The 2011 Locksley: Week 9
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 27, 2011
Last week’s Locksley roundup hit the presses prior to U.C.L.A.’s loss to Arizona but after U.C.L.A. athletic director Dan Guerrero termed Rick Neuheisel’s job status as “day to day,” which prevented Neuheisel from landing the sort of double-whammy that can propel a coach to the top of this list. With Guerrero’s noncommittal stance and the Arizona loss now firmly on Neuheisel’s plate, is there any way he can avoid leapfrogging Boston College’s Frank Spaziani in becoming the Locksley’s leader heading into the last Saturday of October. Each has his negatives: neither win much, both suffer ugly loss after ugly loss and both have drawn widespread calls for massive changes from their respective fan base. Each has their cons and their cons — I’m still looking for the pros. The coaching quote of the week comes from U.C.F.’s George O’Leary, who was not happy about losing to U.A.B., as one would expect:
“I think it’s as sloppy defense as I’ve ever seen just as far as making plays. You know the coverage wasn’t good and things you’ve got to — you can’t do in games and expect to win. Disappointing.”
1. Frank Spaziani, Boston College (Last week: No. 1)
2011 record 1-6
Overall (since 2009) 17-17
It was 7-0. I swear. It was then 7-3, and even 7-6 at halftime. Boston College was winning — I saw it with my own two eyes. Unfortunately, while the first 30 minutes were pleasant the final 30 minutes were anything but. Virginia Tech scored 24 points in the second half, including the first 21 points coming out of halftime, sending B.C. to its sixth loss in six tries against F.B.S. competition. Again, a 2-10 finish is a distinct possibility. Bowling Green was the last team to go from bowl play to double-digit losses in the span of a single season — from 2009 to 2010 — but this isn’t Bowling Green; this is B.C., and while the Eagles aren’t a national power this sort of decline was completely unforeseeable. This is a disaster.
2. Rick Neuheisel, U.C.L.A. (Last week: No. 4)
2011 record 3-4
Overall (since 2008) 18-26
From “day to day” to assurances that no, a bowl trip in 2011 might be enough, Neuheisel’s ship is clearly taking on water. When your athletic director says that six wins won’t cut and when six wins might be the best you can do — well, this marriage likely won’t end well. But there’s still hope for U.C.L.A. and Neuheisel: U.S.C. isn’t eligible for the Pac-12 South title, and the Bruins control their own destiny thanks to a home date with Arizona State. I’m not saying the Bruins are the favorite, considering the way Arizona took them to school, but would U.C.L.A. fire Neuheisel even if he won a division championship?
3. Neil Callaway, U.A.B. (Last week: No. 2)
2011 record 1-6
Overall (since 2007) 16-39
Callaway and U.A.B. actually won a game. It was wonderful, as the roughly 900 fans who were in attendance for the event at Legion Field can attest. So that’s one down, five to go for Callaway, who might be able to land another season should his Blazers finish strong. What else? By winning against U.C.F., Callaway avoided reaching the Bob Toledo Mark of 15-40, which finally forced Tulane to make a coaching change. Baby steps for Callaway: one win, then two, maybe three, four and five, perhaps six to save his job.
4. Larry Porter, Memphis (Last week: No. 3)
2011 record 2-6
Overall (since 2010) 3-17
Porter and Memphis finally won a game against F.B.S. competition. It came against Tulane — second mention post-Toledo — which wasn’t all that surprising, given all that program had been through over the previous week. What’s the chance of Memphis doing the unthinkable and making it two in a row? U.C.F. awaits on Saturday, which isn’t great: the Knights lost to the Blazers on Saturday, and here’s betting they have the proper motivation to get back in the win column. But two in a row for Porter? That would be something.
5. Houston Nutt, Mississippi (Last week: No. 5)
2011 record 2-5
Overall (since 2008) 24-21
It’ll never be cheap to buy out the rest of Houston Nutt’s contract, and you need to remember that buying out the remainder of his contract would also entail buying out the rest of his assistant’s contacts, which will cost Mississippi a pretty penny. But at what point does the university decide that enough is enough? It won’t be in 2011, barring five more losses to end the year — which would leave the Rebels with no wins in SEC play. Could the university really stomach retaining Nutt for 2012? I still think — though Ole Miss would certainly have the right — that Nutt would return. But his seat is hot enough to remain one of the five leading contenders for the Locklsey.
6. Dan Enos, Central Michigan (Last week: No. 7)
2011 record 2-6
Overall (since 2010) 5-15
The offense is there. After stumbling out of the gate in September, Central Michigan has averaged 502 yards of total offense over its last four games, including a season-high 569 yards against Ball State on Saturday. Yet the Chippewas continue to lose, even with that big number against the Cardinals, because the defense can’t do anything right. Stop the run? Eastern Michigan rushed for 350 yards two weeks ago. Stop the pass? Ball State went for 325 through the air. Sack the quarterback, for turnovers? Not nearly often enough. One of these days, Enos will need to get both the offense and defense working in concert.
7. Rob Ianello, Akron (Last week: No. 6)
2011 record 1-6
Overall (since 2010) 2-17
Something has to give on Saturday, when Enos and Central Michigan travel to Akron to take on Ianello and the Zips. Unfortunately, I give Akron little chance of slowing down the Chippewas on defense, which probably spells another loss for Ianello. And you know what? That’s not good. But it’s entirely expected, which is also, yes, not good. Akron football is a non-factor in the MAC, which in extension makes it a complete non-factor in college football.
8. Steve Fairchild, Colorado State (Last week: N/A)
2011 record 3-4
Overall (since 2008) 16-28
Once upon a time, long, long ago, Fairchild was winning games in Fort Collins. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact: just about two years ago, Fairchild was 10-6 over his first 16 games back at his alma mater. Since opening the 2009 season at 3-0 — after going 7-6 and reaching bowl play in his debut campaign — Fairchild has compiled a record of 6-20; the six wins have come against Idaho, U.N.L.V., New Mexico, New Mexico, Northern Colorado and Utah State. In between, there have 16 losses by 10 or more points. Here’s the thing, however: the roster is still extremely young, and there’s the potential for brighter days ahead. Fairchild needs to win some games to ensure he’s part of that future.
9. Paul Wulff, Washington State (Last week: No. 10)
2011 record 3-4
Overall (since 2008) 8-36
The three wins in seven games isn’t terrible, especially considering Washington State’s recent history, but let’s remember that those three victories came against Idaho State, U.N.L.V. and Colorado, the latter by four points after a late comeback. So it’s not as if the Cougars got to 3-4 by taking down the elite. And three of their four losses have come by 18 or more points, with the lone exception a decidedly ugly 28-25 loss to U.C.L.A. three weeks ago. Basically, while 3-4 looks nice compared to Wulff’s terrible start, the Cougars are still clearly not where the program needs to be in order to make a run in the Pac-12.
10. Rick Stockstill, M.T.S.U. (Last week: No. 8)
2011 record 2-4
Overall (since 2006) 35-34
Middle Tennessee State got back in the win column against Florida Atlantic after losing at home to Western Kentucky the week before. Even with that loss, the Blue Raiders have won two of three — ignore that the first came against Memphis — after starting the year 1-3. And three of those losses, with Purdue and Troy joining W.K.U., have come by a field goal. So are the Blue Raiders close to breaking out? I wouldn’t bet on it, but the offense didn’t miss a beat against F.A.U. under interim coordinator Buster Faulkner, who replaced Willie Simmons, who resigned earlier in the week.
Jeff Tedford, California (Last week: No. 9)
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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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