On The Hot Seat – A Look at College Football Coaches Under Fire

With a number of high-profile college football teams struggling to find wins this season, head coaches are finding out how hot the hot seat really is.  In this “what have you done for me lately” world, the reality is that you’re only as good as your last season (or game in some instances). In these situations, the question later becomes, “How long should a new head coach at a high profile school be given to turn things around?”  There are a lot of schools that may be asking that question pretty soon, and here are four of the most prominent head coaches that may be out the door if they don’t turn things around in a hurry.
Derrick Dooley (Tennessee)

Derrick Dooley is UT’s head coach … for at least another couple of days.

With Tennessee’s most recent SEC loss to South Carolina on Saturday, Tennessee is now 0-5 in SEC play.  With a 4-17 SEC record with victories over Vanderbilt twice, Kentucky once, and Ole Miss once, Dooley has yet to beat SEC rivals Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  Tennessee fans in Knoxville are getting tired of mediocrity and want wins, not moral victories with close loses. Rumors around East Tennessee are that Dooley could get fired as early as this week.  Tennessee fans number one candidate for a replacement if Dooley gets canned would be MNF analyst John Gruden who was a G.A. for Tennessee in 1986-1987 and his wife is a former Volunteer cheerleader.
Gene Chizik (Auburn)

In the “win now” world of college football, Auburn coach Gene Chizik is on the hot seat after winning the national title just two seasons ago.

Chizik, who is only two years out of a national title for the Auburn faithful, is having a very trying fourth year.  With a 31-17 overall record and 15-15 SEC record including a dismal 0-6 SEC record this season, the War Eagle faithful want a coaching change.  With Chizik’s loss to Vanderbilt earlier this season, he became the first coach in school history to lose to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all in the same season.  With this Saturday’s 63-21 loss to Texas A&M, Chizik’s future doesn’t look good at Auburn.  Auburn president Jay Gouge issued a letter regarding the state of the Auburn football program.  The letter pretty much says (without actually saying it) that Chizik’s days are numbered.
Joker Phillips (Kentucky)

In the midst of another miserable Kentucky football season, Joker’s situation at Kentucky is nothing to laugh about.

With the fierce competition in the SEC, it’s no surprise that this is our third SEC school on this list. At 1-8 so far this season, Kentucky is having a below average season.  Phillip’s SEC record in two and a half seasons is 4-18, exactly the same as Derrick Dooley’s pitiful record at Tennessee. Now Kentucky is no football powerhouse, but winning at least five games a season has been a consistent standard for the Wildcats. In Rich Brooks’s final four seasons, Kentucky made four straight bowls (winning three).  Joker’s overall record of 12-22 is, well, a joke.  It’s not up to any SEC team’s standards in football, even Kentucky’s. For Phillips to digress from a 6-7, 5-7, to now 1-8 record, his time in Lexington may be running out.
Frank Spaziani (Boston College)

Spaziani on the hot seat proves that fans don’t care how sweet your mustache is.

Spaziani, like Joker, has degressed each season that he has been at Boston College.  He’s went from 8-5, 7-6, 4-8, and is currently at 2-6 this year.  Anytime a head coach’s record keeps getting worse, it’s obvious their recruiting classes aren’t up to par.  With his first recruiting class entering its fourth year along with third-year starting quarterback in Chase Rettig, a struggling season is not what Boston College fans expected.  Being in his fourth year with an overall record of 22-25 and 13-16 in the ACC, Spaziani’s time in Bean Town may be running out.

By: Craig Emmert

Football… Finally!

It’s finally that time of year again!  The time of year when all weekend we get truly rewarded for the hard five days we put in on the job all week.  The NFL pre-season already has one game under its belt and all others will have their first game starting this Thursday through Monday.  High school football starts in the next three weeks and college football starts the week before the NFL regular season begins.  There is not a more anticipated time of year than right now for sports fans.  I am ready for some new excitement in the world of sports (no hard feelings to baseball fans) and football does this better than any other sport.  I’m glad the Olympics are going on right now, which will help calm my anxiousness over the coming NFL and college seasons.  Here is a quick look at what we have to look forward to this coming football season at the college and NFL level.

Alabama and LSU, two SEC foes, are the top-ranked teams in college football. The SEC has a stranglehold on the National Championship, winning (at least a share of) the last six national FBS titles.

At the collegiate level, LSU and Alabama both topped the first USA Today pre-season poll with the Tigers, last year’s BCS runner-up getting the number one edge over Alabama.  The two teams play on November third and it should be a great showdown late in the season.  Alabama opens with Michigan September 1st at Texas stadium which should be a good test for Alabama early.  The Crimson Tide also play at Arkansas September 15th which could be their toughest road game of the year early on before they travel to Baton Rouge in November.  LSU has a much favorable schedule before their date with Alabama, but has a tough road test on the final game of the regular season at Arkansas.  The SEC has been the nation’s toughest football conference and it won’t change this season with five teams in the pre-season top ten.  The conference also has had the last six BCS National Champions. 

