There were no head coaching firings in the the Pac-10 after the 2009 season, though Pete Carroll did bolt USC for the Seattle Seahawks. That is pretty darn rare. Heading into the 2015 season, only one conference coach remains from 2010 and he wasn't even in the Pac-10 at the time: Utah's Kyle Whittingham.
The biggest years of conference coaching carnage? 2011 and 2012, when over the course of two years seven teams changed head coaches, though not all because of firings.
Who's on the hot seat this fall? While it's a distasteful preseason task, taking the temperature of coaching thrones is also a necessary ritual. The good news, at least if you are no fan of watching someone experience professional failure and get fired, is no Pac-12 seat is truly toasty and only a couple rate as warm.
It's probably fair to say that if California's Sonny Dykes, Colorado's Mike MacIntyre or Washington State's Mike Leach goes 1-11 this fall, he'll be in trouble. They probably wouldn't be completely comfortable at 4-8 either. But all three lead teams that should win more games this year than they did last year, so that expected improvement suggests a degree of safety.
Though, of course, you never know.
Here's how we view the seat temperatures of the Pac-12 coaches. We did the South Division on Tuesday. Today, it's the North. The rating system goes from 1-5 -- one being cool (safe) and five being scorching (win or else!).
Sonny Dykes, California
Hot seat rating: 2
You could make a case that Dykes' seat might be a bit hotter. As noted above, if the Bears implode and have a disastrous season like Dykes' first -- 1-11 -- then Bears fans might turn on him. The reason Dykes' seat rates only as warm is his team dramatically improved in 2014 -- it might have been the most improved Power 5 team -- and it looks poised to take another step forward this fall. Expectations are growing in Berkeley and with justification, starting with the Cal boasting what might be the nation's best QB in Jared Goff. Dykes also seems to be developing a rhythm at Cal, a place where the nexus of sports and academics bubbles in quirky, unique ways, something that surely takes some getting used to for a Texas native.
Mark Helfrich, Oregon
Hot seat rating: 1
Oregon has become a Pac-12 and national power, which means Ducks fans -- some of whom jumped on the bandwagon, oh, around 2009 -- have become more exacting. After Helfrich's first season -- 11-2, No. 9 final ranking -- some were questioning his hire as Chip Kelly's replacement. After his second, in which he led an injury-ravaged team to the national title game, he's getting a few more back slaps in Eugene. If you really think about what Helfrich and his staff did last year, you could make a case for it being one of the conference's best coaching jobs in recent memory. But memories are short these days. To keep this number low, Helfrich needs to keep his team at the top of the Pac-12 and in the national picture.
Gary Andersen, Oregon State
Hot seat rating: 1
Things are pretty much perfect with Andersen and Oregon State. For one, the Beavers hiring him away from Wisconsin still feels like a coup. Andersen seems like a good fit in Corvallis. After a 5-7 season and significant talent attrition, expectations are low for Oregon State, which means Andersen won't be expected to win, say, eight games his first season, a number that had seemingly stopped satisfying Beavers fans under Mike Riley. One suspects there will be some patience as he installs his very different schemes -- up-tempo offense, 3-4 defense.
David Shaw, Stanford
Hot seat rating: 1
While Stanford took a step back last year and appears to be rebuilding this fall, at least on defense, Shaw has three things going for him: 1. His track record; 2. Everyone thinks he's a good coach and good fit at Stanford; 3. Stanford is one place that isn't going to go rear-end-over-tea-kettle in a rush to fire a coach. Unlike what Helfrich faces at Oregon, if the Cardinal, say, go 9-3 this year, you won't have Internet message boards lighting up with screeds and vituperation. So Shaw has more breathing room than many coaches, particularly coaches at other nationally ranked programs. Moreover, a look at the Stanford roster and its recruiting suggests that it's way premature to count the Cardinal out the national picture going forward.
Chris Petersen, Washington
Hot seat rating: 1
While Petersen's first season was a disappointment, and the Huskies have more questions than answers heading into 2015, Petersen's coaching pedigree will buy him some time to build Washington the way he wants to. Truth is, for all the mad scientist stuff at Boise State, it's pretty clear that jumping into the Pac-12 was an adjustment for him. While Huskies fans won't be thrilled with, say, a 5-7 finish this fall, they also have been through some rough times over the past decade-plus. They want their program, a former Northwest superpower, rebuilt the right way, and that's not a two-year job. That said, in Year 3, expectations -- not unfairly -- will ratchet up a bit.
Mike Leach, Washington State
Hot seat rating: 3
After leading Washington State to a bowl game in 2013 -- we won't mention how that bowl game went -- expectations were fairly high in 2014. So a 3-9 finish, which included losses in six of the final seven games, was a major disappointment, no matter the injury issues. The initial euphoria over Leach's hiring in 2012 has dissipated. After the season, Leach fired defensive coordinator Mike Breske and brought in Alex Grinch, a first-time coordinator. With seven starters back on each side of the ball, and a QB in Luke Falk who mostly performed well when Connor Halliday got hurt, there is reason to believe the Cougs can get back to a bowl game. If that doesn't happen, there figures to be some grumbling in Pullman.