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ESPN list of 5 make or break coaches for 2014 (CPJ mentioned)

Discussion in 'Georgia Tech Football' started by PowderSpringsJacket88, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. PowderSpringsJacket88

    PowderSpringsJacket88 Helluva Engineer Retired Staff

    When I receive feedback on my college football stories (go on and have at it at@ESPNMcGee or [email protected]), the vast majority comes from fans. Do I agree with them? Usually not. But do I love their passion? Absolutely.

    However, when this space tackles the specific topic on tap today, the majority of the criticism comes from the men who make their living in the chosen profession about which I've just written.

    "Oh man, not the hot seat again! I hate these stories!" That was the message with which my voicemail box greeted me the last time I wrote about head coaches who needed to get it into gear. The voice on the other end was Dan Hawkins, with whom I'd worked on ESPNU. When we first met on set, he was sure to call me out for saying he'd be fired from Colorado the previous year. But guess what had happened?

    Yes, it is odd to discuss someone else's job fate. But the same coaches (and former coaches) who give me grief about speculating will also tell you one absolute truth about being a coach: A big part of the gig will be people predicting when you'll be fired. It is simply an accepted part of the gig.

    "But," Hawk has said to me plenty, "not as big as the people screaming for you to be fired."

    So now that my confessional is over, what five coaches enter spring staring at a make-or-break season? Read on ... but don't surprised if Hawk calls and gives you grief for doing so.

    [​IMG]Will Muschamp, Florida Gators
    Record at Florida: 22-16 (three years)
    2013: 4-8

    All seemed right in The Swamp when Mack Brown's former heir apparent led the Gators to an 11-2 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2012, his second season at Florida. But last year, the program posted its first losing season since 1979 and snapped a 22-year bowl streak. The historical hits kept on coming, including the first home loss to Vanderbilt since 1945 and a Nov. 23 loss to Georgia Southern, the program's first ever to a lower-division school.

    And, according to the people in the college football industry that I talked to over the past week, the coach never did much to make his situation any easier.

    "I've known Will for a long time," says a Big 12 coach, the first to address a topic that became a common theme throughout this list. "He's a good friend but he can be an acquired taste. With players, they love the intensity. But away from the practice field, if you don't know him, he can come off a little, um, *****ly."

    In other words, when asked about the team's increasingly inept offense (ranked 114th in FBS), even when those questions were qualified with "I know you've had a lot of injuries," his responses were rarely cut from the congenial mold of his former mentor Brown. That doesn't help when it comes to instilling patience within a notoriously short-fused group of fans and boosters.

    [​IMG]Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia Mountaineers
    Record at West Virginia: 21-17 (three years)
    2013: 4-8

    Remember that rout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl? January 2015 will be the third anniversary of the crown jewel of Holgorsen's rookie year as a head coach. In the two seasons since then, he's posted a record of 11-14 and the Mountaineers' first two Big 12 campaigns have finished 4-5 and 2-7. Most in Morgantown see his stint as being on wobbly legs at best, legs that are being supported by a bonus-laden six-year contract signed in 2012 that also includes some very big buyout clauses.

    "When coaches hit year four, it's fully their program," says a former Big East administrator, reminding that most of the names on this list are in that three- to four-year range. "You can't look back and say this is (ousted WVU coach) Bill Stewart's fault. Hitting the third season in the Big 12 you can't blame on it growing pains. At this point, you have what you have. And if this season they start losing to the likes of Kansas and Iowa State again, then what they have is a mess."

    [​IMG]Bo Pelini, Nebraska Cornhuskers
    Record at Nebraska: 58-24 (six years)
    2013: 9-4

    First things first, few expect Pelini to be fired this fall. Most of the football people I talked to said they expected the Huskers to win nine games, which he's done in each of his six seasons at the head man in Lincoln. But when it comes to the question of "make or break," then his name comes up a lot. On the field, he's been a terrible closer, routinely stumbling through November and posting a 4-3 bowl record (the first coming in his one game as the interim coach in 2003). Off the field, again, that problem of personality comes into play.

