The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga aspired to playing for championships this season, or at least making the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Those dreams will have to wait another year.
With a record of 4-5, 2-4 in the Southern Conference, the Mocs can still have a winning season for the third year in a row.
"At the beginning of the season that wasn't even on our radar as far as a goal we wanted to achieve," said senior linebacker Ryan Consiglio, who was a freshman on the Mocs' 1-11 team in 2008. "We had some pretty high expectations for ourselves, and we should have. We're a good football team."
A winning season may be small consolation, but finishing 6-5 for the third year in a row would not be an insignificant achievement for UTC. It hasn't happened since the Mocs had 10 straight winning seasons from 1976 to '85.
To finish 6-5, the Mocs have to win at Samford (5-3, 3-3) on Saturday and beat ninth-ranked Wofford (6-2, 4-1) in UTC's finale on Nov. 19.
"It's something we can strive for," said Consiglio, UTC's leader in tackles with 87. "And at the end of the day, having three winning seasons in my last three years here would be something I could be pretty proud of."
The Mocs hammered Samford 48-14 last November, but the Bulldogs are one of the SoCon's most improved teams. Samford's only SoCon losses are to No. 3 Appalachian State, No. 4 Georgia Southern and Wofford.
Western Carolina athletic director Chip Smith was fired last week following the Catamounts' 35-7 homecoming loss to The Citadel, which followed a 51-7 loss at UTC.
Monday, interim athletic director Fred Cantler announced that defensive coordinator Matt Pawlowski had been fired, two days after Samford cruised to a 52-24 win over the Catamounts.
Western Carolina has allowed 31 or more points in every game this season and ranks No. 119 out of 120 FCS teams in scoring and total defense.
The heat is very much on WCU head coach Dennis Wagner, who is 8-34 in his four seasons, including 3-26 in the SoCon. However, WCU may not have the money to buy out the remaining two years of Wagner's contract, which would cost the school a reported $390,000.
Mocs running back Chris Awuah (knee) may not play this week, coach Russ Huesman said. Awuah left last Saturday's game in the first half. ... Samford's Fabian Truss was named the SoCon special teams player of the week Monday. He had 216 all-purpose yards last week, including an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.