This is our second Hot Seat Coaches edition for the 2017 season.
In the College Football America 2017 Yearbook I highlighted our Hot Seat Coaches for this year. Now, no one likes to see a coach get fired (well, maybe some of you do). But there are realities to college football. Head coach is a performance-based job and if your team doesn’t perform, well, that can sometimes lead to a change. Twenty-two jobs changed hands before the 2017 season. And just to give you an idea of the turnover, in our 2013 yearbook we highlighted 31 job changes. Only 15 of those coaches are still with the team that hired them in 2013. So, the shelf life can be pretty short.
This list includes names from our Yearbook and names that have been added to the list based on performance and other factors.
From the Yearbook
Paul Haynes, Kent State: KSU is 2-5 overall, 1-2 in the MAC as of Week 7. But, as noted in our first update, Haynes started the season on the sideline after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Their lone MAC win is over Miami (OH), which was a bowl team last year, so that’s encouraging. There have been no reports that Haynes’ job is on the line. The reality is he’s won so few games during his time at KSU (14-40 in four-plus seasons) that there is always a chance.
Butch Jones, Tennessee: Personally, I think Jones is going to make a great coordinator and recruiter for someone in 2018. I don’t believe he keeps this job past this season. The loss to South Carolina, frankly, sealed his fate. The Vols play Alabama this weekend. It’s only going to get worse. One factor to keep in mind — buyouts for Jones and his staff would cost the university up to $14 million.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: Sumlin’s seat appears to be cooling a bit, now that the Aggies are tied for second in the SEC West and they played Alabama well at home. The Aggies are near another bowl bid and their next three games are at home (including a showdown with Auburn). I wouldn’t say Sumlin is a lock to be there in 2018 just yet, but the way the season is tracking the odds are looking better.
Steve Addazio, Boston College: One way to try and save your job is to capture a big win on the road. Mission accomplished as the Eagles beat Louisville on the road, 45-42, on Saturday. They may have found a star in true freshman running back A.J. Dillon, who rushed for 272 yards and four touchdowns against the Cardinals. Things are looking up a bit for Addazio.
Mike Riley, Nebraska: The Huskers are out of the Big 12 West race after back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State. They weren’t even competitive in either one of those games. The Huskers need three wins for a bowl game and that’s a 50-50 proposition at this point. I think Nebraska will be looking for a new coach come the end of this season.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech: Losing in Morgantown to West Virginia hurt, especially with the Red Raiders in control of that game until the fourth quarter. But the Red Raiders are 4-2 and need just two wins to reach a bowl game. With Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor still ahead, that’s certainly achievable and would be enough, I think, for Kingsbury to remain at Tech in 2018.
Sean Kugler, UTEP: Kugler resigned after an 0-5 start. Former Miners head coach Mike Price — yes, that Mike Price — is the interim.
David Bailiff, Rice: The Owls are off to a 1-5 start, with their only win over UTEP. There may not be another win on their schedule. This will most likely be their third season without a bowl trip. Would Bailiff survive that, even at Rice, a school with a mission markedly different than most FBS schools?
Rod Carey, Northern Illinois: At 4-2 and atop the MAC West, Carey is safe. I just jumped the gun here. My bad.
Matt Wells, Utah State: The win over BYU was nice, but the Cougars are awful this year. The Aggies missed a chance to really upend the Mountain West by failing to upset Wyoming. That would have been a nice win for Wells, who is seeking to get his Aggies back to a bowl game. That’s still possible, but they must find three more wins in their final five, or Wells’ seat may start to cook.
Rich Rodriguez, Arizona: When Rich Rod finds a quarterback, things tend to get better. And he’s found one in young Khalil Tate, who has lifted the Wildcats back to respectability almost single-handedly. Now 4-2 and undefeated in the Pac-12 South, Rodriguez’s seat may be cooling.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: There’s a definite chance these Hogs won’t go bowling this year. The loss to Alabama (41-9) was expected, but nonetheless unsettling. Arkansas must win four of their last six, and that includes games with Auburn and LSU. Razorbacks fans are restless. But like many of Bielema’s SEC brethren, he has a massive buyout in his contract — upwards of $12 million — that may keep him safe another year.
Doug Martin, New Mexico State: It’s been a respectable season for the Aggies so far, with three wins. To put that in perspective Martin has won just three games each of his last three seasons. The Aggies’ schedule suggests they could claim another win or two before the season is done. On performance alone Martin should be looking for a job. But remember — NMSU will be FBS independent in 2018, so the program’s situation is unusual. Martin may keep that job at least another year because, really, who else are they going to get?
Gary Andersen, Oregon State: Andersen resigned, stunningly, after a 1-5 start.
Ed Orgeron, LSU: Ugh, that loss to Troy. But since then? Wins over Florida and Auburn. He’s safe now. But, given the nature of LSU’s fan base and Orgeron’s lack of success as a “permanent” head coach (read — not interim), he’ll always be on a short leash. Unless, you know, they beat Alabama or something like that.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss: The interim coach for the Rebels never really had a chance. But the job application for his job is now up on the Ole Miss Web site, so, yeah.
Brad Lambert, Charlotte: Lambert has the 49ers pointed toward a winless season, which would be a first for the program. It also might be enough to get him fired. The relative newness of the program (the 49ers are just in their fifth year) may keep him employed a little longer.
Kalani Sitake, BYU: His seat may only be warm, but he bears tracking as the Cougars are 1-6 this season. They are coming off a 9-4 year in Sitake’s debut. That may not be enough to get Sitake fired this year, but we know the standard is a little different at BYU. They’re used to winning and going to bowl games.
Barry Odom, Missouri: He’s in just his second year, so Odom bears tracking at this point. But coming off the successful Gary Pinkel era, Odom is only 5-13. What will likely keep him safe for 2018 are his deep Missouri roots. But that only protects you for so long in the ultra-competitive SEC.
— Matthew Postins
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