    [+] Enlarge[​IMG]
    AP Photo/Nati HarnikBo Pelini's evolving PR skills may come in handy.
    But that brings us to our biggest spring shocker of them all. Bo is playing ball. He's letting reporters look in on practice instead of keeping it locked up like Arkham Asylum. He's interacted with Twitter doppelganger @FauxPelini. And just this week, he surprised Nebraska baseball coach Darin Erstad by calling in as a guest on his radio show.

    "These guys have to figure out that while PR might not be their thing [naturally], it has to be their thing," a Pac-12 athletic administrator explained to me during BCS Championship weekend. "Especially now. The supporters -- and more importantly, the recruits -- want to like you. If they do, you get the benefit of the doubt."

    When it comes to the Big Ten, Pelini isn't alone. His name came up only a few times more than Brady Hoke, leader of division rival Michigan, and winner of just 15 games over the past two years.

    [​IMG]Charlie Weis, Kansas Jayhawks
    Record at Kansas: 4-20 (two years)
    2013: 3-9

    Weis came to Kansas charged with revitalizing the Jayhawks like he had Notre Dame, which turned around in a hurry (though it faded nearly as quickly). Instead, he's posted records of 1-11 and 3-9 and a pair of 10th-place finishes in the conference.

    "You bring in a guy like Charlie to revitalize the atmosphere by the way he revitalizes an offense," says an SEC administrator, pointing to Weis' NFL offensive résumé. "But between his one year at Florida as offensive coordinator [2011] and the situation at Kansas, it hasn't happened. Of the guys on this list, his leash might be the shortest. Hey, they fired Turner Gill [Weis' predecessor] after just two years and their records are pretty similar."

    [​IMG]Randy Edsall, Maryland Terrapins
    Record at Maryland: 13-24
    2013: 7-6

    This spot was an ACC battle royale, with mentions of Virginia's Mike London (18-31 over four years), Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson (28-25 over the past four years) and even future College Football Hall of Famer Frank Beamer (15 wins over past two years). But it's Edsall who drew the most speculation.

    "That was a roller coaster up there this year," said a coordinator from another ACC school, referring to the Terrapins' 5-1 start but 2-5 finish. "They were so bad his first two years [6-18] it felt like they'd gotten it turned around. Third year, you've finally got your guys in there, all of that. But that bowl loss was inexcusable. And Randy can be a bit aloof."

    That would be the 31-20 loss to Marshall in a Military Bowl that should have essentially been a home game, played in nearby Annapolis. That's not exactly the kind of game film that will strike fear in the hearts of the Big Ten, which welcomes Maryland this fall.

    "Wow," the ACC coach continued, mentioning Hoke, Pelini, along with Tim Beckman at Illinois and Purdue's Darrell Hazell. "That league is packed with guys who need to have a great year, isn't it?"
  2. ATL1

    ATL1 Helluva Engineer

    Honestly, he should be on the hot seat.
    CPJ actually being on the hot seat however, I'm not sure.
  3. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

    Honestly, he shouldn't be.
    Arkfbplayer52 likes this.
  4. Techster

    Techster Helluva Engineer

    CPJ's seat isn't hot...it's not comfortable either.

    I would say it's warm. Lots of people with big $$$ are not happy right now with the plateau the program has been on heading CPJ's 6th season. If attendance dips this Fall, and CPJ has another season 7 win season, and donations dip, Bobinski may make a move since CPJ's buyout will be more tolerable after this season. Regardless of how we feel about CPJ (and attendance kinda actually answers that), it's all about revenue from attendance and donations.
    IronJacket7 and GTNavyNuke like this.
  5. Oldgoldandwhite

    Oldgoldandwhite Helluva Engineer

    I think CPJ is pretty safe unless we pull a UF type season or we get blown out in Athens. All bets are off if Thomas has a lousy rookie season.
  6. PowderSpringsJacket88

    PowderSpringsJacket88 Helluva Engineer Retired Staff

    You might be right. However, if we have another 7 win season and don't beat UGA then i think we would can him if the boosters will front the money for a new hire. IT would be dumb for us to replace him if we don't have the money.
  7. daBuzz

    daBuzz Helluva Engineer

    28 - 25 over the past 4 years? Honestly, yeah, he should be.
    IronJacket7 likes this.
  8. Rodney Kent

