Hot Seats, Warm Seats and Dead Men Walking – 2012
Welcome to the most comprehensive coaching hot seat profiles for college football in 2012. If you are looking for the same information about ‘hot seats’ in that every other outlet and writer gives you based on media and fan buzz you are not going to find it here. While many of my hot seat breakdowns may mirror public sentiment (as it should since the College Football Matrix tells a story through trends and odds), I look at the results and trends of past coaches that got fired and draw the parallels. In special cases as seen or heard in the media, I will make notes accordingly. Enjoy. - Dave Bartoo
The College Football Matrix Coach Effect (CE) provides me with two very good aspects in evaluating coaching performances. The CE is done without emotion and is a formula that treats every coach equally. All to often ‘hot seat’ assumptions are too emotional or lack reasonable information back the ‘eyeball test’ with stats. Well, no more. If you feel your coach is performing poorly, you are probably right. I will break down the hottest seats in the Matrix, those that don’t deserve the heat (yet) and those that are on the bubble. Walk with me as I break down the College Football Matrix national coach effect rankings into the hottest seats in the stadium for 2012.
Remember fans, keep in mind that while my emotion as a fan is removed, I am merely reading and interpreting the CFBMatrix trends and odds for each head coach. While you may agree or disagree, I am merely observing stats associated with each coach. For most it will simply provide validation for what you are already thinking about a coach and not just what some writer is regurgitating from public opinion. -Dave Bartoo
One Star Hot Seats
In 2011, there were 4 coaches on the CFBMatrix One Star Hot Seat. 3 were fired. In fact, the majority of CFBMatrix one star hot seat coaches over the last 9 years of analysis is gone today. Most all without themselves choosing to exit on their own terms. While there are exceptions, a bad coach usually stays bad. The One Star coach is a coach that is identified in the CFBMatrix trends and odd that is one more season or even a bad game away from losing their position. This could be due to several bad seasons in a row, metrics that predict an up coming change or other non win/loss trends that are a harbinger of a doomed coach. These are the head coaches that have serious issues in their performance. Most coaches rarely perform worst than -2 games less than what the Matrix predicts they will win. Even fewer coaches produce back to back or worse season of under performance. Because the College Football Matrix uses the same expectations for each coach, it is a valid, simple and understandable way of comparing national coaching results.
Mack Brown – I really don’t know what happened with Coach Brown at Texas. From 2002 thru 2009 my predictions were never any more than 2 games off their total wins and most seasons it was just one game or right now. But in 2010 Mack posted a net game effect of -7. My Anti- Coach of the Year award named for Charlie Weis was the original under performer in the Matrix and had seasons on -6 games. On other AQ head coach has posted a -7 game effect. He followed it a year later with a -5. The -12 games over two years is a number shared only with 2 other coaches this decade, Weis and Tyrone Willingham. If it wasn’t for his National Title, I feel he would have been replaced this year. Bottom line is anything under 10 wins in a season is bad at Texas. 2 in row horrible, 3 is a unacceptable, even for the Longhorn faithful that still give him a pass for the national title. If he doesn’t get to 10 wins, one better be over Oklahoma. Otherwise, TCU is going to lose their coach as the Longhorns back up the truck and ink the best coach available in the state of Texas.
Tommy Tuberville – The bottom line with Coach Tuberville is very simple. He has started at Texas Tech -2 and -3 game effect. Nearly 80% of all head coaches that started -2/-2 or worse in the last 8 years were gone within 4 years. We know there is some kind of systemic issues in Lubbock going back a few years. This team will very likely get to 6-6 but I don’t know if that will be enough for fans. This team can be as good as any third place team in the BIG12. Sub-500 and TT is gone at TT.
Steve Sarkesian – Surprised? You shouldn’t be. While the 0-12 to a 5-7 season may give Coach Sark a pass for another year, going sub-.500 to .500 or better with their talent happens over 75% of the time. The bottom line is this. Only two head coaches have gone 5 straight years of negative game coaching performance since 2005. Randy Shannon and Rick Neuheisel. Sarkesian and his staff are starting year four of three straight negative game effect seasons at Washington. He is exactly to predictions at home and a under performer on the road. While as a fan you may not feel he is on the hot seat but tell me is 7-5 and 4th in the PAC12 a good enough result in 2012? Trends say if he is not the hot seat now, he is about to be big time if they go under 8 wins in 2012. 6-6 or worse he is gone. 7-5 or better and he gets another year but there is only so many 7-5 seasons loyal Husky fans can tolerate.
Jimbo Fisher - Florida State - The Seminoles have been the ACC’s #1 recruiter, by a huge gap, for the better part of the last 5 years. Other teams with a similar position include Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Ohio State and LSU. All those teams in the last 3 years have won their conference, been to a BCS bowl and won 10+ games in a season. Anything less than 10 wins is a big under coaching performance and this is year 3 of the Fisher Project with no 10 win seasons or conference championships. 9 wins or less will be three in a row and it will be a big question mark if he gets to try and fail for a 4th season.
