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Pac-10 coaching hot seat ratings

If you are a coach in a BCS conference, your seat is always hot. You know this because some folks already are wondering if USC's Pete Carroll is now on the hot seat.

As for the Pac-10 hot-seat measure as we head into the depths of November: It's mostly cool, overall. The projection here is no coach will be fired and the coaching roster in 2010 will be the same as 2009.

But it's still necessary to take the temperature.

This list progresses from hottest to coolest.

Paul Wulff, Washington State: The likelihood is the Cougars will go winless in the Pac-10 this year and Wulff's record will stand at 3-22 when his second season concludes. That. Is. Not. Good. Duh. Wulff inherited an empty cupboard of talent. He's had huge injury issues and had to play young players before they were ready. But fans are impatient. It wasn't too long ago that the Cougs were on a run of three consecutive top-10 rankings. Washington State will need to improve next year, which means win a few games. That won't be easy because the Pac-10 looks like it will be even more rugged in 2010 than in 2009.

Seat rating: toasty.

Dennis Erickson, Arizona State: The glow from the 10-3 season in 2007 has faded. The Sun Devils are looking at a second consecutive losing season if they don't win their final two games, which the program hasn't suffered through since 1946-47. Like Wulff, Erickson inherited some talent issues, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. He's upgraded the recruiting in his three seasons, and the young defensive talent is solid. But a lack of discipline on the field as well as off has combined with the mediocrity to provoke some grumbling within the fan base. The Sun Devils need to be on the uptick in 2010 for Erickson to be secure for 2011.

Seat rating: warm.

Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: If the Bruins finish 6-6, it should rate as a successful season. They have improved under Neuheisel, who's recruiting has been outstanding. But UCLA fans will want the progress to continue at a steady rate. And Neuheisel still has his doubters. He needs to prove he can build and sustain a program.

Seat rating: bath water.

Jeff Tedford, California: Tedford is not on the hot seat. But he's paid a lot of money, and Bears fans have started to want more than eight or nine wins a season. They want a "next step." They want a Rose Bowl.

Seat rating: tap water.

Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Reasonable Washington fans are happy with the job Sarkisian has done this season, though losing six out of seven since obtaining a national ranking following the win over USC has lessened the overboard enthusiasm. And recruiting, his most important task, is going well. Still, Huskies fans will expect steady progress, and measures for first-time head coaches often are more demanding than for ones with a track record.

Seat rating: cool.

Mike Stoops, Arizona: Stoops has built a winner in Tucson, which isn't easy to do. Arizona is in the hunt for the Rose Bowl, where it's never been. After some early struggles, Arizona fans are behind their coach. But Stoops, a year removed from the hot seat, knows as well as anyone how quickly things can change. If the Wildcats should lose their final three games, for example.

Seat rating: cool.

Chip Kelly, Oregon: Kelly may end up as the Pac-10 coach of the year. He may be as secure as a first-year head coach can be.

Seat rating: chilly.

Jim Harbaugh, Stanford: Harbaugh may end up Pac-10 Coach of the Year. He's about to sign a contract extension. The biggest worry for Stanford fans is that he may leave for a football factory that would double the $1.25 million he'll make in one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

Seat rating: Ice.

Pete Carroll, USC: Three losses! Fire Carroll! Child, please. Carroll is as secure as a head coach can be. His track record at USC is historically good.

Seat rating: Sub-zero, but warmer than last year.

Mike Riley, Oregon State: If Riley leads the Beavers to their first Rose Bowl since 1965, Oregon State should offer him a lifetime contract. The biggest challenge in Corvallis is retaining the Beavers' outstanding assistants, who could become head coaching candidates.

Seat rating: Zero degrees -- Kelvin.