Hot Seat Watch: Rick Neuheisel's Not The Only Coach Updating His Resume

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 20: Head coach Rick Neuheisel of the UCLA Bruins watches from the sidelines during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 20, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's Hot Seat Monday! With over half of the regular season now in the books, let's take a look at the coaches least likely to be on the sideline this time next year (or, in some cases, a few weeks from now).

10 (That He's Not Gone Yet Is Surprising)

Houston Nutt, Ole Miss

Record (Remaining Games): 2-5 (at Auburn, at Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, LSU, at Mississippi State).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 3.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I would have the dreaded "vote of confidence" ready to go.

You fired David Cutcliffe one year after a 10-win season. Nutt is now 6-13 since pulling back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2008-09, and they have lost 10 consecutive SEC games. It was actually noteworthy that they put up a fight this weekend against Arkansas -- they went up 17-0 before losing 29-24 -- considering their three other SEC losses this year came by an average score of 36 to 9.

Rick Neuheisel, UCLA

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (California, Arizona State, at Utah, Colorado, at USC)
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 3.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: He'd have been fired at halftime last week.

It seemed accepted that UCLA probably needed to make a bowl game to save Neuheisel's job. Now, to reach even six wins, the Bruins are going to have to pull at least one upset, maybe two. They entered last Thursday night's game with a chance to move to 3-1 in the Pac-12 South and, for at least a little while, pretend to contend for the division title. Then they fell behind 42-7 in the first half versus 1-5 Arizona ... and got into a brawl right before halftime. It was embarrassing in every way that a game can be embarrassing, and it bumped Neuheisel straight from about an eight to a ten on this list. His athletic director announced that he will not be fired before the end of the year, which is ... something, I guess.

9 (One Bad Loss Away)

Paul Wulff, Washington State

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (at Oregon, at California, Arizona State, Utah, at Washington).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 4.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I would sigh, shake my head, and get the papers ready.

As little as two weeks ago, I thought Wulff had a shot. Wulff's Cougars had improved in 2010 (even if the record didn't reflect it), and despite a tight road loss to Neuheisel's UCLA Bruins, WSU stood at 3-2 with ample opportunity for a bowl bid. Considering how far they fell in Wulff's first two years (2008-09), that is a mighty impressive accomplishment. But they fell by 30 after a competitive half against Stanford, and then they got run off the field by 1-5 Oregon State in front of a sparse crowd at CenturyLink Field. Now, even if they somehow pull a home upset of Arizona State and beat Utah, they'll still need to win a road game at either Oregon (yeah, right), Cal or Washington to reach six wins. Maybe Wulff can survive if the Cougars bounce back and at least get to 5-7, but I doubt it. I'm a sucker for a good redemption tale, and I was rooting for this one, but the odds of success are fading quickly.

Others: Neil Callaway (UAB, 1-6).

8 (Because Interim Coaches Have No Margin For Error)

Luke Fickell, Ohio State

Record (Remaining Games): 4-3 (Wisconsin, Indiana, at Purdue, Penn State, at Michigan).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 7.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'm planting a few more Urban Meyer rumors.

Ohio State has begun to look a lot more like Ohio State in recent weeks, and if they continue to improve, they could technically still eke out a surprising division title. It probably won't happen, but it could. But even if, say, they finish around 9-4 or so, is that enough to give Fickell a legitimate shot at the job? I think he has to somehow win the conference to have a chance, and even then, I think The Ohio State University will explore every option it has before committing. Fickell has not done a bad job in taking an impossible job, but he probably had to get an A+ and is only looking at a B or B+ when all is said and done.

Everett Withers, North Carolina

Record (Remaining Games): 5-3 (Wake Forest, at N.C. State, at Virginia Tech, Duke).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 6.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I probably wouldn't have waited as long to dump Butch Davis in the first place.

Two weeks ago, it actually looked like Withers might have things going in the right direction. UNC was 5-1 with a home game over schizophrenic Miami waiting. But the Tar Heels lost, 30-24, to the Hurricanes, then turned in a bumbling offensive performance -- six turnovers! -- on the way to an embarrassing 59-38 loss to Clemson. With the remaining schedule, they could still easily reach 7-8 wins, but this is the perfect opportunity for new athletic director Bubba Cunningham to make an early impression on the program, and you have to figure he will take it.