Charlie Strong – Louisville - Strong has been -6 game coach at home in the last 2 years. 6 times I picked him in the pre-season to win in the Matrix and he lost, at home. The other active AQ coaches that have done that as well in the last 2 years? Mack Brown. While he has been very good on the road and only -1 game under predictions each season the Cardinal has the #2 talent in the Big East and everyone is expecting a top 20 run to a Big East title. Answer me this. If he goes -1 again and ends up 7-5 does he get another shot? Maybe, but 3 straight under performs in a row with huge expectations. He is on my hot seat because -6 home game effect over the last 2 years is terrible and another like result takes him to -9, 7-5 in 2012 and out the door.
Brian Kelly – Notre Dame – -3 and -3 games to start a tenure at ANY AQ school is a near death sentence to keeping your job. Just like Tuberville above, any coach starting -2/-2 game effect or worse at an AQ school has the odds very much against him to survive. Couple that with a top 20 SOS in 2012 and we have a five star hot seat in South Bend. It’s become so bad at Notre Dame that it sound like the fans believe it is a talent issue. Wrong. The bottom line is they still have talent, Kelly was awesome at Cincinnati and Notre Dame has been under performing for a long time regardless of the coach. For me, that points to a systemic issue within the entire program. Bad athletic department? Crazy boosters with too much control? Egos? Hard to say what it really is because I feel the Matrix isn’t able to tell most of the story. Nevertheless, their trends mirror those of other talented teams in Westwood and College Station.
*Special Note: John L. Smith – Arkansas – While he does not fall into a trend category to put him on the 5 Star hot seat, the expectations and circumstances land him here. He is replacing a coach that was one of the best + game coaches in the country and #1 in the SEC. Petrino was good for over 2 wins per season (read about before,during, after Petrino here). At Michigan State, Smith was a -1 game coach (profile click here). If he is able to get to 8 wins or more in 2012, it is the best head coaching year of his career. I believe that he will get 7 wins and that will not be enough. The Hogs need a great game coach and one that can recruit where Petrino could not. Good luck with that.
One Star coaches recently retired/removed/replaced: R. Neuheisel – UCLA (5 consecutive net negative years) R. Zook – Illinois (worst coach effect in Big Ten in his tenure), M. Sherman Texas A&M – Worst in Big12 in his tenure with recruiting ranks above Oregon, Va Tech, Arkansas, etc.
Two Star Hot Seats
While not under performing at the level of a One Star coaching staff, the Two Star coaches have 2 or more years of consistent under performance. Some of these coaches are getting a ‘pass’ due to past wins or performance. But some trends are hard to ignore as coaches get burned out, tired or simply are just not as good as you think. They are very likely one good season from being removed from this list next year or one bad season from being a One Star. Ask yourself this… Would you put any of these guys on the ‘hot seat’ if they under performed expectations again in 2012?
Kirk Ferentz – Iowa – I was waffling in grading KF a Two Star Coach. He is the Midwest version of Jeff Tedford. A chronic under performer with 4 of the last 5 years under predictions as a negative game coach.Tucked in those 5 was one big year. The bottom line is the next bad season may be a step toward his last. The public nor fans are against him but 6 and 7 win seasons are acceptable for only so long, especially when your fan base is as crazy nuts loyal as the Hawkeyes. I expect him to meet expectation in 2012 but the trends say otherwise. If he doesn’t give the fans what they need, what do you think about his standing as head coach?
George O’Leary – Last year was a disaster for their talent and schedule. Compound it with one of the worst recruiting classes in college football last year and you have a team and coach trending very poorly. Even if O’Leary comes close to expectations in 2012, the program is going to slide off of that wasted class as it will affect them for the next 4 years. This is a team that has a big talent advantage over most of its schedule. 9 wins should be in the bank to start the season with this talent gap. Another bad year with less than 8 wins and a bad recruiting class and it is time to make the change.
Frank Spaziani – BC Eagles - There are a lot of folks that just don’t want this guy around. When I look at the coaching effect numbers he is showing a positive number. But I have seen this pattern before and most recently at Arizona. It is the case of a coach and his staff’s inability to recruit at a consistent level, the ‘Stoops Trend’. As his recruiting has declined, so have the win total expectations from the CFBMatrix. Rather than coaching himself out of a job, he is recruiting his way out, just like Mike Stoops at Arizona. Fans expect, at a minimum, a consistent level of winning. Without consistent recruiting, that is not going to happen. Coach Spaziani and his staff are recruiting themselves out of work. They may perform at expected levels, but those levels are not what fans want. They don’t have the talent to bounce back and have the year needed to meet those expectations.
Tom O’Brien – NC State – O’Brien is a real enigma. The CFBMatrix numbers paint a picture of a coach and program so full of potential as they have beaten many teams in the last 4 years that I predicted them to lose, yet turn around and give away wins to inferior teams. O’Brien is just a -2 game below the 48 games predicted. I can see this team getting coached to a hot streak and stopping the bad losses to get to 8-4. Conversely, they could plummet to the bottom of the ACC. The other risk for O’Brien is the ‘Stoops Trend’. This is exactly what is happening at North Carolina State as well as at B.C. Mix slightly sub-par coaching with a declining talent base and you will be ‘Stooped’.
