The 2011 Locksley: Week 10
By Paul Myerberg // Nov 4, 2011
November isn’t just the time for teams to make their move, such as we’ll see with Alabama and L.S.U. tomorrow night. It’s also time for coaches to take themselves off the hot seat with a strong close to the season, perhaps going 4-0 or 3-1 heading into bowl play to convince the university administration that yes, one more year — if not more — would be warranted. But for some coaches, unfortunately, even a strong close to the year shouldn’t be enough: I can see at least two coaches in the F.B.S. who in no way, shape or form should be back stalking the sidelines at their current stop in 2012. Not even 4-0 or 3-1 should stop the hammer from falling on this pair. The coaching quote of the week comes from N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien, whose team dropped a 34-0 decision to Florida State last Saturday:
“That was a good football team we played today and we didn’t play very well and when you don’t play well against a team of this caliber it ends up the way it ended up today. Certainly we have to learn from this and get back on the practice field and get ready to play the month of November.”
1. Neil Callaway, U.A.B. (Last week: No. 3)
2011 record 1-7
Overall (since 2007) 16-40
Has Callaway done enough in 2011 — in this specific season — to be placed ahead of Frank Spaziani? I’m not sure. At worst, Callaway and Spaziani are embroiled in a head-to-head clash of the titans. But no program needs to make a coaching move more than U.A.B.; not even Boston College needs a coaching change more than the Blazers. So while Spaziani is certainly doing less with more, to put it mildly, U.A.B. desperately needs to make a move along the sidelines.
2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College (Last week: No. 1)
2011 record 2-7
Overall (since 2009) 18-18
It won’t get any worse than last night, if that’s of any consolation to the B.C. fan base. It’s not, is it? Spaziani has taken a proud program, one that had made 11 straight bowl games, and after barely extending that streak to 12 years last fall has now taken B.C. to its lowest level in three decades. And that’s all there is to say. Want more? B.C. has lost 10 or more games in a season only once in program history, back in 1978. The Eagles are staring at 2-10 in 2011. This is a disaster.
3. Rick Neuheisel, U.C.L.A. (Last week: No. 2)
2011 record 4-4
Overall (since 2008) 19-26
I really think U.C.L.A. is going to get to bowl play in 2011. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be enough for Neuheisel, according to U.C.L.A. athletic director Dan Guerrero. Unfair? Well… I can’t argue that Neuheisel doesn’t deserve to be fired, since he’s done more than enough to be dismissed. But the university needs to go beyond that: Guerrero needs to go, the entire athletic department must be retooled and, in short, the entire U.C.L.A. approach to collegiate athletics needs to be addressed. Replacing Neuheisel is just the beginning.
4. Houston Nutt, Mississippi (Last week: No. 5)
2011 record 2-6
Overall (since 2008) 24-22
As bad as Mississippi’s current SEC losing streak is — and it’s awful bad — it could be worse. What if the Rebels didn’t get to play Kentucky every year? The current conference losing streak lasts 11 games, a school record, but if the Rebels hadn’t sneaked past Kentucky last fall, 42-35, the streak would date 14 games. Thank goodness for the Wildcats, says Nutt. Currently 2-6, the Rebels will be lucky to finish 4-8.
5. Larry Porter, Memphis (Last week: No. 4)
2011 record 2-7
Overall (since 2010) 3-18
Memphis followed up its first F.B.S. win of the year with a 41-0 whitewashing at U.C.F., which is pretty much par for the course for this program under Porter. Like U.C.L.A., Memphis is in a place where it’s not just about the football coach but the entire athletic department; as with the Bruins, changes need to be made.
6. Rob Ianello, Akron (Last week: No. 7)
2011 record 1-8
Overall (since 2010) 2-19
Unlike Porter, Ianello has yet to notch a win over F.B.S. competition in 2011. The worst part? After playing with relative competitiveness over the last month, losing to Eastern Michigan by eight points and to Central Michigan by merely one, the Zips were throttled by Miami (Ohio) on national television last night, 35-3. Could Akron actually be moving backwards? That’s not a comforting thought. In the future, perhaps the non-B.C.S. conference programs of the world should not hire a B.C.S. conference recruiting coordinator.
7. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State (Last week: No. 8)
2011 record 3-5
Overall (since 2008) 16-29
As noted in last week’s post, Fairchild began his tenure at Fort Collins with 10 wins in his first 16 games. All was well, all seemed fine; perhaps Fairchild would bring the Rams back to its standard under Sonny Lubick, if not top his predecessor’s high-water mark. Since? It hasn’t gone that well — it’s gone terribly. After losing to U.N.L.V. last Saturday, Fairchild has gone 6-19 since the fourth game of the 2009 season.
8. Dan Enos, Central Michigan (Last week: No. 6)
2011 record 3-6
Overall (since 2010) 6-15
Enos gets points for beating Akron last Saturday — or he gets a point, since his team nearly blew a significant fourth quarter lead before holding on for a 23-22 win. A win is a win, and Enos needs as many of those as he can get. But what Enos really needs is to win games against premier MAC competition. He’ll get his chance over the final two games of the season, when the Chippewas host Ohio and Toledo.
9. Paul Wulff, Washington State (Last week: No. 9)
2011 record 3-5
Overall (since 2008) 8-37
I’m not sure if Wulff is going to last past the 2011 season. And, to be honest, I don’t know if I’d have a problem if Washington State made a move. But there have been greater signs of competitiveness from Wulff’s team in 2011, especially when held against the team’s poor level of play over his first three years. His team has been better, but will it be enough? That’s something for the Washington State administration to decide. I wouldn’t have a problem with Wulff being dismissed, though neither would I have an issue if he returned for another run at bowl play.
10. Rick Stockstill, M.T.S.U. (Last week: No. 10)
2011 record 2-5
Overall (since 2006) 35-35
Could one say that Middle Tennessee’s window in the Sun Belt has been closed? It’s never safe to make any such predictions, but the Blue Raiders have failed to take advantage of their opportunities: when strong, the program still trailed Troy; when the conference favorites, the program lost out to Florida International; this fall, with both F.I.U. and the Trojans falling short of expectations, the program trails two relative newcomers in Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette. The onus falls on Stockstill to lead M.T.S.U. back into Sun Belt contention next fall. He’ll enter 2012 on a very hot seat.
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Tags: Dan Enos, Frank Spaziani, Houston Nutt, Larry Porter, Neil Callaway, Paul Wulff, Rick Neuheisel, Rick Stockstill, Rob Ianello, Steve Fairchild, The Locksley
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