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2012 Coaching Hot Seat - Can Afford Bad 2012
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 4, 2012


The CFN 2012 Coaching Hot Seat Analysis - Those who can afford a bad 2012

2012 Coaching Hot Seat

No Worries In 2012

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- No Pressure - Can Afford Two Bad Years
- No Real Worries. - Can Afford A Clunker
- Need To Win, Or The Pressure Is On
- Clunk In 2012, Worry In 2013
- The Pressure Cooker. The REAL Hot Seat 
- 2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings

Being on a hot seat doesn't and shouldn't necessarily mean a coach is about to be fired. It can also mean a coach is under tremendous pressure and has to deal with ridiculously high expectations.

For example, Urban Meyer, Jimbo Fisher and Brady Hoke aren't going to be fired no matter what happens on the field this season. However, they're on a hot seat to win and win big. Meyer needs to get Ohio State ready to win a national title again in 2013. Fisher has to get Florida State to an ACC title. Hoke set the bar high after winning the Sugar Bowl, and now the fan base is expecting a Big Ten championship.

So with that in mind, here's the CFN ranking of all 124 current FBS college football head coaches based on the pressure they're under. The ones at the top could afford a disastrous 2012 and everything would be fine. The ones at the bottom will either be canned or will have an extremely disappointed fan base to make for an extremely grouchy offseason.

These coaches are likely rebuilding a program, are in a nice situation or have been successful enough to survive a bad year without a problem. There are expectations, but these coaches can probably make it to 2013 with no worries, even with a clunker of a 2012.  

23. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Check back in two years. Fedora gets an early pass, especially since his debut will be saddled with NCAA baggage, but North Carolina is now expecting a little bit of production. He might be walking into a mess and he’ll get time to work, but the patience will wear thin quickly.

24. Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech
He won’t be in Ruston for too much longer if his Bulldogs roll through the Western Athletic Conference as expected this season. While he has a solid long-term contract, he’s only going to be 43 years old this season and has a bright future ahead of him. If Texas Tech ends up getting rid of Tommy Tuberville, watch for Dykes to be on the short list of replacements.

25. Gary Andersen, Utah State
In a state with BYU and Utah, it’s hard for Utah State to create any sort of a buzz. AlthoughAndersen has only one winner in his four seasons as a head coach -- and there are some huge personnel question marks this year -- 2011 bought him at least another few seasons.

26. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Whittingham will be at Utah until he decides otherwise. He’s a part of the fabric of a program that has an even brighter future now that it resides in a more prominent conference.

27. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana
It was only one year, and he set the bar high, but after bringing the program only its second winning season since 1995 and second nine-win campaign, he’s set for a while.

28. Mike Leach, Washington State
Given a little bit of time and a few more resources, Leach has the secret sauce to become an institution on the Palouse, much the way Mike Price was almost a decade ago. This is as good as it gets for the Cougars, who will need to upgrade the bones of the program to keep Leach from straying in a few years.

29. Bob Davie, New Mexico
He’s a class act who’s exactly what the Lobos need. This has been one of the worst teams in America the past few years and Davie will need a while to have any sort of success, but at the very least the defense will be far, far stronger.

30. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
He’s only 21-17 in his three years, but Mississippi State has gone to two straight bowl games and won them both. The back-to-back winning seasons were the program's first since 1999 and 2000. And remember, from 2001-2006, the Bulldogs didn’t win more than three games in a season and they had only one winning campaign from 2001-2009. The success under Mullen is a relatively new thing for the starving program. He’s not going anywhere.

31. Steve Addazio, Temple
Addazio is the guy Temple wants leading it into the Big East Conference in 2012. With the debut he enjoyed last fall, it would take multiple poor seasons for the bloom to come off his rose.

32. Steve Sarkisian, Washington
Sarkisian is justifiably untouchable – for now. Still, fans and administrators will be looking for the Huskies to reach a new level of success, starting with winning the North Division in the near term. Being an also-ran in the division won’t last for long. Don’t be shocked if the NFL is soon knocking on his door.

33. Butch Jones, Cincinnati
Because of the success of Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, Jones’ margin for error is smaller than it was for former coaches such as Rick Minter. He earned some goodwill in 2011 but needs to keep the momentum going this fall.

34. James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Vandy might have a hard time keeping him. If he can take the Commodores to a bowl game every other year and be competitive enough to be more than a speed bump, he’ll be doing his job.

35. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
He was in a bit of hot water after 2008. He made some awful coaching moves in some inexcusable losses, and the Badgers didn’t look like they belonged on the same planet as Florida State in a bowl blowout. Everything changed in a hurry, though, and now he’s locked up through the 2016 season.

