It’s hard to believe that another college football regular season is coming very close to ending, which means that it is prime time for schools to making coaching changes that will certainly set off a bottleneck effect that will be felt from the Mountain West to the Atlantic Coastal Conference.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the coaches who have overachieved and as a result are being mentioned among the top tier coaches in FBS football as well as the coaches who may want to contact their respected real estate agents very, very soon:
David Cutcliffe, Duke – Cutcliffe continues to work wonders with a Blue Devils program that had previously just been a precursor to basketball season, and at this point Duke has its most wins (7) through nine games since the 1994 team began the year on an 8-1 tear. The most surprising part of Duke’s success has been the fact that most expected the team to take a step backwards due to the graduation of several playmakers like quarterback Sean Renfree; instead, the Blue Devils have clinched consecutive bowl appearances for the first time ever and are currently coming off their first win over the Virginia Tech Hokies since 1981. This will probably not be a popular theory, but I truly believe that if Nick Saban leaves the Crimson Tide for Texas that Alabama should turn to Cutcliffe, who played tackle for Bear Bryant back in 1976.
Art Briles, Baylor – Briles and Cutcliffe have a great deal of common ground, as the two have quietly rebuilt programs that were dormant for decades and currently have their teams in contention in conference play week in and week out. No offense to the Dukies, but Briles has one-upped Cutcliffe due to the fact that the Bears are in national championship contention (imagine your reaction to this statement five years ago) and could very well just settle for the team’s first outright conference championship since 1980. Already boasting a Heisman Trophy winner in RG3 back in 2011, Briles’ focus now appears to be breaking several scoring records thanks to this year’s team averaging a modest 61 points per game. Even if Baylor gets left out of the BCS thanks to Bama and FSU’s play, there is no doubt that Art Briles will be one of the leading vote getters for the Coach of the Year.
Gary Pinkel, Missouri – What a difference a year makes. Last season Pinkel suffered through a five-win season and an embarrassing DUI arrest, leaving many to believe that the longtime Tigers head coach would be a lame duck in 2013. Fast-forward to this season, and Missouri is a missed field goal in overtime away from being undefeated, instead having to be content with a firm grasp on the SEC East. The Tigers have had an impressive amount of success even without star quarterback James Franklin, and although the East division has not been incredibly competitive this season, you cannot fault Pinkel and his guys from getting the job done time and time again. If the Tigers can survive what should be the last two games this year (Texas A&M and then a meeting with Alabama in the SEC Championship game), Pinkel may very well lead Missouri to its first ever BCS bowl game.
Jeff Quinn, Buffalo – Patience is not a characteristic that most schools display in regards to coaches, but the Bulls’ athletic department is being rewarded in its decision to retain the former Cincinnati offensive coordinator after three straight losing seasons, as Buffalo is currently 7-2 and are now just two wins away from its most wins since 1986 when the school was a Division III Independent. Say what you want about including Quinn after just one solid season, but the Bulls have struggled to compete in the MAC (Turner Gill turned one good year into the Kansas job). Quinn may very well be able to do the same; look for his name to be mentioned in the UConn head coaching search.
Pete Lembo, Ball State – Lembo has done a great job with a Cardinals program that had slacked off after Brady Hoke bolted for San Diego State (thanks, Stan Parrish), and it has culminated this season, which so far has witnessed Ball State go 9-1 with its only loss being a come-from-behind effort by the North Texas Mean Green. The Cardinals’ biggest test comes this Wednesday when the team travels to DeKalb, Illinois to face off with the 9-0 Northern Illinois Huskies. A win would do wonders for Ball State football, but even if the team loses you can expect Lembo to cash out at the end of the season (probably to replace #2 on the Stock Down list).
Will Muschamp, Florida – Muschamp was the hottest head coaching candidate during his time as “Coach Blood” at Texas, but now he’s known for being in charge of the dumpster fire that is Florida football. Yes, it is true that the Gators have been decimated with injuries, but a bad situation has simply gotten worse as the year has progressed. Florida hit rock bottom this past Saturday with a 17-point loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores, which marked the first time Vandy had conquered Florida since 1988 and the first time it had happened in the Swamp since 1945. At this point Florida must upset the South Carolina Gamecocks on November 16th if they want to stretch their consecutive bowl streak to twenty-three; lose to Spurrier and then two weeks later to Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles, and you may very well have a head coaching opening in Gainesville.
Mike London, Virginia – London’s only accomplishment of late has been winning the “Cee Lo Green Look-Alike Contest” , because the Cavaliers have been simply awful ever since 2011, when the squad went 8-5. London currently holds an 18-29 record over four seasons with this year’s team being exceptionally craptacular: The Cavs are 2-8 and are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Nicknamed the “Cadavaliers” by College Gameday host Chris Fowler, London better bring this team back to life if he wants to still be in Charlottesville come 2014.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas – Bielema has simply been all talk and no results in his first season with the Razorbacks; Arkansas is currently 3-7 and in danger of going winless in SEC play for the first time since the team joined in 1992. Also in the middle of a seven-game losing streak, all that Bielema has brought to Fayetteville has been wining that would have made Lane Kiffin shed a happy tear along with a fall that was so awkward you had to watch it at least five times, and a Twitter war via his wife Jen that has made #Karma a hashtag that will never be forgotten. Bielema is by no means on the verge of being ousted, but the situation could turn ugly quickly seeing as he is making approximately $2.95 million per year.
Troy Calhoun, Air Force – Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Once considered for the Tennessee job following Lane Kiffin’s departure, the Falcons have slowly digressed over the last three seasons, moving from 7 victories in 2011 to 6 in 2012 and are now in the middle of a 2-8 campaign. Recruiting at a military college like Air Force certainly does not work the same way as most FBS schools, but Air Force’s struggles this year are certainly concerning. It would be surprising to see Air Force pull the plug on an alumnus this season, but Calhoun will certainly have to get his guys going next season if he wants to remain with the program.
Norm Chow, Hawaii – The former USC offensive guru has struggled tremendously as the Rainbow Warriors head coach, posting a 3-18 record in almost two seasons on the job. How bad is the situation in Honolulu? Following Hawaii’s 47-10 defeat at the hands of the Utah State Aggies, Chow, now 68 years old, told reporters “I’m too old for this.” Chow has since stated that he is not giving up, but at what point does the school look around and realize the situation is not getting any better? Chow’s heyday was more than a decade ago at this point, and while Hawaii has struggled to remain competitive over the years, this experiment may need to be ended before another forgettable year develops.
Who do you think was left out on either list? Leave a comment and share which coaches you think have had their stock rise or fall this year!