CFBMatrix Note: The rest of the head coaches that have had poor downward recruiting trends since 2009 have all been replaced in the last year.
Lane Kiffin – USC -While most fans don’t see a 10-2 coach being on the hot seat, the number show this is a critical year for Kiffin and his staff. Only Florida State enjoys a greater recruiting gap over the rest of it’s conference teams. If the Trojans go 10-2 or worse, it will mark the 3rd straight year at USC and 4th straight for Kiffin at under performing the talent by two or more games. I do believe that the Trojans will win 10+ games, his trends warrant giving him two stars and being on the watch list. What may bail him out of a 9-3 season is the weakness of the PAC12 South. 9-3 should still get him into the PAC12 title game.
Three Star Hot Seats
The 3 Star head coaches are the guys coming of their rookie season. The problem with net negative coached is that once they turn down, it is rare they become good, net positive coaches. This is really our future ‘watch list’ for lining up head coaches for downgrades to two and one star head coaches. The College Football Matrix charts show that the first year is a critical stepping point for success. For most coaches, it is ok to have a down first year and to bounce back. But those that do not bounce back, quickly loose stars and raise the heat on their seat. The 2011 rookies put up a good fight and there were just 3 that the Matrix showed are going down the wrong path.
Will Muschamp - Florida – I know fans want to give Muschamp the ‘benefit of the doubt’ for year one. His losses had a clear trend for in 2011. The problem was that his trend was to not take calculated risks to try and win. While a very good fit for predictions, being happy trying not to lose games isn’t going to get you far in the SEC. He has the talent in Gainesville and there are no excuses. 2012 is a big year to see if WM is the guy to lead the Gators back to a division/conference title.
Dead Men Walking
NEW – I went back to 2001 and started charting out new head coach results in another attempt to make a valid Matrix. I found a clear trend. It gave me two groups of coaches and the teams profiles that they inherit. One inherits a loser and one that inherits a winner. Turns out that nearly every new head coach that met certain trends was gone within two years.
Kevin Wilson – Indiana - 1 win coming off a 3 win season? The trends say Wilson is already toast. Not that 1 win was bad enough but who they lost too would make even the biggest season ticket holding homer puke.
Randy Edsall – Maryland – Not that folks would be surprised that Edsell is here given the horrific on and off the field issues in 2011. Given what he did at UConn, I would personally hold my breathe on this one. The Terps have odds over 75% to get back to 6-6 this year. If they do not, then I have to say the CFBMatrix is right again.
What you talkin’ about Willis?
Mike Riley – Oregon State – Dear Beaver Fan in my backyard. If you think getting rid of Riley is even a remotely good idea…. you’re an idiot. One slightly off year, 3 wins was just 1 away from where the CFBMatrix put the talent win level at in 2011, and people start complaining. What he has done with the talent, location and lack of new facilities in the last decade is nothing short of sensational. The guy grew up in Corvallis so who is going to sell it better or harder? One -1 coach effect year and you need a new coach? He goes out when he wants to go out.
Derek Dooley – Tennessee - 23-1. That is my pre-season record for predicting Vols games under Dooley. he is just -1 game below expectations of their talent level and schedule. Folks easily forget that the Vols lost all the talent of one recruiting class. Don’t look at the rankings of other sites that don’t adjust for player loss. This is a mid-20s recruiting team over the last 4 years. The problem for Dooley is 23-1. While a mid 20s talent ranked team would be top 3 in most other AQ divisions, go undefeated in the Big East or 12-0 and into the top 5 with Boise’s schedule, that is in the bottom half of both SEC divisions. Vols fans need hope and to get hope you pull upsets. at 23-1 he has not beaten ANY team I predicted he would lose too. 6-6 beating Florida or Georgia is going to go further than 7-5 beating no one. While I can read in the trends why Vols fans are upset, this not the time to panic and turn over the apple cart.
*Special thanks to Bro’s Going Hard Show, Will, Todd and Tennessee Vols Radio for having me on to talk Vols football ’12 and the Matrix take on Dooley’s Hot Seat. Ironic that two guys from Washington Co., OR (me & Ainge) on the same radio station in the same day talking Vols FB. – Dave
Jeff Tedford – Cal The guy is coming off his best coaching year in the last 5. While he has under performed with his talent most of the last 6 years, he is trending up. Recruiting is rising and new facilities are nearly in place. He has a contract that is nearly unbreakable and he coaches at a University that doesn’t really care about elite sports. If they did, they would have figured out how to support their world class swimming, diving and water polo programs a long time ago. As long as he wins 6-8 game a year no one cares and he stays in Berkeley.
- Dave Bartoo, The CFBMatrix & your Anti-Homer Follow @cfbmatrix