Big Names, Big Questions
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Nebraska. Michigan. USC. Florida. Texas.
The list reads as a Who's Who of college football - five programs that sit at the scholastic gridiron round table. There are 34 national championships between them. 18 Heisman Trophy winners. Countless All-Americans. Countless NFL draft picks. The programs, while spread out across the land, have one major thing in common: a winning history.
In 2013, these five programs also share uncertainty at the head coaching position....
While Bo Pelini at Nebraska and Mack Brown at Texas have momentarily eluded the pitchfork-toting mobs in Lincoln and Austin, they aren't out of the woods just yet. Pelini was saved by a Hail-Mary pass against Northwestern as time expired, a week later he won at Michigan. Brown, meanwhile, will get major heat with anything less than a conference crown and BCS appearance (hell, he might even need to win that). Texas fans are tired of not winning the national championship, so therefore - in the eyes of Texas - Brown must go. Fortunately for Pelini at Nebraska, Cornhusker fans seem to have a bit more support for whoever the coach may be - albeit the patience is wearing thin.
Brady Hoke is a likable creature, but in Ann Arbor, folks are not happy with the record or the team's vibe on the field. Will Muschamp at Florida might be on the hottest seat of all as the Gators are staring at their first losing season since 1979. Out at USC, Ed Orgeron has filled in temporarily and righted the ship after Lane Kiffin's week four dismissal, but there is uncertainty there, as well. Orgeron has done well, but USC Athletic Director Pat Haden will most-likely go after an A-list hire following the season's close.
Here is a look at the coaching situation at these five schools (in order of hottest seat)...
* Will Muschamp, Florida - This might be the only guy in the group that actually gets the ax soon. Florida showed with Ron Zook that they will fire a coach after just three seasons, and Muschamp's squads seem to be going in reverse. The defense is pretty good, but Florida has an absolutely terrible offense and I don't see them getting much better all that soon. The Gators can recruit with anyone in America, so to be 4-5 in year three is a very bad sign for Coach Muschamp's future. Embarrassing losses to South Carolina (Spurrier's drooling) and Florida State (rivalry game) are on the horizon. MY PREDICTION - Muschamp is dismissed following this season.
* Bo Pelini, Nebraska - After UCLA scored 41 unanswered points to win in Lincoln in week three, I said to myself, 'that is just plain bad coaching by Nebraska.' The loss was ugly, as was the 34-23 loss at Minnesota four weeks later. The Huskers are at 7-2 and still alive in the Big 10 Legends race. There is some hope still for a big year. But to me, Nebraska just isn't where Nebraska needs to be - ranked in the top ten and scaring the hell out of people. Nebraska is an average team, even "pretty good" at times. But in Lincoln, where five national titles have been brought home, "pretty good" isn't what the people are looking for. MY PREDICTION - Pelini is kept if he beats Michigan State at home and then wins out, he is fired if he loses to Michigan State, Penn State or Iowa.
* Brady Hoke, Michigan - In week two, when Michigan beat Notre Dame in the Big House in an electric game attended by more people than any college football game ever, I thought the Wolverines were going to be in for a big season. Quarterback Devin Gardner looked sharp and UM was rocking. Fast forward seven weeks and suddenly Hoke is feeling the pressure. He went 11-2 in year one and 8-5 in year two. In year three, he is currently 6-3, including a bad loss to rival Michigan State (29-6). The Wolverines aren't the worst team in America, but it appears they are slowly going the wrong way....MY PREDICTION - Hoke keeps his job, but enters his fourth season under extreme pressure.
* Mack Brown, Texas - If Brown can keep winning (six straight wins after a 1-2 start had fans fuming), then he can certainly escape 2013 with just scrapes and bruises. Texas is actually in good position to win the Big 12 and appear in a BCS game as they are unbeaten in conference play with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor left on the slate. If he is able to win the league, then there is no way UT could justify his dismissal. Brown has been the head coach here for 15 years and produced one national title (2005) and another national title game appearance (2009). My guess is that Brown is building for one last shot at glory before hanging it up. MY PREDICTION - Brown wins the Big 12 and keeps his job.
* Ed Orgeron, USC (Interim Coach) - Ok, so Orgeron is not on the hot seat. I know that. In fact, he has come in in relief of Lane Kiffin and done one helluva job getting USC back on track. But Orgeron is on the list here because he is not certain to be the coach following this season. Orgeron is liked by the players and has guided USC to a 3-1 record since Kiffin was canned. But as I mentioned up above, despite Orgeron's ties to USC (coached under Pete Carroll), the Trojans are thought to be putting together a national search, and it is unsure if Orgeron is even in the group of names. MY PREDICTION - Orgeron will continue to guide USC to a strong finish, but the Trojans will hire a bigger name when it is all said and done.
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