7 (It's Just Been Two Years, But...)

Turner Gill, Kansas

Record (Remaining Games): 2-5 (at Texas, at Iowa State, Baylor, at Texas A&M, vs Missouri).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 5.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'm wondering what in the hell Lew Perkins left me with here.

It was easy to see why Gill would be appealing to Kansas when they were looking at replacements for the fiery Mark Mangino. He was of the opposite demeanor as Mangino in every way, and he had just turned a nothing program at Buffalo into at least something competitive. Unfortunately, he has been less than competitive in Lawrence. Not only is Kansas 5-14 in his first year and a half, but they are also 1-11 in the Big 12 (with only a crazy fourth-quarter comeback against Colorado last year keeping him from 0-12), and against Kansas' two primary rivals, Kansas State and Missouri, they are 0-3, having been outscored 153-35. It takes a mighty collapse to get dumped after just two years, but in looking at KU's remaining schedule, it is difficult to find where another win is going to come.

Joker Phillips, Kentucky

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, Tennessee).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 8.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd find Mike Leach's cell phone number, just in case.

Again, it takes a significant collapse to get dumped after just two years. And even with potentially the worst BCS offense in the country, the Wildcats could most certainly take any of the next three games. But if he doesn't, or if he even wins just one, is that enough to buy him a third season in Lexington? Phillips is safer than Gill, I think, but a 2-9 career SEC record is bad, and the fact that they've scored 20 points in three SEC games this year is worse.

Others: Larry Porter (Memphis, 2-6).

6 (Saved By Longevity/Loyalty?)

Frank Spaziani, Boston College

Record (Remaining Games): 1-6 (at Maryland, Florida State, N.C. State, at Notre Dame, at Miami).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 3.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I probably wouldn't have fired Jeff Jagodzinski. But this is also why I'm not Boston College's athletic director.

As I mentioned in my Mike Leach piece a couple of weeks ago, the fact that Spaziani signed a contract extension last year probably saves him here, as does his long career as a successful B.C. defensive coordinator. Still, B.C. looks completely hopeless right now, and the schedule does them no favors. At first glance, there is only one potentially likely win remaining on the schedule, and even at a school that preaches more about commitment and loyalty than almost any other at the BCS level, at 2-10 season, with growing apathy all around, would have to give even the most loyal athletic director pause, right?

Mike Price, UTEP

Record (Remaining Games): 4-3 (Southern Miss, at Rice, East Carolina, Tulsa, at UCF).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 6.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'm thrilled as can be with 4-3.

At the beginning of the season, I felt the two most likely coaches on this list to get fired were Neuheisel and Price. Price's Miners limped to a bowl last year despite, to put it tactfully, lacking in quality; but in losing a vast majority of its playmakers and facing a much more difficult schedule, a repeat effort looked almost impossible. With wins over Stony Brook, New Mexico State, Tulane and Colorado State, UTEP hasn't exactly proven much, but if they beat Rice and pull an upset, they can score bowl eligibility once again. This still isn't a high-ceiling program, but four bowls in eight years probably buys you a ninth in El Paso.

Others: Robb Akey (Idaho, 1-6), Rick Stockstill (Middle Tennessee, 2-4), David Bailiff (Rice, 2-5).

5 (Because We Are Legally Required To Include Him)

Mark Richt, Georgia

Record (Remaining Games): 5-2 (vs Florida, New Mexico State, Auburn, Kentucky, at Georgia Tech).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 9.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd be getting really tired of fielding questions about the heat of Richt's seat.

I've long been a Richt proponent, and I've long thought the constant "Okay, NOW he's getting fired ... no? Then ... NOW! Hmm. What about ... NOW!" game has been incredibly tiresome. But even I was getting a little shaky about that when the Dawgs began the season 0-2, even if both losses were (mostly) forgivable. As expected given the schedule at hand, Georgia has surged since then, and Richt can stake his claim to both a 12th year in Athens and control of the SEC East if he can do something he has rarely accomplished: beat Florida. A win in Jacksonville opens Georgia up to a potential 10-2 finish, and surely even folks predicting his demise for the last 24 months would acknowledge that this would probably get him off the hot seat for a little while.

