Sidelines: This week in sports

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The NHL coaching carousel is looking much different just a month into this season compared to all of the 2017-2018 regular season. Last year, not one NHL team fired their coach midway through the season, and as of this past Tuesday, two teams have already fired their coaches. John Stevens was fired by the LA Kings after a 4-8-1 start that had his team sitting at the bottom of the NHL standings.

On November 6th, Joel Quenneville was let go by the Chicago Blackhawks after 10 seasons with the franchise, which included three Stanley Cup championships.

Quenneville is being replaced by Jeremy Colliton, formerly the coach of the Rockford IceHogs. Quenneville being let go will likely lead to other teams not being so hesitant to let their own head coach go, should they feel they need a change, as someone of Quenneville’s calibre being available would be landing a superstar coach for their franchise. Other teams who may be looking at a coaching change — should their team not find their way soon — St. Louis, Edmonton, or maybe a team we don’t see coming.

I think some people — maybe more than some — were surprised to see Chicago fire Quenneville. Quenneville had a 6-6-3 record into his 11th season, and last year’s losing record was his first in his 21 seasons as an NHL head coach. He’s had an extremely successful coaching career, and it’d be surprising if he wasn’t behind a new bench by the start of next season, if not sometime this season.

Possible landing spots for Coach Q?

In the immediate future, I could see St. Louis going after Quenneville should they choose to fire Mike Yeo.

Not to be lost in the firing of Quenneville, his assistants, Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson were also let go. Both have an extensive history as players and coaches, and Dineen spent two years and a few games as the bench boss in Florida after a successful stint as the head coach of the AHL’s Portland Pirates.

Let’s continue on the topic of coaching changes, but let’s shift the focus to the college football world.

Last week, David Beaty was told he would not return to Kansas after the season ends for his Jayhawks. Who else might be under fire when the season comes to a close in three weeks?

Larry Fedora at North Carolina has been given quite a bit of time, but this season just didn’t live up to standards. North Carolina was 11-3 in 2015, including 8-0 in their regular season ACC play. Fedora has still had quite a bit of success at a school better known for its basketball than anything. It’s possible he could retain his job as North Carolina isn’t a school that would want to pay the buyout on his contract, especially if they aren’t seen as a great job for a new coach to want.

Chris Ash at Rutgers is in his third season, and while he made an improvement last season (a 4-8 record compared to a 2-10 record in 2016), he is back to a winless record in the Big Ten (last year his Scarlet Knights were 3-6 in conference play). They are 1-8 overall, with three games to go against Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. While Ash could still technically have the same record as last season, it’s nearly impossible with the opponents remaining on their schedule. Ash is the only coach on his staff who has been there since he started in 2016. His offensive coordinator is in his first season, his defensive and special teams coordinator are in their second season — the staff he has are just about split with first and second years. Rutgers is a different animal, of course. They need a rebuild that may take more than three seasons. But their regular season schedule will never get easier playing in the Big Ten, and the further schools fall behind in the Big Ten, the harder it gets for them to recruit.

In college football action this past weekend, Ohio State’s special teams performance was the difference maker in their road game at Michigan State. While the Buckeyes still have to prove plenty in their final two games, their showing against the Spartans was a much needed reassurance for anyone still considering them for a playoff spot. At 9-1, their next hurdle to jump through is a struggling Maryland team.

Oklahoma survived Oklahoma State in a shootout between the two rivals. While the Sooners have an easy task this upcoming week against Kansas, their final game against West Virginia will be the game that decides which Big Twelve team has a shot at a playoff spot.

Northwestern topped Iowa, and with Wisconsin and Purdue losing, the Wildcats clinched the Big Ten West division and have punched their ticket to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on December 1.

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