Arizona State is not extending football coach Todd Graham’s contract by one year as it has done annually in the past, leaving Graham under contract for less than five years for the first time since his arrival.
Just how secure are the jobs of ASU’s Todd Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez?
Not very, at least according to some odds and some rankings of college football coaches on the hot seat.
Check out what they’re saying about the Arizona coaching duo’s job security:
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Who will be first college football coach fired?
According to SportsBettingDime, Graham and Rodriguez are good bets to be the first college football coach fired this season.
The site lists both at 15-1.
Only one coach is above them.
UCLA’s Jim Mora is listed at 9-1.
That is a list the Pac-12 probably doesn’t like leading.
Three SEC coaches next on the list: Arkansas’ Brett Bielema is 16-1, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is 17-1 and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is 18-1.
The rest of the Top 10 includes Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech, 18-1), Lane Kiffin (FAU, 25-1), Butch Jones (Tennessee, 30-1) and Brian Kelly (Notre Dame, 30-1).
Hot seat rankings
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd did a story ranking the 10 FBS coaches with the hottest seats for this season and the two Arizona coaches made the Top 5.
Rodriguez is No. 3 on the list.
“He’s 5-13 at Arizona in his last 18 games,” Dodd said. “That’s never happened in his career.”
Graham is No. 4.
“Two consecutive losing seasons, he was not extended by his athletic director,” Dodd said. “That’s always a bad sign.”
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Only Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (No. 1) and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin are higher than Rodriguez and Graham on the list.
Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury rounds out the Top (or Bottom?) 5.
Dodd looked at all 130 FBS coaches and assigned them a rating based on how hot their seat is for the coming season.
Kelly and Sumlin were the only coaches who received a 5 rating which Dodd described as “win or be fired.”
Just four college football coaches received a 4 rating, which was described as “start improving now.”
Rodriguez and Graham had that rating, along with Kingsbury and Kent State coach Paul Haynes.
15 coaches received a 3 rating, described as “pressure is mounting.”
31 coaches received 2’s (“All good … for now”) and 66 coaches got 1’s (“Safe and secure”).
12 coaches received “untouchable” 0 ratings.
You can see were Dodd slotted each coach here.
FOX Sports did a list of 12 coaches on the hot seat and Graham and Rodriguez both had spots.
Dieter Kurtenbach wrote of Graham: “A defensive mastermind with a bad defense and a 5-7 record last year is not something that lends itself to job security.”
He wrote of Rodriguez: “Coming off a 3-9 season — his nearly $9 million buyout might be the only thing saving him.”
Graham made USA TODAY Sports’ list of 10 coaches on the hot seat entering 2017 season.
He came in at No. 8.
Paul Myerberg wrote: “The question isn’t whether Graham can get ASU back into a bowl game this fall. Despite his critics, Graham is more than capable of adding several wins to the Sun Devils’ total after a disappointing 2016. The question is whether the administration thinks Graham is the long-term solution. Have back-to-back losing seasons impacted that view? Absolutely. So just getting ASU to seven wins might not be enough to get Graham off the hot seat.”
Rodriguez came in at No. 3 on SI.com’s list of the 10 coaches under the most pressure to win.
Joan Niesen wrote: “It’s year six for Rodriguez at Arizona, and after he quickly built the program back up in 2012–14, things have taken a downturn the past two years. The Wildcats peaked in 2014, going 10–4 and 7–2 in conference play and winning the Pac-12 South. Since then, they’ve won a total of 10 games. A three-win season like the one they had in 2016 simply won’t cut it, and it doesn’t help that the athletic director who hired Rodriguez, Greg Byrne, left Arizona earlier this year for Alabama. Rodriguez has a $9 million buyout clause after this season, which is a relatively steep price for a program like Arizona. Still should the Wildcats repeat their one-win mark in Pac-12 play or only marginally improve upon it, it’s easy to see Rodriguez being let go. And with a tough schedule coming—one of Arizona’s three non-conference games is against Houston, and the Pac-12 slate won’t yield any sure wins—the situation don’t look too rosy in Tucson.”
Graham came in on No. 5 on the SI list.
Niesen wrote: “This season will be Graham’s sixth in Tempe, which is about the time a coach either digs in or heads on his way. In this case, there’s been enough inconsistency to wonder if changes aren’t coming. Last fall, the Sun Devils went 5–7, following up a 6–7 campaign in 2015. Two losing years in a row isn’t what anyone expected from Graham after he won eight, 10 and 10 games in his first three years on the job. That could turn 2017 into a make-or-break year. The Sun Devils won just two conference games a season ago, against Cal and UCLA, both of whom finished with disappointing years. And in their seven Pac-12 losses, the Sun Devils fell by an average of 19.7 points. None of this bodes well for Graham, a renowned defensive coach whose defense allowed an average of 39.8 points last year, good for fifth-most in the FBS.”
Rodriguez was No. 4 on another CBS Sports ranking of college football coaches on the hot seat.
Tom Fornell wrote: “In RichRod’s third season at Arizona, it looked like the Wildcats had turned a corner. Arizona finished the season at 10-4, winning the Pac-12’s South Division and earning a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. Things have gone the wrong direction since. Arizona followed that up with a 7-6 mark in 2015, going from a 7-2 record in conference play to 3-6. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, it was not just a hiccup. Arizona was worse last season, finishing 3-9 and winning only one game in conference. Now Rodriguez enters the 2017 season needing a rebound. Making matters worse, he has a new boss as well. The man who hired Rodriguez, Greg Byrne, left to take over as athletic director at Alabama. Dave Heeke was hired from Central Michigan to replace Byrne, and he has no connection to Rodriguez, which would make it that much easier to pull the trigger on firing him if Arizona has another down season.”
USA TODAY Sports’ Kevin Spain contributed to this story.
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