2013 Pre-Spring Preview
Coaches Needing A Big Spring
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Coaches In Need of a Big Spring
Coaches In Need of a Big Spring
Coaches In Need of a Big Spring - Top Five
Amassing a tailwind in March and April is not the sole domain of the athletes at this time of year. In fact, a swath of head coaches who’ve endured recent adversity are just as eager to put poor finishes behind them, while gathering up a much-needed head of steam for the 2013 campaign.
Now, that’s certainly not to suggest that all are facing must-win situations. Frank Beamer and Al Golden, for example, are safe at Virginia Tech and Miami, respectively, even if they don’t win 10 games in the fall. However, that doesn’t quell the urgency to exceed last season’s disappointing results on the field.
For coaches and players alike, flushing out the old and ushering in a new mindset all begins in the spring, where the seeds of next season are about to be put in the ground. Of the dozen head coaches profiled in this exact space last February, five are no longer employed by the same school. The 13 men below are bucking to avoid a similar fate by using 15 upcoming practices as a springboard to new heights.
13. Al Golden, Miami
As much as any head coach at the FBS level, Golden sure could use a silver lining or two before the start of his third season in Miami.
Without any warning, Golden walked into a mess with the Hurricanes, the result of alleged NCAA wrongdoings long before the coach ever left Temple. An investigation has hung above the program ever since, negatively impacting recruiting, while forcing the ‘Canes to self-impose bowl bans in consecutive years. Is the worst now behind Golden? No one knows with any certainty, which is at the crux of the problem. The coach and his staff need to be able to put the sins of their predecessors behind them as soon as possible, so they can go about the business of rebuilding a program’s confidence.
12. Tony Levine, Houston
Change is in the air in Houston. Levine plans to do all he can to not become a part of the overhaul.
It’s an exciting time to be a Cougar, with a new stadium and a new league, the Big East, set to become a part of the future. However, as ground is broken on a state-of-the-art home, the team will be undergoing renovations of its own. Houston was a major disappointment in Levine’s first year as a head coach, following up a momentous 13-1 campaign by completely missing the postseason. The administration really likes its young coach, but with expectations about to start rising like scaffolding, Levine is eager to prove he’s the coach capable of ushering Houston into a new era of football.
11. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Beamer won’t be leaving Blacksburg until he decides it’s time to go. But, after losing six games for the first time in two decades, the coach is determined to make 2012 look like an aberration as quickly as possible.
The Hokies were uncharacteristically weak last fall, snapping an impressive eight-year streak of 10-win seasons. Chalk it up to a blip that happens to every program one time or another. Still, Beamer realizes that the declines of a team and its coach can begin with absolute subtlety. It starts with a 7-6 record, and before you know it, an ACC championship is no longer the standard by which seasons are judged. The upcoming year is an important one for Beamer and Virginia Tech. The coach is hungry to get back to the high level of play that’s typified his Hall of Fame career as a Hokie.
10. Paul Johnson< Georgia Tech
Did the Yellow Jackets crest under Johnson back in 2009? It’s a concern that’s begun to buzz around the Flats.
Johnson was the talk of the town after his first two seasons in Atlanta, winning 20 games and an ACC championship. Since the start of 2010, though, he’s gone a middling 21-19. Overall, Johnson, well-liked as he may be in the area, is still just 1-4 in the postseason, and 1-4 versus rival Georgia. The latter ought to be bolded for its importance to Tech. While the rest of the league hasn’t exactly caught up to the coach’s option-based attack, big plays have been missing from the passing game, and the D is a perennial problem. Johnson may be safe, but the bloom is clearly off his rose.
9. Charlie Weis, Kansas
One measurement of the desperation level of a coach is the number of junior-college athletes he signs in February. Of the 26 new Jayhawks inked by Weis, a whopping 18 were JUCO transfers.
Weis walked into an undeniably difficult situation in Lawrence, inheriting a team that lacked the talent to effectively compete in the Big 12. After claiming just one victim, South Dakota State, and seeing their conference losing streak balloon to 21 games, the Jayhawks can’t help but be better in 2013. Although it’s hard to imagine Weis’ job being in jeopardy after two years, he still needs to show tangible progress this fall. The uphill climb begins on March 5, with the entire staff hoping to flesh out the newcomers, and begin establishing a soft pecking order.
8. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest
Grobe has done some remarkable things over the span of a dozen seasons in Winston-Salem. But what exactly is the expiration date on a successful three-year run at a school short on football resources and tradition?
The coach peaked by winning 28 games between 2006-08, bringing an improbable ACC championship to the Demon Deacons. However, he’s just 19-30 over the past four seasons, looking as if the magic has left the program for good. It’s now been seven years since that glorious run to the Orange Bowl and school-first 11-win season, led by Grobe and QB Riley Skinner. With Duke beginning to perk up in Durham for David Cutcliffe, Wake Forest might be facing an upheaval if it fails to avoid a fifth losing season in a row.
7. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
Can Mizzou bounce back after its worst campaign in eight years? Failing to do so could put Pinkel in a precarious position once the season comes to an end.
Pinkel has generally done a solid job over the past dozen years in Columbia, but he’s no longer trending north. In 2011, not only did his Tigers finish in fifth place in the Big 12, but he was arrested on a DUI charge and suspended for a game. And last fall’s ballyhooed shift to the SEC ended with a thud. Missouri went 5-7, including 2-6 in its new league. Making matters worse for Pinkel, the SEC’s other import, Texas A&M, blossomed into one of the country’s top teams. If the program once again looks out of place in the game’s premier conference, the administration could be in the market for a new leader.
6. Tim Beckman, Illinois
In the high-stakes game of college coaching, it’s becoming increasingly common for underachievers to get pink slipped after just two years. That’s potentially troubling news for Beckman.
The Illini were a disaster in 2012, slogging through a 2-10 campaign that included no Big Ten wins. There was far better talent at the staff’s disposal than the results indicated, heaping pressure on Beckman and his assistants to initiate an immediate about-face this fall. The necrotic offense is now in the hands of former Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit, who’ll get his first good look at the personnel beginning on March 5. AD Mike Thomas felt compelled to dispatch public support for Beckman last December, a troubling development for a coach in just the first year of his tenure.
Coaches In Need of a Big Spring - Top Five