Gary Andersen’s abrupt departure from Oregon State was unexpected (especially since he declined his buyout), and he wasn’t even the most embattled former Wisconsin Head Coach this week.
Here are the coaches on the hottest seats after Week 6 of College Football:
Bret Bielema-Arkansas (2-3)
Two interesting thoughts occurred to me while I watched Bret Bielema’s (the guy who took Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls) Arkansas Razorbacks lose 48-22 to South Carolina:
First Thought: I can’t believe how much Bret Bielema looks like Charlie Weis these days.
Second Thought: I can’t believe how much Bret Bielema COACHES like Charlie Weis these days.
With Saturday’s loss, Bielema is now five games into his fifth season in Fayetteville, and has an overall record of 27-29, with a conference record of 10-24. That’s not very good. In fact, it’s actually quite bad, so much so that Arkansas AD Jeff Long might just happen to find $15 Million to pay for Bielema’s buyout in the pocket of the pants he wore yesterday. Or Long, the man who hired Bielema, might get the axe himself. Arkansas will never be Alabama, Georgia, or any of the other proud SEC programs, but Bielema’s out of goodwill and is quickly running out of time. It’s funny how much shorter you leash gets when your team gives up 48 points to Will Muschamp.
Butch Jones-Tennessee (3-2)
Butch Jones and his Tennessee team had the week off so they could self-medicate following their complete destruction at the hands of Georgia, and Jones kept a low media profile this week, so he didn’t hurt himself at least. But he’s still sitting on an overall record of 33-23 (14-20 in Conference) in his fifth season. Butch Jones’ body of work is impressive (4 conference titles in 6 seasons across Central Michigan and Cincinnati before coming to Knoxville), and he’s exponentially better than Derek Dooley, but 2016 was the year Tennessee fans had been waiting for: Florida and Georgia were down (the Vols beat both of them), the SEC East was ripe for the taking, and Jones had a stacked team. And yet, Tennessee went belly up in November against South Carolina and Vanderbilt (yes, VANDERBILT), because Butch Jones’ coaching in close games in the fourth quarter makes Bo Pelini look like Bill Belichick. Oh, and if Tennessee fans weren’t stressed enough already, UT still hasn’t played Alabama this year.
Todd Graham-Arizona State (2-3)
The Sun Devils also had the week off. Graham’s record is better than that of Bielema or Jones, as he stands at 41-29 (26-21 in conference), but that obscures the fact that since 2015, he’s gone just 13-17 (7-13 in conference). Not unlike Arkansas, ASU is not the alpha school of the PAC-12 and never will be, but Sun Devil fans are losing patience, and they have a right to do so. Their record since 2015 does not do justice to how much of a mess Arizona State has been in that time. Graham is originally a defensive coach, but in 2016, ASU’s defense gave up at least 35 points in 9 of 12 games. Considering that ASU is not a member of the Big 12, that is neither sustainable nor tolerable. All I can say to Sun Devil fans is this: Have fun out there for the rest of the month (ASU’s October schedule: Washington, @Utah, USC)
Mike Riley-Nebraska (3-3)
Mike Riley is a nice, wholesome guy. I see that sentence, or at least a variation of it, every time somebody writes about him, and nothing I have ever seen or heard suggests otherwise. What you will often see paired with that sentence is this: 18-14 (11-9). This is Riley’s record at Nebraska halfway through his third season, and they still get to play Ohio State this season. When the Huskers lost to Northern Illinois, I still didn’t think Nebraska would even think about getting rid of Riley, mostly because he isn’t a lunatic (like his predecessor). But now that Shawn Eichorst has been shown the door, Riley’s dismissal is a distinct possibility. Being nice only gets you so far when you were brought in because the last guy only averaged a mere 9.6 wins per season and you’re not close to that, especially if Scott Frost keeps winning at UCF. Barring an upset of Ohio State next week, Riley’s about to find out exactly how far you can get under those conditions.
Tyson Summers-Georgia Southern (0-4)
Pertinent Fact Number One: Tyson Summers is 5-11 (4-5) in his second year in Statesboro, and has yet to win a game this year, including a 10-point loss to FCS New Hampshire.
Pertinent Fact Number Two: Georgia Southern doesn’t mess around with coaches who don’t win.
Brian VanGorder (you may remember him as the guy who lasted all of four games as Notre Dame’s Defensive Coordinator) was hired as the head coach at Georgia Southern (an FCS program at the time with no FBS aspirations) ahead of the 2006 season. He went 3-8. He was gone by December. Two weeks ago, Georgia Southern administrators started receiving countless letters demanding that Tyson Summers be fired. Modern Georgia Southern football began in 1981, and since then, they have won six FCS national titles, and won the Sun Belt in its first year as an FBS program, with a first-year head coach (Willie Fritz). When it comes to entitlement, Southern fans have the ability to make Michigan fans look unassuming. And with the way things are going this year for Summers, it looks to be only a matter of time before Georgia Southern reasserts itself as the Roman Abramovich of College Football.