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A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Coaching Moves

Fire My Coach, Please: Week 7

Ron English's first two years in Michigan makes Rich Rodriguez's debut look pleasant.

Mike Locksley is running away with this competition, which is unfortunate. There are several other candidates putting together equally unimpressive campaigns — yet none that can touch Locksley’s disastrous start to 2010. The latest nail in the coffin? A two-point loss to in-state rival New Mexico State, which has severe issues of its own. However, it’s not Locksley with our coaching quote of the week — it’s Minnesota’s Tim Brewster, whose Golden Gophers moved to 1-5 after a loss to Wisconsin. It wasn’t just the loss that had Brewster upset, but a late two-point conversion called by Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema. Here’s what Brewster had to say:

“I told him I didn’t agree with his decision and I thought it was a poor decision for a head football coach. He’ll have to live with it. It was wrong. Everybody in here knows it and everybody in college football knows it. It was wrong.”

1. Mike Locksley, New Mexico (Last week: No. 1)

2010 record 0-6
Overall record (since 2009) 1-17

Now that the program is a laughingstock, New Mexico might want to address its questionable coaching situation. I recall an errant idea floating around less than a month ago: Mike Leach to the Lobos. We know that’s not going to happen. Yet U.N.M. certainly couldn’t do any worse than it has done with Locksley, who continues to lead the Lobos to a new low on a weekly basis.

2. Tim Brewster, Minnesota (Last week: No. 2)

2010 record 1-5
Overall record (since 2007) 15-29

What’s worse than running a two-point conversion up by 27 points in the fourth quarter? Not much, in Brewster’s defense. His 1-5 start to 2010, however, which mirrors his horrific debut season in 2007, is nearly as awful. In a strange way, the two-point attempt must have pleased a solid portion of the Minnesota fan base: embarrass our coach, they’d say, we don’t care — we want him gone anyway.

3. Paul Wulff, Washington State (Last week: No. 3)

2010 record 1-5
Overall record (since 2008) 4-27

Loyal reader Bryan Blair left an interesting comment in yesterday’s 1-120 re-ranking, writing:

Clearly you havent watched Washington State play the last two weeks, they almost beat U.C.L.A. and nearly pulled within a TD in the 4th quarter to Oregon last week. Not wins but not 116th either.

Bryan raised an interesting point, one that’s as truly harder to answer than ranking the top, say, 15 teams in the nation: how do we know that Washington State’s the 116th-best team in the F.B.S.? We don’t, though I responded with this:

Competitiveness is great, but the Cougars have still yet to play an F.B.S. opponent within 14 points. They lost to S.M.U. — a team I like, but from Conference USA — by 14 points. Washington State’s lone win came by a single point over Montana State. Montana State plays in the F.C.S.

Point-counterpoint. That’s what makes Pre-Snap Read so great. In my estimation, at least. Anyway, Wulff has not done a very good job in Pullman.

4. Todd Dodge, North Texas (Last week No. 5)

2010 record 1-5
Overall record (since 2007) 6-36

From all accounts, included those passed along by loyal reader Burnt Orange during the ever-unpopular live blog sessions I throw together every weekend, Dodge is a terrific person, well-liked by his players, fellow coaches and North Texas administration. His Mean Green have also hit a rash of bad luck in 2010: injuries, for starters, but also a trio of narrow defeats. Nevertheless, Dodge’s winning percentage at U.N.T. — after Saturday’s loss to Arkansas State — is at 14.3 percent.

5. Neil Callaway, U.A.B. (Last week: No. 7)

2010 record 1-4
Overall record (since 2007) 12-29

How bad was U.A.B. in last Wednesday’s 42-7 loss to U.C.F.? It has to be the worst showing of the Callaway era, right? Man, I hope so. The Blazers were terrible — embarrassing, I think it’s safe to say, especially given the timing: on national television, a rare occurrence for the program. Callaway needs to get his team in gear; six wins is looking very, very unlikely.

