Every year big-name coaches are fired, and this year will be no different. So, considering it's an off-week and all, I figured that I would write an article detailing several high-profile coaches on the hot seat, give my opinion on how it will turn out, and take a look at possible replacements.
Nebraska: Bill Callahan
Background: After declaring that they refused to accept mediocrity after firing Frank Solich following a 9-3 season, Bill Callahan was hired to return Nebraska to glory. His first three years in Lincoln brought just that, mediocrity at best, and he has yet to match Solich's final year. Despite getting a three-year contract extension in the off-season, the Huskers are collapsing in arguably the worst year they've had in decades. The AD has already been fired, and it's only a matter of time before Callahan goes.
Prediction: Just as the sun will rise in the morning, Callahan will be fired at year's end. The situation at Nebraska has now reached Dubosian levels.
Possible Replacements: Everyone seems to be clamoring for LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, and some feel that former Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill could get a very serious look. When it comes down to it, the most likely scenario is that Pelini is offered the job and accepts it on the spot. If you are a Husker, however, that has to be scary. Pelini is with little doubt one of the top DC's in the country, but it's always a major risk when you hire someone with no previous head-coaching experience, especially when you have an absolute debacle on your hands. If NU messes this one up, they are going to be down for a very long time.
Texas A&M: Dennis Franchione
Background: My how things have changed, eh? I'm not going to go into very much detail here because Fran's problems have been so well publicized, but I will say this: Though the Aggies are currently 6-2, the extremely tough final four game stretch will likely dictate a 7-5 finish at best. Unless Fran can get lightning to strike late, he's done.
Prediction: Though Man Boobs has a slightly better chance of survival than Callahan, the Nasally One will not return for 2008.
Possible Replacements: Many A&M fans are clamoring for Bo Pelini, and while that's a possibility, they won't be able to beat out Nebraska if they want the LSU DC. Tommy Tuberville, on the other hand, will probably be the primary target, and it's a legitimate possibility considering all that the Aggies can offer. If they can't get Tuberville, the Aggies will likely go back to the table. Art Briles, the head coach of the Houston Cougars, and TCU's Gary Patterson may get major consideration if the Tuberville plan doesn't pan out.
Arkansas: Houston Nutt
Background: You know the story, no need further writing about it here.
Prediction: I'm just going to go ahead and make an ass out of myself right now: Houston Nutt stays. The truth is that the Hogs have the best individual player in the nation, the best rushing attack in the nation, and one of the SEC's best defenses. And they aren't that bad, either. They lost to 'Bama in a game they had won, mailed it in against Kentucky the following week, and lost a heartbreaker to a hot Auburn team. They will be at 5-3 after routing FIU this week, and should beat MSU as well. They have great chances of knocking off mediocre South Carolina and Tennessee, and they'll even give LSU a game. I say they finish up 8-4 and Nutt survives to fight another day.
Possible Replacements: If Nutt goes, the Hogs will go after Butch Davis, an Arkansas native. That is the talk with the Razorbacks and the Tar Heels, and even Sports Illustrated has picked up on it. Another coach they may go after is a fellow Arkansas native, Tommy Tuberville. Both of these, however, are unlikely, and given the turmoil of the program, an internal promotion is also unlikely. If Davis and Tuberville don't pan out, look for them to turn to an outsider who will clean house.
Tennessee: Phil Fulmer
Background: After arguably the greatest non-Neyland years in the history of Tennessee football, the Fat One has been nothing better than mediocre since the end of the 2001 season, and 2005 in particular was a terrible year. After the newly-arrived Nicktator slapped him around in T'town, the Vols are now most likely looking at a best-case scenario of Nashville and the Music City Bowl, and the fevered pitch calling for Fulmer to leave the program are seemingly at an all-time high.
Prediction: Barring a total collapse, the Fat One lives to eat another day. The likely scenario is that the Vols win another game or two, and that 7-5 or 6-6 finish is just enough to keep Fulmer hanging around.
Possible Replacements: The Vols have an attractive job -- despite being surrounded by a poor recruiting base -- and could get a high quality coach. But expect there to be a lot of people wanting offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe to be promoted. He has head coaching experience, and many people thought he got a raw deal in Oxford, so perhaps so. If not him, it's going to be a wide open search.
