2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Hot ... Week 10
Who’s Not ...
10. Ellis Johnson as a Head Coach
While Johnson has had a long track record of success as a defensive assistant, most recently with Steve Spurrier, Southern Miss should have taken a harder look at his head coaching resume before hiring him to succeed Larry Fedora. In four years while at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel, he went 12-22, never registering a winning season. Breaking through in his debut in Hattiesburg isn’t going to happen either. The Golden Eagles, the defending Conference USA champ, are off to their worst start since 1976, fading to 0-9 after a 27-19 loss to lowly UAB.
9. Missouri QB James Franklin
Sure, Franklin has had injury issues for most of the year, and hasn’t been handled great by the coaching staff, but this is clearly not the same player that he was a season ago. After accounting for 36 touchdowns as a sophomore, he has just four in 2012. Saturday afternoon in Gainesville was Franklin’s season in a nutshell. Florida is never an easy assignment for an opposing quarterback, but the junior threw four interceptions and sailed at least a dozen passes over the heads of his receivers. While the dual-threat has a lot of talent, it doesn’t appear as if it’ll fully reach the surface again until 2013.
8. NC State
There was a time not too long ago that the Pack looked as if it might be a surprise contender in the ACC Atlantic Division. That time has long since passed. NC State, the only team to claim a victory over Florida State in 2012, has dropped back-to-back games to completely alter expectations for the school. A week ago, Tom O’Brien’s team bowed to the offensive and special teams heroics of North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard. But on this past Saturday, the Pack sunk further into mediocrity by getting schooled, 33-6, by a Virginia team that entered the weekend on a nasty six-game losing streak.
7. The Tennessee D
The revolving door in Knoxville? Yeah, that could apply to either the Vols’ staff or coordinator Sal Sunseri’s defense. Sure, Tennessee snapped its four-game losing streak, but no thanks to the play of the defenders, who yielded more than 700 yards to Troy in a chaotic 55-48 track meet with a Sun Belt visitor. The Volunteers began the weekend with the SEC’s lowest-rated defense, and moved a little deeper into the cellar on Saturday afternoon. Sunseri was brought over from Alabama to fix this unit. It’s probably a matter of weeks before he and his fellow employees are out of work.
6. Arizona State
It all began with one humbling Thursday night loss to Oregon. It’s been all downhill ever since for the Sun Devils. Once a threat to win the Pac-12 South and rise deep into the Top 25, Arizona State has hit a brick wall with three straight losses. Since the blowout to the Ducks, the team has fallen on a last-minute field goal to UCLA and been crushed in Corvallis by Oregon State. Forget the South. ASU still needs a victory just to become bowl eligible, and still has tough remaining trips to USC and in-state rival Arizona.
5. Jeff Tedford’s Job Security
What’s worse for a hot seat head coach in November, playing in front of a sparse home crowd on a Friday night or officially getting eliminated from the postseason with two games remaining? Neither situation bodes well for long-time Cal coach Tedford, whose team fell to 3-7 following a third straight loss. The Bears were miserable against Washington, who hadn’t won on the road all year, turning the ball over four times and allowing QB Zach Maynard to be treated like a piñata. This team is staring down the barrel of a 3-9, coach-killing campaign.
4. Mississippi State
As a threat to the SEC West elite, the Bulldogs wound up being no more than an imposter. The program has done more than just lose back-to-back games on the last two Saturdays; it has gotten housed by a combined score of 76-20 by Alabama and Texas A&M. The shellacking at the hands of the Crimson Tide is excusable. The Aggies? Not so much. Mississippi State was playing in Starkville, yet was never competitive on Saturday, as QB Johnny Manziel and RB Ben Malena schooled a once-stout defense.
3. West Virginia
Remember when the Mountaineers were considered a threat for the Big 12 title, if not more? Yeah, that was a very long time ago. The once-trendy program hasn’t won a game in almost a month, dropping three in a row for the first time since 2004. The last two have come in Morgantown, a place that typically makes opposing teams shudder. This past weekend, West Virginia slugged it out with TCU for 60-plus minutes, but wound up on the short end of an overtime thriller, when WR Josh Boyce barely hauled in the game-winning two-pointer.
2. Virginia Tech
Nine games into the 2012 season, the Hokies are a long way from bowl eligibility. Yeah, it’s been that bad this season in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech stumbled to a 30-12 loss to Miami on Thursday night, ceding control of the Coastal Division, and officially snapping its eight-year run of 10-win seasons. Sloppy and undisciplined at Sun Life Stadium, particularly on special teams, the 4-5 Hokies have many wondering aloud if Beamerball is on life support. Tech had way too much talent at the beginning of the year to be in the position it is as November kicks off.
From the moment that QB Matt Barkley announced he’d be returning for his senior year, no one expected the Trojans to lose three games this season. They’ve already reached that number, with tough games against Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame still left on the schedule. After falling to Oregon for a second straight loss, it remains to be seen if Troy can even regroup in time to capture the Pac-12 South, a division it was supposed to dominate with relative ease. The Trojans continue to be one of this season’s biggest disappointments, a poorly-coached squad that’s been unable to maximize the diverse talent on the roster.
Who's Hot ... Week 10