This week the round-table takes a look at the job security among the head football coaches in the conference. The question is twofold: Which coach is on the shakiest ground as the season approaches and which will be on the hot seat at the end of the year if their team repeats their 2017 season?
Matt: It has to be Matt Wells and Bob Davie. Wells and USU seem to be flailing ever since the 2013 MWC Division win. Bob Davie is on incredibly shaky ground due to the cultural questions surrounding UNM, and the plummet they felt last year. We’ll see if last year is just an aberration, but their recruiting definitely doesn’t look great for a rebound next year. If he can’t at least get to a bowl and beat the in-state rival, I think the suspension and investigations will lead to his dismissal at the end of the season. Now, for warm seats, it’s got to be Mike Bobo. I know that he just signed an extension, but this has to be a make-or-break year for the Rams. Going 7-6 annually isn’t a great return on investment for CSU, and he should have his own players in by this point at Year 4.
Zach: I’m going to go in a different direction than most people will and go with Tony Sanchez. Sanchez was kind of an odd hire to begin with. While he was a high school coach at national powerhouse Bishop Gorman, he seemed a bit underqualified for the job. Sanchez has now had the chance to bring in his guys and it it time that start to win some more games.
I would also throw Davie and Wells in there. Davie is going to have to pull off a major turn around to keep his job.
Thomas: I agree with Zach as Tony Sanchez has had enough time to put together a winning program, which is tough in Vegas. Coach Sanchez has to be one of the luckiest UNLV football coaches out there with the Las Vegas Raiders moving to town. He has one three, four and five games in his first three seasons respectfully and needs to win six games to advance as a coach at UNLV. Sanchez has always been a great coach at the high school level with Bishop Gorman, but this is college football. Sanchez needs to win more games to keep his job. I predict he goes if he wins less than five games. If he can win five or more, the man will probably go coach for Bishop Gorman again or another big name school in the Las Vegas Valley. Sanchez has the MWC Freshman of the year at QB, no reason he shouldn’t go bowling or cause Fresno/SDSU problems out west. I wouldn’t be shocked to see UNLV in the top 3 at the end of the year, but being a UNLV fan in the past I wouldn’t be surprised to see them to tank yet again.
Jeremy: Tony Sanchez and Bob Davie. Davie’s a difficult case because of his contract that runs through 2021. That might be the only reason he’s still on staff after all the off-the-field issues his program has had. Still, if the Lobos continue to struggle, how much longer can the AD ignore these problems? Sanchez is on the hot seat because he needs to show he’s more than just a recruiter. The Rebels are too talented to not at least go to a bowl game. I agree with Thomas, if Sanchez fails to reach 6 wins, it might be time to part with him. Taking a step back and looking at the conference landscape, most of the coaches in the Mountain West are either fairly secure or require more time before judgment. For me, Sanchez and Davie are the hot seat guys, and Matt Wells and Mike Bobo are feeling some pressure to perform this fall.
Mike: Bob Davie to me is the one entering the season on the warmest seat. The allegations from last season were pretty serious and in many ways, it’s a bit surprising he hasn’t been fired already for that. After the suspension, I would think he is on a short leash. Plus, I think his triple-option gimmick is starting to wear off. Yes he will steal a win or two every year, but teams are figuring it out. Sounds like he’s moving away from the option some this season, but then the question becomes does he have the recruiting ability and talent to run a traditional offense? Off the field troubles combined with on the field disappointment, not to mention his age, and it’s not hard to imagine his time is running short.
For the second part of the question, I like the Wells guess by Matt and even Bobo wouldn’t come as a shock to me since he hasn’t seemed to be able to get over the hump. However, I’ll stick with my initial answer of Tony Sanchez (especially since I already threw this out on Twitter a few weeks ago). Look, I get the positives. Sanchez is recruiting in-state talent with his connections from his high school days. He has slowly but surely increased his win total every season. But at a certain point, a coach enters a “show me” type of season. I believe that season for Sanchez is now. His team is now full of his recruits who were brought in to play his system. Now he has to show he can win with his system. I’m not talking about a magical 10+ win season. However, making a bowl game should be the expectation for him this year and if he doesn’t, the athletic director should really take a look at if Sanchez is the long term answer or not.
Terrance: It has to be Bob Davie! His seat is hotter than Satan himself. After all the allegations of player mistreatment and cover ups, I would say administration has him by a one millimeter leash. Yes he has brought the program back up from the abyss, but you have to continue to have success and keep a clean sheet. I believe if they don’t make a bowl this season he is gone. Their first four games aside from Wisconsin are manageable, they could be 3-1 or 2-2. The goal would be 3-1 to take off a little bit of pressure. They would only need three more wins to be bowl eligible.
There could be a couple of coaches on the hotseat at season’s end. I would go with Tony Sanchez because this is his fourth season. Most coaches get four seasons to right the ship. Last season they finished 5-7 barely missing out on a bowl game when they lost to rival Nevada. This could be the season they go over the hump. Led by senior running back Lexington Thomas a 7-5 or 6-6 record and a bowl game will be huge for this program and Sanchez’s job security. Another losing season could spell doom for him. With the new stadium they’ll be sharing with the Raiders and the new complex they’re trying to get built. It’s important that he starts winning now, or he won’t be the coach for much longer.
Your turn: Which coach do you think is on the hot seat? Have an idea for a future discussion point? Drop a comment below.