36. Garrick McGee, UAB
McGee actually has the leverage in this relationship, which means he’ll get the time he needs to put the Blazers in a position to compete more effectively. Predecessor Neil Callaway lasted five seasons despite never winning more than five games, so it’s not as if the Blazers are historically trigger-happy with their coaches.

37. Gene Chizik, Auburn
There’s always going to be tremendous pressure at Auburn, especially if Alabama keeps on doing what it’s doing, but Chizik isn’t on any sort of a hot seat – the guy is only a year removed from winning a national championship. As long as Auburn is in the mix among the stronger SEC teams, he’s not going anywhere.

38. Pete Lembo, Ball State
Turning 42 this season, Lembo is a high-rising prospect who might be on the Hoke plan with one big year. His only losing season in 11 years came in 2006, his first campaign at Elon. And even then he went 5-6. Ball State will want to keep him for a while.

39. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Northwestern is Northwestern, and it will take a few awful years to even think about replacing its beloved son. However, at Fitzgerald’s age and with his energy, enthusiasm, and upside, he’ll always be on the short list for the next-step-up job openings like a Colorado or a Maryland. He might not have the track record yet for a premier job, but he’ll be in the running for gigs at places where he would have an easier time recruiting.

40. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
Although Johnson is on solid footing, he doesn’t quite have the key to the city. He’s 0-4 in bowl games with the Yellow Jackets, 1-3 versus Georgia and 15-14 since the tail end of the 2009 season.

41. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
He’s a good coaching prospect who should be a nice fit for Fresno State at just the right time. Coming of a 4-9 season with a defense that finished 100th in the nation in yards allowed and 106th in scoring defense, he’s just the coach to come up with an instant turnaround in the program’s first year in the Mountain West.

42. Les Miles, LSU
The past two seasons have officially ended any talk about his job status … for now. The bar is set so ridiculously high that going 17-9 from 2008-2009 wasn’t good enough, and the base started to get a bit grouchy. A few mediocre seasons could create a problem, especially with national title-or-bust expectations going into 2012, but at the moment, he’s a damn strong football coach. Have a great day.

43. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Barring a prolonged meltdown, Wake Forest would be nuts to get rid of Grobe. On the verge of becoming an institution in Winston-Salem, he could go on to retire from the school. He has succeeded in a tough situation – the guy took the Demon Deacons to an Orange Bowl. That basically punched his ticket.

44. Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
If he’s not gone next year, he’ll be off to a bigger job in 2014. He’s a high-riser with youth, energy and a whole bunch of promise and potential. Think of it this way: Western Kentucky won five games in a 43-game span and then won seven of eight to close out last year. Taggart is building something great.

45. Dave Christensen, Wyoming
Despite being 18-20 for his career, he has a job for a while and can afford a few down years. He’s only 51 and is a good enough offensive mind to get the attack rolling a bit more with Brett Smith at the helm, but one big season could mean a step up to a midlevel BCS job.

46. Terry Bowden, Akron
Compared to being at Auburn, where he went 46-12-1 in the first five years before getting canned after a 1-5 start to the 1998 season, Akron is a walk in the park. If all goes according to plan, he’s a rent-a-coach, sticking around for a few years and building the program back up before getting a chance to show that he really is a top-shelf coach.

47. Joey Jones, South Alabama
This is the year the program has been pointing to as it moves up from the FCS ranks, and Jones is the one who’s helping bring South Alabama to the big time. Considering he’s a year removed from a 10-0 season, he’s as safe as houses.

448. Justin Fuente, Memphis
By wasting no time in turning the page on Larry Porter, Memphis showed that it was serious about getting its football house in order. The pending move to the Big East upped the ante even higher for a school mired in a nasty four-year funk.

49. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Considering the fallout with his predecessor Bill Stewart and some of the fighting that went on, the potential might be there for a Rich Rodriguez-like disaster of a breakup somewhere down the road. For now, though, olgorsen has everything on the right track and he appears to be just the right coach for the high-octane Big 12 world.

550. Dan McCarney, North Texas
Everything is fine in terms of job status, but the health problems are a concern - recovering from a stroke suffered this offseason - if the goal is to find a coach who can build things up over the next five years. Considering what he was able to do with Iowa State, and with the success he had as an assistant at Florida, he was a great get for North Texas. Now he just has to make sure everything is fine. br />
2012 Hot Seat Status
- No Pressure - Can Afford Two Bad Years
- No Real Worries. - Can Afford A Clunker
- Need To Win, Or The Pressure Is On
- Clunk In 2012, Worry In 2013
- The Pressure Cooker. The REAL Hot Seat 
- 2012 5-Year Plan Coaching Rankings