By Doug Gorman
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out, but serving as a head football coach at the major college level can be a cruel way to make a living.
Just ask the following men, Ron Zook, Ty Willingham and David Cutcliff.
Let's face it, being a college football coach is about one thing and one thing only--winning and winning big.
Here is my take on the following firings:
Ron Zook: The Florida coach never had a chance. He was doomed the moment he was named to succeed head coach Steve Spurrier. Even before Zook coached his first game, fans were starting the firing process with anti-Zook message boards. Florida is one of those programs where winning eight games a year just isn't good enough. Zook hurt his own cause by losing bowl games in his first two seasons and also losing to rival FSU.
Once Zook lost to Mississippi State this year his fate was sealed. An off-campus incident at a frat house may have also contributed to Zook's firing. Bad publicity isn't good if the coach is already on the hotseat.
Zook will resurface somewhere else. He is too good of a coach to remain on the sidelines. After all, some programs would love to average eight wins a year and go bowling every year.
Ty Willingham: In my opinion, Willingham didn't really get a fair shake at Notre Dame. Three years at most programs isn't long enough to turn a team around. He came in and attempted to remove the dark cloud which was hovering over the famous campus after George O'Leary resigned just days after getting the job after admitting he lied on his resume.
Willingham graduated his players, and restored discipline to the program. But at Notre Dame, a 21-15 record isn't good enough to keep your job.
Realistically, however, Ty Willingham wasn't the problem at Notre Dame. The problem at Notre Dame is high expectations. They still expect to compete like they did 20 or 30 years ago, but that might be too much to ask.
High academic standards make it tough for some football players to get into a school like Notre Dame.
Other teams have now surpassed the Irish in terms of being national powers, and to be honest, today's teen-agers care little about past football history. Even getting a chance to play just about every week on national television isn't that big of a drawing card.
As for Willingham, if I were an AD looking for new coach, I think I would be placing a call to the former Irish coach.
David Cutcliff: The ousted Mississippi coach might be best known for coaching Eli Manning. On paper, Cutcliff was successful, posting a 44-29 record. His only losing season came this year in a 4-7 campaign. However, the cold reality for Cutcliff was his 25-23 record in the SEC. Last year, the team went 10-3 finishing tied for first in the SEC West. He is the only coach in school history to win at least seven games for five years. None of that is good enough and that's a shame.
Of all the firings so far, this is the most ridiculous. Before Cutcliff arrived on campus, the football team was a joke. Now it looks as if the school Chancellor is a joke for firing a winning coach.
Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Daily. His column runs on Friday. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org