In our preseason edition of College Football America 2015 Yearbook we examined the head coaches that we felt were on the hottest seats entering the season. Now that we’re well into November, let’s take a look at how they’re doing. Plus, we will take a look at the additions to our list of Hot Seat Coaches.
From the 2015 College Football America Yearbook
Mike London, Virginia: Virginia’s only winning season under Mike London came in 2011. Since then the most the Cavaliers have won in a season is five games. They have three wins this year. There’s no question he’s on the hot seat. The only question is whether Virginia pulls the trigger. Games with Louisville, Duke and Virginia Tech remain. My guess is he’s gone right after the season ends.
Kevin Wilson, Indiana: The Hoosiers carried a 4-0 record into Big Ten play, but have lost five straight, including Saturday’s loss to undefeated Iowa. Games with Michigan, Maryland and Purdue remain. There’s still a chance that the Hoosiers can earn a bowl game. Wilson has two years remaining on his contract and he still appears to have support of the administration. I think a bowl trip would keep Wilson employed for sure. Fall short and it’s 50/50.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: Beamer announced his retirement, saving Virginia Tech administration from having to fire or force out the future Hall of Fame coach.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: I think the Cyclones have made a little progress here. Two nice offensive pieces in quarterback Joel Lanning and running back Mike Warren have emerged as players of the future. Both are Rhoads recruits. The win over Texas — even a bad Texas team — at home was nice. The Cyclones will probably end up with four wins this year. That’s progress against two wins last year. That, coupled with the long-term contract I-State would have to eat if it fired Rhoads, leads me to believe he’ll be back in 2016. But it’s still a fluid situation.
One note: Rhoads fired his offensive coordinator, Mark Mangino, and elevated former Washington State head coach Paul Wulff, to offensive coordinator. Not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. It’s usually a bad sign when you’re on the hot seat. It can be an even worse sign when you tell the media before you tell your players, as Rhoads did in this case.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: My concern here was that Fitzgerald’s previous success had raised the bar so much at Northwestern that fans were getting restless after two losing seasons. The Wildcats are bowl-eligible and have been ranked much of the year. He’s safe.
Paul Haynes, Kent State: I was at Kent State for last Thursday’s loss to Buffalo. That was a game the Golden Flashes should have won. That should have been their fourth win of the season. With remaining games against Ohio, Central Michigan and Akron, they might have one more win left in them. There isn’t much chatter out there so it’s hard to predict. I’m leaning toward one more year, as Haynes is only in his third year at the helm. Plus, they have T-shirts at Kent State with “National Champions 2045.” So Haynes has the perfect excuse. “Hey, we’re right on track to win a national title in 30 years. You can’t fire me now.”
Norm Chow, Hawaii: Chow was fired last week, the second of our preseason hot seat coaches to lose their job in 2015.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: The good news is the Commodores finally won an SEC game under Mason, beating Missouri. The bad news is they’ve still only won three games. I think the perception that Mason is overmatched for the job has subsided some. The Tennessean took a poll asking readers if it was time for Mason to go. Less than four percent of respondents said they wanted Mason gone right now. About 15 percent said stay the course and decide after the season. There isn’t much chatter out there about Mason’s job, and he is in just his second year. But after last year I immediately thought about Ellis Johnson, who lasted one season at Southern Miss after going winless, and I thought Mason might be in a similar boat. Right now I would say he’s coming back. The two-point loss to Florida actually helps. Pushing the SEC East champions on the road will look good when set against the rest of this season.
Trent Miles, Georgia State: The biggest problem during Miles’ tenure is that his Panthers have not yet won a Sun Belt Conference game. That’s in nearly three years of Sun Belt action. Losses in non-conference are acceptable for a Group of 5 team. But a three-year string of conference losses? If that happens, I’d bet Miles is out.
Scott Shafer, Syracuse: This was a staff that had plenty of turnover last year. This year after starting 3-0 the Orange have lost six in a row. There is some definite debate about Shafer’s job security coming out of Syracuse and it’s pretty evenly split. Right now, I lean toward Shafer being gone. This is a proud program and he’s done nothing to elevate it to this point.
New To Hot Seat Coaches — Week 4
George O’Leary, UCF: O’Leary retired earlier this season.
Al Golden, Miami (FL): Miami fired Golden earlier this season.
