As fall camp quickly approaches, I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of BCS conference coaches who may or may not be on the hot seat entering this fall. Certainly this list will cause much debate, but there are a few criteria I used to compile this list.
The first (and likely most important) criterion is the expectations of the fan base and how well the coach (and the team, of course) has met said expectations.
The second criterion is the 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.
Finally, the last criterion has to do with 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 preparing for his final season at said institution.
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.
Frank Spaziani (Boston College) - Spaz has his work cut out for him this year, but it doesn't look promising. He is entering his 4th season as head coach at BC and had 8, 7, and 4 wins in years 1-3. Did I mention he kicked his best offensive player off the team (Montrel Harris) and lost his best overall player (Luke Kuechly) to the NFL? The deck is stacked against him.
Randy Edsall (Maryland) - Edsall is only in year number two for the Terps, but with widespread defections and dissention in the team, it isn't looking good (and that doesn't consider the uniforms). After winning 74 games over 11 seasons at UConn, Edsall started his career in College Park with just 2 wins. I think he has to get to a bowl game to see year number three.
Derek Dooley (Tennessee) - Dooley is heading into his third year in Knoxville after taking over for the sudden departure of Lane Kiffin. In his first season, he won six games (but lost in the Music City Bowl). In his second year, he only won five games. Combining the downward trend along with the success that the Vols generally enjoyed in the Fullmer years, things don't look so good for Dooley this fall. Tennessee has a manageable schedule this fall, so getting to a bowl game and showing improvement may be enough to see year four.
Mark Richt (Georgia) - No preseason hot seat list is complete without Richt's name attached. I don't think Richt is heading anywhere (thanks again to a largely manageable schedule that misses both LSU and Alabama), but he needs to start winning the big games to keep his job in Athens.
Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech) - This is probably one of the first names that will surprise people, but I think Johnson should be a bit concerned this year. He enters his fifth season in Atlanta, winning 9, 11, 6 and 8 games in his first four years. Last year, he started 6-0 and climbed to #12 in the Coaches Poll, only to finish the season 2-5. While another bowl trip keeps him around for another season, Tech fans will start to look for his teams to take the next step.
Skip Holtz (USF) - Here is another name that might surprise people, but Holtz is entering his third season at South Florida and followed up an 8 win initial campaign with a disappointing 5 win season in 2011. With West Virginia leaving for the Big XII, South Florida figures to be one of the favorites to win the conference this fall. Another disappointing season could move him up a few notches on the hot seat scale.
Doug Marrone (Syracuse) - Marrone is entering his 4th year at Syracuse and has only posted one winning record (2010) over that time. Given the state of the program when he took over, he will probably get a few more years, but needs to continue to show improvement and get to a bowl game this year.
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) - Ferentz is entering his 14thseason for the Hawkeyes and is one of the highest paid coaches in the country. Over that time he has amassed 96 wins, but only has 15 over the past two years. He has a history of following a poor season (or two) with a run at a conference title. If he gets back to 9-10 wins in the regular season this fall he shouldn't worry, but any less than that and fans will start to wonder when they will get a payoff on the investment of his huge salary.
Danny Hope (Purdue) - To be honest, Hope likely bought himself a few more years of security with his first bowl trip (and win) last season. As he enters his 4th season in West Lafayette, he will need to continue to show improvement to get back to the level of success the program had under previous head coach Joe Tiller. If he doesn't, they could be shopping for a new coach in a few years.
Mike Riley (Oregon State) - Riley was one of the hot coaching names about four or five years ago, but has only won 8 games over the past two seasons. During his 11 years at Oregon State (over two stints), he has amassed only 72 wins. Riley needs to find a way to get back to a bowl this fall or he could be out of a job at season's end.
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) - Fisher enters year number three at FSU, winning 19 games over his first two seasons. While I don't envision issues for him just yet, Seminole fans are going to start expecting his teams to win conference titles and compete for national championships. No one said following a legend was easy.
David Cutcliffe (Duke) - Cutcliffe has only won 15 games over four season in Durham. It is probably a good thing that expectations are generally low for the Blue Devil football team, but unless his team starts showing improvement, Cutcliffe can't survive many more seasons.
Al Golden (Miami) - While Golden is only entering his second season with the Hurricanes, a NCAA investigation (and likely sanctions) is looming over the program. Given the talent level in south Florida, six win seasons won't make for a long career.
Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech) - Tuberville starts his third season in Lubbock, where he followed an eight win debut with a five win sophomore effort. After his predecessor averaged over 8 wins a season, the bar has effectively been set for TT at TT.
Jeff Tedford (Cal) - Tedford has averaged nearly 8 wins per season for the 10 years he has been at Cal. The one thing I can't get over is he has consistently done less with so much talent during his tenure. He likely wins 7-9 games again this fall and sticks around, as the fans just aren't that demanding in the bay area.
Joker Phillips (Kentucky) - Phillips is only in his third season for the Wildcats, but has only won four conference games in that time. He will likely get the benefit of the doubt if he finishes with 5-6 wins this fall, but needs to chalk up another win or two in order to gain some momentum in the SEC.
Green Bell Pepper:
Dabo Sweeney (Clemson) - Dabo should be fine, but I think that the bowl game blowout loss to Holgo and the Mountaineers could be a sign of things to come this fall. It will be interesting to see how he follows up his conference title season.
Mack Brown (Texas) - Brown's teams took a big step back after its trip to the title game a few years back with five and eight win seasons. He set the bar too high with his success to date, so if he doesn't return to national title contention, things could heat up in Austin.
Kevin Wilson (Indiana) - While he is only in his second season in Bloomington, Wilson didn't beat a D-IA team in his first season. It will be a long climb back up towards respectability, but he needs to figure out how to win a few games (including at least one in conference) this fall.