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Chizik, Tedford, Dooley and All the Other College Football Coaches Who Got Fired

Steve Dykes, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While many coaches are gearing up for bowl season, it’s that time of year when many other underperforming college college coaches get their walking papers. This year, some big names–including the winningest coach in Cal history and a guy who won a national title less than two years ago–headline the list of coaches who have been fired. 

ARKANSAS: Coach Bobby Petrino was fired during the offseason after it came out that he had put his mistress, a former Razorback volleyball player, on the athletic department payroll. The university brought former assistant and former Michigan State head coach John L. Smith back on an interim basis. But after struggling to a 4-8 record this year, Smith was told his services would no longer be required.

AUBURN: Gene Chizik went from hoisting the national championship trophy to the unemployment line in less than two years after leading Auburn to a 3-9 mark this year, the Tigers’ worst season since going 0-10 in 1950. Auburn became the first team in FBS history to go from undefeated in conference play to winless in the conference in just three seasons.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Frank Spaziani was promoted from defensive coordinator in 2009, but was never able to make the transition, going just 21-29 in four seasons, including a 6-18 mark the last two years.

CALIFORNIA: Jeff Tedford, the winningest coach in Bears history, was shown the door after a 3-9 mark this year, his second losing season in three years. He leaves with the Cal school records for games coached, wins and bowl wins.

COLORADO: While Jon Embree inherited quite a mess cleaning up the Buffaloes program after the Dan Hawkins era, CU administrators apparently felt he hadn’t done enough, firing the coach after just two seasons. Embree went 4-21 as the Colorado coach, including 1-11 this year.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: Mario Cristobal was just the second coach in FIU school history and, after going just 9-27 in his first three years, appeared to have turned the corner with back-to-back winning seasons, a Sun Belt conference title and the first two bowl games in school history. But that apparently wasn’t enough to buy the coach some slack, as Cristobal was fired after going 3-9 this year.

IDAHO: Coach Rob Akey was fired in October after starting the season 1-7. He was just 20-50 overall in 5+ seasons with the Vandals.

KENTUCKY: Phillips got the Wildcat job after serving as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator during a four-year run of winning seasons under coach Rich Brooks. But, after Brooks’ retirement, Phillips was never able to duplicate that success. During his three-year head coaching stint, Phillips never had a winning record, finishing just 13-24 overall (2-10 this year) and 4-20 in conference play.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE: The Wolfpack pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season with a 17-16 win over then-#3 Florida State. But it was not enough to save Tom O’Brien’s job after NC State lost three of their last four to finish 7-5. While his 40-35 mark in six years with North Carolina State wasn’t as bad as some coaches who have lost their jobs this year, O’Brien only had a winning record in the ACC once (2010) and had a losing record against FBS teams.

PURDUE: Danny Hope was brought in as the successor to legendary coach Joe Tiller. But Hope was never able to duplicate his predecessor’s success, going just 22-27 (13-19 in the Big Ten) in four years with the Boilermakers.

SOUTH FLORIDA: Skip Holtz was fired on December 2 after completing his second consecutive losing season with the Bulls. In just three years with South Florida, Holtz went 16-21, including a 3-9 mark this year, the worst in school history.

SOUTHERN MISS: It’s not often you see a coach fired after just one year. But after going 12-2 and winning the Conference USA title last season, Southern Miss pulled the plug on Ellis Johnson after the Golden Eagles dropped to 0-12 this year.

TENNESSEE: After starting his first season in Knoxville 2-6, coach Derek Dooley’s Vols won their last four to make a bowl game, leading some to think Dooley would be the guy to return Tennessee to respectability. Unfortunately, that was not the case as the Volunteers lost that bowl game and then suffered through two more losing seasons in which Dooley went just 1-14 in conference play. Dooley was fired in November after a 15-21 mark in three years with Tennessee.

WESTERN MICHIGAN: Bill Cubit orchestrated one of college football’s biggest turnarounds, going 7-5 in his first season (2005) after the Broncos had gone 1-10 the previous year. He led Western Michigan to three bowl games in eight seasons and has the second-most conference wins in program history. But, despite a 51-47 record with the Broncos, he was fired in November after dropping to 4-8 this year.

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