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College football coaches on the brink this season

Chris Dufresne's college football story lines, No. 7: UCLA, Georgia, Cal and Washington State are among the programs entering the 2011 season with coaches in precarious positions.

August 05, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • College football coaches (from left) Rick Neuheisel of UCLA, Mark Richt of Georgia and Jeff Tedford of California will be under pressure this season to deliver victories and bowl trips to their respective programs.
College football coaches (from left) Rick Neuheisel of UCLA, Mark Richt… (Photos by US Presswire and…)

Coach Mark Richt owns a 96-34 record in his 10 seasons at Georgia, but let the record reflect that's not Bulldog-gone good enough.

Wait, it gets better, or worse.

Richt stood up at Southeastern Conference media days and actually (sort-of) braced fans for a possible season-opening home venue (Atlanta) loss to — Boise State.

"The winningest college football team in America over the last 10 seasons," Richt said.

"I've probably never seen anybody play any harder than they play as a team down after down."

The day an SEC coach, in front of his own congregation, trumps up a former junior college is the day somebody's on a hot seat.

All you need to know: Richt's Bulldogs are coming off a 6-7 year that ended with a Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida.

Georgia fans are, besides spoiled, upset that Richt hasn't delivered the breakthrough season yet (read: national title).

Richt has company:

— Rick Neuheisel, UCLA. He is 15-22 in three seasons and is coming off his second 4-8 campaign. Neuheisel has failed to capitalize on USC's probation and knows he needs to get moving if he wants to see the fifth year of his contract.

"I'm excited to be here as a coach on the proverbial hot seat," he said at Pac-12 media day.

Neuheisel jettisoned his offensive and defensive coordinators in an effort to change the vibe. He hasn't had much luck keeping players healthy or much luck beating USC. Best guess requirement for Neuheisel keeping his job: six wins and a bowl victory.

— Dennis Erickson, Arizona State. He won two national titles at Miami but is only 25-24 entering his fifth season in Tempe. This should/better be Erickson's best team, led by a ferocious defense. The key for Erickson is keeping all-world linebacker Vontaze Burfict out of personal foul trouble.

"I think our team has a good chance of winning a lot of football games," Erickson said.

— Jeff Tedford, Cal: Bears fans have officially forgotten how miserable football was before Tedford arrived nine years ago. After getting the Bears to the brink of national title, however, Tedford has slipped to 17-19 in conference play the last four years. He's still 72-42 overall, though, which earns him a chance to open renovated Memorial Stadium in 2012.

— Bob Toledo, Tulane. The coach who took UCLA to the brink of a national title in 1998 is 13-35 entering his fifth season.

That puts Toledo on the brink of something else.

— Paul Wulff, Washington State. There's a refreshing, lowered-expectations standard in Pullman, but 5-32 after three years is really, really pushing it.

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