Charlie Strong, Texas: The Longhorns beat Oklahoma. Strong comes back another year. It’s that simple. But this program needs to make some serious progress in 2016. And don’t be surprised if Strong’s name is mentioned in connection with the Miami job — and by more than just 2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell.
Kyle Flood, Rutgers: The win over Indiana was helpful. Flood’s job security boils down to trust with school administration, not what happens on the field. A recent NJ.com article had this headline — Five reasons why Rutgers should fire Kyle Flood at the season’s end. So, there’s chatter. I think a bowl game would certainly help Flood’s cause.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: Spurrier resigned earlier this year.
New to Hot Seat Coaches — Week 8
Darrell Hazell, Purdue: I can’t shake the sense that this team really ought to be better as Hazell reaches the end of his third year. But Purdue announced last week that Hazell would be back for a fourth season in 2016. Former Purdue coach Joe Tiller told Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde that the school probably didn’t want to pay Hazell’s buyout, which is reportedly $6.6 million. It should be noted that Hazell has the worst winning percentage ever at Purdue. It should also be noted that Hazell apparently has a heck of an agent for negotiating that buyout.
Larry Coker, UTSA: Coker joined the list last month after gridironnow.com published an article saying that Coker’s job was in trouble. The article quoted “insiders.” UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey told reporters right after the report came out that the Roadrunners are committed to Coker through 2018. UTSA is 1-7 right now. The fact is Coker is shepherding a start-up program and needs more rope. It’s hard to build a program when you have no tradition to build from, and even harder to do it when you’re the new program in the state of Texas. I believe he’s safe for 2016, unless he decides he’s done.
New to Hot Seat Coaches — Week 11
Mark Richt, Georgia: Georgia is coming off a loss to Florida in their rivalry game and the Bulldog faithful are not happy. But on a larger scale these Bulldogs have underachieved the past few years, winning the SEC East in 2011-12 but failing to win the division in 2013-14 despite having the best talent in the division, in my opinion. The Bulldogs will miss out on the division title this year, too. Plus, there’s speculation about his contract. Richt actually hasn’t signed the extension Georgia offered him months ago, and the school says it’s willing to honor it. But Richt is unhappy with some of the language. So stay tuned. This is developing. Richt has been there since 2001 and during that time the Bulldogs have won the SEC Championship game twice, with the last time coming in 2005. It makes me wonder if some in Athens, Ga., think a change may be in order.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: I always felt this was a weird fit. West Virginia hired him to be their offensive coordinator in 2011 and their “head-coach-in-waiting” for 2012, to replace Bill Stewart. Stewart wasn’t too keen on it, and West Virginia wasn’t too keen on him anymore so they parted ways and Holgorsen was elevated to head coach before the 2011 season. That season Hoglorsen led the Mountaineers — made up of Stewart’s recruits — to a Big East co-championship. Since moving to the Big 12 in 2012 the best he’s been able to do is 7-6. He and the Mountaineers got a big win at home on Saturday over Texas Tech to get back to .500. But I’m not sure bowl eligibility helps Holgorsen after this season, as he has done nothing to elevate the program, and the memory of what Rich Rodriguez did there is still pretty fresh.
Mike Riley, Nebraska: I wrote this on Saturday night before Nebraska’s win over Michigan State. Even then it seemed premature. I mean it’s his first season in Lincoln. But again here’s a hire that seemed curious. They are clearly struggling in the weaker of the two divisions. Did Bo Pelini leave Riley scraps? If so, then Riley needs some time. If not, then one has to ask if Riley is getting the most out of his players. At most programs I wouldn’t entertain this thought. But it’s Nebraska. The standard is a lot higher and Riley wasn’t hired to help the Huskers take a step back. It should be said that fans are the ones who aren’t happy (shocker), but the school’s chancellor appears behind him. The home win over the Spartans sure helps. I think he’s safe.
Doug Martin, New Mexico State: It’s starting to get toasty for Martin, who hasn’t had it easy since taking over before the 2013 season. That year the Aggies were an independent before transitioning into the Sun Belt in 2014. He managed just two wins in each of his first two seasons and is sitting on two wins in 2015. Aggies athletic director Mario Moccia said in October that Martin will be back next year. But with just five wins in three years, it’s possible he changes his mind. It should be noted that Martin is a bargain salary-wise, at just $363,000 this year. That could play a role.
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