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College Football Hot Seat Watch: 6 Coaches Already Feeling the Heat in 2021

Nebraska Football: How Scott Frost is Maximizing His Roster

We’ve got a job opening after one full week of college football. There’s no such thing as a break in Silly Season.

Randy Edsall is giving up on the Huskies. Considering the aimlessness of the UConn program, it’s hard to argue there’s anything wrong with that. Edsall’s first run at this job made him the winningest head coach in program history, as he guided the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl when they were a member of the Big East in the BCS era. But UConn has since collapsed, and when Edsall returned to Storrs for a second run in 2017 the program became an FBS independent and the Huskies haven’t won more than three games in a season.

Creating any kind of candidate list is foolish at this point — UConn is a program in flux, and nothing indicates they’re trending upwards. How long do they plan to play as an FBS independent? Do they want to move down to FCS? Could the right hire be allowed to chart a course in any direction other than this current one? Before a candidate or agent asks football-centric questions about UConn, the program has to define its future. There’s a reason this is college football’s first opening of the cycle: It’s arguably one of its messiest jobs.

Speaking of mess, here are six programs suffering various ailments that might be cured with a coaching change.

College Football Hot Seat Watch: 6 Coaches Already Feeling the Heat in 2021

NEBRASKA: The Fordham win was certainly nice, but let’s keep this space open for the next few weeks. The Huskers host a talented Buffalo team Saturday before their trip to Norman on Sept. 18. It’s certainly not a fair shake, but the immediate task in front of Scott Frost is to show demonstrable improvement in this program between the Week 0 embarrassment at Illinois and what could be a bloodbath at Oklahoma. New athletic directro Trev Alberts has a potential gift in possible NCAA violations under Frost, meaning that $20 million buyout (through January 1) could be significantly softened.

LSU: It’s not really college football season until an SEC fan base is publicly rallying for a $20 million buyout, is it? The Tigers got run out of the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, and while UCLA might be on the rise, LSU boasts one of the most on-paper talented rosters in the sport, which leads critics to point at the tumult of assistant coaches and coordinators coming in and out of Baton Rouge. If previous LSU regime changes are any indicator, this will be incredibly messy, public, and feels certain to go down in-season, if not in-game. All is not lost for Ed Orgeron, though: With Hurricane Ida’s devastation of the state and all of the league schedule in front of him, there’s a way out. Win. And win maybe all of them, minus Bama.

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NEW MEXICO STATE: Doug Martin is on the last year of a contract paying him about $430,000 annually, and the Aggies haven’t extended him since he took the program to a bowl in 2017. So far this season NMSU has been blown out by rival UTEP and led San Diego State for a half before losing to the Aztecs. If the Aggies win six games Martin is automatically extended; as that seems unlikely all signs point to this job opening. Don’t be surprised if NMSU goes through the FCS ranks looking for a seasoned head coach seeking an FBS paycheck.

COLORADO STATE: Steve Addazio finally signed his contract with CSU this summer, almost two years after agreeing to take the job. The Rams were 1-3 in an abbreviated 2020 season and got pasted by FCS power South Dakota State 42-23. If Addazio is fired before Dec. 1, he’s owed $5 million, but that number drops to $3 million after. It’s very, very early for firing talk here, but this wasn’t a particularly well thought of hire at the time, specifically in terms of fit between the coach, the school and the style of play in the Mountain West. Addazio’s connections to Urban Meyer, who consulted on CSU’s hire, helped get him a gig he’s yet to seem suited for.

DUKE: David Cutcliffe is one of the most well-respected coaches in the entire sport, but there’s an increasing amount of chatter about when and if he’s going to retire. The window the Blue Devils used to win the Coastal division in 2013 is firmly shut again, and Duke hasn’t had a winning season since 2018. The Blue Devils gave Charlotte its first win over a Power 5 opponent in program history Friday night, but there are winnable games vs. Kansas and Georgia Tech coming up. If it is time for Cut to step down, expect Duke to allow their coach to do so on his own terms.

LOUISVILLE: Scott Satterfield’s Cardinals extended a woeful 2021 debut for the ACC on Monday night, losing to Lane Kiffin-less Ole Miss 43-24. Since leaving G5 powerhouse Appalachian State, Satterfield has lost momentum on the field (8-5 in 2019 to 4-7 in ‘20) and had his bluff called by AD Vince Tyra in a dalliance with South Carolina for their job last year. As Kentucky continues to build more and more recruiting momentum in-state, Louisville seems to be a shell of its former self. Satterfield is a well-regarded head coach, but this continues to look like a poor fit.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION: Charlotte’s Will Healy had some buzz entering 2021 based solely on his reputation for culture building and his Messianic work rebuilding FCS doormat Austin Peay, but now the 36-year-old Charlotte head coach has a win over a P5 team in his backyard and a .500 record in the FBS. Healy’s name got a ton of play at Vanderbilt last year, and if the 49ers can make some noise in Conference USA, look out. Healy is considered a “dynamite” interview and is fast shedding previous concerns about his age.

 Written by Steven Godfrey. Follow him on Twitter @38Godfrey

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