Graphic by Mike Meredith

Jim Leonhard is in his seventh year at Wisconsin. The Badgers' new interim coach has seven games left this season to prove himself. At least that's what it looks like after Paul Chryst was fired Sunday.

If that sounds weird, welcome to now. The month of September (plus Sunday) has redefined the hot seat in college football.

Three of the eight coaches listed atop CBS Sports' Hot Seat Rankings entering the 2022 season are already gone. Five Power Five coaches have been axed before Week 6 kicks off.

That's unprecedented. It also made CBS Sports' in-season Hot Seat Rankings update almost moot – almost. There's still enough chair warmth to go around.

In the case of Chryst, don't you have to be in trouble first before getting fired? Chryst runs an antiquated offense, sure, but it has mostly worked. He won 67 games in less than eight full seasons. The Badgers played in three New Year's Six games, including the 2020 Rose Bowl. Wisconsin also advanced to three Big Ten Championship Games, though it did not win one.

It's a strange time when coaches may be looking over their shoulders after winning 72% of their games and playing for a conference title every other year. We literally live in an era where heads can roll if the winning rate dips below .721.

Chryst and Wisconsin had a bad day against Illinois on Saturday. That antiquated offense rushed for all of 2 yards. There was immediate speculation Illini coach Bret Bielema would return for an encore at the place he coached for seven seasons. That's probably not going to happen. What did happen was Bielema maintaining his spot at the second all-time winningest Badgers coach with just one more victory than Chryst.

So now, what of Leonhard? His defense wasn't great, either. We're talking about a defensive expert having to show he can find and install a new offense in a seven-game period. We're talking about a coordinator having to recruit for a job he may not get with the early signing period creeping up on Dec. 21. We're talking about an interim coach needing to prove he can somewhat challenge Ohio State and Michigan.

Leonard is the same coach whose defense gave up 52 points last month at Ohio State. He's also the same coordinator who helped lead the Badgers to those three division titles. We're talking the first interim coach ever to be on the hot seat himself.

No, we're not going to place Leonhard on this list, but he could end up on it without ever becoming Wisconsin's coach. The implications are clear for a much-respected Badger. The job is his … if he doesn't screw it up. That doesn't answer the question of whether seven weeks is a large enough sample size.

Wisconsin's problems didn't develop over the last seven weeks or seven months. Athletic director Chris McIntosh thought about this. Planned it. Evaluated it. The landscape has changed. Wisconsin must be in the same orbit of Ohio State and Michigan, not just circling them.

Would Chryst still be coach had Wisconsin beaten Illinois by a touchdown, as it was so favored? Probably. McIntosh said it wasn't a knee-jerk decision … but it kind of was …

If that sounds weird, welcome to now.

Nebraska's Scott Frost and Arizona State's Herm Edwards topped our preseason Hot Seat Rankings. Both are now gone. Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins was one spot below them with Colorado's Karl Dorrell listed as a notable coach whose seat was "warming up." Adios to both. Chryst was the outlier, the surprise.

With that said, before we get to our Hot Seat Rankings updated just over one-third of the way into the season, a reminder of our ratings key. (You can also check out our complete set of preseason 2022 Hot Seat Rankings for ratings of all 131 FBS coaches.)

  • 5 -- Win or be fired
  • 4 -- Start improving now
  • 3 -- Pressure is mounting
  • 2 -- All good ... for now
  • 1 -- Safe and secure
  • 0 -- Untouchable

And now ... a look at who is assuming the hottest seats in college football.

2022 Hot Seat Rankings, updated

Heating up

Cooling off?