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Question of the day: Which college football coach is most on the hot seat this season?

August 30, 2010 | 11:55 am

Ralph Reporters from around Tribune Co. offer their insights on college football coaches who are under the most pressure to win this season.

Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun:

Most everyone around Maryland knows the pressure that coach Ralph Friedgen is laboring under this season. Heck, Friedgen was said to be on the hot seat after the 2008 season, when the Terps went 8-5.

That season looks positively rosy considering  what happened next. After starting 2008 at 6-2, the Terps  — who went to the Orange Bowl in Friedgen’s first season (2001) —  won just four times in 17 games.

It’s not only the losses. Season-ticket sales went from 28,661 in 2005 to 22,804 last season and are projected to dip further. Suites in the renovated stadium have gone unsold. Not all of that can be blamed on the economy.

Friedgen, 63, with two seasons remaining on his contract, has no protectors in the administration. A new president comes on board Nov. 1. The school is searching for a new athletic director.

“We’ll get this thing turned around,” said one of the assistants after Friedgen escaped with his job last season. For Friedgen’s sake, the comeback needs to start now. 

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times:

Dan Hawkins of Colorado, who was so good at Boise, has a winning percentage of .326 in four years in Boulder and reportedly would have been out last year if not for the hefty buyout in his contract. He needs to turn around 3-9, or else, as school ramps up for Pac-10 membership.

Dennis Erickson of Arizona State won 10 games his first season in 2007 but has been picked to finish ninth in Pac-10 this season. He had better not.

Ron Zookof Illinois recruited most of the players who won the national title for Florida in 2006 for Urban Meyer but has been Wrong Way Ron at Illinois since leading the team to a Rose Bowl loss to USC.

Paul Wulff at Washington state has gone 3-22 in two years, with his Cougars generally considered to be the worst major college team in America. There's only one direction to go from there  -- up -- or else.

LSU is asking more from Les Miles after going 17-9 in the two years after winning the national title. Yeah, fans are funny that way. Ralph Friedgen's magic has worn off at Maryland.

Winner in a landslide: Rich Rodriguez, Michigan. Everything that could go wrong in Ann Arbor has gone wrong. It took a crowbar and a ton of money just to pry him away from West Virginia, and he's gone 8-16 in two years while leading the Wolverines into probation. You'd think a school being sanctioned for excessive practice abuses would improve on the field. RichRod probably needs 7-5 and a bowl appearance to survive an already tumultuous tenure.

Photo: Ralph Friedgen. Credit: Gail Burton / Associated Press

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