SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 01: California Golden Bears football coach Jeff Tedford speaks to reporters during the Bay Area college football media day at the Hotel Nikko on August 1, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Players and coaches from Stanford, Cal and San Jose State football programs met with reporters ahead of the new season during Bay Area college football media day. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
As exciting as the Pac-12 should be this season with all the new incoming coverage, there's also a lot for football fans to be appreciative of in the conference. For the first time in a long time, Pac-12 coaches should feel pretty safe about where they stand. Not one coach (barring scandal) is in serious danger of getting fired. Compare that to last season, when four coaches faced the axe and were summarily disposed after all performing below par.
Dennis Dodd's hot seat rankings are pretty much on point.
David Shaw, Stanford (0.0): From 1.5 to 0 this year. Shaw is probably safe the next few years after a Fiesta Bowl appearance, although he's going to have to prove he can win without Luck.
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (0.5): It's been a long time since I've seen Rodriguez not be on the hot seat, so it'll be fun to see him tinker and go to work in Tucson without having to worry about appeasing boosters and playing the politics game.
Very safe (1-1.5)
Todd Graham, Arizona State (1.0): Graham didn't exactly arrive in ASU unscathed, leaving a lot of hurt feelings back in Pittsburgh. His Larry Brown-like wandering always makes you wonder about when he might leave. But it does look as if the off-season has been kind to him.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington (1.0): Off of two straight bowl appearances, it's hard to see Sark being in any danger, but he has yet to beat top teams in the conference, and outside of some USC wins has been generally uncompetitive against Oregon and Stanford. With a new defensive coordinator and top new recruiter there will be high expectations.
Lane Kiffin, USC (1.0): Kiffin has to feel pretty safe after getting off to a rocky start his first season. That being said, any underachieving on the field (particularly with this group) could really put him right back on the hot seat. The expections are sky-high in Heritage Hall, and the Trojans expect to win back the Pac-12 and run the table.
Kyle Whittingham, Utah (1.5): Whittingham just keeps on pumping out eight win seasons. It might get boring after awhile, but the Utes did just fine with the Pac-12 transition, and if he can keep it up he should stick around.
Jim Mora, UCLA (2.5): The expectations will be high for a big name like Mora. It's likely the axe would fall on Athletic Director Dan Guerrero rather than Mora if there are early struggles though. The recruiting off-the-field has been very strong since Mora's arrival.
On the bubble (3-3.5)
Jon Embree, Colorado (3.0): Embree's leash is probably short after a tough first year. Unless the bottom falls out, it's still too early to pull the plug on him until we see what he can do with his own recruits.
Chip Kelly, Oregon (3.0): Kelly is not getting fired anytime soon, but he could start looking at the NFL again. It's hard not to think Kelly would try to expand his horizons if he ends up winning a fourth Pac-12 championship.
Mike Riley, Oregon State (3.0): Riley is not in serious danger after two bowl-less seasons. He's had too good a run of success in Corvallis. A third season without rewards at the end could be the beginning of the end though, so this season carries a sense of urgency to it.
Jeff Tedford, Cal (3.5): The first place coach on this list is almost guaranteed to return as this'll be Tedford's first season in the renovated Memorial Stadium. But Tedford is only 12-13 these past two years, and a season that doesn't produce eight wins or more are going to ratchet the tension going into 2013.
Regardless, stability prevails in the Pac-12. At least this year!