10 college football coaches on the hot seat
As we move into the latter part of the college football season, some teams are angling to reach the playoffs and others are hoping to make bowl games. That, however, is only one half of the picture, as a handful of coaches on the other end of the stick are fighting for their jobs.
Rumors have already started to surround some big names, and David Beaty has already been made a high-profile casualty at Kansas. Here’s a look at ten names who could follow him into unemployment at the end of the season, if not sooner.
10) Clay Helton, USC
The lack of consistency at USC remains a real issue for the storied program, and Helton may pay the price if he doesn’t finish strong. The Trojans sit at an underwhelming 5-4, and it stands to reason that he pretty much has to beat both Cal and UCLA to relieve some of the pressure building on him. Athletic director Lynn Swann didn’t hire him, and expectations remain high despite the loss of many key players. USC has already fired an offensive line coach, while Helton assumed playcalling duties. If the season ends ugly, Helton’s job could be in jeopardy.
9) Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
MacIntyre is two years removed from leading the Buffs to a Pac-12 South title, but his stock has fallen significantly since then to the point that there are rumblings about his future. Colorado sits at 5-4 overall but just 2-4 within the conference, and they’ve lost four in a row after a 5-0 start. They’ve been close, and injuries have hurt them, but after falling to 5-7 last year, MacIntyre couldn’t really afford another mediocre campaign. It looks like that’s what he’s going to get.
8) Lovie Smith, Illinois
A rather convincing win over Minnesota could delay Smith’s firing for a while longer, but it still feels like his days at Champaign are numbered. In terms of wins, this is Smith’s best season at Illinois, but 4-5 isn’t particularly good and he’s just 4-20 in Big Ten play over the course of his tenure. Smith was a big-name hire expected to revitalize the Illinois program, but they remain a Big Ten doormat and look no closer to contention than they were when he was arrived. That could cost him at the end of the season, or perhaps even sooner.
7) Mike Neu, Ball State
Ball State simply hasn’t been a factor in the MAC under Neu. This is his third year and his 2-4 conference record is somehow his best win total during that time. He’s won nine games total and three in the MAC. The Cardinals are truly brutal to watch, particularly offensively. Ball State expects better, and the bottom line is he’ll have had three years at the helm with little improvement to show for it. That’s usually a recipe for job loss.
6) Kalani Sitake, BYU
Sitake’s situation is somewhat complicated. BYU is slow to make coaching changes and would have a very narrow group of potential replacements, and thanks to the school’s Mormon mission requirement, he’s only just now getting his hands on some of his recruits. Even with all that taken into account, the results aren’t there. After a promising 9-4 season in his first year, BYU won only four games last season and has matched that total this year. They may add one or two more victories, and that may encourage BYU to give Sitake another year, but his seat is warm.
5) Tony Sanchez, UNLV
Sanchez feels like he’s been on the hot seat forever, but this must surely be it for him. His fourth year in charge of UNLV has been his worst yet, with the team at 2-7 and winless in the Mountain West. He’s never won more than five games in a season, won’t do it this year, and is 14-31 overall. It would be one thing if they were losing close games, but the Rebels are getting consistently blown out and giving up over 40 points almost every time out, and not necessarily against quality opposition. The former Bishop Gorman leader’s time has to almost be up.
4) Randy Edsall, Connecticut
Things have gotten so bad at Connecticut that Edsall may last just two years in his second go at the job. The man who once brought great success to the program has done nothing of the sort this time around, going just 4-17 over his two years at the helm so far. They’re losing by a lot to bad teams and may not get a second victory this season. If that is indeed the case, it’s tough to see Edsall keeping his job, even taking into account all that he’s done for UConn. That was a long time ago.
3) Chris Ash, Rutgers
Another highly-touted coaching hire has had a seemingly bright future dulled by the Rutgers football program. This time it’s Ash, who left a job as Ohio State defensive coordinator to go 7-26 in Piscataway. They’re 1-8 this season and will probably post their second winless Big Ten campaign in three seasons barring a major upset in one of their last three games. As much as the administration may like Ash, it’s very hard to retain a coach with that kind of record.
2) Larry Fedora, North Carolina
It was probably a bad sign when Fedora started his season with a truly bizarre rant about the future of the sport of football. Now the questions are about his future at North Carolina, which appears increasingly dim. Fedora looked like he had the program on course for future successes after four consecutive bowl appearances from 2013 through 2016, but the Tar Heels are just 4-16 since their loss in the 2016 Sun Bowl. Something big has to change quickly if he wants to save his job, and Fedora may have zeroed in on the fix.
1) Bobby Petrino, Louisville
Who cares about the buyout at this point? Petrino has to go. He was widely assailed after the Cardinals were embarrassed by Clemson, and with the last three games of the season coming against three ranked opponents, it’s hard to see where the Cardinals escape from the realm of the winless in the ACC. Petrino has a buyout in the $14 million range, and he has had four decent years before this, but the Cardinals are so bad they may be forced to pay him and send him on his way. The fact that replacements are already being talked about is a bad sign.