Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football, where Connecticut deserves some applause for showing up against undefeated Wyoming and nearly winning for the first time since 2019:
FOURTH QUARTER: COACHING HEAT CHECK
Patience is never at a premium in college football, and the first month of the season underscored that rather clearly as the revenues and expenses continue to climb in the sport. Three FBS coaches have been fired or resigned already this season, from Randy Edsall at UConn to Clay Helton at USC to Chad Lunsford on Sunday at Georgia Southern. Assistants reportedly have been fired or stripped of play-calling duties as well at Auburn and Ohio State, among others.
So, who else needs to be watching their backs as the season progresses? A Dash list:
Scott Frost (31), Nebraska. This season: 2–3. Overall record: 14–23. His team has played better since a stink bomb of a season opener at Illinois, and was achingly close to a quality win Saturday night at Michigan State. But a familiar Frost failing rose up late in regulation—a special teams meltdown that allowed the Spartans to score on a long punt return and send the game into overtime, where the predictable happened to the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is now 0–3 on the road this season and 4–15 in his tenure away from home. This doesn’t appear to be fait accompli yet for Frost, but he might need some big wins in the second half of the season to convince anyone this is going in the right direction.
Mike Norvell (32), Florida State. The refrain from many observers of the program is that FSU needs stability and cannot fire another coach this quickly. But what if the program is being driven off a cliff at a high rate of speed? The Seminoles are 0–4, with the first loss to an FCS opponent in school history (thanks to massive coaching malpractice) and a three-touchdown loss to Wake Forest. Norvell is 3–10 in 13 games. Willie Taggart was 5–8 at this juncture of his FSU tenure and was bounced after 21 games at 9–12. Norvell will be lucky to get to 9–12.
Jim Harbaugh (33), Michigan. Yeah, he’s 4–0 and the on-field product looks very good so far. But we’ve seen this movie before with a promising start. Unless Harbaugh adds some quality wins in the next two months, the critics will be back. Key games: Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State.
Justin Fuente (34), Virginia Tech. The Hokies’ season got off to a great start with an upset of North Carolina, but that looks less impressive today than it did at the time. At 3–1 and 1–0 in the ACC Coastal, there are still plenty of opportunities to compete for the title in an annually muddled division.
Dino Babers (35), Syracuse. At 3–1, this is Babers’s best start since his only good season with the Orange, a 10–3 mark in 2018. Beating winless Ohio and FCS Albany don’t mean much, but the victory over previously undefeated Liberty on Saturday resonates a bit. Syracuse gave Rutgers a good game as well in its only defeat. After winless Florida State this week, the schedule gets appreciably tougher.
Ed Orgeron (36), LSU. He’s stabilized things after that season-opening loss at UCLA, with the Tigers showing improvement in three straight victories. Things got wobbly late against Mississippi State last weekend, but that’s still a good win over a team that beat the Tigers last year. There are four undefeated teams remaining on the schedule, so the verdict is far from in on this season.
Several Group of 5 coaches (37), most notably: Seth Littrell at North Texas, Rick Stockstill at Middle Tennessee, Jake Spavital at Texas State and Walt Bell at Massachusetts. Littrell and Stockstill have had success but are both 1–3 and working on what could be a third straight losing season. Spavital’s third season is spiraling the wrong way with three straight ugly losses, and Bell is 1–19 after taking the dead-end job at UMass.
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COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK
Dave Doeren (38), North Carolina State. He’d solidified the Wolfpack program as consistently above average, but the search for breakthrough wins continued—until Saturday. In overtime, after missing three field goals in regulation, N.C. State finally got over on Clemson. It was Doeren’s first win over the Tigers in eight tries.
COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK
Paul Chryst (39), Wisconsin. He’s 5–7 in his last 12 games. His offense is a mess. His quarterback needs a lot of work. And he didn’t even wear the trademark sweatshirt against Notre Dame. Has America’s favorite Everyman coach lost his mojo?
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