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2012 Unofficial College Football Coaching Hot Seats—Mid-season Review

Who's hot and who is not? Read on for our opinions.

Andy Lyons - Getty Images

As we have arrived at the midpoint in the 2012 season, I felt it was time to update the coaching hot seats based how teams have played through their first six (or in a few cases, seven) games of the season.

Here are a few criteria I used to compile this list:

  • Expectations of the fan base and how well the coach (and team, of course) has met said expectations.
  • Overall direction of the program. Are the best days in the past or in the future. This plays a bigger role for more tenured coaches than new.
  • The image of the program. Have off-field issues or NCAA investigations left the program stuck in neutral?

Quite often, these lists come out with some form of an arbitrary ranking system. Instead, I will apply the Scoville Scale (quantified in SHU) in manner of speaking. This is the scale used to measure how "hot" different peppers are. You may draw as many conclusions as you wish as to why I chose this scale.

Nerd Alert: This scale serves to quantify the amount of capsaicin in a pepper and the number quantifies the amount of sugar solution required to dilute an extract from the peppers to the point where heat is no longer detectable. For the record, pure capsaicin measures at 16,000,000 SHU.


The Ghost Pepper, also known as the Bhut Jolokia, is widely considered to be one of the hottest peppers in the world. It was measured by the India Defense Research Laboratory at 1,041,427 SHU. This pepper sits atop the rankings and means that the coach is essentially finished at the end of the season (if not before).

The Scotch Bonnet is the second hottest pepper on the scale and weighs in at anywhere from 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. Scotch Bonnets are most commonly found in Caribbean and West African dishes. For our purposes, this ranking means that the coach will need a good season (8+ wins) to return for another year.

In the middle of the pack sits the cayenne pepper and it generally measures 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. This ranking means that the coach will probably be back with a trip to a bowl game, but a losing record could lead to a spot on the unemployment line.

The second lowest ranking on the list goes to the jalapeno, which is a comparatively mild 2,500 to 5,000 SHU. This ranking means that the coach is generally safe barring any disastrous (i.e. 4 wins or less) season.

The final ranking on the hot seat index goes to the green bell pepper. Technically, this pepper has a Scoville ranking of 0 SHU because it does not contain any capsaicin. This is the honorable mention category, which basically means that the coach should probably be under more heat but should be considered safe-for now.

Ghost Pepper:

No_change_arrow_medium Frank Spaziani (Boston College) - No change

Boston College sits at an uninspiring 1-5 with its one win coming over Maine. They sit at 86th in scoring, 99th in points against and 113th in rushing. Need I say more?

Up_arrow_medium Gene Chizik (Auburn) - Up from Green Bell Pepper

I actually put him there on the initial list, but cut his name due to length. That was a minor oversight on my part. Auburn is sitting at 1-5, with the sole victory coming over pesky Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. Auburn is 115th in passing, 96th in rushing, 117th in scoring and 66th in points against. Ouch. Good thing they let Tommy Tuberville go (career record at Auburn: 85-40). Take out 2010 and he is 17-15 at Auburn after a 5-19 record for two seasons at Iowa State.

Up_arrow_medium Joker Phillips (Kentucky) - Up from Jalapeno

Two words: dumpster fire. I would imagine that Kentucky fans are counting the days until basketball season starts at this point.

Scotch Bonnet:

Up_arrow_medium Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech) - Up from Cayenne

The Yellow Jackets sit at 2-4 and will struggle to become bowl-eligible down the stretch. Over his last 13 games, Johnson is 4-9. The clock is ticking in Atlanta and he should probably be fired at the end of the season. Let's just hope he doesn't go back to Navy.

Up_arrow_medium Skip Holtz (USF) - Up from Cayenne

Skip has led the Bulls to an uninspired 2-4. They are 82nd in scoring and 73rd in points against. And they play in the Big East. To further complicate things, Holtz has been given the dreaded vote of confidence from the administration.

Up_arrow_medium Doug Marrone (Syracuse) - Up from Cayenne

Syracuse has two wins so far in 2012. One was over Stony Brook, the second a one point victory over Pitt. Marrone is currently 19-24 in his career at Syracuse, with only one winning season. I don't think he gets much more time, especially with the impending move to the ACC.

Up_arrow_medium Jeff Tedford (Cal) - Up from Jalapeno

Cal is sitting at 3-4 on the season and riding a two game win streak. At first glance, you would think they are in good shape to make it to a bowl game. That is until you look at their remaining schedule-Stanford, Utah, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State. They will be lucky to win one of those games.

