Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:20 pm

Hot Seat Ratings: Happy marriages or honeymoons?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Dennis Dodd posted his annual list of Hot Seat Ratings today, so if you haven't perused them all, do so at once. At once, I say! Right now, let's focus on some of the untouchables, the 32 coaches who scored a 0.0-0.5 rating. Suffice it to say none of them are getting fired this year (or even next) without a major, unforeseeable catastrophe befalling the program. But past that, what coaches are truly untouchable, and who's just still on a honeymoon? Here's a look at 15 of those coaches, five for each category in the schools' alphabetical order, listed with Dodd's hot seat ratings.


Gene Chizik, Auburn, 0.0: Hear me out. Chizik is absolutely a 0.0 on Dodd's scale this year, and he would be even if the NCAA somehow finds a way to make Auburn vacate the 2010 BCS Championship (though that seems extremely unlikely at this juncture). But Auburn is expected to struggle this year, and while it's easy now to say that the title has earned Chizik a five-year grace period, what happens if Gus Malzahn gets a high-major head coaching offer and Kiehl Frazier doesn't pan out? If Auburn struggles through two straight .500 seasons and Malzahn takes off, that 0.0 turns into a 2.0 pretty soon.
Will Muschamp, Florida, 0.5: Muschamp is one of the most dynamic and promising new head coaches in the last decade or so, but the fact remains that he's a 39-year-old, first-year head coach at a "win right now" program. Oh, and John Brantley is still his quarterback. If Muschamp can't get his Gators back above the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC East pecking order, his seat's going to ignite in a hurry.
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 0.0: The other coach coming off a 2010 BCS Championship berth also has two things working against him: a track record of only two seasons as head coach, and the possibility of major NCAA violations. For Kelly, the worry is more the latter than the former, and depending on where this business with Willie Lyles and Lache Seastrunk's recruitment ends up, Kelly could find himself in way more hot water than a 22-4 coach has any right to be. That's all "ifs" right now though, so for now, the honeymoon is still on.
Doug Marrone, Syracuse, 0.5: Marrone enters his third year with the Orange after guiding the once-proud program to a 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year -- Syracuse's first bowl win since 2001. He's got a solid core of skill players back, but the overall talent level at Syracuse is still low enough that a moderate rash of injuries could be enough to plunge Syracuse back to the level of 3-5 wins in 2011, and that's a good way to snap fans back into remembering that the Pinstripe Bowl is just... the Pinstripe Bowl. Marrone's still got a lot of work to do.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, 0.5: Like Marrone, Sarkisian has performed the rather remarkable feat of turning around a program that had been mired in sub-mediocrity for the majority of the '00s. But like Marrone, the program's talent level isn't BCS-caliber yet, and unlike Marrone, Sark has to contend with losing a first-round draft pick senior quarterback, Jake Locker. Further, Washington's road schedule is brutal this year; the Huskies'll probably have to win at least two home games between California, Arizona, and Oregon just to get back to .500.


Jimbo Fisher, Florida State, 0.5: That Bobby Bowden transition wasn't so bad after all, was it? That's because Fisher guided FSU to 10 wins in his very first year... unlike the last six years of the Bowden era. Seminole fans are going to start raising expectations to the levels of the mid-'90s, so four losses and an ACC Championship loss aren't going to cut it forever, but Fisher's recruiting well enough to restore FSU to glory quickly.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 0.5: How comfortably ensconced at Iowa is Ferentz? He's been coaching at Iowa for 12 years, and in seven of them, Iowa has suffered at least five losses. Ferentz runs a clean coaching staff, but there have been a couple isolated stretches of off-field embarrassments for the Hawkeyes -- and the rhabdo case certainly didn't help matters. But he's well-loved in Iowa City all the same, and the fact that he has turned down offers from Michigan and several NFL teams is not lost on Iowa fans or administrators. Moreover, his teams haven't been bad since his first two years on campus, and he's producing a double-digit win season once per three years; if he keeps that pace up, he'll be at Iowa for as long as he wants.
Charlie Strong, Louisville, 0.5: Strong has only been at Louisville for one season, but he's already got a winning season under his belt (unlike the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Steve Kragthorpe), and he's recruiting well enough (in particular, QB signee Teddy Bridgewater) to keep Louisville winning in perpetuity. If Strong leaves, it's because a powerhouse came calling; he's legit, and everybody at Louisville knows it. If he delivers a BCS win, you can move him into the last category here.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 0.5: Dantonio has been more successful at Michigan State than Nick Saban was. Mark Dantonio is therefore a better coach than Nick Saban. QED. If Dantonio can avoid any more health scares and start routinely challenging for Big Ten (sigh) Legends division championships, he's set for life in East Lansing. Easier said than done with Nebraska coming to town and Michigan likely to rebound from the recent swoon, though.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 0.5: Bo Pelini has done a fine job in his first three years as Nebraska head coach, and on first glance, it appears the young coach is the perfect candidate to lead the Huskers into the Big Ten. There's been an odd sense of impermanence from Pelini's stay at Nebraska though; it's unclear whether it comes from his tempermental sideline behavior (and his brother's) or his itinerant career thus far -- this fourth season as Huskers head coach makes this the longest coaching job Pelini has ever held. Whatever it is, he seems to lack the stable, staid nature of his longer-tenured fellow coaches. That's not insignificant; if a coach can make his fans and boosters believe he's got everything under control when things go south for a year or two, his seat can stay nice and cool for longer. Pelini is respected, but he's not quite there yet.


