I was going to talk about coaches on the hot seat... but it's only May and everyone is just finishing up with spring practice. Hope still springs eternal. That said, things will slowly stew over the summer making it uncomfortably warm by August and there are a few coaches out there that might want to take this hiatus to polish up the resume. That's why this edition of coaches on the hot seat shall be dubbed "Coaches in the Crock Pot".
Who'll be feeling the heat this fall?
1. Mark Mangino: The Jayhawks are the Duke of the Big 12. The fans tolerate nothing but excellence from their basketball program, but expect only mediocrity out of their football program. Mediocrity is what they've gotten going 4-7 last year but beating rivals Kansas State and Missouri. That was enough for the Jayhawk faithful last year, but the odds of Kansas beating them both again this year are not that good. Now in his fourth year at the helm of the program, expectations will rise and patience will be shorter so it is time for him to produce. We're not talking BCS bowl here, but a shot at .500 or perhaps bowl eligibility would be nice. He's got a chance to get off to a respectable start with three patsies to kick off the '05 season, but then the Big 12 schedule begins and we'd be hard pressed to pick Kansas to win 2 or three of those games this year. If they don't, expect Mangino to start to feel some heat in the coaching crock pot as even Duke fired their head coach for being ineffective.
So far Kansas has a big coach with medium-size results.
2. Tommy Bowden: It seems like he's fighting for his job every year since he came in heralded as the next genius of college football but has been stuck in the middle of the pack in a lack-luster (but improving) ACC conference. He's been helped by a few big wins each year to keep the alumni at bay, but that act is wearing thin. Now, with Steve Spurrier coaching at rival USC and getting the rock star treatment from the media, the Clemson fans will be thirsting for success to taunt their in-state rivals with. If they don't have it, expect a few choice Spurrier quotes to fuel the flames even more. In Bowden's defense, Clemson has performed about where we think they should, which is bowl eligible with a few big wins every year. The problem is that no school or group of fans seem to have such an inflated sense of their program as Clemson. The instate recruiting base is average, the facilities are average and frankly their winning tradition is average, but they seem to feel like they belong in among the elite programs of the nation... and that is why Bowden is in the coaching crockpot.
3. Joe Paterno: Class act all the way, no question about it. That is why it is a bit sad to think of Paterno in the crock pot... and perhaps no coach fits the analogy better as he's been slowly stewing for several years now. Joe Pa has had a string of poor quality years, and this year is not likely to be much different, but the Nittany Lions simply must do better than beating only Akron, UCF, lowly Indiana and an okay Michigan State team. That is fine for the Illinois-type programs, but not a storied program like Penn State. Expect the pressure to continue to build this year in the media (and by alumni) with cries for retirement, but don't expect him to be fired. We here at EDSBS.com hope that he either gets it together again, or politely hands the reigns over at seasons end. It's as painful to watch as Willie Mays on the Mets.
Joe, don't be remembered like this.
4. Greg Schiano: Rutgers, like South Carolina, is a major state school with absolutely no tradition of winning. Consequently, expectations have always remained low... until a certain heralded University of Miami defensive co-ordinator came to town. Five years later, the Scarlet Knights are improved, but not by much. They certainly remain competitive in games more, but they don't seem to win too many. With the big east losing its powerhouses, there is an opportunity for Rutgers to break from their unfortunate tradition and improve upon their 4-7 record from a year ago. If they continue to be cellar dwellars and fall behind the Big East new comers of South Florida and Cincinnati, expect things to heat up for Schiano as Rutgers to improve.
Isn't that the guy from the Twisted Sister videos?
5. John Bunting: Although the Texas fans still get upset that Mack Brown gets his but kicked by Bobby Stoops, North Carolina would certainly love to have him back instead of John Bunting. In his first year as head coach, Bunting beat the ACC rival seminoles and defeated Auburn in the Peach Bowl. He has Mack Brown's recruiting to thank for that successful campaign. The following year, he was 3-9 and followed that up with a 2-10 season which left him coaching to save his job. Last year his surprise victory over the Miami Hurricanes and in-state rival NC State gave Bunting security in a lackluster 6-6 year. But Chaple Hill won't sit around year after year and be satisfied being in the middle of the pack. It is a make or break year for Bunting in which he must prove he can hack it in the revamped ACC.
Bunting seen here reminiscing about his first season's talent.