Front and center, coaches. This your annual roll call, as unpleasant as it may be. The annual Hot Seat Rankings are upon us. (Actually, upon you.)
It figures to be a slow season for college football coaching turnover. Nearly one-fifth of the 130 FBS programs changed coaches (22) after the 2019 campaign, and most of them actually waited until the offseason to do it. That doesn't mean there won't be turnover, but considering the coronavirus pandemic may delay the season or even make teams less enthusiastic about executing massive buyouts, it may be less than we have seen in recent years.
The 11 coaches listed below are either in a "win now" situation … or they are getting close to it. They range from college football superpowers to Power Five programs still looking to climb to the top of the mountain in their respective conferences. Winning still trumps all, particularly in these days of unprecedented spending (and, at times, unprecedented debt).
The good news: Security has seldom been, well, more secure. A total of 67 coaches (52%) were rated 0 or 1 this year -- either "untouchable" or at least "safe and secure" in their roles. The last time coaches were so snug in their jobs was 2017 when 78 of them were 0s or 1s.
Nevertheless, the Hot Seat Rankings can be fickle: Nebraska's Scott Frost went from 0-5, and Texas' Tom Herman went from 1-4. Such is the coaching life. They are far from alone, however, as there's always room on the Hot Seat.
Below is our ratings key. Here's how the 130 FBS coaches sort out. There are 11 on the proverbial hot seat entering the season with another 12 starting to feel the heat.
|Rating||What it means||Coaches|
Win or be fired
Start improving now
Pressure is mounting
All good ... for now
Safe and secure
That leads us to the annual Hot Seat Rankings and the 11 Power Five coaches that need to figure out a way to cool things down before 2020 comes to a close. Check out our complete set of 2020 Hot Seat Rankings for ratings of all 130 FBS coaches entering the season.
|Clay Helton||5|| The best outcome for Helton may be football not being played. That gives him a mulligan year but would further infuriate a large portion of USC fans who demand change. When new athletic director Mike Bohn retained Helton, some loyalists threatened to withhold donations. The Trojans could easily win the Pac-12 South for the third time in five years under Helton. He has a better winning rate than Kirk Ferentz, Tom Herman and Dan Mullen. He has won the Pac-12 and a Rose Bowl. But the Trojans fans want national relevance, and they want it now. Mostly, they want Urban Meyer. 2019 rating: 4 |
|Chip Kelly||5|| Kelly lost seven games in four seasons at Oregon. He's lost 17 in two years at UCLA. Add to that, players questioned Kelly's program publicly last month amid COVID-19 concerns. If nothing else, you expected the Bruins to be exciting under Chip. They haven't been. Kelly's best ally in Westwood may be the balance sheet. New AD Martin Jarmond inherited an $18 million deficit in the athletic department. He may not be able to afford firing Kelly. 2019 rating: 2 |
|Scott Frost||5|| You knew things slid at Nebraska when Frost said his program can be the new Wisconsin in the Big Ten West. What about the old Nebraska? Frost is one of the smartest, most refreshing coaches out there, but the turnaround hasn't happened. It almost hurts. Frost is better than this. Nebraska should be better than this. JD Spielman was heading toward being the program's career-leading receiver before transferring. If Frost (a native son) can't get it done, who can? A bowl game -- at least -- is needed. 2019 rating: 0 |
|Dana Dimel||5|| It's always been hard to win at UTEP. The last coach to leave with a winning record was Bob Stull in 1988. Dimel has been at Houston and Wyoming as a coach. He was a prized member of Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State but has run into a dead end in El Paso. The Miners are 2-22 in his two seasons. 2019 rating: 2 |
|Randy Edsall||5|| All you need to know about how UConn views football is its conference affiliation: It left the AAC for the basketball-only Big East. Edsall is 6-30 in his second go-round with the Huskies. The offense stunk before five offensive linemen transferred. A retread coach with a bad record is never a good look. UConn's best option may be returning to FCS. 2019 rating: 4 |
|Derek Mason||5|| Forgive me for writing this, coach. You're one of the most forthcoming leaders in the sport. You're easy-going. You're a hell of coach. We know this from Stanford. I also know it takes a lot to get fired at Vanderbilt. But after a 3-9 mark in 2019, the time may be near. Amid a 10-38 SEC record, you've yet to post a winning season. 2019 rating: 3 |
|Will Muschamp||4|| Going into Year 5, the Gamecocks are one game above .500 coming off a 4-8 season. At only 48, Muschamp has already been in the NFL and with four SEC programs. Two of them as a head coach. Take away his 11-2 season at Florida in 2012 following Meyer, and Muschamp is 43-44. He's also 3-19 against ranked teams since 2012, 2-13 at South Carolina. There's plenty of potential, perhaps just not at South Carolina which sees Florida, Georgia and maybe also Tennessee pulling away in the SEC East. The buyout is $13.2 million after this season. 2019 rating: 1 |
|Tom Herman||4|| If speculation were tires, tread would be worn bald asking if Texas is "back." The answer, once again, is no. After beating Oklahoma and winning the Sugar Bowl in 2018, the Longhorns slid to 8-5 in 2019 behind Baylor and OU in the Big 12. With the Sooners showing no signs of slowing down, this is a key season for Herman. He has a quarterback who has made Heisman Trophy lists in Sam Ehlinger. Recruiting continues to thrive. That's the issue: When is all that talent going to carry the Horns to national title contention? 2019 rating: 1 |
|Kevin Sumlin||4|| Whatever magic was left from Texas A&M is gone for Sumlin at Arizona. The Wildcats are coming off their worst two-year stretch since Mike Stoops started 6-16. Sumlin (9-15) just led a 4-8 second season in which the once-promising career of QB Khalil Tate ended. It doesn't help that Herm Edwards is dominating up north. Sumlin's salvation may be Sean Miller as the school probably can't afford to replace both revenue coaches if it ends up needing to fire Miller. There's no juice in Tucson, nothing to get excited about. Only Oregon State has given up more yards in the Pac-12 during Sumlin's time. Arizona was 77th in scoring last year. Something has to change, fast. 2019 rating: 3 |
|Philip Montgomery||4|| Not sure if Tulsa can afford to fire Montgomery, but it's time for a reckoning. The Golden Hurricane are 25-37 in his five seasons and haven't been to a bowl in three years. Once the brains behind Baylor's scoring machine, Montgomery's offense was 97th in yards per play last season. His contract only goes through 2021, which makes recruiting difficult. AD Derrick Gragg has basically said it's bowl or bust. 2019 rating: 3 |
|Manny Diaz||4|| It seems cruel to put Diaz here after one season. But inconsistency can be maddening. The Hurricanes beat Florida State and Virginia but got shut out by Louisiana Tech and lost to FIU and Duke. Diaz is an accomplished defensive coach. The problem is the offense. Miami was 120th in rushing and second-last nationally in third-down conversions. There's plenty to like about the Canes in 2020, and the best psychological healing might be Ed Reed getting hired as "chief of staff." But in the always-winnable ACC Coastal, Miami is going on Year 16 having won the division only once. 2019 rating: 1 |
Check out the full set of 2020 Hot Seat Rankings for all 130 FBS programs.