Nick Saban, Alabama, 0.0: Saban delivered a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his second year there, and his Crimson Tide have finished with three straight AP Top 10 finishes. He's the highest-paid coach in college football for a reason: he earns it.
Chris Peterson, Boise State, 0.5: Peterson basically ruined the WAC for everybody else, going 61-5 as Boise's head man. Sure, you can wonder where he'd be without Kellen Moore, but Peterson did beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky behind center. Now that Utah and TCU are both running off to BCS conferences, expect Boise to dominate the Mountain West for as long as Peterson's there.
Chris Ault, Nevada, 0.0: If this scale could go into negative numbers, Ault would be at least a -10. He's a College Football Hall of Famer who has overseen Nevada's rise from Division II to the upper echelon of the FBS mid-majors. Ault is a true Nevada lifer: he played QB for the Wolfpack in the '60s, and he's on his 26th year as a head coach with the program (his 39th overall in some facet with the Nevada athletic department). He is never, ever, ever getting fired. 
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 0.0: Fitzgerald just signed a contract extension that has 10 years on it, but is a de facto lifetime contract. He'll probably be in Evanston for at least the next 20 years. Seems crazy to say something like that about Northwestern football, doesn't it? But here it is and here we are.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 0.0: The Hokies owe as much to Beamer as just about any program and current coach in the country (other than the aforementioned Nevada and Ault or Penn State and Joe Paterno, who might as well get the school named after him upon retirement). When the ACC realigned in 2005 to include a championship game, the divisions were set up to ensure the possibility of Miami and FSU meeting every season. Instead, it's been Virginia Tech dominating the conference, appearing in four of six championship games and winning three. The ACC is Frank Beamer's conference, so the very notion of a hot seat for Beamer is essentially unimaginable.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 1:39 am

Willie Lowe to transfer from Iowa, citing rhabdo

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A rhabdomyolysis scare may have briefly hospitalized 13 Iowa players earlier this year, but it has finally claimed its first permanent casualty of sorts. Willie Lowe, a cornerback who played a key reserve role for the Hawkeyes, announced today that he would be seeking a transfer from the school, according to Joe Schad.

"I would like to be able to sit out a year, regain my strength, feel fine and play again," Lowe told ESPN when asked about the prospect of playing football again. "But I don't know. I am still down 20 pounds and I am having headaches every few days."

Even as the 13 players have all been medically cleared to practice, most are still working to fully recover. There's a world of difference between "allowed to start practicing football again" and "back to normal," after all, and Lowe isn't the only player on that Iowa team who's still struggling to regain his pre-rhabdo form. Still, the fact that some players are at full speed already is promising, considering the fact that there's still five months of off-season left. That number of fully recovered players can only go up, after all.

As far as whether this is the last of the rhabdo-related transfers, that remains to be seen. There's little indication that a mass exodus of players is coming, to put it mildly, but the aftermath of the hospitalization and recovery will take months and years to unfold, long after every player has recovered. The longer said recovery takes, after all, the longer that player spends performing at a sub-optimal level -- all while his former backup (if he had one) relishes his new role with the team. At that point, the previously stricken player may decide to transfer just to get a little playing time instead of staying buried on the depth chart. Is that still a rhabdo-related transfer? Perhaps, but if the hypothetical player holds no animosity toward the coaches over the incident, then it's disingenuous to lump him in with Lowe, whose transfer is directly related to his rhabdomyolysis recover. So we'll see how this all shakes out; for now, it just looks as if the Iowa secondary just took a small hit, depth-wise, but that's about it.

Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:06 pm

Iowa completes its rhabdo investigation

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The University of Iowa has completed its investigation in to what caused the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis among the football team that caused 13 players to be hospitalized. Iowa president Sally Mason will present the results of the investigation to the school's board of regents on Wednesday, but the board doesn't have to wait that long if it doesn't want to. Here's what the investigation concluded, and in all honestly, there isn't much here that we didn't already know.

- The school is "as certain as possible" that the outbreak of rhabdo was caused by the strenuous workout the players participated in on January 20. While the players were hospitalized with serious muscle injuries, none developed symptoms of advanced rhabdomyolysis damage. Like kidney damage, so that's good news.

- None of the 13 players are responsible for the outbreak. They did not suffer from rhabdo due to any prescription meds, over-the-counter meds, supplements or energy drinks.

- This isn't the first time Iowa players have participated in this workout, as the team held them in June 2004 and December 2007. The difference this time, however, is that the players weren't coming off of a three week break the last two times the team held the workouts. Still, the coaches can't be held responsible for the outbreak because they had no reason to believe the workout would lead to such a condition since it never had before.

- There was no evidence to support the claims that the workout we meant to be a punishment for the players. Though the team's strength coach did make a comment saying that the workouts should help take care of all the close losses that Iowa suffered last season, and would help determine "who wants to be here."

Iowa rhabdo outbreak

As for recommendations the investigation makes for the Iowa football program in the future, it's not surprising that it was recommended that the school not hold such strenuous workouts in the future. It's also recommended that Iowa develop "effective mechanisms for determining when players are experiencing unexpected complications that can result from a specific type of workout."

Also, if any player should become injured or ill following a workout, the entire team should be tested to make sure they aren't suffering the same symptons.

In other words, this entire investigation could have been summed up in one sentence. "Let's try and learn from our mistakes and use a bit more common sense next time, shall we?"
Posted on: March 2, 2011 12:33 pm

Kouandijo's view of Iowa changed with rhabdo case

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Last month on National Signing Day, Cyrus Kouandijo became a bit of a household name in the college football world. The offensive lineman out of Maryland high school football powerhouse Dematha originally committed to Auburn on signing day. He then quickly changed his mind, and over the next week there was plenty of speculation as to why Kouandijo had changed his mind, and where he'd end up.

Eventually Cyrus would choose Alabama, where his older brother Arie Kouandijo had spent the 2010 season as a redshirt lineman. Just another chapter in the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. Of course, there was a third school that had been in the running for Kouandijo's services, and that school was Iowa. In fact, in a recent interview with The Sporting News, Kouandijo says that Iowa was the front-runner pretty early, but it turns out that the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis amongst 13 iowa football players after an offseason workout swayed his decision.

"At first I really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa," Kouandijo answered when asked where he was leaning in the fall. "I even told my best friend that I was going to Iowa. But when everything went down with them with the workouts and all, that was different. I had a bad vibe when I went there. Alabama may be far from home, but Iowa—living-style wise—it’s just out there and just not me. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment. I love their coaches and I love their team, but it was really just out for me."

I must admit that I do find it odd that Kouandijo's view of Iowa City itself changed. After all, the school was located in the same place before so many football players had to be hospitalized. So it seems that Kouandijo began looking at the school through a different lense following the rhabdomyoysis outbreak. After all, it's not like Tuscaloosa or Auburn are in the middle of giant metropolitan areas themselves.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 6:20 pm

Three fired for accessing Iowa players' records

Posted by Adam Jacobi

When the massive case of rhabdomyolysis hit the Iowa football team last month, football fans understandably wanted to know what caused it all, why 13 young men had to be sent to the hospital before their kidneys failed. And since we all turn into Dr. Gregory House whenever we're on the internet, some people noticed that one of the causes of rhabdo can be certain types of drug use. Say, didn't an Iowa player or two get arrested over drugs? Didn't athletic director Gary Barta say at the press conference that Iowa's drug testing program could have been compromised? Did House figure out another medical mystery?

Well, no; reports from the hospital shortly thereafter indicated that all 13 players had tested negative for drugs, so that theory was out the window (where it belonged in the first place). But hang on; aren't there federal laws prohibiting that type of information being leaked by anybody but the patients or the immediate family members of every single one of them? Yes, there are, and that's what got two hospital employees suspended ... and three more fired:

University of Iowa officials are in the process of firing three staff members and suspending two others without pay for five days for their roles in inappropriately accessing electronic medical records of 13 UI football players who were in the hospital.

