Seats are never truly hot after one week of the season. There's not an athletic director alive that would fire his head coach for poor performance after one game, no matter how poor that performance might have been. Every coach on the list has the chance to pull his can out of the fire with enough wins, and the ratings indicate as much.
Paul Pasqualoni, UConn
Last week: Lost 33-18 to Towson
Overall record: 151-91
School record: 10-15
Three-year record: 10-15
Salary: $1.60 million
Three-year dollars per win: $480,000
Football ratio: 27.8 percent
Subsidy: 27.2 percent
New coaches don't get a long leash for a rebuild under the best of circumstances. Coaches who replace the most successful coach in program history are subject to an even shorter leash. And when a coach's hiring prompts the program's biggest donor to demand reimbursement of a $3 million donation and the near-immediate forced retirement of the athletic director, the coach is hanging before he even starts.
So it's amazing that Paul Pasqualoni, the newly anointed most embattled coach in America, has made it to year three. Of course, losing the home opener 33-18 to FCS unknown Towson was not the best way to ensure a fourth season, especially when he was forced to say this after the game:
"I think it was very disappointing for the fans to be perfectly honest and I'm totally aware of that and I totally get that. I'm disappointed for the players and staff. We understand that and we're making every effort here to put on a team and product on the field the fans can be proud of. We're going to continue with that goal."
The good news: Almost all will be forgiven of Pasqualoni can he somehow manage to defeat former UConn coach Randy Edsall and his Maryland Terrapins in two weeks at Rentschler Field.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last week: Lost 51-23 at Minnesota
Overall record: 86-50
School record: 6-33
Three-year record: 4-22
Three-year dollars per win: $375,000
Buyout: Approx. $500,000
Football ratio: 13.7 percent
Subsidy: 55.4 percent
Hauck's Running Rebels hung with the mighty Gophers for a half before succumbing to Jerry Kill's killer rodents. The man has said he likely needs six wins to stay afloat, and while a road game against a BCS-conference opponent wasn't a likely place to start, Hauck will probably have to win on the road eventually. It's something he has never done at UNLV -- the Rebels are now 0-21 on the road in Hauck's three-plus years in charge -- and even though UNLV plays seven home games this season, the chances of the Rebels sweeping a home slate that includes Arizona and Utah State appears slim.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last week: Lost 30-27 to Northern Illinois
Overall record: 112-96
School record: 100-75
Three-year record: 11-15
Salary: $3.84 million
Three-year dollars per win: $1,045,909
Buyout: $16 million
Football ratio: 47.6 percent
Subsidy: 0.1 percent
Normally, a last-second three-point loss to a top 25 team that played in a BCS bowl the previous season would not be grounds for a fan mutiny, but when that opponent is Northern Illinois and the losing team is a member of the Big Ten, it still feels like a big upset. The fact is that Iowa -- now on a seven-game losing streak, the program's longest since 1999-2000 -- remains a long way from any semblance of consistent offensive production, and has now lost 10 of its last 13 games decided by three points or less. Three times in the last eleven months, Iowa fans have watched a visiting team kick a game-winning field goal in Kinnick Stadium. The lack of offense, coupled with the sheer volume of soul-crushing losses over the last four seasons, has fans running for the exits: Saturday's home opener was just the fourth non-sellout in Iowa's last 66 games, and plenty of tickets remain available for the team's next two non-conference games.
There remains the question of that massive buyout, a financial calculus complicated by the empty seats and a pending fundraising push. With every passing day and every unsold ticket, a buyout becomes less prohibitive, but $16 million is still far beyond the budget of virtually every athletics program.
Some characterized the Northern Illinois game as must-win and are expecting a mass exodus. Iowa should break its losing streak next week against Missouri State -- if they lost that one, it's DEFCON 1 in Iowa City -- but the next week's game, at rival Iowa State, becomes a make-or-break proposition for Ferentz and his team.
Lane Kiffin, USC
Last week: Won 30-13 at Hawaii
Overall record: 33-19
School record: 26-13
Three-year record: 18-8
Three-year dollars per win: $401,084
Buyout: Unknown, $4.8 million left on contract
Football ratio: Unknown
Kiffin's squad won its opener last week, pulling away from Hawaii with 27 consecutive points on either side of the halftime break and coasting to a 30-13 win. But the Trojans were hardly impressive, at least on offense. Starting quarterback Cody Kessler completed just 10 of 19 pass attempts for 95 yards, one touchdown and an interception before being pulled in favor of backup Max Wittek. The substitute was hardly better: 5/10 for 77 yards. In fact, it was running backs Tre Madden (18 carries, 109 yards) and Justin Davis (14 carries, 74 yards, 1 TD), combined with a stifling USC defense (231 yards allowed, 4 turnovers, 1 returned for a touchdown) that led to the easy victory.
That defense can pull Kiffin's team out of the fire at Hawaii. It's a different proposition entirely when USC goes up against Stanford, Notre Dame, and UCLA. The Trojans desperately need consistency at quarterback if Kiffin is to win enough games to survive. Kiffin is responding to this need in the most Kiffin way possible: By telling his quarterbacks who will start but making them keep it a secret.
Carl Pelini, Florida Atlantic
Last week: Lost 34-6 to Miami
Overall record: 3-10
School record: 3-10
Three-year record: 3-10
Three-year dollars per win: $450,000
Football ratio: 35.3 percent
Subsidy: 60.0 percent
Pelini wasn't on our watch list because of his relatively brief tenure and Florida Atlantic's historical position in the college football hierarchy, but make no mistake about it: FAU administration and its boosters want this program to compete with the state's myriad middleweights, if not the Big Three. Losing to crosstown rival Miami is not going to sit well. Committing an embarassing gaffe in the process is definitely not wise:
Howard Schnellenberger, the father of the FAU program, went 1-11 in his last season, so there could be some leeway given to Pelini. But he'll have to do better than this if he's going to make it.
Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last week: Lost 59-9 to Michigan
Overall record: 13-25
School record: 13-25
Three-year record: 10-16
Three-year dollars per win: $97,680
Football ratio: 24.7 percent
Subsidy: 67.1 percent
Enos celebrated his offseason contract extension by getting mollywhopped by the Wolverines. Here were the reviews on Twitter:
Delay of game on CMU, wow. Not good, Dan Enos.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 31, 2013
Nevermind, we don't want Enos back.— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) August 31, 2013
Michigan 21 Central Michigan 3. Here it comes my first ticked off tweet of year...Fire Dan Enos! Fire up Chips!— Kevin Graham (@KevinGrahamKFAN) August 31, 2013
I think if you're Dan Enos, you can't run a draw on third and long. Take a shot at the end zone. Field goals do nothing for the Chips.— Brandon Folsom (@Brandon_Folsom) August 31, 2013
Thank God they've got Dan Enos to coach em up #FireDanEnosUpChips— Chris Driver (@Jerkwheatery) August 31, 2013
I have found a video blueprint of how CMU football team can boot Dan Enos. http://t.co/3vZh3UVm3T— Central Michigan Fan (@FireUpChips) September 4, 2013
When your fans are comparing you to Varsity Blues head coach Bud Kilmer one game into the season, either you have a quarterback who wants to transfer to Brown University or you've got some problems. Enos has the support of AD Dave Heeke, who extended his contract last year and attached that big (by MAC standards) buyout to it, and with Central Michigan facing reduced enrollment and massive budget problems in the short-term future, that buyout might be enough to save him regardless of performance.