Tim Beckman [Illinois] So Ron Zook wasn’t so bad, apparently. Illinois improved under Beckman in 2013, from 1-10 vs. FBS to 3-8. They are 1-15 in B1G play. That one win was by four points, against an FBS winless Purdue team. Beckman’s most notable achievement the past two years was being caught dipping on the sideline. The student section has just gotten depressing. The Illini need to make a strong turn for the better.
Mike London [Virginia] London raised hopes and his own profile with an 8-5 year in 2011. Since, he has won four FBS games. The Cavaliers have lost their last 10 vs. FBS. Assistants are bailing for UConn. Cavalier recruiting has just gotten weird. Staff shuffling has only made problems worse. If Virigina does not improve in 2014, London is gone.
Will Muschamp [Florida] Ron Zook had a better record over three years at Florida than Will Muschamp, and was fired. The loss to Georgia Southern was an embarrassment. Florida’s defense has been excellent. Their offense, under two different coordinators, has been awful and shown no signs of getting better. Muschamp will get one more chance to rectify that in 2014. His future employment depends on it.
Charlie Weis [Kansas] Kansas has paid $2.5m per FBS win so far. That does not seem sustainable. The Jayhawks are 1-17 in the Big 12 under Weis. Worryingly, he has done so while mortgaging the future for present success. Much of the playing time has gone to high-profile transfers. Weis also brought in 16 JUCO players in one class. It just seems to be a matter of biding time and watching the buyout reduce.
Dana Holgorsen [West Virginia] Bill Stewart was phased out because 9-4 wasn’t good enough at West Virginia. Holgorsen, after a 10-win debut, has won 11 games combined the past two seasons. He is 5-14 vs. FBS since beating Texas in October 2012. The Mountaineers had a quarterback and elite skill players for much of that stretch. Holgo has received some leeway, with the conference jump and Oliver Luck’s good favor. That will expire if he drops another turd in 2014.
Dan Mullen [Mississippi State] Mullen has plateaued at Mississippi State, after winning nine games and stuffing Michigan in 2010. He needed two overtime wins (Arkansas, Ole Miss) to reach bowl play and save his job last season. Mississippi State appears to have found a quarterback for Mullen’s offense with Dak Prescott. If that doesn’t lead to significant improvement in 2014, Mullen may be out, deserving or not. Mediocrity doesn’t get you far in the hyper-competitive SEC West.
Paul Johnson [Georgia Tech] Fans have been fed up with Johnson and his triple-option. So was the team’s starting quarterback, who is transferring. According to some sources, Johnson has been disaffected with the school as well. It’s not a happy marriage, but it will continue, as the school can’t afford Johnson’s $7.5 million buyout. The Yellow Jackets aren’t winning. Running a service academy offense may be hamstringing them in a talent rich state. A reduced buyout may not look so prohibitive after next year.
Brady Hoke [Michigan] Hoke eroded his accrued good will in Ann Arbor, during a dismal 7-6 season that could have been much worse. Michigan AD Dave Brandon expressed fervent support for Hoke in writing. He backed that up with the cash to hire Alabama OC Doug Nussmeier. There’s reason for optimism, with Michigan’s roster demographics improving the next few years. But, it is Michigan fergodsakes. If the Wolverines stall in a similar fashion next season, someone else will be coaching his loaded 2015 and 2016 teams.
Kyle Flood [Rutgers] One to keep an eye on. The Scarlet Knights lost six of eight to close the 2013 season. Moving up to Big Ten competition in 2014 could get ugly. Rutgers has also been squeezed out of its in-state recruiting pipeline under Flood. The Scarlet Knights have signed two Top 10 NJ recruits combined in 2013 and 2014, compared with 10 combined in 2011 and 2012.With that sweet B1G TV cash coming in, it would not cost much for a new Rutgers AD to move on after 2014. Flood, hired for cost-effectiveness, earns $850,000 per season. Moving a different direction after 2014 may not be cost prohibitive.
Bo Pelini [Nebraska] The Georgia win turned down the heat. Pelini has even been cracking jokes on Twitter. But the Cornhuskers had another disappointing season. Nebraska was a fortunate 5-0 in one-score games. They did not beat an opponent with a pulse by more than five points. Even granting full credit, it was Pelini’s sixth consecutive four-loss season. That’s not even getting into his decorum issues and some historically bad defensive performances. How will long, for a former national power, will doing just enough continue to be enough?