We just finished Week One of college football and I’m already calling for coaches’ heads.
The law of averages tells you that if you have 120 schools in Division I the Football Bowl Subdivision, at least 35 percent of those teams are going to blow. And for those blowing teams, there are dudes leading the way that blow equally, if not more than the team’s they coach.
Here are the best of the worst.
10. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
It’s hard to hate on a guy who twice brought a share of the Big Ten title to Iowa City. But Kirk Ferentz’s constant flirtation with the NFL seems to have taken a toll on his program. After winning 31 games between 2002-2004, the Hawkeyes finished 6-7 in 2006 and 6-6 in 2007. Last year, Forbes magazine ranked Ferentz as the most overpaid coach in college football after collecting $3.4 million for a 4-4 Big Ten record in ‘07. Improvement came in the form of a tie for fourth place last year in a weak Big Ten. However, the Hawkeyes did embarrass South Carolina and the Ol’ Ball Coach in the Outback Bowl. With that performance fresh in voters’ minds, Iowa was tabbed a preseason No. 22 in the AP Poll. It’s never a good sign when you WIN and drop out of the rankings. But such is the case for Iowa, who needed two last-second field goal blocks to hold off local minnows Northern Iowa. Now, the Hawkeyes are unranked and expectations clearly lowered.
9. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
I don’t necessarily think Charlie Weis is an awful coach. Just vastly overrated. But so are most Patriots’ assistants. And if I left Weis off the list, I’d immediately be inundated with comments regarding illegitimacy because I left his fat ass out of the top-10. So for that reason alone, here’s Charlie Weis.
8. Mark Snyder, Marshall
A Jim Tressel disciple, Snyder returned to his alma mater in 2005 after serving as Tressel’s defensive coordinator at Ohio State. Since arriving in Huntington, Snyder has produced a 17-31 record and in his four-plus seasons has never once guided the Thundering Herd to a winning record in Conference USA play. Last season, Marshall finished the season losing seven of its final eight games, including losses to powerhouses UAB, UCF, Rice and Tulsa. Marshall won its season opener against Division I-AA FCS power Southern Illinois by three points. Whew! Next up, an impending ass-pounding at the firm hands of Virginia Tech.
7. Bobby Bowden, Florida State
OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Bobby Bowden? One of college football’s all-time winningest head coaches?” Yup. I’m talking today. Not 1993. And today, Bobby Bowden could tell you as much as I could about what’s going on with his team. For anyone who watched FSU’s last-second loss to Miami on Monday, you saw Bowden roam aimlessly on the Seminoles’ sideline. He had no headset. No clue. Every timeout huddle was led by offensive coordinator and head coach in-waiting Jimbo Fisher. With the game on the line, Bowden could be seen floating outside the sideline huddles like a twerp trying to sit at the big kid’s table, straining his neck to be included in whatever was being talked about. Seriously old man, retire. At least Joe Paterno wears the headset and feigns interest – in between naps.
6. Paul Wulff, Washington State
A former Cougars offensive lineman (1986-89), Wulff is now in his second season guiding Wazzou. His first campaign? Not so good. Washington State finished 2-11 (1-8 in the Pac-10). Prior to returning to his alma mater, Wulff coached eight seasons at Division I-AA er FCS Eastern Washington. His overall record at EWU was less than stellar (53-40) and he never guided the team past the FCS quarterfinals. Saturday wasn’t exactly the season kickoff Cougars fans were hoping for in Year Two of the Wulff Project. The Cougs were blown out by Stanford 39-13, in Pullman mind you. It was a familiar sight for fans. Wazzou was blown out in nearly every Pac-10 game last season save for a three-point win against even sorrier Washington. USC beat the Cougars 69-0. Oregon State got them 66-13. Arizona put 59 points on Wazzou and Arizona State shut them out 31-0. Oh, and Stanford won 58-0. So at least there’s some improvement there.
5. Bill Stewart, West Virginia
The primary beneficiary of Rich Rodriguez’s exit to Ann Arbor, Stewart took over for the Fiesta Bowl and turned that one impressive interim performance into a permanent gig. Mostly a lifelong assistant, Stewart was something of a coaching vagabond prior to arriving at West Virginia in 2000, He coached at 11 different locales between 1978-1999, including an uninspiring three-year head coaching stint at VMI (8-25) and an assistant position with my beloved Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. Stewart’s hiring didn’t sit well with a lot of boosters, namely Arizona Diamondbacks co-owner Ken Kendrick, who called Stewart “overmatched.” Luckily, for Stewart’s his coaching deficiencies were masked by the phenomena that was Pat White. The Mountaineers finished 9-4 in 2008 and tied for second in the Big East. But now Stewart doesn’t have his quarterback extraordinaire. West Virginia has three consecutive big non-conference games and Stewart needs to win at least two to gain the trust of the Mountaineer faithful, teethed and unteethed. Getting revenge against East Carolina on Saturday is first up on the list before a road trip to Auburn and home game against Colorado.
