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The Countdown

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

Coaching Moves

The 2012 Locksley: Week 3

Blind squirrels are known to stumble upon a nut every now and again, especially if that nut is, say, Maine’s football team. Or if the blind squirrel is Middle Tennessee State and the nut is Florida Atlantic, which houses the only Sun Belt team more impotent than Rick Stockstill’s Blue Raiders. So what to make of these wins? At face value, dates with Maine and the Owls pushed Boston College and Middle Tennessee State into the win column – that’s the biggest takeaway for both the Eagles and Blue Raiders. But beyond that point, what did these wins prove? That B.C. is not good enough to run with Miami (Fla.) but good enough to beat an F.C.S. opponent? That Stockstill’s gang can beat F.A.U. but not McNeese State? The wins prove nothing, in short, because for teams of this quality – or lack thereof – true colors won’t shine until the calendar turns to conference play, and for both B.C. and M.T.S.U., the season looks bleak indeed despite a bump up to .500. The coaching quote of the week come from U.N.L.V.’s Bobby Hauck:

“Not sure what to say other than the fact that I am shocked at the moment. This was different than last season, we got beat by an F.C.S. team in Southern Utah. S.U.U.’s junior and senior class was more talented than our junior and senior class. Tonight we got out played. N.A.U. stuck with it. They are to be congratulated. I’ve coached against those guys many times and it is sad to say that we came out on the short end of the stick.”

1. Frank Spaziani, B.C. (Last week: No. 1)

2012 record 1-1
Overall (since 2009) 21-20

Remember that loss to Miami? Boston College moved the ball pretty well, especially through the air, but couldn’t handle the Hurricanes’ team speed. Well, Miami’s loss to Kansas State – a mugging, plain and simple – has made the Eagles’ season-opening loss look even worse in hindsight. Hey, at least the Eagles beat Maine, meaning that with Massachusetts the worst team in the F.B.S., Boston College is better than at least two college football teams in New England. You know what stings? Pat Fitzgerald had a few nice things to say about B.C. earlier this week – “We’d better show better than we did on Saturday night, I promise you that. If not, we’re going to get our tails whooped.” – and no one took him seriously. Really? You’re going to beat Vanderbilt and then lose to Boston College?

2. Bobby Hauck, U.N.L.V. (Last week: No. 8)

2012 record 0-2
Overall (since 2010) 4-23

U.N.L.V. is horrid. The Rebels are worse today than they were on Nov. 28, 2009, when Mike Sanford capped his disappointing run with the program by beating Colorado State, 28-24. Hauck has won four games in two-plus years; he has lost two games against F.C.S. competition, with Saturday’s narrow loss to Northern Arizona joining a 41-16 shellacking at the hands of Southern Utah a season ago. No lead is safe, as we learned over the weekend. No deficit is too small to not overcome, as we’ve seen again and again and again since the start of the 2010 season. What does U.N.L.V. want to be? Whatever that answer might be, it’s certainly not a program that is in very real danger of dropping behind New Mexico as the weakest program in the Mountain West. Hauck has utterly failed at recapturing even the barest level of success he attained over his marvelous run at Montana. And you know what? Some great F.C.S. coaches are just that: great F.C.S. coaches. Hauck seems overwhelmed.

3. Robb Akey, Idaho (Last week: No. 3)

2012 record 0-2
Overall (since 2007) 19-45

After losing to Eastern Washington and Bowling Green, Idaho gets L.S.U. in Baton Rouge. Guess the final score: 48-0, 51-3, 44-6 or 69-0? There’s nothing good that can come of a date with the Tigers, seeing that Idaho’s inability to do much of anything will be broadcast nationally, not just to a select group of diehards willing to put up with 60 minutes of tomfoolery when the Vandals play on local television. A few months ago, some wondered if Akey would be willing to come along for the ride should Idaho have opted to take a step back to F.C.S. status. Now that the program’s future seems slightly more secure as an F.B.S. Independent, the question is reversed: Would Idaho want Akey, soon to be 30 games under .500, to continue serving as its head coach during such a crucial juncture?

