2015 College Coaching Hot Seat

College football season is less than a month away at this point. It’s time for the previews to start flowing, and this includes my usually blabber which will come in a couple of weeks. In the meantime Grantland’s Matt Borcas did a piece about college football coaches on the hot seat, and I thought I would share some thoughts about some of them.

Les Miles is an interesting name to see make the list. The guy is 103–29 at LSU, which is an astonishing clip of winning 78% of his games. His 56–24 record in the SEC is nothing to slouch at either (70% wins). He won a National Championship, lost a National Championship and won two SEC conference championships in his 10 seasons in Baton Rouge. But he is coming off a rough 8–5 season, 4–4 in the SEC, and his volatile playcalling and personality have always been a factor. This is a classic “what have you done for me lately” argument. Miles should have a better team on the field this year, so this will all probably be moot very soon, and even going 4–4 in the SEC again probably isn’t enough to cost him his job yet.

I personally wonder what Miles would do if he was fired. He is 61 right now. He has times to Oklahoma State (more on them in a bit) and Michigan. Would Harbaugh bring him in as like an assistant head coach? Hard to see him starting over as a head coach at this stage in his life, especially at some place like Kansas or something.

Frank Beamer is Virginia Tech football. He put them on the map and led them to by far the greatest success in their history. Since moving to the ACC in 2004 he has led the Hokies to 5 conference championships. This is remarkable, even in the weak ACC. He has struggled a bit the last few seasons, including his first losing conference record since 2002, but this is a classic case of a coach inadvertently setting expectations too high by overachieving. Virginia is not a fertile recruiting ground for football. Virginia Tech is not a slouch with academic standards. Yeah the ACC is a thin conference, but the idea that someone else could come in and do significantly better is probably pretty off base. This school would probably end up with a Tom Herman, Pat Narduzzi, Chad Morris type of hire. Is that really better than a living legend?

A few bullet points on other guys mentioned:

  • Kirk Ferentz was a candidate for the Michigan job both when Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke were hired. Now he’s on the hot seat. At only 68–60 in the Big Ten he hasn’t had as much success as people think. Iowa is never going to be a top tier Big Ten program, but they should be in the top half most years. If he has a bad season and isn’t fired, one has to wonder if he ever would be.
  • Al Golden was living up to his name at Temple, and seemed like the obvious next guy to make the jump. He didn’t end up at Penn St. when so many people thought he would, and his tenure in Miami was hampered by NCAA investigations. It’s hard to believe he is already entering his 5th season there, but things are probably at the point where he has to finish better than 7–6 and 4–4 in conference to stay around. He probably wouldn’t have any problem at least getting a coordinator job though.
  • Tim Beckman is about to enter his 4th year. He has improved each year, but he has some off the field stuff that is dragging him down. For some reason Illini fans have far too high of expectations, and the idea that they would grab someone much better seems crazy at this point. But Beckman at least has to make a bowl game, that is for sure.

There were curiously a few names left off the list that I was surprised by.

Dan Mullen might have saved his job with a solid 10-win season last year, but the team fizzled a bit down the stretch. Expectations will be much higher this year, and even as hard as is it to win at Mississippi State people are expecting a lot. Mullen is too good of a coach to give up on this soon, but his seat is at least a little warm.

Kevin Wilson’s seat in Indiana was definitely warm last season, and after backsliding to a 1–7 conference record it has to be much hotter now. QB was a mess last season but Tevin Coleman and Shane Wynn eased the burden before both moving to the NFL. Wisconsin and Nebraska are probably the prohibitive favorites, but the Big Ten East is definitely not a stacked division. Wilson probably has to at least get back to the 3 conference wins of two years ago to keep his job.

Mike Gundy is entering season 11 at his alma mater. He has definitely had ups and downs, but after winning the Big 12 in 2011 expectations went sky high. After going 4–5 in conference last season people are getting a little antsy. Oklahoma St. is getting some preseason hype, which means expectations are going to be high. Another losing record might be enough to cost Gundy his job, especially with some of his off field stuff over the last few years. His seat is definitely warm.