4. Gene Chizik, Auburn
An “Are you kidding me hire?” for the Tigers last December, Chizik is well-regarded by Auburn fans for his days as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2002-04, but when a coach comes to you after compiling two truly putrid seasons in his first go round as a head coach and then lands one of the premier jobs in the SEC, well my friend, that won’t sit well in eastern Alabama. Chizik returns to Auburn after posting a 5-19 record in two seasons at Iowa State, where he finished last season 2-10 (0-8 in Big 12). His two wins last season? South Dakota State and Kent State. Good luck away to LSU and Georgia later in the season, Gene. But Tigers’ fans remain optimistic. I mean, they root for Auburn football. What else is there?
3. Bob Toledo, Tulane
Toledo led UCLA to a school-record 20-game winning streak and back-to-back Pac-10 championships from 1997-98, but was justly fired in 2002 after four subsequent lackluster seasons. He stayed out of football until he got a job in 2006 as New Mexico’s offensive coordinator. A season later, he was Tulane’s head coach and the Green Wave haven’t won jackshit ever since. Toledo was able to ride Matt Forte to four wins in 2007, but without his prized asset, Tulane finished 2-10 in 2008 and finished fifth in Conference USA’s West Division. Before landing at UCLA, Toledo endured a four-year stint at the University of the Pacific and posted a 14-30 record. Take away UCLA’s 20-4 run from 1997-98, Toledo has a combined 49-76 record since 1979.
2. Dave Wannstedt, Pittsburgh
Am I biased with this selection? Does a bear shit in the woods? Speaking of bears, Wannstedt used to coach Chicago’s version – my favorite kind. And actually, they did most of their shitting on the field. Wanny and his epic lip fur were fired after back-to-back 4-12 seasons. He landed with the Dolphins and become Jimmy Johnson’s replacement after Coach Hairspray suddenly retired. Wannstedt enjoyed initial success with the Dolphins but eventually his true colors, diarrhea green, began to show and he resigned after a 1-8 start to the 2004 season. He was quickly snapped up by his alma mater, Pitt, and he’s gone 25-22 with the Panthers, including a decent 9-4 record in 2008. But in Pitt’s biggest game of the season, Wannstedt -predictably – blew it. The Panthers were in contention for the Big East’s automatic BCS bid and had its own destiny in its hands, but alas Pitt lost to Cincinnati and had to settle for a 3-0 loss to Oregon State in the Sun Bowl, which was won by a Justin Kahut three-run homer in the second inning. How a team that gave up 65 points in its previous game (a 65-38 loss to Oregon) can shut out a team its next effort usually would be puzzling. But then I remembered. When Wannstedt is involved anything is possible. Except for sustained success.
1. Bill Lynch, Indiana
OK, this is a personal pick. And I know a lot of you are like, “Wait, Indiana has a football team?” Yeah. Unfortunately we do. I say “we” because I’m an alum. The Hoosiers have a new athletics director, a renovated stadium and are running gamedays like a circus just to entice fans into the stadium. Note to Fred Glass, IU’s new AD: You want people to go to the games? Fire Bill Lynch. I know it’s only Week One, but this guy should never have been a Big Ten head coach. He ascended to the top spot because of tragic circumstances (the death of Terry Hoeppner). Lynch, then the assistant head coach, took over on an interim basis. And that inspired bunch made IU’s first bowl game since 1993, and soundly got whooped by Oklahoma State. That was a run on pure emotion and the talents of a 6-foot-7 wide receiver. But let’s not kid ourselves. Lynch is still the same coach who went 1-21 from 1998-1999 at Ball State. He’s a heck of a nice guy, but I’ve never seen a coach so utterly over-matched. It’s embarrassing. Indiana football is the Big Ten’s equivalent to Meg Griffin. You’d think the school would know better having gone through a similar situation a few years ago with its basketball program and Mike Davis. Like Lynch, Davis was an assistant taking over under unusual circumstances (Davis got the job when Bob Knight was fired). And like Lynch, Davis accomplished something the school hadn’t done in more than a decade (Davis unexpectedly guided the Hoosiers to the 2002 National Championship game. Lynch made a bowl.) The school rewarded both with new, lucrative deals. We all know what happened with Davis. Nice guy. Bad coach. Same goes for Lynch. Nice guy. Really bad coach. The Hoosiers needed to dodge a last-second Hail Mary heave against the power that is Eastern Kentucky to win its season opener. It’s likely to be the Hoosiers only win of the season. I’m not kidding.