It's heating up outside as summer rolls around, but it might be even hotter for some Mountain West Conference coaches. While I don't think we'll see as many firings as the conference saw during the basketball season, I definitely wouldn't be surprised if a few of the football coaches were given the boot. Will Utah be one of those teams making a change? How about New Mexico or UNLV? Hm, maybe...
Firstly, let's look at those coaches that can do no wrong this season. Coaches that are safe no matter what and probably would get away with nearly murdering someone before a coaching change was made.
The best coach in the conference, no questions asked. His teams don't seem to even have a rebuilding phase, as they'll most likely win 10 games again this season, the third time in as many years. Patterson's only leaving Fort Worth if a better offer comes along and even then, I wouldn't be shocked if he stayed.
You go 11-2 in only your second season with the program and you're almost set for life. Bronco could win only 3-games this season and would still be back for another try. He's taken the Cougars to two straight bowls, after they missed playing in the postseason for 3 consecutive years under Crowton, and he's already locked up a conference championship. The only thing that would ever undermine his tenure down in Provo is if it came out he did 70s-era porn. Which wouldn't be that big of a surprise with a name like Bronco -- I mean really, who the hell names their kid Bronco?
He's new, so no matter what he'll get the benefit of the doubt. Even if they go winless, Air Force won't unload Calhoun after only one season, especially since he's completely retooled their offense and moved it away from the tripe option we were so accustom to seeing under Fisher DeBerry.
Probably the weakest link here, but still stronger than most in the conference. Mostly because it's Wyoming and they're content with 6 and 7 win seasons. Plus he's still carrying over some serious mojo from their 2004 Las Vegas Bowl victory over UCLA. If Glenn failes to get the Cowboys to a bowl game -- and remember, they went 6-6 last year and still missed out -- his seat will probably start heating up. But anything short of an epic collapse means he's here to stay for at least another year.
Those coaches are safe and the only reason they leave will be for greener pastures. Of course then there's the coaches that might not be on the hot seat, but damn near close.
Last year really hurt his reputation and another sub-par campaign might cement his stature as a mediocre coach. In no way do I think Whittingham is a bad coach, but he hasn't proven he's great and that might ultimately hinder his tenure here at Utah. Surely we don't expect Urban Meyer-like numbers, but we damn well expect conference championships and the occasional top-25 finish. And while I don't expect a dominate season this year, especially with their schedule, it's important Utah finishes 1st or 2nd in the conference. Anything less might mean this time next year Whittingham IS on the hot seat, and not teetering close to it.
He's screwed I think, but he's not going to be fired after this season, even if the Aztecs continue to suck. There was a lot of promise when he became coach last year, but a 3-win season, after taking over a team that came a game within .500, has left a lot of doubters. He'll get this year and next to prove he can get it done, but if the Aztecs are terrible again, he'll be on the hot seat entering next season.
Poor Sonny. It wasn't that long ago that he was offered the Miami job and turned them down. Now he's facing a winning season or a probable exit from Fort Collins. From 1999 to 2002 the Rams went 35-15, including 3 conference championships. Since then they've only had a winning season once and are coming off a 4-8 campaign last year. If they don't improve and get back to a bowl game, it wouldn't surprise me if Sonny Lubick went the way of Fisher DeBerry.
Those coaches aren't safe, but they're not quite on the hot seat yet, either. But the next two are and I expect them to be gone after this season, unless there is a large improvement.
He's the epitome of mediocrity. Never winning more than 8 games (only won 8 games once, and had 5 losses to boot that season) in his career, Long is slowly wearing out his welcome in Albuquerque. It doesn't help they've never won a conference championship and lost a bowl game on their home field last season. That's now 45 years and counting since the Lobos won a bowl game. If New Mexico fails to win more than 7 games again this year and loses in their backyard bowl (the New Mexico Bowl), Rocky Long will be fired. I'll guarantee that.
Sanford will be entering his third year with the Rebels and it's win or die time for him. He's won a total of 4 games the past two years and if he can't get UNLV to at least 6 wins, I don't expect him to be around for next year. Especially since he came promising an exciting offense, much like the Utes offense in '04 and a ton of conference championships. Well since taking over, their offense has been less than stellar and they've only won two conference games. This will need to improve this season, or UNLV will be looking for a new coach to guide the team.