Hot Seat Rankings: These 15 college football coaches must step up in 2016
With so many jobs changing hands, the Hot Seat Rankings have undergone a shift, too, but there are some familiar names at the top for 2016
There doesn't figure to be much coaching turnover in 2016. I mean, who else is there left to fire?
OK, that's an exaggeration. But consider ...
- Thirty coaches lost their jobs or left their programs since the 2015 season began, culminating with the firing of Art Briles in June.
- Since 2014, 62 schools have changed coaches -- just about half of FBS. USC has done it twice.
- Since the beginning of the 2013 season, a staggering 99 men have walked FBS sidelines. That includes interim coaches.
In one sense, job security is as tenuous as ever. In another, the law of averages tells you that, sooner or later, some of these hires have to stick.
Suddenly, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops leads the country in continuous seniority, beginning his 18th season with the Sooners. (Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is as well with the Hawkeyes, but Stoops actually signed his deal days earlier in December 1998. And calm down, Kansas State fans: Bill Snyder's short retirement takes him out of the discussion.)
None of this means the profession is any less volatile. The 2016 Hot Seat Rankings include 20 coaches who at least are starting to feel the pressure (checking in at 3 or higher).
|Hot Seat Ratings Key|
|Rating||What it means|
|5||Win or be fired|
|4||Better start improving|
|2||All good ... for now|
|1||Safe and secure|
High on the list is an accomplished, championship coach with a .778 winning percentage. Seems like the profession is becoming crazier than the coach himself.
So this season begins the same way the last one ended at LSU -- with Les Miles' job security a hot topic. The wind is blowing unfavorably again at Auburn where Gus Malzahn has to rebound. You don't think so? Consider Gene Chizik was fired two years after winning a national championship.
At Texas A&M, quarterback whisperer Kevin Sumlin suddenly can't keep any quarterbacks around.
Did we say less turnover in 2016? Never mind. The hot seat never cools off.
Let's meet the top 15 who need may need to watch their backs sooner than later. (If your coach is not on this list, congrats, take a breath. Then click here to see where he checks in on the 128-coach chart.)
Les Miles, LSU (5): Yes, it was demeaning that Miles had to go through a November from hell. But the reality remains: LSU's coach probably has to beat Alabama this year, which is another way of saying LSU probably has to win the SEC West for Miles to keep his job. It's clear that anything less than a nine-win season puts Crazy Les' job in peril once again. The Tigers go into the season as a top-five team as arguably the second-best squad in the SEC. Alabama travels to Baton Rouge. LSU heads to Auburn and Florida. Could this be the opposite of 2011 where the Tigers finish second in the SEC West and still get to play for a title in the College Football Playoff?
Jim Grobe, Baylor (5): The school itself has made sure ol' Grobie made this list. They're calling him an "acting" coach in his role replacing Briles, not an "interim." That means, theoretically, he has a chance to become the permanent coach. To do that, the former Wake Forest head guy (and 2006 national coach of the year) has to recruit like a mother, innovate on offense and keep Baylor a national power amid a scandal that doesn't look like it's close to being played out. The Bears will compete in the Big 12 this season, but the bottom could fall out real quick, particularly after Baylor lost so many signees. How do you recruit when you don't know who your coach is going to be going forward?
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado (4.5): Mac has a fine pedigree -- his dad coached at Vanderbilt -- but the Buffs have improved only marginally in his three seasons. Three consecutive last-place finishes in the Pac-12 South will not endure. MacIntyre has won only two of 27 conference games.
Paul Haynes, Kent State (4.5): The former Ohio State assistant is Kent's highest-paid coach in at least 10 years. Not a good look for a guy who is 9-26 in three seasons. Haynes may be in trouble or Kent may not be interested in fielding a winning football team. The school's had one winning season since 1977.
Charlie Strong, Texas (4): The Longhorns will be back. The question is whether Strong will be the coach leading them back. This pretty much has to be the season Texas turns the corner after Strong's 11-14 start. That's the worst winning percentage for a Texas coach in his first two seasons since Dana Bible in 1938. Strong will rely on a group of early-entry freshman, perhaps even at quarterback with Shane Buechele. An eight-win season (at least) with another win over Oklahoma is highly recommended.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia (4): Athletic director Shane Lyons inherited Holgorsen. He subsequently did not give the sixth-year coach an extension after an 8-5 season in which the Mountaineers lost to the Big 12's four best teams in a row (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU). That means Holgorsen has to recruit with a contract that only goes through 2017 ... all of which screams hot seat.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky (4): The school has improved the facilities. Damn, Stoops' boss, Mitch Barnhart, was even AD of the year in 2015. Now it's time for the football coach to step up in his fourth season. Kentucky is coming off consecutive 5-7 seasons, and the Wildcats are 12-24 under Stoops. Kentucky started 4-1 in 2015 and finished 1-6. Ouch. Barnhart says the coaching staff "continues to learn." Not much room for that in the cutthroat SEC.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue (4): The former Ohio State assistant and Kent State coach is author of a 12-game losing streak against FBS opponents at Purdue. Hazell is only 2-22 against the Big Ten. Purdue officials have decided to keep him for what has to be a make-or-break season. Purdue -- 6-30 under Hazell -- should never be this bad, should it?
Gus Malzahn, Auburn (3.5): They'll be thinking long and hard about the next Heisman campaign on The Plains. Actually, it was the hype machine that took over and anointed quarterback Jeremy Johnson last offseason. The poor kid never panned out, Auburn went 7-6 and, well, here we go again. The Auburn coach vs. expectations vs. Alabama. Every day of the year. Good luck, Gus. There are at least three teams better than the Tigers in the SEC West. Or is that just perception?
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (3.5): Look what Sumlin has built in Aggieland: new credibility with a Heisman, entry into the SEC, palace of a stadium, boffo recruiting. Look what Sumlin must do, quickly: solidify the quarterback position and get the Aggies in contention in the SEC West pretty darn quick. Former quarterback Kyle Allen created quite the offseason stir when he criticized the "culture" under Sumlin.
Steve Addazio, Boston College (3.5): Urban Meyer's former offensive coordinator has brought a certain toughness to BC, but the offense is putrid. If you're going to be this average (17-21), you'd better be entertaining. Addazio has lost 10 of his last 11 ACC games.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt (3.5): James Franklin looks better at Vandy with each passing day. Penn State's present coach won nine games in consecutive seasons at Vanderbilt. Mason, Stanford's former defensive coordinator, has not been able to sustain that momentum (7-17 in two seasons). The Commodores play at Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky out of conference this season. They get Auburn and Ole Miss from the SEC West in 2016. This isn't looking good at all.
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (3.5): It's been a long time since the exciting "Clawfense" at Bowling Green. Clawson was trending upward when he used his high-powered offense to get the Wake job. He then put together back-to-back 3-9 seasons. Wake has finished dead last (2014) and 114th (2015) nationally in offense in those seasons. It's one thing to lose, it's another putting folks to sleep while doing it.
Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan (3.5): As recently as April, Eastern Michigan faculty and students demanded the school drop football. How do you recruit to that? Creighton, who is 3-21 in two seasons, just happens to be the coach at this time at an FBS punching bag. You have to feel for him. This probably is not going to end well. Eastern Michigan's commitment to major-college football has to be questioned.
Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio) (3.5): One of the greatest guys to walk an FBS sideline has won five games in two years at Miami. Injuries were a problem last year during a 3-9 season. The former Notre Dame offensive coordinator and Grand Valley State coach (74-7 in six seasons) is better than this. It may be that Martin chose the wrong starter job.
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