At College Football America, I keep up with coaching changes, and in each edition of our yearbook, I publish the head coaches that I feel are on the hot seat. Periodically during the season I’ll bring you my Hot Seat Coaches Top 25, my list of the 25 head coaches in the most trouble. Now trouble doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to get fired. It just means that based on track record and their season so far they’re definitely under scrutiny.
So until Week 6, here is my Hot Seat Coaches Top 25.
- Paul Haynes, Kent State
Kent State has just 10 wins under Haynes in three-plus years. One of its two losses this year is to an FCS team. I saw them play last year. It’s not an effort issue. It’s a talent issue. Haynes is losing the recruiting battle in a hotly-contested state where Bowling Green and Toledo are dominant in the MAC. He doesn’t survive the season with a losing record.
- Ron Turner, FIU
I wasn’t a fan of this hire when it was made in 2013 and a 10-29 record in three-plus seasons validates it. FIU lost to UMass last week. An under-.500 record once again means the Panthers would likely make a move.
- Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Hazell — who preceded Haynes at Kent State — has won two Big Ten games in three-plus years. There were rumblings he might be fired after last season. But another year like the last three and he’s out.
- Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Another slow start and two SEC wins in two-plus seasons means Mason doesn’t have much room to maneuver. He’s a captive of his predecessor’s success (James Franklin).
- David Bailiff, Rice
He’s had a solid tenure with the Owls, but the loss to Army is alarming for a program that seems pointed toward a second losing season after three straight winning seasons. He’ll need to grab some wins in Conference USA action.
- Chuck Martin, Miami (OH)
This is the “Cradle of Coaches” after all. A 5-22 record in two-plus seasons at a program that has produced some of the game’s finest coaches won’t cut it. The loss to Eastern Illinois at home in Week 2 hurts.
- Mike Leach, Washington State
On the one hand “The Pirate” is probably the best they can do. On the other losses to FCS opponents each of the last two seasons isn’t going over well with the fan base. Watch what this team does in Pac-12 play. I’m not sure WSU’s fine season last year bought Leach that much rope.
- Doug Martin, New Mexico State
A tad unfair, given that NMSU won’t have a conference home after 2017. But an 8-31 record in three-plus seasons just doesn’t cut it, even at a Sun Belt program.
- Charlie Partridge, FAU
He’s 7-20 in two-plus seasons. He needs to show the Owls can get some traction in Conference USA, where he’s led them to five wins in two years.
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn
I think it’s nuts, but there appears to be legitimate questions about his job security. Call it the Alabama effect. The Tide are outstanding every year and Auburn should be too, if you ask Tigers fans. But the Tigers are 16-13 since the BCS title game appearance in Malzahn’s first season. The loss to Texas A&M hurts, too. He’s in trouble.
- Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
At one time I thought this guy was a candidate to move up the FBS food chain. Now after consecutive under-.500 seasons he’s on the hot seat. He needs to get the Bulldogs back in contention.
- Rod Caragher, San Jose State
The athletic director had to say Caragher’s job was safe last year. But this is Year 4 and the Spartans are off to a 1-2 start. He’s 16-24 in three-plus seasons. Watch the Spartans closely.
- Mark Stoops, Kentucky
The Wildcats are waiting for the breakthrough in Stoops’ fourth season. If they don’t get it, the Wildcats might make a change.
- Steve Addazio, Boston College
BC was supposed to be his launch pad from Temple, but after two average bowl seasons and a 3-9 2015 one has to wonder if Addazio will survive another losing season.
- Charlie Strong, Texas
The Longhorns are off to a solid start, which has taken some of the heat off. But the defensive issues are forcing Strong to re-evaluate the entire staff during the bye week. Perhaps UT re-evaluates Strong if they can’t sustain the momentum?
- Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern
Two losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State should concern everyone that respects Fitzgerald, a Wildcats legacy who has led the program for 10 years. But a losing season would be three losing seasons in the last four and that might pose issues for his long-term employment.
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
The Irish is always a hot seat job. Losses to Texas and Michigan State are a bit concerning, though understandable given the competition. The schedule is starting to look tougher, though, as Miami (FL) enters the Top 25 and Stanford is at the top of the Pac-12 at this moment.
- Butch Jones, Tennessee
An acknowledgement that big things are expected at Tennessee this season and that, so far, the Vols are delivering. The deeper they get into this season undefeated the easier it will be to slide Jones off this list.
- Kevin Wilson, Indiana
He earned a long-term extension after last year’s bowl season. But now he has to show momentum forward, meaning more Big Ten wins.
- Sean Kugler, UTEP
The Miners alum has gotten them to a bowl game in three-plus seasons. But there’s a lack of consistency in the program. Reaching a bowl game would help tremendously.
- Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan
On one hand, the Eagles have won five games in two years under Creighton, and the faculty and student body polled this spring recommended the program be shuttered. On the other hand getting kids to come to Ypsilanti is a hard sell and the Eagles are 2-1 this season.
- Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Entering his fourth year the Buffs have been under .500 each of his first three seasons. He needs to get to a bowl game this year or the Buffaloes may be looking for a head coach once again.
- Trent Miles, Georgia State
Before last year’s bowl season the Panthers had won one game in two seasons under Miles. This year they’ve started 0-3. That’s trouble. He may move up this list quickly.
- Jim Grobe, Baylor
Grobe is on a one-year contract, so his seat is hot automatically. Right now we don’t know how competitive these Bears will be in Big 12 action and that may determine if there is any hope Grobe would get an additional year.
- Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Again, seems crazy considering the Rebels’ success. But all of the off-field issues are beginning to mount, and the current NCAA investigation may spell trouble for Freeze. Does he take the fall if the Rebels take a major hit in sanctions?
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