Before the calendar even flipped to November, two coaches had been fired. Minnesota is already looking for a replacement for Tim Brewster, and North Texas is in search of someone to follow Todd Dodge.
Both were in precarious positions, and both managed one victory the first half of the season.
On the bright side, Georgia’s Mark Richt looked like a coach walking toward the end of the plank when the Bulldogs lost four straight. Put that call to the search firm on hold. Richt has guided Georgia to three straight victories and enters Saturday’s rivalry game against struggling Florida in the hunt for an SEC East crown.
Of course, another losing streak could put Richt right back on the hot seat.
Here are six other coaches who probably need to finish the season strong to keep their jobs.
Dan Hawkins, 19-37 in fifth season at Colorado. Money, or a lack thereof, was probably the biggest reason Hawkins wasn’t bought out of his contract after going 3-9 last season. The Buffaloes are 0-3 in the Big 12 heading to Oklahoma this week. Good luck with those surly Sooners. After that they play at Kansas, followed by home games against Iowa State and Kansas State before finishing at Nebraska.
Ending the season with four straight wins would do the trick, but how realistic is that?
Paul Wulff, 4-28 in third season at Washington State. At 1-7 with no victories against FBS teams, it might be hard to sell the fact that the Cougars are improving under their third-year coach. But they lost by 10 at Stanford, 14 at UCLA, 17 to Arizona, and 20 to Oregon and last season lost to those four teams by an average of 37 points.
Progress, yes, but Wulff needs to win some games.
Rich Rodriguez, 13-18 in third season at Michigan. Lingering NCAA issues could factor into this situation. The Wolverines are 5-2, and it would seem that three more victories would make Coach Rod a lock to return, barring some sort of devastating sanctions handed down by the NCAA.
Problem is this season is starting to feel a bit like last season, when Michigan started 4-0 and ended up 5-7 with one Big Ten victory. Its game Saturday at Penn State is big.
Bill Lynch, 18-26 in fourth season at Indiana. Lynch took over the Hoosiers after Terry Hoeppner died in June 2007 and led the team to a bowl game. For that Lynch earned the right to have a couple years to keep the program moving in the right direction. The Hoosiers are 4-3, but all the wins have come against teams with losing records. Two more victories and a bowl bid at a basketball school might get Lynch another season.
Those two victories are going to be very tough to get.
Mike Locksley, 1-18 in second season at New Mexico. Locksley was suspended last season and embarrassed the program when it was learned that he hit an assistant coach during an argument. Add that to the Lobos’ terrible play: they are 117th in scoring and 120th in scoring defense.
It seems Locksley, who scored high marks as on offensive coordinator and recruiter at Illinois, needs an improbable turnaround to make it to Year 3.
Dennis Erickson, 22-22 in fourth season at Arizona State. The Sun Devils went 10-3 in Erickson’s first season and haven’t been back to a bowl since. Arizona State’s 3-4 record this season includes two victories against FCS teams. Another factor with Erickson: at 63, the Sun Devils may not be expecting Erickson to stick around much longer, anyway.
They may opt for a long-term solution at coach sooner rather than later.