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11/26 03:36 CST Rivalry week will be last stand for some coaches
Rivalry week will be last stand for some coaches
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Will Muschamp knows he will be coaching his last game for Florida this weekend.
There are a few more coaches who will be doing the same thing without knowing
it --- at least for sure.
The coaching carousel will start spinning fast when the regular season ends for
many teams on Saturday.
While you're keeping track of rivalries and games with playoff implication,
here are a few coaching hot spots to keep an eye on this weekend.
Michigan at No. 7 Ohio State.
This seems like a formality, though maybe a massive upset against No. 7 Ohio
State could change the story for Michigan coach Brady Hoke. Short of that,
another loss will leave Michigan out of the postseason and make it three
straight seasons of declining win totals under Hoke. The only question is when
Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett makes the call.
Nebraska at Iowa.
Here we are again, Nebraska. The season is winding down, the Cornhuskers are
out of contention for anything significant and Bo Pelini's future in Lincoln is
unclear. The Huskers (8-3) have lost two straight heading into Friday's game at
Iowa. Win or lose in Iowa City, whether this is a marriage worth saving is hard
to say. Pelini is 66-27 with the Huskers and could probably get another good
job without much difficulty. But he has never won a conference title and has
never lost less than four games in a season. Nebraska fans keep asking, is this
as good as it gets? Pelini keeps having to defend a top-25 program. It's
Groundhog Day in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Illinois at Northwestern
Illinois coach Tim Beckman was asked straight up earlier this week if he
believed he needed to win to keep his job. "Nothing has been mentioned to me
about that," he said. The Illini have taken baby steps forward in Beckman's
three seasons (2-10, 4-8, 5-6 and zero, one and two Big Ten wins). The problem
is, fans aren't buying into the progress. Attendance for the senior day victory
against Penn State on Saturday was announced at 35,172, but appeared closer to
10,000. Squeaking into a bowl game might make athletic director Mike Thomas'
decision more complicated --- but it's no guarantee it will save Beckman's job.
Purdue at Indiana
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass made a strong statement of support for
Kevin Wilson heading into the Ohio State game, saying the program was headed in
the right direction. Big picture, he might be right. The Hoosiers (3-8, 0-7 Big
Ten) showed fight in plenty of games, beat No. 17 Missouri on the road, lost by
three to No. 22 Minnesota and watched their season spiral downward after losing
starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld to a shoulder injury. But Wilson is 5-25 in
the Big Ten in four seasons and hasn't been to a bowl game.
Rutgers at Maryland
Kyle Flood, Rutgers. Yes, more Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights (6-5) are bowl
eligible in their first season in the Big Ten, but they have been
noncompetitive against the best teams in the conference, outscored by Ohio
State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska 180-44. Athletic director Julie
Hermann gave Flood a contract extension earlier this season, which was
surprising and would lead you to believe the coach is safe. Many Rutgers fans
would love to see Greg Schiano's return to Piscataway, New Jersey, after a
short and unsuccessful stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Always drama at
West Virginia at Iowa State
Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads is a well-liked Iowa native who has taken Iowa State
(2-8, 0-7 Big 12) to three bowl games, but has only had one winning record
during six seasons in Ames. The fan base has modest expectations. It's
difficult to win at Iowa State. A winless Big 12 season, which is where the
Cyclone are headed if they can't upset West Virginia on Saturday or No. 6 TCU
next week, could force athletic director Jamie Pollard to act.
Virginia at Virginia Tech
No coach has helped himself more with one late-season game than Virginia's Mike
London did last week when the Cavaliers (5-6) beat Miami 30-13. If they can
follow it up by breaking a 10-game losing streak to the Hokies, London should
be good to go for a sixth season in Charlottesville. The flip side is, Virginia
Tech is such a mess that if London can't beat the Hokies now it's fair to
wonder if he ever will.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP