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The rare athletic director hot seat watch: 6 college ADs at risk

Coaches aren't the only ones under pressure to perform in 2013. Here's a look at a few athletic directors that could be in trouble if things don't go well this year.


While coaches are usually the ones we think of as occupying hot seats, athletic directors can find their seats pretty warm when things go south. It's a much more complicated process to fire an athletic director than to replace a head coach, as it affects every level of the university's program.

Since we're taking a look at which coaches are on the hot seat entering 2013, here's a look at which athletic directors could also find themselves in the bread line if breaks don't go right this year.

Mike Bohn, Colorado

Bohn's first major move after arriving in Boulder in 2005 was the hiring of Dan Hawkins. On paper, it seemed like a very nice move. Hawkins had just had five straight winning seasons at Boise State, won three WAC titles, and put together a record of 53-11. He knew the region and seemed like a good fit.

As we know now, things did not go so well for Hawkins and the Colorado football program. The program cratered to 2-10 in his first season, despite winning the Big 12 North the previous two seasons. The Buffs made it to only one bowl game in Hawkins' five-year tenure and have not made it back to one since.

Bohn needed to make a good hire to dig the program out of its hole in 2011, and instead of hiring someone with experience, he hired Jon Embree, a Colorado alum with no coordinator experience, let alone head coaching experience. Things predictably went very poorly, and Embree was fired after only two years on the job. But before he left, he took the time to scorch Bohn and the Colorado administration for penny-pinching and a perceived lack of support.

Football isn't the only sport in which Bohn botched a hire. He fired basketball coach Ricardo Patton after an admittedly dreadful 7-20 season and replaced him with former Denver Nuggets and Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik. It seemed like a good fit, but the program went into the tank under Bzdelik, finishing last in the Big 12 in two of his three seasons in Boulder. The one good move he's made is hiring Tad Boyle as basketball coach. The Buffs are 48-25 under Boyle, and made it to the 2012 NCAA Tournament, their first appearance since 2003.

San Jose State's Mike MacIntyre was hired as the new football coach in December, and the consensus seems to be that it was a pretty good hire. However, if he doesn't turn the program around in the next few years, Bohn's head will probably be on the chopping block.

Pete Garcia, FIU

I was going to stick with athletic directors from major conference programs, but Pete Garcia's resume is too good to pass up. Simply put, I don't know how he still has his job.

Since taking over in 2006, Garcia has made a number of inexplicable moves. Most recently, he fired Mario Cristobal, the man who essentially built the FIU football program from scratch and won its only conference title in history, over what amounted to a personality clash. Garcia then replaced him with Ron Turner.

Ron. Turner. Norv's less successful brother. That's the guy who's going to lead the FIU program into its new home in Conference USA.

Somehow forgotten in all this is that Garcia is also the guy that hired Isiah Thomas as FIU's basketball coach. The same Isiah Thomas that burned the New York Knicks to the ground as both a coach and executive. The same Isiah Thomas that burned MSG to the tune of $11.5 million to settle a sexual harassment suit less than two years earlier.

Thomas predictably flamed out after three years in charge and a 26-65 record. And yet, despite his best efforts, Garcia is still there. Life is funny.

Jay Jacobs, Auburn

This may seem odd considering Auburn won the national championship in 2010, but speak to any Auburn fan about Jacobs and you'll quickly discover there isn't much support for him. I spoke with Chris Fuhrmeister, the proprietor of SB Nation's Auburn blog, College and Magnolia, and he summed it up rather nicely:

The football team won a national title, but that has pretty much been accepted as due to the wild stroke of luck of having Gus Malzahn's offense, a senior-laden team, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley all at once. Everyone hated the Gene Chizik hire when it happened, because it looked like Jacobs ignored more qualified candidates (there are rumors that he turned down Gary Patterson) in favor of an "Auburn man" (guy with connections to the school, nice guy, #GodThing, etc.). It just didn't make any sense to hire a guy who was 5-19 at Iowa State, especially when Nick Saban was obviously building something big in Tuscaloosa.

And despite winning that national title, the team was 3-9 two years later, and Chizik is gone. Combine that with a moribund basketball program and underachieving baseball program, and you understand why Jacobs could be on thin ice.

Gene Smith, Ohio State

Smith's survival of the scandal that took down Jim Tressel surprised many. Hiring Urban Meyer, who then went and reeled off a 12-0 season during his first year, goes a long way towards smoothing over ruffled feathers. However, the next time something goes wrong on Smith's watch, those negative thoughts will come right back to the surface.

Smith is the man who opted for the Buckeyes to play in the 2011 Gator Bowl and accepted a 2012 bowl ban. It was impossible to predict an undefeated season one year after going 7-5, but why not just take the bowl ban in 2011 and take your chances with Meyer?

Pat Haden, USC

Pat Haden didn't hire Lane Kiffin. However, by not firing him following USC's immensely disappointing 2012 season, he's opened himself up to criticism. Kiffin has not made a lot of friends, and that kind of act only holds up when winning comes with it.

Haden has a couple things working in his favor. He came back to USC to clean up Mike Garrett's mess, and isn't connected to any of the old regime's problems. Also, as a former Trojan quarterback, he's one of their own, and thus probably has an extra layer of protection. But still, Haden hitched his wagon to Lane Kiffin by not giving him the boot after this past season, which is not an advantageous position to be in.

DeLoss Dodds, Texas

Texas' football and basketball programs are stuck in a rut. They aren't terrible, but they certainly aren't among the best in the country. That isn't a huge problem at many schools across the country, but when that happens at Texas despite virtually unlimited resources, that's a major issue.

Dodds was the one who got the Longhorn Network deal, which is a major feather in his cap. However, mediocre football and basketball programs don't fly at Texas, especially when the administration refuses to replace coaches that have presided over those diminishing returns. Dodds is probably safe, but things need to start turning around in Austin. Otherwise his seat will be just as hot as Mack Brown's.