    Rodney Kent Ramblin' Wreck

    If we have another 7-6 type year, lose to UGA, and the bowl game, CPJ is gone, you can place your bets on it. However, if he has an excellent year, it will buy him more time to see if the trend is upward or if this season was an anomaly.
    IronJacket7 likes this.
  9. IronJacket7

    IronJacket7 Helluva Engineer

  10. IEEEWreck

    IEEEWreck Helluva Engineer

    The attendance thing is a good point, and one rarely made. That said, our expectations are not huge in that department. Wealthy donors are also over hyped in my opinion. Tech's donor pipeline has never been tied up in football like some schools, and aa high value donations are comparatively small. Sure, you make em feel special and in the loop, but most people in that category bleed gold so much that they'll support GT regardless. The few millionaire big babies who'll threaten to take their ball home if they don't get the coach they want really don't amount to much.

    Attendance, on the other hand, could be substantially more than it is. I'd bet the AD goes to sleep every night scheming of how to fill our stadia. That's why bowl games and u(sic)GA are such a big deal- winning those puts butts in seats the next season.

    For that reason, frankly, I bet the seat is not as hot as many suppose. Blah blah recruiting and blah blah mediocrity is great, but CPJ came within a field goal of beating u (sic)GA while a disaster was exploding at QB. Picking a new coach means accepting substantially diminished chances of beating the dwags for a few years AND eroding the trust of the hill wrt recruiting. Thats a real high risk move right now.
    jwsavhGT likes this.
  11. daBuzz

    daBuzz Helluva Engineer

    Based on what? People said the same thing in CPJ's first year and he won that one. We haven't won since, even when they had a QB starting his first game against us this past year. But the point is still valid...we won in the first year of CPJ's system; why shouldn't we have the same chance of doing the same thing in year one of another system? Especially if that system were a spread, read-option offense more similar to one run at Auburn or Oregon. It isn't that far from what we have right now as a base offense.
  12. IEEEWreck

    IEEEWreck Helluva Engineer

    When we picked up Paul Johnson he was (and to me still is) one of the best if not the best tactical minds in football. Our chances of doing as well again are mighty slim. Beyond that, the year of coaches tenure is a pretty weak predictor of how we fare against u(sic)GA. That makes about as much sense as getting a new coach and expecting to win because there's a prime number of octogenarian ME alumni with MBA's signed up for season tickets. And, again, we'd give up the tremendous inroads CPJ has made with the Hill. That's not some nebulous shift in views- its very much tied to personal integrity (however silly that may or may not be).

    I'm also curious what the big difference in your mind is between Oregon or Auburn's offense and GT's.
    AE 87 likes this.
  13. OldJacketFan

    OldJacketFan Helluva Engineer

    Wow just .................wow. Two coaches with strong personalities and winning teams over their tenure being on the HOT seat. Speaks volumes in the world of instant gratification. While I'm not sure of NE's APR and graduation rate I don't recall if any of their players are winding up on the police blogs. Two coaches during what they're to hired do, win and graduate their SAs are not good enough for some of their teams fan base. Not too sure what to say except......................wow.
    augustabuzz and jwsavhGT like this.
  14. TheSilasSonRising

    TheSilasSonRising Helluva Engineer

    Why do you say that?

    Just enough success per the Hill standards, to go along with their stupidity. Enough for them to keep their egotistical power trips going.

    They, simply, will be able to say, "another winning season, another bowl game." "What more do you want?"
  15. daBuzz

    daBuzz Helluva Engineer

    A couple of things:
    1) They run a much simpler to teach read-option scheme. In most cases, the QB is making a simple read based off the DE only and he's also doing it 4 to 5 yards deep in the backfield. So he has time to watch the play develop for almost a full second before he has to make the give/keep decision. If you ask any coach (Johnson included, I would think), this is a simpler read than the one asked by our QB's to make. The QB/B-back mesh in the TO is the key to our run game, but we consistently struggle with it against the teams with the better defensive lines.

