"Coaches are hired to be fired."
That's both a humorous and famous phrase, but for some college football coaches it may just become true if they don't deliver this upcoming season. Head coaches are usually the first ones to get blamed for a bad loss and the last to get credited for an amazing victory. Let's take a look at which ones should be sweating it out this year.
To start off, I want to clarify who is not on the hot seat, because about half of the conference's coaches aren't. Firmly safe from the potential of being canned are Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Minnesota's Jerry Kill, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, Wisconsin's Gary Andersen, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, and Penn State's James Franklin. It would take a failure of epic proportions or some sort of scandal for one of these coaches to be fired after the 2014-15 campaign. There are also some coaches who are in that "gray area," the middle ground between on the hot seat and firmly safe. Those would be Indiana's Kevin Wilson, Rutgers' Kyle Flood, and Purdue's Darrell Hazell. But let's get to the fun ones. In no particular order, here are the four Big Ten coaches that should be worried about their job security if they don't impress this year:
Randy Edsall (Maryland)
Welcome to the Big Ten, Randy. Though his tenure with the Terps has been rather short-lived, it's been an extremely unsuccessful one (a 13-24 overall record as head coach). The going only gets tougher this season when they're pitted against powerhouse opponents such as Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, and Michigan in the East Division. Their cross-divisional games aren't too friendly either; they get Iowa and Wisconsin from the West. Not to mention two games in the non-conference against West Virginia and Syracuse. If Coach Edsall wants to feel confident about his chances of sticking around for a fourth year, he may need to reach the postseason in 2014.
Tim Beckman (Illinois)
He's a bumbling coach from Ohio who can't stay off the chewing tobacco or the field, he's your favorite and mine, Mr. Tim Beckman! But seriously, I can see why some Illini fans are advocating for his head. The kind of guys that take over programs like Illinois and build them into winners don't get caught chewing tobacco on ESPN during a game, they don't get run over by referees when accidentally intruding on the field of play, and they don't spend half of their introductory press conference talking about Italian casseroles. That said, consistent improvements were made last season and if it hadn't been for a few late-game interceptions against Penn State and Northwestern we could be talking about a six win season last year. Alas, that was not the case and so Coach Beckman finds himself on this list once again. If he doesn't want extreme pressure to be placed on himself and his AD Mike Thomas to fire him, I would suggest he get the Illini to a bowl game this year.
Bo Pelini (Nebraska)
Now this is where these candidates get interesting. Bo Pelini, who's been at the helm of the Cornhuskers program since 2008, has delivered at least nine wins every year. That's incredibly impressive considering the location of the team and the departures of many players who left early for the NFL. Their bowl record under Bo is a mere 3-3; respectable but nothing amazing. The goal at Nebraska is to reach national championships and/or Rose Bowl appearances, and, to quote a friend of mine who's a big Husker fan, "Capital One bowls are nice and all, but we want more." Nebraska faithful are placing a lot of pressure on Pelini to deliver more this season, especially with what transpired last year in post-game press conferences. At one point he even stated to the media, "If they want to fire me, go ahead... I don't apologize for anything I have done." Seems like you're just asking for it, Bo.
Brady Hoke (Michigan)
Another very intriguing hot seat coach. Some might argue that Hoke shouldn't even be considered a coach on his way out, and that he should be placed amongst the seven "solidly safe" Big Ten coaches. But I, and many Michigan fanatics, disagree. Like Nebraska, the Wolverines are a prideful program who want to consistently be making big-time appearances, not Cotton or Gator bowls. Hoke's record in the Big Ten is 15-9, which is certainly better than some other coaches on this list but, again, not where Michigan wants to be. He initially took Michigan from 7-6 to 11-2, but last year they suffered a setback and finished at 7-6 once again. They're losing more and more recruits to other midwestern schools. For whatever reason, Michigan just doesn't have the appeal it once did for incoming players and fans alike. Maybe that's because of who's at the helm, maybe it's not. But if Michigan wins eight or fewer games, he should start to worry, especially if they don't perform well against their three top rivals (Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame) on the road.
Others Around the Country
What about coaches outside of the Big Ten? Here's a list of four other coaches who should be very concerned about their job security:
1. Will Muschamp (Florida) -- Perhaps the hottest seat in the entire country belongs to Mr. Muschamp. The Gators, much like the Huskers and Wolverines, are one of those teams that expect to contend for a title every season, and anything less than that is a failure. Last year must have been nothing short of a tragedy in Gainesville as Florida finished 4-8 with a seven-game losing streak including a loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles from the Sun Belt. Yikes. Another year like that one would be the first time since 1978 that they have back-to-back losing seasons.
2. Charlie Weis (Kansas) -- There's no other way to put it, he's been pretty much awful at KU. The team has compiled four wins in two seasons, and that's not conference wins, that's wins period. They've won four games in the last 24 months, including a nine loss campaign last year. Make sure to shut the door on your way out, Charlie.
3. Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia) -- After some successful seasons with Geno Smith at the helm of the offense, the Mountaineers dropped off drastically last year and finished with a 4-8 record. Despite their bowl appearances under Holgorsen, his overall record there is barely above .500 at 21-17. Another 4-8 campaign and he can start to sweat.
4. Sonny Dykes (California) -- Coach Dykes went 1-11 in his firt year for the Golden Bears and holds only a .500 record overall during his coaching career. He will need to greatly improve in a tough Pac-12 this season in order to keep his job for the 2015 campaign, because even though his time with the Golden Bears has been short lived, another horrible year could put his job in jeopardy.
Feel free to chime in! Is there anybody I left out? Anybody you feel shouldn't be on this list? Drop by in the comments below.