USC has been the consensus favorite by most to make it to the BCS National Championship game who is coming off a couple of probation years.  Their toughest test will be on October 3rd when they travel to Utah to play the Utes in primetime.  My dark horse this season is the Florida State Seminoles, who start off with an easy schedule with four straight home games, opening with Murray State & Savannah State.  I pick them to beat Clemson on September 22nd, before hitting the road.  Their big test will be on October 20th when they play at Miami and two weeks later play at Virginia Tech.  If they weather through those storms, they may be in the hunt for the BCS title game. 

Two other teams to keep an eye on are Oklahoma and Michigan.  If the Sooners can come in undefeated on November 17th when they play at W. Virginia and similarly when they face TCU in the season finale December 1st, they could also be in the hunt.  Michigan has to pull the opening game upset against Alabama and prove to all that the Big Ten can play with the big boys of the SEC.  They also play at Notre Dame and at Nebraska on October 27th.

From the NFL side of things, there are lots of intriguing story lines entering the 2012 season.  How will the two-quarterback system work in New York with Sanchez and Tebow?  Will the Detroit Lions make a return trip to the post-season and improve on last season’s 10-6 mark?  Will the Saints survive without Sean Payton for the entire season?  Most importantly, who will make it to New Orleans for the Super Bowl this season? 

Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are certainly creating a stir in New York even though both quarterbacks are widely regarded as mediocre at their position.

The Sanchez-Tebow QB controversy will play itself out and Sanchez will get the starting nod, with Tebow coming in for Wildcat plays and the occasional snap or two.  If Sanchez starts to struggle, don’t look for Rex Ryan to give him a long leash before he lets Tebow loose.  Although the Detroit Lions had a great 2011 campaign, the new Bad Boys of the NFL will take a step back I believe in 2012.  I look for them to finish at 8-8 and just miss the post-season.  Growing up a Detroit fan, I have learned to not get too attached to success, because disappointment is soon to follow. 

The Saints will still have a successful season because, even though they do not have their leader on the sidelines, they still have the heart and soul of their team in the huddle with Drew Brees.  I look for the Saints to win the NFC South and challenge to make it back home for the Super Bowl in February.  My NFL final four goes to New England and Houston in the AFC with Green Bay and New Orleans making it in the NFC.  I won’t pick a winner, but it will be fun to watch these teams fight it our all season long.

The upcoming football season will be exciting to watch on all levels.  The story lines that will be created throughout the season will only glue us more to the action as fans.  Football is back… finally.

By: Craig Emmert

WhereToWatch Quiniela for La Liga, Spain’s Top Flight Football League – JORNADA 19

After a disappointing first week in which I scored a 4/10 I’m back for more and almost certain to do better.  Lack of participation still keeps me in first place and I’m not beneath technical victories.  Don’t be afraid to jump in and take some guesses because even a genius like myself with vast knowledge of the Spanish football landscape can have a bad week. 

Here is how it works: La Liga has 20 teams in the top flight which means that there are 10 games every week.  I will cover each game and assign a ‘1’ for a home team win, an ‘x’ for a draw, and a ‘2’ for an away team win.  Please feel free to post your own Quiniela in the comments section.  At the end of the season if you have a better winning percentage than I do Todd will buy you a steak dinner at the restaurant of your choosing.  Good Luck!

1.  Zaragoza (20th) – Getafe (12th): 2

The return of Guti?  While Guti was in my opinion at one point a great player riding the bench for Real Madrid, that point was ten years ago.  The fact that Zaragoza are considering bringing him in because they simply don’t have any other options does not instill a lot of confidence. 

2.  Granada (15th) – Rayo Vallecano (13th): 1

Two lower half of the table teams going at it.  For most teams in this position the goal now is to stay alive and out of the bottom three.  For readers that are new to La Liga the bottom three teams at the end of the season are demoted to ‘La Segunda’ which has serious consequences, not the least of which is missing out on the television cash that the teams split in La Liga.  Home team wins here.

3.  Sevilla (7th) – Espanyol (8th): 1

Sevilla has been on a terrible run lately, with boss Marcelino Garcia reportedly on the hot seat.  Espanyol have been playing well as of late even getting an impressive draw against Barcelona last week.  Nevertheless, I think Sevilla steps it up in the Sanchez Pizjuan to get a home victory.

4.  Mallorca (14th) – Real Madrid (1st): 2

Real Madrid is most likely going to rest some key starters ahead of their quarterfinal matchup against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.  Maybe this will give poor Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been disappointing as of late for some reason, some time to contemplate that he is rich, famous, and his girlfriend looks like this.  Jiminy Cricket that guy has it good.  I think Madrid’s B team takes Mallorca to stay tops.

