Dennis Dodd has issued his annual Coaches Hot Seat Ratings, which as usual assign each FBS coach a number on a scale of 0-to-5 where 0 means a coach is perfectly safe and a 5 equals "win or else."
But what if we assigned each conference one of those numbers? Here's how they'd look, with each league's coaches' scores added together and then divided by the number of teams in the league for a collective hot seat rating:
Some things that stand out:
Your baseless stereotype: maybe not so baseless? The rough general perception when it comes to hot seats in college football is that since the sport's most rabid fans and obsessed administrators dwell in the South, that region's conferences are also due to have the warmest coaching seats. And while the SEC's and ACC's reputations for quick firing triggers are somewhat exaggerated -- only two of the SEC's 14 schools have fired a coach for poor performance the past three seasons, and one of those was newcomer Texas A&M -- our Hot Seat Ratings show there may be some truth to that. Both are over the collective "2" mark and they "enjoy" the highest rating for BCS leagues.
Don't expect the Big 12 to stay quite this content. The Big 12 is in a unusually stable state at the moment, with the conference's traditionally heavy hitters coached by steady old hands (Bob Stoops, Mack Brown), the traditional middle- and lower-rung teams currently beating those heavy hitters often enough to make their coaches unshakable (Mike Gundy, Art Briles, Paul Rhoads), and the league's two new head coaches firmly entrenched as fan favorites (Gary Patterson, Dana Holgorsen). Right now, Tommy Tuberville is the only conference coach in any legitimate danger, but conference wins are always a zero-sum game. Once Patterson and Holgorsen start throwing their weight around, expect the "under pressure" ratio to increase from 1-coach-out-of-10 in future years.
Steady as she goes along the Rose Bowl axis. The Pac-12's and Big Ten's seats rank as somewhat hotter than the Big 12's, but that's not due to embattled coaches in those leagues as much as the Big 12's high level of stability. Only two coaches in the Big Ten and Pac-12 combined rate any higher than a "3," and most of the coaches at a "3" aren't proven question marks so much as second-year coaches (Jerry Kill, Jon Embree, Kevin Wilson) who suffered through rocky first seasons and may yet get their legs under them. Barring a disappointing year for Jeff Tedford or an out-and-out pratfall for one of those second-year coaches, if any coach in either league is shown the door, we'll be surprised.
The Sun Belt: what happens when your most successful coaches aren't hired away. Mario Cristobal, Mark Hudspeth, Willie Taggart and of course Larry Blakeney are all still at their respective Sun Belt schools, and Arkansas State pulled off arguably the biggest coaching coup of the offseason by hiring Gus Malzahn. Result? The coolest collective seats in the country. That Kevin Sumlin, Larry Fedora and Todd Graham are all coaching outside of Conference USA -- giving the league no perfect "0" ratings according to Dodd -- has a lot to do with that conference's highest rating, even if there aren't that many coaches in Dooley-esque "win or else" mode.