Up_arrow_medium Mack Brown (Texas) - Up from Green Bell Pepper

Two weeks ago, Brown would have moved to the bottom of the list. Then after a shootout loss to West Virginia and a blow-out loss to rival Oklahoma in Dallas, the winds of change are blowing in Austin. There were rumors before the season began that if Mack didn't win a title, he was done. Now, with only one sure win (Kansas) left on the schedule, they might struggle to become bowl eligible. The Longhorns finish the year with Baylor-Kansas-Texas Tech-Iowa State-TCU-Kansas State.


Down_arrow_medium Derek Dooley (Tennessee) - Down from Scotch Bonnet

Dooley is likely on the fence right now. The Volunteers are sitting at 3-3 (0-3 in conference) and have Alabama and South Carolina over the next two weeks. Best case, they finish the year at 7-5, but it looks more like a 6-6 finish is in order.

Down_arrow_medium Mark Richt (Georgia) - Down from Scotch Bonnet

Georgia might be 5-1, but in a very Richt-like fashion were handled by their only quality opponent to date. After an upcoming game against Florida, their season gets much easier and should end up with a 10-2 record against a weak schedule. Barring a complete melt-down, Richt should be back for another year in 2013.

No_change_arrow_medium Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) - No change

After losses to Iowa State and Central Michigan, I figured Ferentz was done. However, the Hawkeyes now sit atop the Legends Division and control their own destiny to get to Indianapolis for the Big 10 Championship game. That last sentence speaks volumes. I project their final record at 8-4.

No_change_arrow_medium Danny Hope (Purdue) - No change

Things were looking good for Purdue until they failed to show up the last two Saturdays. All they had to do was beat Wisconsin to control their path to the Big Ten Championship game. After all, the Big Ten Championship is why one plays college football, right? Purdue likely finishes at 6-6 and heads back to Detroit for another bowl showdown with a MAC team.


Down_arrow_medium Randy Edsall (Maryland) - Down from Cayenne.

Maryland is at 4-2 and sits atop the Atlantic Division. While they won't remain there too much longer, they should go bowling this December. Impressive considering where they were last year.

No_change_arrow_medium Al Golden (Miami) - No change.

Miami sits atop the Coastal Division with a record of 4-3. If they had a defense, they would be in much better shape. Stephen Morris looks to be sitting out this week's game against FSU, but the Hurricanes should get to six wins this year.

Green Bell Pepper:

No_change_arrow_medium Dabo Sweeney (Clemson) - No change

Clemson should be able to get to 10 wins this year unless they get Dabo'd in a game they should win. Due to their loss to FSU, they need help to get to the ACC Championship game though. If they find a way run the table and beat South Carolina at the end of the year they could be headed back to the BCS as an at-large team. Not sure who would want to watch that again, but it could happen.

No_change_arrow_medium Kevin Wilson (Indiana) - No change

IU has been far more competitive this year than last season. Strangely enough, even at 2-4 they have an outside shot at making a bowl game. I am not saying it will happen, but they appear to have enough offense to keep them in most games. With Navy and Illinois over the next two weeks, they could be sitting at .500 heading into November.

Off the Hot Seat:

Down_arrow_medium Mike Riley (Oregon State) - Down from Cayenne

Riley is easily one of the best stories so far this year with Oregon State sitting at 5-0. They only face two ranked teams down the stretch (Stanford and Oregon), so a double-digit win total isn't totally out the window. I am guessing they finish with 8-9 wins this year, which is a huge improvement from just 3 in 2011.

Down_arrow_medium Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) - Down from Jalapeno

Even though the Seminoles couldn't get out of their own way in a loss to NC State a few weeks ago, they are still on track to head to the ACC title game and a BCS bowl. A season finale at home against Florida looms in the distance, but Jimbo looks to be settling in at Florida State.

Down_arrow_medium David Cutcliffe (Duke) - Down from Jalapeno

Quick, without looking-what is Duke's record? Would you believe 5-2? They don't have many winnable games left, but should be bowl eligible by season's end. That is a pretty big statement in Durham.

Down_arrow_medium Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech) - Down from Jalapeno

The Red Raiders are 16th in scoring and 17th in points allowed. Not too shabby for TT or TT. They have a tough stretch of games coming with TCU-Kansas State-Texas, but should be able to finish in the 8-9 win range this year.