It must be difficult for a football coach to sleep at night, especially with what occurred last season.
In 2000, more head coaching jobs underwent change than at any time in the past 20 years. Seventeen coaches were fired and 17 jobs were filled by assistant coaches. Five left for better jobs, and three retired.
Still, no matter how much a coach’s job is in dire straits, they will still study hours and hours of opponents’ films and constantly evaluate their team. And always during preseason conference media days, coaches seem to say the same thing verbatim.
“I am very impressed by my team’s performance during spring practice,” the coach will say, as if he is reading off a script. “We have some new guys who are going to step up and make a difference. We will work hard to make sure we have a winning ball club to compete for the conference title.”
But a football coach’s job does not rely on hard work or being easy to deal with around the office.
The only thing that matters is the number of wins. Period. Granted, if a coach has established himself, a couple of mediocre seasons may not necessarily mean he is on the hot seat. But not all coaches have the legacy of a Lou Holtz or Joe Paterno. And every season of these coaches’ jobs are on the line.
The following are bios of coaches that must record wins this season — otherwise, a big boot will ensue.
Vanderbilt: Woody Widenhofer. At Vandy: 13-32, four years. Overall 25-63-1.
Coming off of a dismal 2000 season with a 3-8 record, 1-7 in the SEC, Widenhofer knows it is about the time when another losing season means getting handed the pink slip.
<P>So far, so good?: Nothing hurt worse than last week’s debacle to Middle Tennessee State, 37-28. Remember that MTSU has been a Division I-A team for just two seasons. Vandy looked like your average flag football team last week, especially in the first quarter, where the Blue Raiders jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. Their defense allowed 608 total yards of offense, while the Commodores’ offense completed only 13 passes.
2001 Outlook: Vandy’s schedule is anything but favorable. The next week they face off against Alabama, followed by a tussle at Mississippi. Don’t forget to note that they have to face Georgia, play at South Carolina, then travel to the Swamp and face the Gators, as well as a season finale at Tennessee.
Prediction, boot or no-booting: Boot.
Indiana: Cam Cameron. At Indiana and overall: 13-31, four years.
Ending the season tied for ninth in the Big Ten with a 2-6 conference record can only mean that time is running out for Cam.
So far, so good?: Good thing for the Hoosiers they haven’t had a game yet.
2001 Outlook: If Cameron can lead his team to three non-conference wins against N.C. State, Kentucky and Utah, then his job may be saved before facing a rigorous Big Ten schedule, which includes Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern and Purdue. A big win against one of those teams, including wins against Iowa, Penn State and Michigan State could help out Cameron. Also, if the gamble of putting Antwaan Randle El as a receiver and using the two-quarterback system pays off, then Cameron may stick around for another year.
Prediction, boot or no booting: No booting.
Michigan State: Bobby Williams. At Michigan State and Overall: 6-6, one year.
High hopes came with Bobby Williams taking over the territory in East Lansing, Mich. After taking over at the end of the 1999 season and winning the Citrus Bowl against Florida, the Spartan faithful wanted a repeat performance. And with a Ron Dayne-esque running back in T.J. Duckett, fans expect the Spartans to win the Big Ten the way the Badgers did. But a 2-6 Big Ten record in 2000 made the ground much shakier for Williams.
So far, so good?: The Spartans haven’t played a game yet, but their opening this weekend against Central Michigan should lead the team in the right direction.
2001 Outlook: Williams is implementing the spread offense this year, which may lead to opposing defenses to worry about the passing attack, instead of keeping an eye solely on Duckett. But if the spread does not work out, or if another quarterback controversy ensues, the offense will be put entirely on Duckett’s shoulders. In close games, Michigan State is at a severe disadvantage with a serious deficiency in special teams.
Prediction, boot or no booting: Boot.
Baylor: Kevin Steele. At Baylor and overall: 3-19, two years.
The key to saving Steele’s job is winning in the Big XII, which his team failed to do last season, posting an 0-8 record.
So far, so good?: Absolutely not. Even though they haven’t played a game last season, the Bears really have no chance of doing better in the Big XII this year.
2001 Outlook: Last season, the Bears ranked last in the nation in total offense, averaging only 1.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Greg Cicero and wide receiver Reggie Newhouse must have big seasons, otherwise Steele’s seat will be empty at the end of the season. They may possibly pull off wins against a rebuilding Missouri team or even Oklahoma State.
Prediction, boot or no booting: A very far booting.