6. Dan Hawkins, Colorado (Last week: No. 8 )

2010 record 3-2
Overall record (since 2006) 19-35

Hawkins has always had a problem with Missouri: he’s now 0-5 against the Tigers, with no loss by fewer than 15 points. So Saturday’s loss was to be expected, I suppose. Unlike Ron Zook, another much-maligned coach among the B.C.S. conferences, Hawkins and his Buffaloes are stuck in low gear: he needs a solid second half.

7. Ron Zook, Illinois (Last week: No. 4)

2010 record 3-2
Overall record (since 2005) 24-41

I nearly took Zook off this list, thanks to his team’s solid start to Big Ten. A win over Penn State showed the nation that this Illinois defense might be for real; if you recall, the Illini gave Ohio State some trouble on the previous Saturday. With another win on Saturday — at Michigan State — Zook would come off the hot seat entirely. That might be asking too much, but I like where the Illini are headed in 2010 and beyond.

8. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State (Last week: No. –)

2010 record 1-5
Overall record (since 2008) 11-20

Fairchild returns to this list; he spent the first week among the lucky 10 before his Rams narrowly defeated Idaho. Since then, C.S.U. has dropped games to Air Force and T.C.U. by a combined score of 76-27. I don’t think we should expect Fairchild and the Rams to win either game, but some competitiveness would be nice.

9. Doug Martin, Kent State (Last week: 6)

2010 record 2-3
Overall record (since 2004) 26-49

You’re not getting off that easy: Martin and Kent State reversed a sour start with a win over Ball State, which is great — except that the win came over Ball State, which isn’t a great team. This was due to be an improved season for Martin — it may still be — but let’s see the Golden Flashes put together an extended winning streak in MAC play before removing him from this list.

10. Ron English, Eastern Michigan (Last week: –)

2010 record 0-6
Overall record (since 2009) 0-18

No one said it would be easy. Ron English inherited a disaster at Eastern Michigan — there’s no denying this. Nor is there denying the idea that this is a multiple-year rebuilding project. I’m sure the university feels this way; I hope they feel this way, at least. Still, despite all that, English has lost his first 17 games as a coach on the F.B.S. level. Eastern Michigan or no, this is concerning.

Dropped out

Steve Roberts, Arkansas State (Last week: No. 9)
Mark Richt, Georgia (Last week: No. 10)

Previous lists

Week 6 list Mike Locksley, No. 1
Week 5 list Mike Locksley, No. 1

You can also follow Paul Myerberg and Pre-Snap Read on Twitter.

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  1. DL says:

    Frank Spaziani needs to be on this list.

  2. There is a correction that needs to be mad. Under Colorado State, it’s Steve, not Scott.

    Paul: Thank you for that. Bad mistake. If you’re reading this, check out Ramifications’ blog — CSUFootball.blogspot.com.

  3. blah says:

    I am glad to see Doug Martin still on this list. Kent State beat Akron last weekend, not Ball State, though, this fact only proves your point even more.

    Martin has the same appeal as Todd Dodge, everyone likes him and he has done a decent job, as far as Kent State football goes. However, the time has come to challenge for the MAC East this season or be fired.

    Kent State recently hired a new AD. I wonder if this season is his job interview. It should be.

    He enters his 7th season with a returning QB, some playmakers (more than I have ever seen in my 13 years following the team), and a stout defense. He has improved his special teams with a dependable kicker and punter, positions which were largely responsible for numerous losses during his tenure. He has fixed various holes every season and improved the overall talent on the field. He actually had the best recruiting class in the MAC two seasons ago, as suggested by at least one national publication.

    That should be enough to challenge for the MAC East. I am not saying he needs to win it, he just needs to
    challenge for it. Anything less than a season-finale with championship implications warrants his being fired. Those are modest expectations for a coach in his 7th season, right?

    I see minimal improvement from year-to-year, never being a threat to beat a team better than itself, and still losing games it should win. For a long time I convinced myself that Martin was doing the best he could with the stigma of a losing tradition, a competitive recruiting pool, and a low budget. Maybe he has done the best he could, in that regard, but I have to imagine there is a coach out there who can do better.

    I guess I’ll just have to wait for Gary Pinkel or Nick Saban to come back, just before retirement, to leave the program in the respectable place that they found it as players.

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