Late preseason hot seat analysis

I"ve made it a personal tradition to do a hot seat analysis before the season starts. So I'm late (busy August, lots of travel). So belatedly, here we go ...

Let's start with the safe list. The easy part is first year coaches. Short of gross conduct or ethical issues, any first year coach (and most under three years) are safe at ACC schools. So, right off, call Jimbo Fisher and Mike London (Virginia) safe.

The new dean of the ACC coaches, Frank Beamer, is safe as well. At another school, Jim Grobe might feel pressure with another non-bowl year, but he is at Wake Forest. Boston College and Duke are another two patient schools, and Spaziani and Cutliffe have done nothing to try that patience, much less feel any heat. 

Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson has been more than successful enough that even a complete collapse might allow him to survive. Tech should do more than well enough to keep Johnson around. Clemson's Dabo Swinney is only in his second full season, and an opening full season record of 9-5 (and 14-8 overall) should keep him safe this year.

Randy Shannon - also safe. With a new contract in hand, and Miami reportedly not able to afford buyouts, Shannon would seem to be safe. He might enter 2011 in some heat, however, as expectations for this season are high, and falling significantly short will bring the heat, especially if he is outrecruited again.

Nine coaches down already, hmm, anyone in trouble in the ACC?


The hottest of hot seats would be Ralph Friedgen. His protection, former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow (now at NCSU), is gone, and nothing of Maryland's roster or recruiting suggests he'll turn things around. The questions are will he last the season and will James Franklin, the designated coach in waiting, actually get the job? Actually, I think he does. As interim head coach this year. I'd look for Maryland to fire Friedgen mid-season to give Franklin a half season trial at the job, then argue that any contractual obligations to give Franklin the job were met. If Maryland struggles to beat Morgan State and FIU (quite possible), look for a change before the first October game. Chances of returning in 2011 - 1%.

The next hottest seat belongs to someone not expected to be in this situation after spring practices. The University of Non-Compliance, er, North Carolina, prides itself as an upright program, and the variety of messes around the Tarheels is an embarrassment. The heat is not about on the field performance, so Davis won't be able to "win" his way out of this like other schools. I think Davis will survive the season, but I think that will be it. Unless more assistants than John Blake throw themselves on the landmines, I don't think Davis stands a chance of being back in 2011. Even with more scapegoats/assistants resigning, Davis' judgment on staff will be called into question and he may still be gone. Chances of returning in 2011 - 10%.

And if you've been keep track, that leave's North Carolina State's Tom O'Brien. O'Brien is in his first year under a new athletic director, and his AD, Debbie Yow, is a known patient administrator. But NCSU boosters want to win and be better in some "big" sport than Duke and UNC. Football would be first choice of most for that. This is O'Brien's fourth year, and he has a 17-21 overall record.  He's a fortunate 3-0 against UNC, 1-1 against Duke. He probably needs an eight win season or seven win season with one against UNC to survive. Sadly, his schedule has four teams currently ranked in the top 25, as well as Cincinnati, Boston College, and @Clemson. The Wolfpack also visits in state foe East Carolina. Chances of returning in 2011 - 25%.

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