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College Football's Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2015 Spring Practice Edition

Mike London

Mike London

Coaching changes are a big part of any college football offseason. The 2015 carousel was relatively quiet with just 15 changes. However, from 2009-13, there were at least 21 coaching moves each year. While it’s too early in the season to know how many changes could be coming at the end of 2015, it’s never too soon to take a look at which coaches are on the hot seat.

Virginia’s Mike London tops the list of coaches on the hot seat, with Illinois’ Tim Beckman a close No. 2. Hawaii’s Norm Chow is the first coach from outside of the Power 5 conferences on this list. Here’s a spring edition of the top coaches on the hot seat for 2015.

Top 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2015

1. Mike London, Virginia

Record at Virginia: 23-38 (5 seasons)

London was on the hot seat last season but returns to the Virginia sideline after a 5-7 record. The five wins in 2014 was the Cavaliers’ second-highest victory mark under London, but Virginia still finished at the bottom of the Coastal Division. London has recruited well, but the Cavaliers have ranked ninth or worse in the ACC in scoring offense in four consecutive years. Getting to a bowl this season likely would keep London in Charlottesville for 2016.

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2. Tim Beckman, Illinois

Record at Illinois: 12-25 (3 seasons)

Beckman’s teams have showed improvement over the last three years. Illinois finished 2-10 and winless in Big Ten play during Beckman’s first season (2012). However, the Fighting Illini won four games in 2013 and improved to 6-7 with an appearance in the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year. While Illinois won six games in 2014, it suffered a 38-27 loss to Purdue and posted narrow victories over Texas State (42-35) and Western Kentucky (42-34). Additionally, the Fighting Illini is just 4-20 under Beckman’s direction in Big Ten games.

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3. Norm Chow
Record at Hawaii:
8-29 (3 seasons)

Hawaii isn’t an easy job, but Chow is just 8-29 in his three seasons. The Rainbow Warriors started Mountain West play 1-15 under Chow and have lost at least nine games in each of the last three years. San Diego State should be the clear favorite in the Mountain West’s West Division in 2015 and plenty of uncertainty surrounds usual contenders Nevada and Fresno State. With major question marks for the teams outside of the Aztecs in the West Division, there’s an opportunity for Hawaii to improve. With a new athletic director in place, the pressure is on Chow to win in 2015.

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4. Al Golden, Miami

Record at Miami: 28-22 (4 seasons)

After taking a Temple program that was among the worst in the nation to respectability in the MAC, Golden seemed like a good fit to elevate Miami back into the ACC’s elite. However, it hasn’t worked out for Golden in four years, and there’s plenty of pressure on this coaching staff in 2015. The Hurricanes are just 16-16 in four years in ACC play under Golden and finished 3-5 in league action last season. Talent certainly isn’t an issue for Miami. However, this program is still looking for its first appearance in the ACC Championship since joining the league in 2004.

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5. Ron Caragher, San Jose State

Record at San Jose State: 9-15 (2 season)

San Jose State has regressed since Mike MacIntyre left for Colorado. Even with standout senior quarterback David Fales under center, the Spartans finished 6-6 and missed on a bowl appearance in 2013. The program took another step back last season with a 3-9 record, with just two victories coming in Mountain West play. Caragher made a few staff changes this offseason, including well-traveled assistant Al Borges as the team’s offensive coordinator. San Jose State outgained its conference opponents by an average of 81.1 yards per game in 2014, and if Borges can find an answer at quarterback, the Spartans could inch closer to .500 play in the Mountain West.

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6. Willie Taggart, South Florida

Record at USF: 6-18 (2 seasons)

Taggart was regarded as one of the top coaching hires prior to the 2013 season, but the Bulls are just 6-18 under his watch. USF won only two games in Taggart’s debut and increased its win total by two last season (4-8). According to recruiting rankings, the Bulls have one of the top rosters in the American Athletic Conference. Will it show in the win column in 2015? Getting to six victories is a realistic goal if the scheme change to an up-tempo attack on offense works out, along with the development of the team’s young talent.  

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7. Ron Turner, FIU

Record at FIU: 5-19 (2 seasons)

FIU’s hire of Turner was an unusual one, and the Panthers slumped to 1-11 in his debut in 2013. But there were a few signs of life from Turner’s second team last season. FIU finished 4-8 overall and went 3-5 in conference play. The Panthers also lost four games by three points or less last season, providing hope for a winning record in 2015 if the team’s young offense develops this spring. Turner’s staff was hit hard by departures this offseason, including rising star defensive coordinator Josh Conklin leaving for Pittsburgh.

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8. Paul Haynes, Kent State

Record at Kent State: 6-17 (2 seasons)

Kent State has recorded only one winning record since 2002, and Haynes’ first two seasons have been a struggle with a 6-17 mark. Considering Haynes is a former Kent State defensive back and worked as an assistant with the Golden Flashes as an assistant in 1999-00, he certainly knows what it takes to win at this program. The hire of Don Treadwell as the team’s offensive play-caller should pay dividends for a unit that managed only 16.4 points per game in 2014. 

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9. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 115-85 (16 seasons)

Ferentz is the third-longest tenured coach in college football, and he’s had plenty of success at Iowa. During his 16 seasons in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have recorded 115 victories and played in 12 bowl games. But is a fresh start needed for Iowa? The Hawkeyes have not finished in the final Associated Press poll since 2009 and has only one winning record in Big Ten play since 2010. And a Ferentz mention in a hot seat article wouldn’t be complete without a reference to his hefty buyout. While it can be accomplished, it’s not easy for a coach to stay in one place and succeed for a long time. Has Iowa reached its breaking point if Ferentz goes 6-6 or 5-7 in 2015?

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10. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 14-34 (4 seasons)

Indiana is a tough place to win consistently in the Big Ten, and the challenge for the Hoosiers only increased with the new divisional alignment featuring annual games against Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Wilson improved Indiana’s win total in each of his first three seasons, but the program took a step back after an injury to quarterback Nate Sudfeld in 2014. With Sudfeld back in the mix, along with the addition of UAB transfer Jordan Howard at running back, the Hoosiers should be in good shape to make a run at a bowl game in 2015.

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Getting Warm?

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Beamer isn’t going to be fired, but it’s worth noting Virginia Tech is just 22-17 over the last three years. That’s a big downgrade after recording eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2004-11.

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Larry Fedora, North Carolina

The ongoing NCAA mess around North Carolina (if it results in sanctions or any additional scandal) could make it difficult to find a new coach if Fedora is fired. The Tar Heels are 21-17 under Fedora but will have a revamped (and improved) defensive staff in 2015.

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Darrell Hazell, Purdue

Hazell’s 2014 team showed progress after a 1-11 record in his debut at Purdue in 2013. Barring a complete collapse in 2015, Hazell should be back on the Boilermakers’ sidelines in 2016.

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Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

A young roster provides optimism for Vanderbilt in 2015, but there’s still major concerns about the offense after averaging only 17.2 points per game last year. The Commodores can’t afford to fall too far behind in the SEC East.

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Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Iowa State is one of the toughest Power 5 jobs, and Rhoads guided the program to three bowl appearances in his first four years. The Cyclones have slipped over the last two seasons, winning only two Big 12 games and finishing 5-19 overall.

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Scott Shafer, Syracuse

Shafer will be working under a new athletic director in 2015, and the Orange finished 2014 by losing nine out of their last 10 games. It’s critical for Shafer to show this team is headed in the right direction.

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