The unidentified players were being treated for rhabdomyolysis, a rare muscle disorder.

UI spokesman Tom Moore declined to identify the names of the staff members, what information they accessed or how it was used, citing federal and institutional privacy laws and policies.

Seriously, people; federal privacy laws are no joke, and the UI Hospitals and Clinics really had no option but to take severe action against those involved. Even if the leak was intended to clear the program's name, the hospital isn't about to suspend enforcement of HIPPA laws just because the patients are anonymous and famous.

However, we at CBS know that readers value information over secrecy, so we're prepared to name all five disciplined staff members! They are, in alphabetical order... wait, our editors are standing outside with spiked bats and pitchforks. Never mind.

Posted on: January 28, 2011 6:10 pm

5 Iowa players released from hospital

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In what might be the first bit of good news for Iowa since the rhabdomyolysis story broke, a statement released by Kirk Ferentz announced this afternoon that five of the 13 hospitalized Hawkeyes will be going home from the University of Iowa Hospital today. Ferentz's statement continues:

"I have been communicating with each student-athlete and their parents, or guardians, since learning they were admitted into the hospital. Members of the football staff have also been communicating daily with this group. This communication will continue until each student-athlete is able to resume their academic and athletic commitments.

"As the parent of both a current and former member of the team, the health and well-being of each student-athlete in our football program is paramount. "I will work with all of the individuals and groups that contribute to the welfare of our student-athletes to understand what led to this occurrence in order to make certain it does not happen again."

Ferentz no doubt must make good on that last promise to retain any good will amongst the Hawkeye parents, who have reportedly been less than charitable with regards to Ferentz's absence during the incident and Wednesday press conference. It won't help the atmosphere of confusion and potential distrust that it was also announced today that the hospital will be investigating the potential "accessing" of the player's private health records by individuals without proper medical clearance.

Despite those issues and the whole of the ugly black eye Iowa will sport after this incident, the release of the five players and the expected return to good health of the other eight indicate that the media storm may be beginning to clear. Barring legal action on the part of any of the players or families, the worst appears to be over for Ferentz and the Hawkeyes.

Posted on: January 27, 2011 8:08 pm

Hospitalized Hawkeyes all pass drug tests

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While the rhabdomyolysis that thirteen Iowa Hawkeyes are currently hospitalized is commonly caused by extreme physical exertion, drug use can lead to the condition as well. Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can bring on the kidney ailment, which is why the doctors at the Iowa Hospitals and Clinics felt it prudent to test each of the thirteen players for drug use.

According to a report by The Sporting News, all those tests have come back negative. Though just because the players all tested clean for illegal drugs, that does not rule out that supplements may have played a part in all of this. Either way, considering the problems that have occurred at Iowa involving football players and drugs in recent months, at least this is one less thing for the school to worry about.

One thing that Iowa, specifically head coach Kirk Ferentz, should worry about are the parents of the players in the hospital. According to the report, when Ferentz returned to Iowa City on Wednesday night, he met with the players' parents before meeting with the players, and those parents gave him an earful. Seems they didn't appreciate Ferentz taking so long to return from a recruiting trip after finding out about his players and their children.

“Kirk took a lot of (stuff),” a source told The Sporting News. “But he stood there and took it all. He’s been incredibly remorseful about the whole thing.”

Ferentz was expected to meet with his players again on Thursday night, as all thirteen are expected to spend at least one more night in the hospital.
Posted on: January 27, 2011 3:10 pm

Iowa to launch investigation into hospitalization

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It hasn't been the greatest week for the Iowa football program following the hospitalization of 13 members of the football team, and the ensuing press conference. The players were all hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis following strenuous workouts last week, and now the school wants to find out what happened to cause such a mass outbreak of the unusual muscle disorder.

Which is why the school's Board of Regents announced on Thursday that they're ordering an investigation of the situation.
Board of Regents President David Miles and school President Sally Mason call the case "a cause for grave concern."
They agreed the university will have 90 days to complete an investigation analyzing events and the results will be presented to the Board of Regents. The review will involve independent experts.
Hopefully the investigation will yield more answers than Wednesday's press conference did. As Adam Jacobi already went over on the blog, yesterday's press conference was not exactly the most enlightening hour. The only information that came out that seemed helpful, other than finding out that the players will be hospitalized a few more days and are recovering, came from one of the player's fathers, Biff Poggi. It also opened up head coach Kirk Ferentz and AD Gary Barta to a lot of criticism since neither were in town for the press conference, with Ferentz recruiting in Ohio and Barta golfing.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com