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A Lot Of Cooking Happens This Time Of Year… And College Football Coaches Enter The Pressure Cooker Of Must-Win Games

For many of us, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year.

For several college football coaches, it’s the most stressful time of the year. Jobs are on the line for a number of coaches in the final few weeks of the 2014 season. For a few others, possible career advancement hangs in the balance. How will the coaching carousel spin? The Student Section editors explore some of the more urgent coaching situations in weeks 14 and 15.


Which coach faces the most pressure heading into the next two weeks, as the season winds down?

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter: @SectionTPJ

I’ll go with Tim Beckman, shown above in the cover photo for this story.

That’s not to say that Beckman is in a win-or-else situation against Northwestern this weekend. After all, the Illini are one of the most improved teams in the country this year. Sure, they suffered a couple of blowout losses this season. However, Illinois proved that it’s capable of playing with the teams at the top of league, posting more-impressive-than-they-look victories over Minnesota and Penn State.

For those keeping score at home, that’s twice as many wins as the Illini have posted in Big Ten play in Beckman’s first two years in Champaign.

While that’s certainly an improvement, some still feel that Beckman’s job may be in jeopardy because he’s only won three conference games in three seasons. Remember, Illinois dismissed Ron Zook – who led the team to its first Rose Bowl since 1983 – because his squad went 18-38 (.321) in Big Ten play.

However, a win on Saturday would silence these critics for another year. Leading this team – who many people dismissed as irrelevant after a 38-27 loss to Purdue – speaks volumes about how good a coach Beckman is, and why he’s the right man to lead the program. There aren’t many coaches in the country that could have pulled off a feat like that.


Virginia has not beaten Virginia Tech since 2003, and the Cavaliers have defeated Frank Beamer's boys only once since 1998. If Mike London can't beat the Hokies now, he probably never will... because he won't see the 2015 season as Virginia's head coach.

Virginia has not beaten Virginia Tech since 2003, and the Cavaliers have defeated Frank Beamer’s boys only once since 1998. If Mike London can’t beat the Hokies now, he probably never will… because he probably won’t see the 2015 season as Virginia’s head coach.

Matt Zemek:

On Twitter: @SectionMZ

There are better things to do with a Friday night on a holiday weekend, but for those who are paid to cover football in the Commonwealth of Virginia or in the ACC, the Friday night game between Virginia and Virginia Tech will be a classic coaching-cauldron clash.

Frank  Beamer might get another season even if he loses, but a loss would at least put him on the hot seat entering 2015. As for Virginia coach Mike London, it seems rather obvious that he’s coaching for his job — win and stay, or lose and go.

Happy Thanksgiving Friday, right?


Where will Mike Gundy coach in 2015? The outcome of the 2014 Bedlam game could very well provide the answer.

Where will Mike Gundy coach in 2015? The outcome of the 2014 Bedlam game could very well provide the answer.

Bart Doan:

On Twitter: @TheCoachBart

I understand this is an odd choice, but I’m going Mike Gundy.

It’s staggering to think that if Oklahoma State doesn’t win Bedlam in Norman on Dec. 6, the Cowboys will not go bowling.

“Reports” have linked Mike Gundy to pretty much every available major job under the sun, the latest to Florida for the obvious reason: it’s the latest major job opening under the sun.

We all know how this goes. It’s a brilliant move by his agent to even get him linked to the Florida job, because nothing about this year suggests that’d be a good idea. For Florida.

I put him in this category because it’s dollars and cents (sense). Gundy doesn’t go bowling, it’s a hard sell to Oklahoma State, T. Boone, and anyone else involved that they should up the ante on him rather than let him walk to Florida or anyone else who comes calling.

Win against Oklahoma, and all of a sudden you’ve just flogged your archrival and will go back to a bowl game, never mind the fact that in this college football climate, breathing hard enough means you’ll get the prerequisite six wins to do so.

Not going to a bowl game these days is a fireable offense, because it’s too easy to do so. Call your shots however you want, but Gundy has potentially millions riding on defeating Oklahoma. Everyone else just has perception.