Published November 20, 2014
American sports fans are not the nibbling type. We swallow our sports whole.
Patient fans are few and far between. Sure, we talk about giving new coaches a three- or five-year rebuilding plan, but they better not take that long, right?
When a coach is on the hot seat, or at least on one getting warmer, the storyline consumes the entire team. Some people try to say the topic doesn't exist, but it's there.
College, of course, is a little different from the pros. A program is not just about winning and making money, it's about developing people, graduating student-athletes and having a community and alumni following.
Thus, some coaches may be doing a better job than it seems to others.
Still, at some point, coaches answer to the wins and losses.
In the Football Championship Subdivision, there appears to be fewer coaches on the hot seat heading into this season, with a number of programs enjoying success or getting started under new hires in recent seasons.
Scour the parking lot though, and you find some models with the seat warmers turned on this summer - much to the dismay of their drivers. Not many, but enough.
Across the bigger FCS conferences, there's a lot of stable situations. CAA Football, the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Southern Conference don't have many worried head coaches.
The Big Sky Conference, though, is the new super conference, expanding to 13 teams with four programs coming aboard from the disbanded Great West Conference, so the competition is about to get fiercer.
The Big Sky program that can't seem to get over the hump is Sacramento State, where coach Marshall Sperbeck is 24-32 through five seasons. Even wins over Oregon State and Montana didn't prevent a fall to 4-7 last year, and Sperbeck is hearing his critics.
At Austin Peay, Rick Christophel is still trying to put it all together since a successful debut in 2007 at the Ohio Valley Conference program. A year ago, the Governors went 3-8 to drop Christophel's five-year record to 18-37.
In the Big South, VMI's Sparky Woods is 11-33 through four seasons, including a 2-9 mark last year. His teams are only 6-21 in conference play. As a military school, VMI is a tough place to win at, but Woods still hasn't done enough of it.
Sacred Heart will play seven of its 11 games on the road this season, which isn't welcome news for coach Paul Gorham's cause. The Pioneers have had a winning record in Northeast Conference play in only one of his eight seasons, although last year's 5-6 overall and 3-5 conference marks were an improvement from the prior two seasons. The Pioneers need to continue the progress.
First impressions are not always what they seem, but at Princeton, coach Bob Surace has suffered through a 1-9 record, and a last-place finish in the Ivy League, in each of his first two seasons at his alma mater. With a 2-18 overall record, he doesn't want a repeat.
Speaking of the third time needing to be a charm, coach Karl Morgan is 1-20 through two seasons at Mississippi Valley State. His SWAC program needs to take a step forward this season.