Ole Miss: Ed Orgeron
Background: After jumping the gun and firing David Cutcliffe after one losing season in six years, the Rebels replacement -- Ed Orgeron -- has yet to post a record even as good as Cutcliffe's lone bad year, and that doesn't seem to be likely to change this year. Currently sitting at 2-6, the Rebels will be lucky to get to 4-8, and even that best-case scenario would bring Orgeron's three year record at Ole Miss to 11-24, and he only sports three wins over BCS conference opponents. The only upside is that recruiting has been very good for Orgeron. And it's getting even worse for the Rebels as a program. They had to give out 10,000 free tickets to marching bands for homecoming, and now they are selling 20,000 tickets for the Northwestern State game at five dollars per ticket. Just how ridiculous is that? Put it this way, even most high schools charge six or seven dollars for admission these days.
Prediction: Barring a major meltdown, Orgeron stays. With Texas transfer Jevon Snead eligible next year, combined with about 17 other starters returning, the Rebels could take off to a relative degree in 2008. I imagine that all of that will combine to essentially mean that Orgeron will have to carry the Rebels bowling in 2008, or he'll be fired. It's not the Orgeron has really done anything to warrant a fourth year, but on the other hand it's not like Colonel Reb has many other options.
Possible Replacements: With the talent that Orgeron has stockpiled, the Ole Miss job is marginally attractive at the moment. But for whatever reason the Rebels feel they should have a great football program consistently, though they've never even been consistently good except during the Vaught era, and that will mean the pressure will stay high. The truth is that no one is knocking down the door for this one, and the last time this job was open they had to hire the USC defensive line coach. If Orgeron does hit the road, expect another hire along those lines or someone with Ole Miss ties.
Arizona: Mike Stoops
Background: Four years ago, Mike Stoops said that he'd "[W]alk to Tuscaloosa if [he] was offered the Alabama job." We should all thank God that AD Mal Moore didn't ask him to. This is currently Stoops' fourth season as the Wildcats head man, and to date he is 14-28 and 2-6 on the season. At this point, 2-10 is very possible, and 3-9 would possibly be a "good" scenario.
Prediction: Stoops is fired at the end of the season, and continues a long and proud tradition of crappy coaches named Mike (sans Ditka, of course).
Possible Replacements: I'm not even going to pretend to act like I know anywhere near enough about Arizona football to make even a qualified guess.
Florida State: Bobby Bowden
Background: Aside from one good year, the 'Noles haven't been particularly good since the end of the 2000 season, and Bowden was forced to make staff changes after a disappointing 2006 season. After bringing in a dream team staff, however, FSU is not playing any better. They are currently 4-3 with games remaining against Virginia Tech, Boston College, Maryland, and Florida. An absolute best-case scenario is probably 7-5, and it could get as bad as 5-7. Recently Bowden came home to realize someone had planted a "For Sale" sign in his front yard, and that sums up the situation nicely.
Prediction: Even with a meltdown, Bowden most likely stays. I imagine everyone gets year two with the new assistant coaching staff, and if that doesn't bring major improvements, Bowden will be essentially forced into retirement. Or he just may chose to go voluntarily.
Possible Replacements: If / when Bowden goes, there will be a push for Jimbo Fisher to take over the job, but that may not happen. Georgia coach Mark Richt has FSU ties, and he will be the favorite of many, and Chuck Amato will have a faction supporting him, as will Mickey Andrews. Bowden likely won't go this year, but when he does the situation will be very interesting.
Michigan: Lloyd Carr
Background: The retirement talk loomed large for Lloyd as it was, and then came a shocking loss to Appy State and a humiliation at the hands of Oregon. At that point, Carr was assumed done. But his Wolverines have gotten it back together, and they are tied for the Big Ten lead. It may fall apart, but as long as Mike Hart can get healthy, this team may very well win the Big Ten and end up in a BCS bowl.
Prediction: Unless Michigan suddenly collapses down the stretch at Wisconsin, at Michigan State, and Ohio State, Carr will be able to return for the 2008 season. The Wolverines are not a rash bunch, and they won't can a proven winner like Nebraska did with Solich. If Carr wants to return, he will, but the decision to return will be solely up to him and I'm not going to even pretend to know what he plans on doing.
Possible Replacements: According to the media, it's a no-brainer for Les Miles to be the next coach. In Michigan circles, however, it seems far from unanimous. If Miles can get the Bayou Bengals to the national title game, or win the SEC, they will likely look his way if the job comes open, but if not, you can rest assured that Miles will be staying put in Baton Rouge. Jim Harbaugh, too, has to be a candidate at this point after his upset win over USC, but that's probably unlikely due to his lack of experience. Either way, Michigan is one of the best jobs in the country, if not the best, and they will attract a high quality coach.
Enjoy the fun.