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Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Non-AQ coaches continue to fall

By Graham Watson

The round of coach firings, dismissals, retirements, and resignations for the non-AQ should be coming to a close pretty soon.

Akron’s J.D. Brookhart was relived of his duties last Friday, Marshall’s Mark Snyder resigned on Sunday and in a little bit of a surprise, Louisiana-Monroe announced Monday that Charlie Weatherbie would not have his contract renewed.

By my count, there’s only one coach, maybe two, that should be concerned: North Texas’ Todd Dodge and Arkansas State’s Steve Roberts. Both fell way below expectations this year and during several years prior. I think Dodge is in more trouble than Roberts, but here’s a rundown of the coaching carousel:

OUT

David Elson, Western Kentucky (0-11, 0-7 Sun Belt; vs. Arkansas State)

Tommy West, Memphis (2-10, 1-7 C-USA)

Mike Sanford, UNLV (5-7, 3-5 MWC)

Dick Tomey, San Jose State (2-9, 1-6 WAC; at Louisiana Tech)

J.D. Brookhart, Akron (3-9, 2-6 MAC)

Mark Snyder, Marshall (6-6, 4-4 C-USA)

Charlie Weatherbie, Louisiana-Monroe (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt)

IN

Larry Porter, Memphis (LSU RB coach)

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky (Stanford RB coach)

WORRIED

Todd Dodge, North Texas (2-10, 1-8 Sun Belt): Dodge lost his final regular season game last week to finish the year 2-10. He’s 5-31 in his three years with the program and the competitiveness of the Mean Green has been hit and miss. They lost their last three games by a score, but all of those losses came to teams with losing records. However, three years is not a long time for a coach. Dodge hasn’t gotten all of his recruits in place and at least offensively, there’s a lot of talent returning.

Steve Roberts, Arkansas State (2-7, 1-4 Sun Belt): Arkansas State beat North Texas last week and should defeat Western Kentucky this week to earn a 4-8 overall record, which is a far cry from what many were expecting. This spiral started last season when the team needed a win for a bowl and the Red Wolves haven’t gotten out of the funk. Arkansas State hasn’t had a winning season since 1995, but it has had three 6-6 seasons during Roberts’ eight-year tenure.

SAFE

Mike Price, UTEP (4-8, 3-5 C-USA): UTEP AD Bob Stull said Price was safe before the beatdown of Marshall, but that solidified it. Even though UTEP underachieved this season, it still showed flashes of being a potential contender in Conference USA. Price will get one more year to see if he can turn the program around.

Mike Locksley, New Mexico (1-11, 1-7 MWC): Obviously, this was not an ideal season for New Mexico, but I said all along that Locksley needed just one win to keep his job and he got it against Colorado State. However, a sub-.500 record won’t cut it next year especially with the PR nightmare Locksley put the university through this season. He’ll need to show big improvement in 2010 to stay safe.

Greg McMackin, Hawaii (6-6, 3-5 WAC; vs. Wisconsin): A lot of credit goes to McMackin for the turnaround his team has performed in an attempt to save its season. The Warriors still need one more win for a bowl berth, but they were left for dead after a six-game losing streak through the middle of the season. The Warriors have won four in a row with Wisconsin coming to town.

George O’Leary, UCF (8-4, 6-2 C-USA): A lot of people wanted O’Leary fired after last season not only for the poor results on the field, but also some of the drama off of it. But Central Florida has rallied around its embattled coach and come up with an eight-win campaign and a bowl berth. The defense has been fantastic and O’Leary should be praised for getting the program back on track.