College football's dreaded vote of confidence: Why it's not a great sign for your coach

Harry How

Just how bad a sign is it? Ask these five coaches, who got fired after hearing they were doing fine.

Ahh, the vote of confidence, or as its better known on the internet, the Dreaded Vote of Confidence. It arrives at that beautiful moment when things are going so poorly, your coach's boss needs to make it clear to the public that he or she would rather not have to look for a new guy.

Of course, they often do. Of the coaches that got fired after 2012, almost half had their athletic directors explicitly express support for their soon-to-be-ex-coaches in votes of confidence. There were other close calls - Joker Phillips almost got one in 2012 after getting two in 2011, Ellis Johnson got a vote of something, while Danny Hope and Gene Chizik each got the "statement expressing support for the football program even if it doesn't mention the head coach by name" treatment.

So let's take a look at those moments of PR by athletic directors from around the country, those times when they knew they had to talk to a reporter and tell them everything was going fine, even though they were generally peering into the future and realizing they were like 2.5 months from firing the dude they're talking about.

Here are six guys who had their hopes toyed with in 2012.

Jeff Tedford

Source material: "AD Sandy Barbour says Jeff Tedford not on hot seat," California Golden Blogs, Aug. 24

This is the best one I've read yet, because of just how damn emphatic Barbour was at pumping up Jeff Tedford. Most ADs go for a "our coach is great, we love the team, you should buy tickets for the rest of the games," even if they clearly have an assistant on 24/7 axe-sharpening duty. With Barbour, you could replace Jeff Tedford in her quotes with Bill Brasky and get the same gist. She really sells it.

Unprompted praise:

Jeff Tedford is not on the hot seat. We want to win, and we will win with Jeff Tedford.

You can do better than this. Really live in it.

Jeff Tedford has worked miracles at Cal. He is an icon as far as I'm concerned. He's done incredible things.

Jeff Tedford placed his hands on my nephew's forehead, and now my nephew is once again healthy. Jeff Tedford's image appeared on a piece of toast. I plan on keeping it forever.

Anybody who wants to talk about Jeff Tedford being on the hot seat. I challenge them to go and look at his body of work, look at what he has done with facilities that would be poor high school facilities.

Jeff Tedford makes MacGyver look like a blind Rhesus monkey with one leg. He's a god amongst boys.

Quote revealing what she actually meant: There really isn't one. Somewhere, Sandy Barbour is wandering the wilderness looking for answers, like those dudes who thought the rapture was coming and are now kinda just chilling.

Was it called a vote of confidence? Yes, by CBS and ESPN, with ESPN's Ted Miller throwing in a "dreaded" for good measure.

Jon Embree

Source material: "Colorado President Bruce Benson supports Buffs' Jon Embree," Denver Post, Sept. 17

Colorado was a trainwreck last year, but many thought Embree deserved more time with only two years on the job. Embree certainly did, at least.

Unprompted praise:

"I think players kind of said it all after the game when they said, 'This is the best set of coaches we've ever had and we're really behind them and they're great guys,'" Benson said. "Obviously, people are always going to get upset over something. It's not the first time in my life I've seen people upset."

No, you're going to write your own jokes about a Colorado AD saying he's seen people upset before.

Quote revealing what he actually meant:

"All we can say is we have a serious rebuilding."

Was it called a vote of confidence? Not unironically, no.

John L. Smith

Source material: "Jeff Long backs John L. Smith," AP, Sept. 26

There was a point in time at which there was a story about Arkansas' AD Jeff Long supporting Smith - who, in just eight months as Arkansas' rent-a-coach, managed to be tremendously unsuccessful on the field, go bankrupt, and just bum everybody out.

Unprompted praise:

"I also want to be clear I remain steadfastly behind this group of young men and this coaching staff," Long said. "Supporting this team is the best course of action for the short- and long-term. ... I will fulfill my commitment to the players and coaches for this season and I will not abandon them."

Quote revealing what he actually meant:

"Coach Smith and I both said early on in this process when I hired him in April that it would be clear at the end of the season whether he was a candidate or not," Long said. "That's still the way I feel today."

Was it called a vote of confidence?

Plus bonus points for "dreaded."

Skip Holtz

Source material: "USF gives Skip Holtz dreaded vote of confidence," SB Nation, Oct. 9

I'd consider the statement USF AD Doug Woolard released in October less a vote of confidence, and more an "uh-oh, why did we give Skip Holtz an extension just last year crap crap crap crap," but that doesn't roll off the tongue as well.

Unprompted praise:

"I know Skip, his staff and the players are working diligently to get that next win and to find sustained success... I also know this team has a lot of football left to play and great opportunities in front of it. We're only six games into a 12 game regular season."

Quote revealing what he actually meant:

"Many factors come into play when considering contract terms, including conditions in the national coaching marketplace. In Skip's case, multiple BCS schools sought his coaching services at the end of both the '10 and '11 seasons. As a result, we felt it was important to maintain the stability of leadership in our football program and extended Skip's contract. As has been our practice in the past, we will evaluate the status of each or our 19 programs at the conclusion of their respective seasons."

Was it called a vote of confidence? Yes! Props to our very own Steven Godfrey for helping us game this points system with the title of his story.

Bill Cubit

Source material: "Western Michigan AD Kathy Beauregard says football coach Bill Cubit is in good standing", MLive.com, Nov. 8

This is one of the better ones, since this was just 10 days before Beauregard went ahead and fired Cubit. Most of these stories are written months and weeks ahead of the eventual denouement, in other cases before seasons, before Tedford reached 3-9, before Smith had stunk up everything completely. This one is just two danged weeks before firing. WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard wins the Car Navigation System Telling You To Make The Next Legal U-Turn Because You Missed Your Turn Award for an ungraceful 180.

Unprompted praise:

"I would say coach Cubit represents us every day the way that he wants the Broncos represented with a good work ethic, no nonsense and he has high expectations," Beauregard said. "He's not somebody who sits back and makes excuses."

Quote revealing what she actually meant:

"I just think every coach feels pressure and they put it on themselves," she said. "There isn't anything that Bill, the staff and the team want to do more than finish this year out strong. Any contract talks and anything along those lines happen once the season is complete and the evaluation has taken place."

Was it called a vote of confidence?: Yes - by Beauregard herself, when talking about why she was firing Cubit just 10 days after giving him a vote of confidence.

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