Writers Note: Here is a ranking of Pac-12 coaches from safest to most likely to get fired. To make it fun, I categorized the coaches with a headline. These are my own opinions and do not reflect the thoughts of my fellow Building the Dam writers. I understand your opinion may be different than mine. Anyways, lets get on with the list. Thank you for reading.
Welcome to Chris Petersen Stadium! (Formerly known as Husky Stadium)
12. Chris Petersen (Washington Huskies)
Chris Petersen has done a remarkable job for the Huskies. In only his third year with the team, he brought a Pac-12 Title to Seattle. Petersen had Washington playing excellent football at the end of the 2015 season. In 2016, he helped steer the Huskies to an impressive 11-1 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff. In addition, he has an opportunity to win a National Title. Peterson has the potential to build a dynasty at Montlake. Can Petersen guide the Huskies to win a National Title?
First Year is a Freebie. Year 2 and Beyond?
11. Willie Taggart (Oregon Ducks)
There is no way Willie Taggart loses his job after his first season, unless something destructive happens. Taggart did a wonderful job at South Florida and is known as an excellent recruiter. He flipped a recruit who originally committed to Arizona, to switch their allegiance to the Ducks. He led South Florida to a 10-2 record in 2016. Taggert has current Duck players excited about the future of the program. He has brought in respected Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt from Colorado. Can Taggart help the Ducks return as a powerhouse?
You Can Stay Here as Long as You Would Like
10. David Shaw (Stanford Cardinal)
David Shaw is 63-17 in 6 seasons at Stanford. He has won 3 Pac-12 titles and 3 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Awards. Shaw has done a tremendous job in sustaining the success that Jim Harbaugh brought to Stanford. In addition, Shaw is a Stanford Alum. If Stanford wins their bowl game, Shaw will lead Stanford to an impressive five 10-win seasons in his 6 years at Stanford! I think it’s safe to say that Coach Shaw’s job is completely safe.
From Rags to Riches
9. Mike Leach (Washington State Cougars)
In his second opportunity as a head coach, Mike Leach has been a success in Pullman. The 2015 co-coach of the year had another great season in Pullman. He had the Cougs in position to win the Pac-12 North until the last game of the season when they were defeated by Washington. Leach has something special in the Palouse. Washington State has moved into the upper echelon in the Pac-12. Will the success of the Cougs and Leach continue?
8. Mike Macintyre (Colorado Buffaloes)
Fan’s and coaches of struggling teams should look how Mike Macintyre helped turn around the Colorado Buffaloes program. The reigning Pac-12 coach of the year has rebuilt the Colorado Buffaloes into a winning program after years of mediocrity. They won the Pac-12 South this season. His rebuilding project has been a success in Boulder. Recruiting is going well for the Buffs and the fanbase is finally happy. Macintyre and the Buffs look to be a powerhouse in the Pac-12 South
7. Gary Andersen (Oregon State Beavers)
In his second year, Coach Andersen has the Beavers trending in the right direction. The Beavers were able to defeat their rivals, the Oregon Ducks for the first time since 2007. He has built this team and their identity as a hard-nosed physical football team from scratch. After a disastrous 2015 season, Anderson coached the Beavs to a 4-8 record and a 4th place finish in the Pac-12 North. While this doesn’t seem impressive, it was a major step forward for the program, especially since the Beavers ended the season with two impressive victories. Beaver Nation is optimistic and excited for 2017 and beyond. Andersen has recruits enthusiastic about Oregon State. The Beavers 2017 recruiting class is currently ranked 35th in the nation. Will Andersen lead the Beavers to earn a bowl bid in 2017?
Things are all good, right?
6. Kyle Whittingham (Utah Utes)
The dean of Pac-12 coaches has had a successful career as the head man of Utah. He has helped the Utes transition from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12. Although, the Utes season ended with back to back losses, it could be argued that the Utes overachieved this season, climbing as high as being ranked 12th nationally. Whittingham has a 103-50 record at Utah. His job at Utah is totally safe. However, there have been rumors of a rift between Whittingham and Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill in the last couple of seasons. Could Hill look for any excuse to fire Whittingham? Hill would receive major backlash if he fired a respected coach like Whittingham. Also, could the fanbase become impatitent with Whittingham and start to demand a championship or better?
