As promised yesterday, the hot seat post.
Some of these guys barely survived last year. Some enjoyed early success only to find it elusive later. And some might be fairly new to the job, but have produced historically bad seasons for their schools.
In any case, it might be bowl-or-bust for the first five guys on the list, while simply signs of progress after two dreadful years might be enough for No. 6.
Who are today's half-dozen? Read on. ...
1. Ron Zook, Illinois
One winning season --- albeit one with a trip to the Rose Bowl --- in five years is not what Illinois had in mind when it hired Zook after his ill-fated tenure at Florida. He's 21-39 in Champaign, including a 3-16 mark against ranked teams. He has two new coordinators this season; if things don't improve, Illinois will have a head coaching search on its hands at the end of November.
2. Dan Hawkins, Colorado
Perhaps the mantra in Boulder should be "seven wins and no excuses." Abetted by a loaded contract and a lousy economy, Hawkins is back for another go-round in the bottom half of the Big 12 North. Getting stuck playing California and Georgia in nonconference play doesn't do much to help Hawkins' odds of making it to a sixth season. On the bright side, a man with a 16-33 record at a power conference school would at least be a welcome addition to any university's (wait for it) ... intramurals.
3. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
NCAA violations? The first coach in school history to have his career record fall eight games under .500? A combined 1-9 record in the last five games of his two seasons? Rodriguez has done it all. A third losing season could lead the Wolverines to pull the plug on the former West Virginia coach.
4. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland
This topic has gotten some attention here, and rightfully so. It goes without saying Maryland, which is 35-38 in the last six years, is likely to make a change if the Terrapins don't dramatically improve on last year's 2-10 freefall. Oh, and if an athletic director is in place before the end of the season.
5. Mike Price, Texas-El Paso
The only schools in Conference USA with longer bowl droughts than the Miners (four years and counting) are Tulane and UAB. Not exactly a reason for confidence. The good thing for UTEP is it has vacillated between 5-7 and 4-8 that entire time, so it's not like it is too far away from being respectable. The bad thing is it's been that way for four years, which understandably could cause some impatience.
6. Paul Wulff, Washington State
Wulff was dealt a lousy hand in Pullman, so it's tough to fault him too much for being 3-22 in two seasons. Still, he's 3-22 in two seasons, having been outgained by 202 and 253 yards a game in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Another ugly number: The Cougars have yielded 40 points on 13 occasions the last two seasons. And another ugly number: Washington State has surrendered 96 sacks in 25 games the last two years. Wulff can't be expected to win this year, but another completely uncompetitive season could spell the end of his time at his alma mater. It's just too tough to sell a drumbeat of blowout losses to a weary fanbase, even if the coach isn't the biggest problem.
Six more coaches who were considered: Tim Brewster, Minnesota; Neil Callaway, UAB; Mike Locksley, New Mexico (at the very least, he needs to avoid bad headlines for reasons other than a bunch of losses); Doug Martin, Kent State; Tom O'Brien, N.C. State; Bob Toledo, Tulane.