Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/6/14

While most American consumers are familiar with Black Friday- the day following Thanksgiving, when overzealous housewives bull-rush Best Buy’s and Target’s nationwide like an Alabama defensive lineman chasing an SEC quarterback- it is actually “Black Sunday” which is most familiar to college football fans. It’s the day following the final full Saturday of regular season action. And for coaches on the hot seat, it’s usually a day filled with anxiety and resume-updating, and too often ends with the boss handing over a pink slip.

And today, Black Sunday, November 27, 2011, was no exception.

In a fall which has already seen Mike Stoops, Houston Nutt, Joe Paterno and others fired for various reasons, the coaching carousel took a few more spins Sunday, with a handful of other head bosses being relieved of their duties. Some of the more high-profile names let go included Illinois’ Ron Zook, Kansas’ Turner Gill, and in a piece of information that just came across the newswire, Arizona State’s Dennis Erickson. To the best of our knowledge, that’s seven open coaching jobs, with three schools currently employing interim head coaches (Ohio State, North Carolina and Penn State). In addition, a few schools like UCLA and Washington State are reportedly in the works of removing their current coaches in the coming days.

As for the names that are already out, the most high-profile to hit the chopping block this afternoon was the infamous Ron Zook in Champaign. The man known simply to the youth of America as “The Zooker,” is maybe best known as the wobbly, shaky, chain-linked bridge that nearly torpedoed the Florida football program between the championship runs of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. Since being fired in Gainesville in 2005 however, Zook has coached at Illinois, where he compiled a 34-51 record at the school, went to one Rose Bowl, and was relieved of his duties this afternoon. The Zooker’s final season at Illinois included a historically awful finish , where the Illini ended the regular season with six straight losses, after opening things up with six straight wins. If Illinois accepts a bowl bid (which they most certainly will) it appears as though the Illini will be coached by an interim.

Moving out West, Erickson exited stage left as well, according to a late breaking report by the AP.

Erickson is probably best known for his time at the University of Miami where he won two National Championships, and Oregon State when he took the Beavers to a Fiesta Bowl, but at Arizona State, Erickson came nowhere close to any kind of sustained success. He departs Tempe with an unceremonious 31-30 record, buoyed by a nine-win first season at the school, when he took most of Dirk Koetter’s players to the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devils not had a winning record since then however, and finished the 2011 season at 6-6, despite a 6-2 start to open the season. Many believed Arizona State to be a Pac-12 South favorite, but inconsistency and undisciplined play submarined what could’ve been an otherwise successful season.

And finally (for now) is Kansas’ Turner Gill, one of the more ominous firings this offseason, after he just completed what was just his second year at the school. Despite it, it’s hard to argue the merits of what he did on the field,; Gill finished with just a 5-19 record overall at Kansas, including an abysmal 1-16 in conference play.

In an interesting side-note, Gill’s biggest professional misstep may have been choosing to stay at his previous job (Buffalo) for an extra year, after he became a hot coaching candidate following an 8-6 2008 season. He was even considered to be a candidate at Auburn, before the Tigers administration elected to go with former Iowa State coach Gene Chizik instead. As you may remember, Auburn came under a lot of fire after hiring Chizik, who was just 5-19 after two years at Iowa State; interestingly, the same record with which Gill departs Lawrence. Of course we all know how Chizik has fared after he left Ames, winning a BCS title with some guy named Cam Newton last year.

Beyond Zook, Erickson and Gill, others that were handed pink slips today included UAB’s Neil Callaway and Memphis’ Larry Porter, with Akron’s Rob Ianello getting canned yesterday too. Other current coaching openings include Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic and Tulane, with Ohio State, Penn State and North Carolina all currently employing interim head coaches. Arizona (Rich Rodriguez) and New Mexico (Bob Davie) are the only schools which have already replaced fired coached with full-time replacements.

Of course what may be most interesting is the next shoe to drop, with most assuming that former Florida coach Urban Meyer will be the next big boss at Ohio State. While nothing official is announced, the two-time National Champion has been rumored to the Buckeyes opening for weeks, with those rumors only growing stronger into the weekend.

Stay with Crystal Ball Run as we keep you updated all winter long on the comings and goings of the college football coaching carousel.

For updates on all his college football articles, opinions and insights, follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.


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