    Often opposing teams will line up 2 guys in the 1-technique. Usually at least 1 of those employs the technique of a single step and then dive into the mesh to disrupt the mesh. Go to YouTube and watch the 1st play of scrimmage in last year's VT game. The much talked about "fumble by Vad that killed us to start the game" was actually a product of his right arm being hit AT THE MESH POINT by the VT defender. Think about that. Our QB takes the step..takes one step to the right for the mesh with the B-back...reads the DE coming down the line and keeps the ball (correctly, I might add), and as he separates from the mesh is hit and loses the ball. We can blame it on the QB all we want but that's either a systemic problem of the play design versus the called defense, or the inability for the line to contain. But since we play 2 yard splits, no guard in the world is going to be able to get inside and scoop or cut that DT to stop the method they employed on that play.

    Moving this read back 4 yards means that the DT has to take 3 steps and then dive...but the QB has time to read that and move outside. Conversely, the Auburn/Oregon read option scheme is effectively defensed the other way around. The way to contain that offense is for the DE's to penetrate outward and contain the play back inside. But this can be defeated by having a slot back or another back chip the DE back to the interior to allow the play to get to the outside.

    The real effectiveness of the Auburn/Oregon read-option (a true spread option attack) though is the very nature of the word that describes the offense. By employing 3 or 4 WR's and utilizing those WR's to stretch the field vertically, it forces defenses to spread defenders away from the box.

    Watch how teams play us. And by teams, I mean teams that are actually worth a damn. Watch UGA, VT, Miami, and Clemson. It's no secret how they will defend us because they have all done pretty much the same thing. They'll walk a safety up close to the LOS and there will be a minimum of 7 in the box. However, a good portion of the time there are 8 in the box and I have counted 9 at times.

    The option does indeed give you a numerical advantage if executed properly. But that's IF and only IF that isn't negated by having more men to option. Our counter is supposedly to throw over the top to combat this. But when QBs are being hit as they plant their feet on a 5-step drop, it's difficult, if not damn near impossible, to complete that pass down field.

    2) Balance. Say what you want but we run the ball almost 90% of the time. In 2011, we ran it 87.2% of the time. Conversely, Oregon ran it 68.1% of the time. I don't really care that we ever become a 50/50 team. But if the other team has a dominant run defense, you better be able to throw the football. We have averaged between 12 - 15 passes per game over CPJ's tenure. So when we are forced to pass, we are very poor at it. I've seen many people postulate as to why, but the #'s speak volumes to me. If you want to be good at something, you better rep it. We don't rep it much in games or in practice comparative to the # of running plays we execute. Therefore, we stink at it.

    Those are just 2 differences...but they are significant in my mind...and probably more importantly, in the mind of offensive recruits.
    ATL1 and bat_082994 like this.
  16. daBuzz

    daBuzz Helluva Engineer

    We are 2 games over 500 in the past 4 years against ACC competition, which has been horrendous on the national scale over that 4 years. Is that what you would call "winning"?
  17. OldJacketFan

    OldJacketFan Helluva Engineer

    and the team is 15 games over .500 since CPJ has come to Tech so yes, his teams are winning. As much as I or most of us would like? no but as I've have written the team plays hard, the coaches are getting better talent in, the players are graduating so CPJ is doing what he and all coaches are hired to do, win and graduate their SAs. Sorry if that's not good enough for some. As long as I see a team that is improving and SAs who are a credit to the school I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon to fire CPJ no matter who shouts it from the rooftop.
    augustabuzz, bat_082994 and jwsavhGT like this.
  18. AE 87

    AE 87 Helluva Engineer

    Peoplw who claim to have watched GT football but post as if our offense has been the problem with our record over the last few years are probably not worth serious conversation, imo now.
    augustabuzz likes this.
  19. Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau

    Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau Banned

    Just out of curiosity, were you in favor of keeping Bud Carson, back in the day?
  20. daBuzz

    daBuzz Helluva Engineer

    Just curious, but did YOU watch the VT game last year?
    Yes, the defense had been the more predominant issue overall but we have certainly had games where we lost because the offense couldn't score. The bowl game versus Ole Miss is another example.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014

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