Stadium. Road games have been more problematic, and this week's trip to the altitude and winter weather of Wyoming could be particularly brutal for the islanders.

Chow could theoretically win both of his team's last two games -- Hawaii hosts Army in the finale -- but still be fired for regressing from last season. At this point in the season, that gets you into the upper echelon.

Charley Molnar, UMass

Last week: Lost 14-13 to Akron
Record: 1-9 (1-5 MAC)
Years: 2
Overall record: 2-20
School record: 2-20
Three-year record: 2-20
Salary: $400,625
Buyout: $1 million
Football ratio: Unknown
Subsidy: 81.9%
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

Saturday's home loss to Akron effectively guaranteed a second consecutive one-win season for Molnar -- the Minutemen travel to Central Michigan and Ohio for their last two games -- and back-to-back 10-loss seasons are almost certain to draw a termination under any circumstances. That Molnar's offense stinks -- just 11.7 points per game, 124th nationally -- despite his pedigree as Brian Kelly's former offensive coordinator doesn't help. That Massachusetts is sitting on a potential for-cause termination is especially bad. There is nothing good here at the moment, and I don't know if UMass has the patience to give Molnar one more shot.

Hot seat rating: Spicy

Bo Pelini, Nebraska

Last week: Lost 41-28 to Michigan State
Record: 7-3 (3-2 B1G)
Years: 6
Overall record: 56-23
School record: 56-23
Three-year record: 26-11
Salary: $2,875,000
Buyout: $4.5 million
Football ratio: 65.4%
Subsidy: None
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

Pelini's chariot turned back into a pumpkin: After back-to-back last-minute conference wins, Nebraska was thoroughly stomped by Michigan State Saturday. The Spartans were up 20-7 at the half, Nebraska turned it over five times, and the Blackshirts allowed Jeremy Langford to run for 151 yards and three touchdowns.

Saturday's loss effectively ended any chance Nebraska had of playing for a conference title. A trip to Penn State and a visit from Iowa loom. Of the seven teams the Huskers have beaten this season, exactly one -- Michigan -- has a winning record. Nebraska's three losses have all been by double-digits. Two of them have come at home. And we haven't even gotten to the profanity-laced audiotape that surfaced after the Huskers lost to UCLA in September or the fact that his current AD had nothing to do with hiring him.

A sweep of the final two games on the schedule and a bowl win would likely save Pelini. But a loss this week against Penn State or next week at home against Iowa makes this seat significantly hotter.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Last week: Lost 20-7 to Alabama
Record: 4-6 (1-5 SEC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 33-28
School record: 33-28
Three-year record: 19-17
Salary: $2,650,000
Buyout: $675,000
Football ratio: 38.3%
Subsidy: 8.2%
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

Mullen almost pulled it off. Mississippi State recovered a fumble in the end zone early in the third quarter of Saturday's game against top-ranked Alabama, and suddenly the Bulldogs were only three points behind the nation's top team. But Mississippi State's offense could not find a consistent method of attacking the Crimson Tide defense, and ended the game with fewer than 200 yards and no points.

It was a brave loss, but a loss nonetheless for a coach who desperately needs wins. Mississippi State gets Arkansas in Fayetteville this week and an Egg Bowl date with Ole Miss, with bowl eligibility on the line. A loss to Arkansas could end Mullen's tenure on the spot, and the Rebels present the last opportunity for him to shake his reputation for failing to win against top opponents. If he gets them both, he probably stays.  If not, it comes down to how well Mississippi State fans remember Sly Croom.

Kyle Flood, Rutgers

Last week: Lost 52-17 to Cincinnati
Record: 5-4 (2-3 AAC)
Years: 2
Overall record: 14-8
School record: 14-8
Three-year record: 14-8
Salary: $850,000
Buyout: $850,000
Football ratio: 31.9%
Subsidy: 47.3%
Dreaded vote of confidence? Yes.

On the field, Rutgers ran in a touchdown with five minutes left to play Saturday, then kicked a field goal from the 19-yard line as time expired. The Scarlet Knights still lost by 35 to a middling conference opponent. Cincinnati threw for 507 yards and six touchdowns against the Rutgers defense, a staggering 11.8 yards per pass attempt. The loss drops Rutgers to 5-4, with a sub-.500 record in a weak conference and a prime-time trip to Central Florida coming Thursday.

Off the field, Flood was again asked to respond to allegations that his defensive coordinator bullied a defensive back into quitting the team, allegations that carry increased weight at this place (former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired after video surfaced of him abusing players) and time (the Richie Incognito scandal is still sorting itself out). His recruiting class, which had been among the best in both his current and future conferences, is quickly unraveling. And his program is preparing for a jump to the Big Ten, where it will not have any trouble finding money for the buyout.

If Flood handles the bullying allegations properly -- or if they turn out to be unsubstantiated -- he can survive the rest. Rutgers still has a national top-40 recruiting class that stacks up favorably with the rest of the Big Ten. His team won nine games in his first season in charge. There are still two near-certain wins on the 2013 schedule, meaning bowl-eligibility should not be a problem. But you cannot have any player treatment scandal at Rutgers and survive, period.

Bruce Thorson, USA Today

Tim Beckman, Illinois

Last week: Lost 60-35 to Ohio State
Record: 3-7 (0-6 Big Ten)
Years: 2
Overall record: 26-33
School record: 5-17
Three-year record: 5-17
Salary: $1,600,000
Buyout: $2.1 million
Football ratio: 36.1%
Subsidy: 5.0%
Dreaded vote of confidence? Kind of.

