As the 2013 season approaches, there are more than a few coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision sweating more than usual, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the record-breaking heat experienced in some parts of the country recently.
Every year there are a handful of guys who can't count job security as one of the areas in their lives they feel most comfortable, thus creating more than a few anxious moments for them personally, and equally unsettled times for the rabid fans that support their respective teams.
The following coaches are likely squirming in their seats right now, although none will say so publicly.
Among the higher-profile names, USC's Lane Kiffin, Charlie Weis of Kansas and Kirk Ferentz at Iowa could find themselves on the unemployment line at season's end if their teams don't produce to the level they are expected.
Kiffin, who turned his back on Tennessee after only one season, accepted what he called his "dream job" in the City of Angels in 2010, but the last three years have been up and down for sure. While it's true Kiffin inherited a team in turmoil (NCAA sanctions), the 2012 Trojans, the preseason No. 1, went just 7-6 after going 10-2 the year before. While few question his ability to recruit, Kiffin's critics cite his abrasive bedside manor and his deficiencies as an X's and O's guy as the reasons he doesn't produce consistent winners. For fans of the iconic program, another lackluster year will be more than they can handle, almost assuredly resulting in his ouster.
Weis has the misfortune of being too big a name to fly under the radar while attempting to revive a Kansas squad that has been in shambles since Mark Mangino led it to four bowl games and the only 12-win season in school history (2007). The 2012 campaign was another in a long line of disappointments for KU, the team going a woeful 1-11, with the only win coming in the season opener against FCS foe South Dakota State. The Jayhawks have lost 21 straight Big 12 Conference games, and they haven't won a league crown, shared or outright, since way back in 1968. For Weis to keep his job, the Jayhawks need to show marked improvement, and not just by performing valiantly from week to week.
Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten Conference coaches, having been hired to replace the legendary Hayden Fry back in 1998. While enjoying a modicum of success, particularly in 2009 when they went 11-2 overall and beat Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl, the Hawkeyes have been inconsistent during Ferentz's tenure. The team stumbled through a 4-8 campaign in 2012, and it's now been nearly a decade since Iowa has won a conference crown (sharing it in 2004). The Hawkeyes' last outright Big Ten title was back in 1985. Ferentz has won 100 games at Iowa, second only to Fry, and while he has led the Hawkeyes to 10 bowl games, they are just 19-19 overall and 10-14 in the Big Ten over the past three years.
Others who may be receiving pink slips if they don't turn things around immediately include Randy Edsall (Maryland), Bobby Hauk (UNLV), Kevin Wilson (Indiana) and Steve Sarkisian (Washington).
After a successful stint at Connecticut, Edsall was hired in 2011 to replace Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, but he has lost three times as many games as he has won (6-18), and with the Terrapins heading to the Big Ten next year, it's time to up the ante, or throw in the towel.
Having previously led FCS power Montana to unprecedented heights during his seven-year stay at that school, Hauk was thought to be the savior of a UNLV program that had posted only one winning season in the 10 years prior to his arrival. However, in the three years since, he has amassed a dismal record of 6-32 overall, 5-18 in the Mountain West Conference.
Wilson has the unenviable job of leading an Indiana team that has suffered more defeats than any other in FBS history. Lacking the clout to recruit with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and the other big boys in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers have gone just 5-19 during Wilson's two-year reign, and they have won only two of their 16 league bouts.
Hoping they found a potential wunderkind at the time, Washington hired Sarkisian away from rival USC in late 2008. Unfortunately things haven't panned out the way all had hoped, as he has led the Huskies to a 26-25 record, which includes a 19-17 ledger against Pac-10/12 rivals. Having finished no higher than third in the conference/division standings, Sarkisian has yet to leave his mark on a program that has been wildly inconsistent since its heyday under the winningest coach in school history, Don James (1975-92).
Still more who could be looking to hire a real estate agent sooner rather than later: Jim Grobe (Wake Forest), Rich Ellerson (Army), Terry Bowden (Akron), Ron English (Eastern Michigan) and Tim Beckman (Illinois).
The bottom line is, unless your name happens to be Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Les Miles or even Chris Petersen, you are one train-wreck of a season away from potentially being tossed out like yesterday's garbage. A fate no one enjoys discussing, but is pretty much fact in the what-have-you-done- for-me-lately world of a major college football coach.