You Did a Great Job in 2016! You Need to do Better in 2017, or Else.......
5. Clay Helton (USC Trojans)
Things were not looking good for Clay Helton in 2016 after his Trojans started 1-3. Many USC fans wanted Helton gone. After the rough start, the Trojans reeled off 8 wins in a row, including a convincing 24-13 win at Washington. It could be argued that USC looked like one of the best teams in the nation in the last half of the season. Expectations will be high for Helton in 2017 and beyond. Will he be able to recreate a dynasty in Trojanland?
2015 was Exciting! 2016 was Disappointing. 2017 Needs to be Better.
4. Sonny Dykes (California Golden Bears)
In 2013, Cal football had hit rock bottom finishing the season 1-11. Things got better under Dykes as they finished 8-5 in 2015. The Bears, however, took a step backwards in 2016 by finishing 5th in the Pac-12 North. In addition, Dykes is 0-4 vs Stanford. Cal’s last win in “The Big Game” was in 2009. Can Cal bounce back in 2017? Dykes’s job is safe for now. He needs to fix his defense (125th in total defense in 2016), and find a replacement for QB Davis Webb. If not, than the natives could get restless.
It’s Getting Warm in Here........
3. Rich Rodriguez (Arizona Wildcats)
In 2012, Rich Rodriguez was a slam dunk hire for Arizona. After a disastrous 2011 season, which led to the dismissal of Mike Stoops, Rodriguez led Arizona to an 8-5 season in 2012. In addition, he led Arizona to a Pac-12 South Championship and Fiesta Bowl appearance in 2014. Rodriguez led them to bowl games in 2013 and 2015. 2016 was a different story. The Wildcats finished last in the Pac-12 South. In fact, 2016 was so bad that Arizona did not have a lead in a game from the Oct. 8 Utah game to the Arizona State game on Nov. 25th. Although, the season ended on a good note by defeating rival Arizona State, 2016 was a colossal failure for the Wildcats.
You had some Great Seasons Guiding this Football Program, but what have you Done for Me Lately?
2. Jim Mora Jr. (UCLA Bruins)
Besides the 2016 season, Jim Mora Jr. has been successful at UCLA. He has two 10 win seasons, his Bruins teams have defeated rival USC 3 times, he has a Pac-12 South Title, and in two of his seasons he finished in the top 25. Mora suffered bad luck this season when star QB Josh Rosen suffered a season ending injury. UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 South this season. Instead, the Bruins finished 5th in the Pac-12 South, which was frustrating to the Bruin fanbase. In addition, they have lost two in a row to rival USC, which it looks like it may be awhile before UCLA could beat USC in their rivalry game. With Rosen coming back in 2017, its likely the Bruins will be better. The UCLA fanbase demands championships. If Mora and the Bruins cannot compete for championships soon, look for the pressure to increase on Jim Mora’s job security.
And number one on the hot seat is...........
1. Todd Graham (Arizona State Sun Devils)
Similar to Jim Mora, Todd Graham’s first three seasons at Arizona State were successful. He had back-to-back 10 win seasons in Tempe in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Graham guided the Sun Devils to a Pac-12 South Title in 2013. In 2015, the Sun Devils finished 6-7, their first losing season under Graham. The Sun Devils did not make a bowl in 2016, the first time they missed a bowl game under Graham. Additionally, the Sun Devils lost by 21 points to their in-state rivals, Arizona, which was the Wildcats first Pac-12 win of the season. Graham has been accused by opposing coaches, most notably Mike Leach of stealing signals from opponents. Plus, many in the college football circles remember Graham’s exit from Pitt in 2011 to Arizona State when he notified players by text message of his departure, rather than telling his players in person. If Graham and the Sun Devils don’t show progress in 2017, the Arizona State Athletic Department may seek changes in their football program.
I would love to read your thoughts and opinions on this topic in the comments section.