4. Dan Enos, Central Mich. (Last week: No. 4)

2012 record 1-1
Overall (since 2010) 7-19

Central Michigan will be 1-5 before you can say Butch Jones. I’ve mentioned the possibility of a bowl berth, though that will entail a heck of a run over the season’s second half – the Chippewas would need go at least 4-2, should they beat one of Iowa, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Navy. What are the odds? C.M.U. has won seven games since Enos arrived from East Lansing in 2010; four of those wins have come against F.B.S. competition. Basically, to reach bowl play in 2012 would ask that Enos beat as many F.B.S. teams as he did in 2010 and 2011 combined. Yes, the odds are long. What’s been the most disappointing aspect of C.M.U.’s start has been the play of quarterback Ryan Radcliffe, who has completed a hair more than half of his attempts with one touchdown through two games. For Enos to survive, he’ll need to get his quarterback’s game in order.

5. Rick Stockstill, M.T.S.U. (Last week: No. 2)

2012 record 1-1
Overall (since 2006) 36-41

A win is a win. Winning is better than losing. But beating Florida Atlantic doesn’t answer any lingering concerns surrounding Middle Tennessee State, not does it answer any questions about Stockstill’s ability to lead this program back into the Sun Belt race. Look at what’s happening around the league: Florida International is hopping up to Conference USA, Louisiana-Lafayette is building a winner under Mark Hudspeth, Arkansas State hired Gus Malzahn and Louisiana-Monroe just beat Arkansas. What is Middle Tennessee doing? At best, the Blue Raiders are standing still – and that’s never a good thing, whether it’s the Sun Belt or elsewhere. It’s more likely that the program is moving backwards, and that reflects poorly on Stockstill.

6. Mike Price, UTEP (Last week: N/A)

2012 record 0-2
Overall (since 2004) 45-54

There’s no more time for moral victories. Oklahoma was nice; the Miners made the Sooners work for 60 minutes, and more talented teams have struggled doing the same. But a loss is a loss is a loss, especially when the Miners, fresh off giving O.U. a game, failed to sniff a very weak Mississippi team in Oxford. It’s time for wins. Price was 16-8 after two seasons in El Paso; since 2006, his record is an ugly 29-46. So what is UTEP to do? It’s not a matter of accepting mediocrity – because no program, no matter who bad, should accept average results. The question becomes whether the administration thinks that Price has what it takes to regain his early success with the program. Believing that he can, based on UTEP’s play since 2006, would take an extreme stretch in logic.

7. Joker Phillips, Kentucky (Last week: No. 6)

2012 record 1-1
Overall (since 2010) 12-15

Hey, Kentucky looked pretty good on Saturday. Kent State isn’t terrible, all things considered: the Golden Flashes are a five-win team in the MAC, maybe six with an upset in October or November. The Wildcats just made them look terrible – especially with a frenetic offensive pace that seems ripped from the Hal Mumme days, not the Phillips era. To win games in the SEC, U.K. will need to carry this strong showing into hostile stadiums at Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, hoping to offset some issues on defense by simply outscoring the opposition. It doesn’t look great for Kentucky. But the development on offense, should it carry through this season, could end up giving the Wildcats four wins – and that wouldn’t be that awful, to be honest. If Phillips can get one thing working, even if the defense remains ineffective, it would bode very well for his security.

8. Jeff Tedford, California (Last week: No. 5)

2012 record 1-1
Overall (since 2002) 80-41

Last weekend’s loss to South Florida puts a dent in this idea, but I still think that California’s season-opening loss to Nevada will look more and more understandable as the year wears on. Likewise with losses to Ohio State and U.S.C., as you might think. Tedford’s job security will increase after the next two weeks, seeing that it will be difficult to avoid losses to the Buckeyes and Trojans – not impossible, but with both games coming on the road, the Golden Bears will be a significant underdog. Tedford’s fate will be decided from Sept. 29 onwards, when the schedule takes an easier turn. Are we looking at another seven-win regular season? I’d bet on it. Will that be enough to save Tedford’s job? Yes, especially with a roughly $7 million buyout on the table.

