When fans run out of patience and Athletic Directors emerge from the shadows and into the spotlight, it’s never a good sign for a Head Coach.
It’s hard to make excuses for an individual who has been on the job for at least three seasons, has his own players and system in place, but can’t get the program on the winning track. Suddenly contract buyouts and potential replacements becomes the topic of discussion around campus.
With another month left in the regular season, five Power 5 coaches will try to cool off their heated seats with some wins, but the writing may already be on the wall for some. Coming to terms with the inevitable can be more complicated than normal because fans and even players know what the outcome will be once the smoke clears.
Still, no one wants to give up and the game wasn’t created for quitters. Finishing out the year with pride and respect is all a coach can hope for after eight weeks into the season and the teams’ bowl eligibility is in jeopardy. The job security of these five coaches look grim in the near future and it’ll be interesting to see if either of them will remain around once the regular season concludes.
Chris Ash, Rutgers: Coming into the 2018 season, the Scarlet Knights were trending up and Ash increased the team’s win total from year one to year two. However, after eight games into his third season, Rutgers is 1-7 and have lost six straight. The lone win came against Texas State and Rutgers had embarrassing losses to Kansas and Buffalo. Rutgers is at the bottom of the barrel in the Big 10 and arguably the entire Power 5. The Scarlet Knights are last in the Big 10 in scoring and total offense this season. Rutgers front seven on defense can’t generate any sacks, been getting steamrolled every week and the team is last in the Big 10 in rush defense. Quarterback play has been pretty bad and the Scarlet Knight lead the league in interceptions thrown, with only three touchdown passes on the season. To make matters worse, Northwestern’s Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald had to vouch for Ash to be given more time after the Scarlet Knights loss to the Wildcats. Rutgers has not won a game against Power 5 competition since November of 2017.
Larry Fedora, North Carolina: Fedora rubbed a lot of his fellow colleagues the wrong way at the ACC Kickoff back in July when he made controversial comments about the CTE issue. He followed those shenanigans up with a 1-5 North Carolina team eight weeks into a disastrous 2018 season. The Tar Heels are No. 13 in the ACC in scoring offense and defense. The Tar Heels have lost three-straight conference games and were lucky to avoid Central Florida in non-conference play because of Hurricane Florence. Fedora is already coming off a three-win campaign in 2017. North Carolina is trending down and the only other legitimate win on the schedule will likely come against FCS foe Western Carolina. The team has regressed in year seven under Fedora and on the verge of not making the post season for a second-straight year. The Tar Heels need a miracle to increase their win total from last season and if they can’t, you can count on Fedora being shown the door.
Bobby Petrino, Louisville: During Petrino’s first stint with the program the offense was prolific and Louisville even won a BCS Bowl. Charlie Strong continued the success with Terry Bridgewater after Petrino’s depature. Lamar Jackson won the Heisman under Petrino’s watch two years ago, but since he left the building the offense has struggled mightily. The Cardinals are dead last in the ACC in scoring and total offense. The offensive line can’t protect the quarterback and has allowed a league-high 24 sacks. That’s mind-boggling, considering that Petrino has one of the best offensive minds in the game. The defense has been horrible also. The front seven has no pass rush whatsoever and the unit is last in the league in generating sacks. The defense also can’t stop the run and is allowing a league-high 233.9 yards per game on the ground and 17 rushing scores. Louisville is winless in conference play and have lost four-straight games. The Cardinals are 2-5 on the year and have the week off, but the remaining schedule includes four teams with a winning record. Louisville will likely have its’ first losing season under Petrino and that will probably be enough to get him canned.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: Tennessee is rebuilding, but every other team in the SEC East is getting better. The Commodores don’t have time to just be competitive, they have to start winning, especially in SEC play. This is Mason’s fifth year with the program and Vanderbilt only been to one bowl game and have yet to finish with a winning season. The Commodores are struggling to run the ball on offense and are winless in conference play. Mason needs to take advantage of having senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur around for the last four games of the regular season. At 3-5, Vanderbilt needs to win three of its’ last four games to become bowl-eligible and that might be enough to save Mason’s job. Arkansas and Tennessee look winnable, but Ole Miss and Missouri will be a challenge. Mason’s fate will be in the hands of the offense, and that’s a scary thought, considering the unit has averaged 15.6 points per game against Power 5 competition this season. Mason can’t afford a fifth consecutive losing season, so his team will have to give it their all if he want to remain around another year.
David Beaty, Kansas: Beaty’s fourth year with the Jayhawks started off great during the first three weeks of the season with wins over Central Michigan and Rutgers. However, Kansas has lost four-straight games since then and is 2-5 on the year. The Jayhawks are also riding a 14-game conference losing streak. Beaty can’t afford for the Jayhawks to go winless in conference play for a second-straight year under his watch and will need his offense to improve drastically in order to get a Big 12 win. Kansas’ offense is dead last in the league in total yards per game. The defense is No. 9 in the Big 12 in total yards allowed per game. Kansas might already be looking for replacements, but who would want to take the job when it seems like a destination career-killer. Kansas has five games remaining on the schedule that includes three games against teams without a winning record. Oklahoma and Texas looms towards the end of the regular season and if Beaty’s doesn’t increase his teams’ win total by that time, he’ll have to kiss his job goodbye.