Pac-12 Coaches’ Hot Seat Meter Update
After just three weeks, a few assistant coaches have already been relieved of their duties, and now a few head coaches around the nation are feeling the heat. Some Pac-12 coaches have cooled off a bit since this summer’s preseason Hot Seat List, while others are starting to get toasty.
HOT, HOT, HOT
Jon Embree, Colorado
Things aren’t looking good for Embree in Boulder. No one thought the Buffaloes would be great this season, but they weren’t supposed to drop their first three games to Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State. With the Pac-12 schedule looming, it’ll be tough for Colorado to win this year. Unfortunately, that means Embree might not be around much longer.
Jeff Tedford, Cal
The year got off to a rocky start when the Golden Bears lost to Nevada in the home opener, but Cal rebounded against Southern Utah. They couldn’t quite beat Ohio State in the Horseshoe on Saturday, but they made it a close game, so things could be coming together for Cal. It’ll be a big boost for Tedford if they can beat a USC team that’s reeling from its fourth consecutive loss to Stanford.
Mike Riley, Oregon State
Before the season kicked off, Riley was the popular pick for “Pac-12 Coach Who Needs to Step It Up This Season.” So far, so good. In their only game this season, the Beavers knocked off Wisconsin, 10-7. It might not have been pretty, but it was a much better start than their loss to Sacramento State in 2011′s opener. Riley can take the temperature down a few more notches with a win over UCLA this weekend.
Lane Kiffin, USC
Kiffin’s many critics were out in full force after the Trojans lost their fourth straight to Stanford. He’s also made headlines recently for lying about his USA Today/Coaches’ Poll vote (he later gave up his vote) and for banning a member of the L.A. media from practice (the ban was reversed). He’s not in danger yet, but Kiffin has to win for his shenanigans to be overlooked. If the team doesn’t bounce back from the loss to Stanford, he’ll start feeling the heat.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington
The Huskies barely beat San Diego State in the opener, and then they were pummeled by LSU. They responded by trampling Portland State, but now they have a tough stretch of ranked Pac-12 foes: Stanford, @Oregon, USC, @Arizona. UW has to play a lot better against those ranked teams than they did against LSU if Sark wants to stay off the hot seat.
Todd Graham, Arizona State
The Sun Devils posted resounding wins over Northern Arizona and Big Ten bottom feeder Illinois, but couldn’t quite pull off the win over Missouri this weekend. Still, they’ve shown some fight in Graham’s first season; they almost beat the Tigers after being down 24-7 at the start of the fourth quarter. ASU will struggle against top Pac-12 competition, like they did against Missouri, but it looks like Graham has the team moving in the right direction.
Mike Leach, Washington State
Leach’s return to coaching hasn’t been an instant success, but he had a lot of work to do in Pullman. The offense still has a way to go before it’s as potent as those Leach was known for at Texas Tech, and it doesn’t help that starting quarterback Jeff Tuel has already missed time this season due to injury. The defense has reminded everyone that Leach is definitely an offensive-minded coach, but the WSU offense isn’t good enough yet to compensate.
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona
The Wildcats are sitting at 3-0, and they have a 59-38 upset over ranked Oklahoma State on their resume. Toledo took the team into overtime in week one, but Arizona has only gained steam since. They have a huge challenge taking on Oregon at Autzen Stadium this weekend, but the Ducks haven’t faced a team from a BCS conference yet this season. If the Wildcats upset them, Rodriguez’s Hot Seat Meter reading will be firmly in the “Ice, Ice, Baby” category.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah
The Utes were upset by Utah State in overtime, lost their starting quarterback, and then came back for the win over ranked BYU. Utah has consistently been a strong program under Whittingham, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
David Shaw, Stanford
He’s 2-0 against USC, and he didn’t even need Andrew Luck‘s help. Shaw outcoached Kiffin on Saturday, and despite a shaky start in the opener against San Jose State, the Cardinal looks like a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 again this season.
Chip Kelly, Oregon
The Ducks haven’t played any competition that’s been remotely close to their level yet this year, but everyone’s expecting them to hold up just fine. If this is, indeed, another fast and furious Oregon team, it sure won’t be Kelly’s last.
Jim Mora, UCLA
The Bruins have been the surprise team of 2012, posting big wins over Rice and Houston and upsetting Nebraska. The team looks much faster and more dynamic than recent UCLA teams. Jonathan Franklin‘s been around for a few years but has benefited from the addition of redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley. Fortunately for Mora, Hundley will be around for awhile.