Jimmy Lake Is the Sixth Power 5 Football Coach to Be Fired, and No. 7 May Come Saturday Night

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Head coach Jimmy Lake of the Washington Huskies looks on before the game against Arkansas State on Sept. 18, 2021 in Seattle.

Article Highlights:

  • The University of Washington has fired football coach Jimmy Lake
  • With bowl and television money at stake, Power Five schools are increasingly impatient
  • First-year Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is in trouble after an incomprehensible home loss to Kansas

It’s getting late early for Power Five college football coaches, and it has nothing to do with setting the clocks back an hour last weekend. The Washington Huskies freed up Jimmy Lake’s future for him on Sunday, making him the sixth announced firing from the biggest conferences already this season.

And if Steve Sarkisian is wise, he’ll think twice about picking up his phone if the name of the Texas Longhorns’ athletic director shows up on caller ID.

The Washington Huskies had to fire football coach Jimmy Lake

Jimmy Lake Is the Sixth Power 5 Football Coach to Be Fired, and No. 7 May Come Saturday Night
The combination of his record and the way he dealt with players was too much for the Washington Huskies, who fired Jimmy Lake on Sunday. | Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Washington Huskies fired coach Jimmy Lake on Sunday, six days after the school suspended him for a Pac-12 football game against Arizona State. Lake was 7-6 in two seasons after serving on predecessor Chris Petersen’s staff since 2014.

Lake faced issues on two fronts: his record and his handling of players. The school suspended Lake for this weekend’s 35-30 loss to Arizona State after a camera caught the coach shoving linebacker Ruperake Fuavai during a loss to Oregon, according to the Seattle Times. Witnesses subsequently told the paper of another incident from 2019 in which Lake allegedly got physical with a player at halftime against Arizona while serving as the defensive coordinator. 

Washington will honor Lake’s contract, paying him approximately $9.9 million, USA Today reported. Assistant coach Bob Gregory will serve as the interim head coach.

Six Power Five schools have fired football coaches this season

The University of Washington’s decision to fire Jimmy Lake means six Power Five conference head coaching jobs are open. TCU, Texas Tech, Washington State, USC, and LSU also terminated coaches or announced that they will be leaving at the end of the season.

Lake’s departure also means that both major programs in the state will be conducting job searches. Washington State fired Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants in October for refusing to comply with a state mandate that requires employees to undergo vaccination for COVID-19. The school fired him for cause, voiding a contract paying Rolovich $3 million a year through 2025.

The biggest name on the list of Power Five changes is that of Ed Orgeron at LSU. Just 21 months after capping an undefeated season for the national championship, the Tigers dropped to 3-3 with a loss to Kentucky last month, prompting AD Scott Woodward to negotiate Orgeron’s departure effective at the end of the season.

Steve Sarkisian may not make it to Thanksgiving at Texas

What’s worse for a football coach’s job security?

  • A 53-45 loss to Oklahoma, always dangerous even in rebuilding years.
  • A 57-56 loss to Kansas, which hadn’t won a conference road game in its previous 56 tries.

Tom Herman was the Texas Longhorns coach for the Oct. 10, 2020, loss to the Sooners, and 247Sports chronicled how it led to him losing his job despite a 32-18 record in the aftermath of the Charlie Strong (16-21) era.

A little over a month ago, Texas fell to 4-2 with a 55-48 loss to the dreaded Sooners, and that result in the first of three straight games against ranked opponents sent the Longhorns into a funk. Saturday’s loss to hapless Kansas’ third-string QB was the fifth straight.

There is no way that the clock has not started ticking on Steve Sarkisian, the first head football coach that AD Chris Del Conte has been responsible for hiring at Texas. If it seems ridiculous to give up on a first-year coach, well, it is.

But this is Texas, and the 11th season in the last 12 with four or more losses may be too much for deep-pocketed boosters (the same ones who bought out Herman’s contract) to accept.

Keep in mind that Sarkisian arrived with only slightly less baggage than the American Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport but rehabilitated his image just enough alongside Nick Saban for the Longhorns to take a chance.

Texas is still paying off the more than $24 million to buy out Herman and his staff.  If the Longhorns can’t win at 4-6 West Virginia next weekend (Hint: They probably won’t.), who’s going to write the check for Sark’s package of lovely parting gifts?

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