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 While some teams have their sights set on a championship as the college football season hits the home stretch, others are thinking about - how to put this kindly - heading in a new direction.
The coaching situation at Nebraska seems to have reached the point of no return for Bill Callahan. Hard to bounce back from a 76-39 loss to Kansas.
M, were coach Dennis Franchione has been receiving $2 million a year for the last five seasons and the Aggies have been no better than Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders and Cowboys could argue that point, by the way.
Those are two high-profile positions that could be open.
Who else could be cleaning out his office soon?
Chuck Neinas probably knows of at least a couple of coaches who should be worried, but if he does he isn't telling. Neinas, the longtime director of the College Football Association, now heads a search firm for schools looking for new coaches and athletic directors.
Confidentiality between Neinas and his clients is so important to him, he wouldn't even say Sunday in a telephone interview how many schools, if any, have contacted him.
He did say he's been headhunting for major college football programs for 11 years and on average about 13 jobs come open a season.
Last year was a particularly busy one for coaching changes, with 23 teams bringing in a new top guy.
So it stands to reason there will be far fewer changes this year. Maybe.
``What you can't predict is a domino effect,'' Neinas said. ``If a coach leaves school A to go to school B, then A needs a coach, too.''
Also, with many teams having three regular-season games left, there's still time for coaches to save their jobs.
Syracuse coach Greg Robinson, for example, could use a three-game winning streak. In three seasons with the Orange, the 56-year-old longtime NFL and college defensive coordinator has won seven games, two against Buffalo.
Syracuse doesn't make its contracts public, but it's believed he signed a five-year deal. Tax records show he makes more than a $1 million per year. Paying Robinson not to coach for two years might be a bit much for Syracuse's wallet.
Pitt practically begged Dave Wannstedt to coach his alma mater, but in his third season the Panthers haven't shown much improvement. Injuries have hit Pitt (4-5) hard this season, even Wannstedt has had surgery on his knee and Achilles' tendon, and the experts say the coach has recruited well. That probably buys Wannstedt one more season to get the program turned around.
Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron, with his 10-23 record over three seasons, seems another coach in need of a strong finish. Ole Miss is 3-7 and winless in the Southeastern Conference. Rebels fans have turned on Orgeron and showed their displeasure Saturday. Ole Miss drew only 23,283 for a 38-31 homecoming win against Northwestern State.
The good news for Orgeron is the most important guy on campus, Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat, is still in his corner.
Up in Pullman, Wash., Bill Doba hasn't been able to maintain the success the Cougars had under Mike Price in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With the Cougars at 3-6 this year, Doba is now 28-28 in his fifth season.
The people on the Palouse are a patient bunch, having watched the Cougars be an afterthought in the Pac-10 for years, but a fourth straight season without a bowl bid is probably too much for Doba to overcome.
UCLA's inconsistency has many Bruins fans exasperated with fifth-year coach Karl Dorrell. UCLA (5-4) has a brutal final three games - Arizona State, Oregon and USC - and a losing record would make the Bruins one of the most disappointing teams in the country. Not good for job security.
Clemson's Tommy Bowden always seems to be a three-game losing streak from getting fired or three-game winning streak from a contract extension.
No matter what some Michigan fans hope (pray?) for, Lloyd Carr is only leaving if he wants to. And don't even bring up Charlie Weis being in trouble at Notre Dame. Next year, however, things get interesting in South Bend.
Success on the field hasn't been a problem for Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. In 10 seasons with the Razorbacks, Nutt is 73-47 and has gotten his team to the SEC title game three times. That should get him a lifetime deal in Fayetteville, but some Razorbacks followers haven't been impressed and they've been out to get Nutt canned.
Nutt didn't help himself by going through a courtship with Nebraska before Callahan was hired.
With longtime athletic director Frank Broyles on the way out, and lot of negative energy around the program, even a strong finish by the Razorbacks (6-3) might not stop a change. In fact, don't be surprised if Nutt takes matters into his own hands and gets himself another job.
Maybe Nebraska's still interested.
---
Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at)ap.org

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