Others: Dan Enos, Central Michigan (2-6).

4 (Doesn't Completely Make Sense, But Could Soon)

Derek Dooley, Tennessee

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (South Carolina, Middle Tennessee, at Arkansas, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 6.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd still be sobbing quietly about Justin Hunter's injury.

This is where I acknowledge I have an extreme disconnect with the realities of coaches and job security. To me, as long as Tennessee can limp to at least 5-7, then Dooley keeps his job. He is in his second year, and he has been incredibly snake-bitten -- by dumb luck and crazy finishes in his first year, by injuries in his second -- and that's enough to earn him a third year. But in the SEC, at what is probably a relatively impatient school, Dooley could quite possibly be closer to an eight on this list than a four.

Pat Hill, Fresno State

Record (Remaining Games): 3-5 (Louisiana Tech, at New Mexico State, at Hawaii, San Jose State, at San Diego State).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 6.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd still be wondering why he didn't get hired away to a better job half a decade ago.

Hill is in his 15th season at Fresno and has won between seven and nine games there for all but one season since 2001. His program is steady and consistent but has failed to take that final step forward and now faces a tough road to get to his 12th bowl in 13 years. Even if FSU finishes 5-7, Hill is probably safe, but you never know what plateaus and impatience will get you.

George O'Leary, Central Florida

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (Memphis, Tulsa, at Southern Miss, at East Carolina, UTEP).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 8.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd be pretty annoyed by that UAB loss.

It appears that UCF may soon receive the Big East invitation it has been coveting for a while now, and while O'Leary has built a tough, solid program in Orlando, he is now facing the trifecta of possible NCAA sanctions, a finding of negligence in Ereck Plancher's death, and a disappointing season. He is probably still safe -- I assume UCF knew they weren't getting the most sparkling of characters when they hired O'Leary in the first place -- but the strikes are adding up nonetheless.

3 (Safe Barring A Collapse)

Mike Riley, Oregon State

Record (Remaining Games): 2-5 (at Utah, Stanford, at California, Washington, at Oregon).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 6.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd be putting quite a bit of weight on the 2012 season.

Oregon State was an awful team over their first three games of the year -- they lost to both Sacramento State and UCLA at home -- but they seem to have recovered somewhat. They will almost certainly not make a bowl game this year, which would be the second consecutive disappointing season, but with the goodwill Riley built over the last part of the last decade, I think he's still safe for one more year, especially if the Beavers can at least get to 4-8 or 5-7.

Jeff Tedford, California

Record (Remaining Games): 4-3 (Washington State, Oregon State, at Stanford, at Arizona State).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 9.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I'd be doing the same thing as the Oregon State athletic director.

Tedford, too, is probably safe even if California ends up disappointing again in 2011. Take out Washington State and Oregon State at home, and they'll be bowl eligible, which is at the very least a step forward from last year.

Others: Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina, 3-4), Steve Fairchild (Colorado State, 3-4).

2 (Safe, But Fans Are Grumbling)

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Record (Remaining Games): 3-4 (at Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 7.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I would be gritting my teeth.

Rhoads has made a name for himself for pulling upsets -- Nebraska in 2009, Texas in 2010, Iowa in 2011 -- but his Cyclones are 0-4 in Big 12 play, losing each game by an average of 24 points. They have little direction on offense, and they will have to pull an upset to even get to 5-7. Rhoads really isn't on the hot seat by any means, but he might be 12 months from now if he doesn't unearth a few more talented players.

Others: Bobby Hauck (UNLV, 1-5).

1 (Okay, Not Really, But Get Your Act Together)

Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Record (Remaining Games): 2-5 (at Indiana, at Nebraska, Rice, Minnesota, Michigan State).
Chance For Salvation (1-10)
: 9.
If I Were Athletic Director...
: I would be regretting the timing of that massive contract extension.

Fitzgerald is signed through 2020, so he isn't going anywhere, but his Wildcats are 2-5 with a loss to Army and blown opportunities versus each of its last four conference opponents (Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Penn State). With remaining games versus Indiana, Rice and Minnesota, NU should get to five wins, but against whom is the sixth coming?

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