9. Jon Embree, Colorado (Last week: N/A)

2012 record 0-2
Overall (since 2010) 3-12

There’s no way to sugarcoat just how terribly Embree has run this program since being tabbed as Dan Hawkins’ successor late in 2010. Wins? Not many. Losses? Quite a few, including the most recent embarrassment: Sacramento State 30, Colorado 28. I noted earlier this week that this isn’t some Podunk program searching for an identity; this is Colorado, and there’s no reason why the Buffaloes can’t be a Pac-12 contender with the right head coach at the helm. Based off his first 14 games, Embree is not that head coach. But he’ll have time to make it work at his alma mater – I think. However, given the way Embree has mishandled his personnel, especially at quarterback, losing another 10 games should force the university to look in another direction.

10. Randy Edsall, Maryland (Last week: No. 10)

2012 record 2-0
Overall (since 2011) 4-10

With every passing Saturday, with every win, it becomes more and more likely that Edsall returns for another season with the Terrapins. The only reason he’s still on this list, in fact, is the idea that it’s too early to say that Maryland’s season won’t run off the rails – the team is so young and so inexperienced that it’s impossible to predict how it will handle the rigors of A.C.C. play. For now, however, it’s time to give Edsall some credit for the way he’s weathered not only an awful offseason but also a slew of potentially crippling injuries. Despite starting freshmen at many key spots, Maryland moved to 2-0 by beating Temple, 37-26, on the road. If not a great win, it was a victory that the Terrapins can build upon heading into this weekend’s game against… Connecticut. Remember the Huskies? This should be a little awkward.

Dropped off

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech (Last week: No. 7)
Derek Dooley, Tennessee (Last week: No. 9)

Previous lists

Week 2 Frank Spaziani, No. 1

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  1. Zach says:

    Skip Holtz? How long is it since they won a meaningful game?

  2. BobJ says:

    We need to be consistent in describing how bad teams get beaten in the B.C. write-up. Does one get whopped or whooped?

    Actually, neither. The more proper patois would be whupped and whuppin’ , from whipped and whipping.

    One word I haven’t heard in a while is shellacked. While having a coat of varnish applied to you doesn’t conjure up having received a sound trashing, the sound of word when spoken can.

  3. BobJ says:

    Oops. There was shellacking in the U.N.L.V. comment. Silly me.

    Paul: There’s no question that my vocabulary needs updating. I think “whipped” is better than “whooped,” but that’s just me. A few words for “getting destroyed”: whipped, shellacked, crushed, dominated, smacked, lit up, manhandled, torn apart, ripped, whacked, erased, tousled, yanked, nixed, massacred, pancaked, sunk, arrested, zonked. I need more.

  4. Patrick says:

    Utterly destroyed, demolished and obliterated were words often used to describe some opponents that Nebraska played in the 1990s.

  5. Burnt Orange says:

    Public mauling,tail whipping, ass kiccking, laid out, punched out, shredded, mangled, emasculated, executed, humiliated, clock cleaned, wagon hitched, utterly and completely defeated, steamrolled, routed, blown out, leveled, bombarded into oblivion, rendered defenseless, gutless, clueless, bewildering display of coaching incompetence, absolutely criminal time management ( on this one I am reminded of my brother going up to a policeman immediately after a devastating high school playoff defeat where the time management was incomprehensibly bad and demanding that the officer arrest the coach in question for something, anything – my brother was certain that some provision of the Texas Penal Code had just been violated – Policeman: “there isn’t a law against that.” Brother: ” there damn well ought to be.”)
    Policeman: ” I can’t argue with you about that.”.

  6. OwlFamily says:


    Pardon the spelling on phone.

  7. [...] There’s a reason that Georgia is looking at the biggest point spread of the Mark Richt era.  Paul Myerberg explains (in a post that’s not about either Georgia or FAU): Blind squirrels are known to stumble upon [...]

  8. Dave says:

    “Tousled,” Paul? I tousle my 2-year old son’s hair. Doesn’t really conjure up the image of complete and utter destruction.

    Terminated? Annihilated? Defecated upon? Sent them off with their tail between their legs? Plowed salt into their home field such that nothing will ever grow there again…?

  9. Jake says:


    Paul: Oh, Locksleyed is great.

  10. Woodysc says:

    Is “quartered” too medieval?

  11. Spencer says:

    Hauck may be on the hotseat but it’s irrelevant, UNLV doesn’t have the financial capability to buy him out. They played much better against WSU then against NAU, Nick Sherry gives the program some hope.

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