The Pac 12 coaching carousel
Arizona had an early lead in its coaching search, after firing Mike Stoops six games into the season. The School announced Rich Rodriguez as his replacement last Saturday, and will begin its effort to step towards relevance.
But several Pac 12 athletic directors still had unfinished business and an axe to grind. They would awake Monday morning to set the tool in motion, and two South division coaches found themselves in the blade’s path, with one from the north still awaiting his fate.
UCLA announced the termination of head football coach Rick Neuheisel, despite the program qualifying and participating in the Pac 12 championship game at the end of the week. The team currently sits at 6-6 overall and 5-4 in conference, winning the South by default, with USC ineligible for postseason play. Neuheisel pled his case for an extended stay, citing 2011 achievements as an improvement in the program’s performance. But a back-door entry into the championship game, coupled with a 50-0 defeat by rival USC, made it easy to cast a vote for change.
“I’m numb.. I guess the rational side of me should have seen this coming, but I never think that way. I always think optimistically and I think this is going to turn and my whole life it always has.”
Replaced: Karl Dorrell (35-27)
UCLA record: 21-28
Conference record: 13-23
Bowl record: 1-0
Vs USC: 0-4
Vs ranked opponents: 4-12
Road record: 5-18
Signature win: @ #7 Texas (2010)
Neuheisel will coach the Bruins this Friday in the Pac 12 championship game, where UCLA opens as a 31.5 point underdog.
Dennis Erickson began the season on the hot seat, but found it to be cooling with a 5-1 start, national ranking, and the program’s long awaited victory over USC. But the good times wouldn’t last, as the Sun Devils would win just once in the final six games, and finish the regular season 6-6 overall. Arizona State has recorded just one winning season under Erickson’s guidance, and is now one bowl victory shy of recording a second. This falls far below the expectations upon hiring the coach with a national championship on his resume back in 2007.
“I am proud of what we accomplished in five years. The program is in good shape for the next coach.”
Replaced: Dirk Koetter (40-34)
ASU record: 31-30
Conference record: 21-24
Bowl record: 0-1
Vs Arizona: 2-3
Vs ranked opponents: 4-14
Road record: 8-17
Signature win: #23 USC (2011)
Erickson’s best season was 2007, leading the Sun Devils to a bowl birth and 10-3 finish. Much of it was aided by the schedule, having played only 4 ranked programs and losing 3 of those games.
As I write this, Paul Wulff is still waiting to hear the word on his 2012 status at Washington State. Early reports from Seattle claimed he was out, but subsequent messages hint towards the possibility of the fourth-year coach dodging the axe. Wulff inherited a mess that Bill Doba left behind, and has been crippled by location location. Pullman Washington isn’t an attractive destination for recruits, which makes for an inferior roster vying for an upset on any given Saturday.
“The people that know football know I should keep the job. The people that don’t, don’t get it, and that’s why they shouldn’t have a say in it.”
Wulff entered the Washington State program faced with scholarship reductions resulting from a poor APR score. He also had to instill the discipline that Doba wouldn’t, dismissing several players for criminal activity that went unpunished under the former coach.