With Kansas winning against West Virginia this week, Illinois is now the proud holder of the longest conference losing streak in FBS football. The second-year coach got into a sideline altercation with offensive coordinator Bill Cubit during this weekend's 25-point loss to Ohio State. Illinois faces a modest buyout to get away from a coach that fans have never embraced.

The problem: Illinois is already paying another guy, Ron Zook, to not coach the team. Even with the millions of dollars rolling into the athletics program due to its Big Ten affiliation, paying two buyouts and finding another coach could be a financial toll the Illini cannot bear.

If Beckman stays, expect few to stay with him. His defensive coordiantor cannot stop anyone, and his offensive coordinator could give him a knuckle sandwich at any time.

Mid-majors on Spicy

Garrick McGee, Alabama-Birmingham
Todd Monken, Southern Miss
Rich Ellerson, Army

McGee, in his second season at UAB, has gone just 5-17 and lost his last two games by a combined score of 119-28. He was hand-picked by athletic director Brian Mackin, who patiently sat through five seasons of Neil Callaway before pulling the plug, but he is also uncertain enough to be publicly asking for one more season.

McGee's Blazers play winless Southern Miss in the season finale, in a game that could decide someone's fate. Monken's had just one season at Southern Miss, but that didn't stop USM from firing Ellis Johnson after last season. Monken's $2.8 million buyout is prohibitive, but a contract clause allows Southern Miss to reduce the buyout for every dollar of salary Monken would receive at his next job.

Ellerson, who is 3-7 this year at Army and 20-39 in five seasons, had not won more than three games in a season since 2010. Army is 8-26 over that time, a winning percentage low enough to have cost Stan Brock this job after just two seasons. A 12th-straight loss to Navy could be the end of the line.

Hot seat rating: Medium

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

Last week: Off
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
Buyout: Unknown; $9 million left on contract
Football ratio: Unknown
Subsidy: None
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

Nothing new for Grobe on an off-week, but the giant buyout, the general respect for him as a coach and person, and the very real possibility that Wake won't find anyone better probably outweigh the apathy of 14 years in charge and any envy of Duke.  He probably survives, even with losses to Duke and Vanderbilt to close the year.

Kevin Wilson, Indiana

Last week: Off
Record: 4-6 (2-4 Big Ten)
Years: 3
Overall record: 9-25
School record: 9-25
Three-year record: 9-25
Salary: $1,270,000
Buyout: $2 million
Football ratio: 34.1%
Subsidy: 3.8%
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

This is the bad part of expectations. Entering this season, everyone expected the Hoosiers to break their bowl drought and potentially contend for more. But while Wilson's team is certainly entertaining, the 38.8 points per game conceded by his defense have not helped perceptions that Wilson's only concerned with one side of the ball. Indiana is now almost certain to miss bowl season for a seventh consecutive year; the Hoosiers would need to knock off Ohio State Saturday to keep the dream alive.

It's a better team than the one left behind by Bill Lynch, to be sure, but the results are not any better. Lynch was fired after four seasons and a 19-30 record, a mark that Wilson would love to have after his fourth year. He probably gets one more season -- much like Wake, can Indiana do better? -- but will need to do something about the defense for 2014.

Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Last week: Lost 55-31 at Clemson
Record: 6-4 (5-3 ACC)
Years: 5
Overall record: 154-69
School record: 46-31
Three-year record: 21-16
Salary: $2,445,700
Buyout: $1.3 million
Football ratio: 41.5%
Subsidy: 10.9%
Dreaded vote of confidence? No.

I turn it over to Scott Michaux of the Augusta Chronicle:

Head coach Paul Johnson takes the Yellow Jackets to a bowl game every season. He averages eight wins a year. He's gone to two Atlantic Coast Conference championship games and earned at least a share of the Coastal Division title in half his six seasons.

On the surface, these are not the kind of numbers that get head coaches fired.

However, is Georgia Tech any better now than it was six years ago when Johnson and his triple option replaced Chan Gailey?

The answer is - emphatically - no.

The numbers back him up: Gailey was fired after six seasons where he went 44-32. Johnson's record is nearly identical and, much like Gailey's last few years, settling in for a string of seven-win seasons. If Tech can't beat Georgia in the finale, there's going to be a discussion of Johnson's future.

Mid-majors on Medium

Justin Fuente, Memphis
Troy Calhoun, Air Force

Fuente is finishing his second season with the Tigers, and progress is only apparent after a close look. He's a huge improvement over former coach Larry Porter, who won just three games in two seasons. He's also at a school where firing a coach after two seasons isn't considered rash. Probably safe, but 2014 could be interesting.

Calhoun, on the other hand, has been at Air Force for long enough to build a body of work. But after four excellent seasons at the beginning of his tenure, Calhoun's Falcons have floundered. Air Force was 13-13 in 2011-12, and never finished higher than fourth in the Mountain West, before this season's 2-8 nosedive in which it has gone winless in the conference. Fisher DeBerry struggled in his last few years and remained at Air Force until he chose to retire, but the current trajectory is certainly a concern for administrators.

Now hiring

  • Eastern Michigan
  • Florida Atlantic
  • Miami University
  • UConn
  • USC

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