Rutgers has gotten a head start on the silly season. Before we even had the opportunity to reconsider where coaches sit on the hot seat now five weeks into the 2019 season, a seat has already been made vacant.
Chris Ash's firing reinforces that athletic directors are more likely than ever to pull the trap door during the season. Still, job security should dominate this offseason after 27 schools changed coaches (20 percent of FBS) last offseason. There is still a honeymoon period, after all.
But as we reconsider the hot seat from July, there is reason to believe there will be coaching upheaval in at least one program in four of the Power Five conferences.
Nine coaches, including Ash, were listed among our top two categories before the season began. Where do they and some of their peers stand now? Below is our ratings key along with how the 130 FBS coaches sorted out before the season began with nine on the hot seat (4-5 rating) and 12 others feeling the heat (3 rating).
|Rating||What it means||Coaches in preseason|
Win or be fired
Start improving now
Pressure is mounting
All good ... for now
Safe and secure
That leads us to our update. Here's how things are shaking out a month into the season with most teams now having played four or five games. Take a look below.
|Clay Helton||5||There is an unfairness angle to what the Trojans' embattled coach is enduring. Part of Helton's hot seat status is Urban Meyer's apparent availability. It's a bad look for USC fans to have at least some of them hoping Helton fails. Part of the reality: Helton is down to his third-string quarterback (Matt Fink) who has already beaten Utah. After the Washington loss, the detractors once again came out of the woodwork. President Carol Folt made a huge statement regarding the future of football when she targeted AD Lynn Swann as the first to go. (Yes, I know Swann resigned, but c'mon) I'll spell it out: You can't make a move on the coach until you have a new AD. The only result approaching anything close to a bad defeat was an overtime loss at BYU -- on the road with a backup QB (Kedon Slovis). Unless the Trojans win the Pac-12, Helton's days are probably numbered. That doesn't make it fair. Previous rating: 4|
|Tony Sanchez||5||There is a reckoning coming at UNLV. Sanchez, a former high school coach at national power Gorman, hasn't panned out so far. He is 17-35 overall and 1-3 this season. Meanwhile, the Rebels will be playing in the Raiders' new state-of-the-art stadium beginning next season. Who do they want leading the program into a new era? Previous rating: 4|
|Derek Mason||4||Mason was hired because of his defensive accomplishments at Stanford. Now even Mason's defensive prowess seems to have deserted him. Vandy has given up 42 to Purdue and 66 to LSU. Mason has been two bowls in his five previous seasons but has never finished any campaign with a winning record. It almost hurts to watch. Mason is one of the most engaging and accountable coaches in the country. Previous rating: 3|
|Steve Addazio||4||A shocking home loss to Kansas on Sept. 13 warmed up the hot seat again for Addazio. Meyer's former offensive coordinator has been numbingly consistent, going 41-40 in six-plus seasons. Everything was fine earlier this year until the Eagles inexplicably blew a 17-7 lead against Kansas. Then they were outscored 41-7 down the stretch. Addazio has lost 13 straight games against ranked opponents. Previous rating: 3|
|Mike Bobo||4||For the former Georgia offensive coordinator, the Colorado State job started as a trampoline to the next SEC opening (see: Jim McElwain). The ascension stalled. Since the beginning of 2018, Colorado State is 4-13. Bobo is 25-31 overall in five seasons. The Rams have one of the best Group of Five venues in the nation to keep full. Attendance has hovered around 24,500 in 41,000-seat Canvas Stadium. The pressure is on Bobo from multiple angles. Previous rating: 3 |
|Jeremy Pruitt||3||The Vols coach wasn't on the hot seat list to start the season. But you don't lose to Georgia State at home and feel more secure. Pruitt's AD is an accomplished coach (name rhymes with Hill Bulmer). Attendance has become an issue. Tennessee (1-3) is still looking for its first FBS win in the first week of October with Georgia coming to town. Yeah, we know Pruitt is only in his second year (which is why his rating is not higher), but this is the SEC and this is Tennessee. Anything is possible. Previous rating: 2|
|Justin Fuente||3||It wasn't too long ago that Fuente was one of the country's fastest-rising young coaches. Something has happened in Blacksburg, Virginia. Whether it's a temporarily downturn remains to be seen. Duke just dealt VT its worst home loss in 45 years. There were tired efforts against Furman and Old Dominion. Quarterback Josh Jackson transferred to Maryland where he immediately lit up the scoreboard (before getting shut out by Penn State.) Fuente has lost 12 of his last 22 games. That includes a four-game losing streak in 2018. The streak didn't include an earlier loss to Old Dominion. Previous rating: 2|
|Charlie Strong||3||Strong's last two jobs have been in Texas and Florida, two of the biggest recruiting hot beds in the country. Since going to Texas in 2014, Strong is 34-32. The Bulls are off to a 1-3 start in a highly-competitive AAC and have lost nine of their last 10. USF has been outscored 111-31 in its last three games against FBS competition. Strong is a defensive coach. His Bulls unit is currently 105th in total D. Don't look over your shoulder, Charlie. Previous rating: 1|
|Chip Kelly||3||Not that Chip is really in trouble … yet. There is one man at UCLA who Kelly has to please: media mogul Casey Wasserman. It is his name on the football facility, and he was largely responsible for bringing Kelly in. Still, the miraculous comeback at Washington State suggests Kelly is beginning to turn things around. Let's see if it continues. For now, a minor tick up. Previous rating: 2|
|Chad Morris||3||The loss to San Jose State was inexcusable. Almost halfway into his second season with the Hogs, Morris is 4-13. Arkansas showed well in a 31-27 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday in Jerry World, but the next three games are at Kentucky, home against Auburn and at Alabama. Previous rating: 2|
|Lovie Smith||5||Smith began the season No. 1 on the hot seat. At 2-2, he is off to his best start at Illinois. By the end of the season, a loss to Eastern Michigan may not be as bad as it looks right now. Still, no Big Ten team should be losing to EMU. There have been exactly two Power Five wins since November 2016 under Smith. Those will be hard to come by down the stretch as the Illini still have to play Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa. AD Josh Whitman remains all in. With new facilities coming on line, he has little choice. For now. Previous rating: 5|
|Willie Taggart||4||It will probably take a complete meltdown for Taggart to get the Big Haircut and FSU to eat his buyout. The Seminoles (3-2) aren't going to win the ACC, but a bowl is suddenly a possibility after wins over Louisville and NC State. That's not exactly a comfortable place to be with Clemson and Wake Forest up next. But it has distracted from FSU's early-season habit of getting boat-raced in the second half. You could even argue that Taggart's seat has cooled off some. Previous rating: 4|
|Randy Edsall||4||Edsall is 5-23 in his second stint at UConn. That matters less than the administration pulling the rug out from underneath him by leaving the AAC. UConn's next football life will be as an independent. Since Edsall is the last coach to have any meaningful success in football and the school has gone all-in on basketball, 5-23 might not matter. Previous rating: 4|
|Brent Brennan||4||The win at Arkansas on Sept. 21 should sustain Brennan (5-24 with the Spartans) for a bit. The last time San Jose State beat a Power Five team was 2006. Previous rating: 4|