Irina Shayk

Even though Christiano Ronaldo is having an off season, at least he still has a girlfriend like Irina Shayk. I like Madrid against Mallorca this week. (Via SI.com)

5.  Valencia (3rd) – Real Sociedad (16th): 1

Valencia has been playing quite well this season.  Meanwhile Real Sociedad sits just a few points from regulation and is the away team.  I’m taking Valencia.

6.  Atletico de Madrid (11th) – Villareal (18th): 1

Diego Pablo Simeone makes his triumphant return to the Vicente Calderon.  Atletico’s supporters will be out in force to support their man from the 95’/96’ double winning team.  Villareal is decimated by injuries and just can’t get it together this year.  Atletico all the way.

7.  Osasuna (5th) – Racing de Santander (17th): 1

Osasuna is undefeated at home this season.  They were also just knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Barcelona and can now concentrate on the Liga. 

8.  Athletic de Bilbao (9th) – Levante (4th): X

Bilbao has trouble scoring and I think we get a matchup with two teams that need to get lucky to put it in the net.

9.  Sporting de Gijon (19th) – Malaga (6th): 2

There are reports that Malaga are attempting to entice Diego Forlan back to Spain.  That would be quite interesting as he has always been undervalued in this writer’s opinion.  Sporting, let’s face it, is not having the best of years.  I think Malaga takes care of business as it fights for a place in Europe.

10.  Barcelona (2nd) – Betis (10th): 1

Barcelona needs to win here to stay on Madrid’s heels in the race for the title.  They are probably hurting a little after last week’s draw and will get the win to keep the pressure on Madrid, who they face in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Good luck everyone!
By: Ryan Moore

WhereToWatch Quiniela for La Liga – Spain’s Top Flight Football (Soccer) League

Happy New Year and welcome to WhereToWatch.com’s first ever Quiniela.  Every week I will use my super awesome psychic abilities to predict the winners, losers and inbetweeners in La Liga, Spain’s top flight football league.  For those of you who have never seen or heard of a Quiniela it is common way of betting on football (soccer) across the globe.

Here is how it works: La Liga has 20 teams in the top flight which means that there are 10 games every week.  I will cover each game and assign a ‘1’ for a home team win, an ‘x’ for a draw, and a ‘2’ for an away team win.  Please feel free to post your own Quiniela in the comments section.  At the end of the season if you have a better winning percentage than I do Todd will buy you a steak dinner at the restaurant of your choosing.  Let’s get started!

1.  Racing de Santander (19th) – Zaragoza (20th): 1.

Two teams at the bottom of the table.  I am simply going with the home team here.

2.  Levante (4th) – Mallorca (14th): 1.

Levante had an unprecedented run the first half of the season and find themselves in an excellent 4th place to start the new year.  It is going to be interesting to see if they can keep it up as Levante doesn’t have much depth and that may prove to be its undoing in the next couple of months.  Nevertheless, I don’t see Mallorca as up to the challenge.

3.  Real Sociedad (15th) – Osasuna (5th): 1.

Real Sociedad has been so difficult to measure this season.  Manager Phillip Montanier has been changing things all season long and the lack of stability does take its toll.  I’m still going with Real Sociedad for home win.

4.  Real Madrid (1st) – Granada (13th): 1.

Easy, easy 1.  The Special One, Jose Mourinho, threatened earlier this week that he would have benched all of his players at half-time of last week’s Copa Del Rey match at home against Malaga as the Merengues were down two-nil.  Granada is unlucky to face what will surely be a hyped up Madrid.

5.  Málaga (7th) – Atletico de Madrid (10th): 1.

Málaga’s mind will most likely be on its forthcoming tie with Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey, which they actually have a shot at winning.  This is a perfect time for Atletico de Madrid to come in and steal a game but with a new manager it may take some time to adjust.  Malaga at home.

6.  Rayo Vallecano (16th) – Sevilla (6th): 2.

Jose Antonio Reyes comes home to Sevilla after shuffling between five teams over the last nine years.  Not exactly Cesc Fabregas back to Barcelona but I still like Sevilla’s chances.

7.  Getafe (12th) – Athletic de Bilbao (9th): X.

I have no idea what is going to happen here so I opt to take the coward’s way out and predict a tie.

8.  Villarreal (17th) – Valencia (3rd): 2.

Villarreal, once a pillar of excellent Spanish football has been having a very disappointing season.  Injuries, budget issues have all been factors in their decline and I see Valencia sinking the ‘yellow submarine’ this weekend.

9. Betis (11th) – Sporting de Gijón (18th): 1.

Betis has been playing well this season and will be looking to maintain its comfortable position in the middle of the table.

10. Espanyol (8th) – Barcelona (2nd): 2.

The Catalan derby! Espanyol can from time to time give Barcelona fits, but Barcelona simply looks great over the last month since beating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. Please note, dear reader, that there will probably be lots of uninspired writing in this column about Barcelona as there simply is not much to say that hasn’t been said about their dominance in the last few years.

Good luck!!!

By: Ryan Moore