College football’s 2015-16 coaching carousel was one of the most active in recent memory. After 28 jobs changed hands, the 2016-17 version may not be as active at the end of the year. However, several big-time jobs could open, as Les Miles (LSU), Charlie Strong (Texas), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and Gus Malzahn (Auburn) enter the 2016 season squarely on the hot seat.
Spring practice is underway across the nation, and the offseason workouts are the first step to starting the countdown for the 2016 season. Coaches are always on the hot seat and under pressure to win. However, here are 10 coaches who need a big 2016 season to hold onto their job in 2017.
College Football Podcast: Transfer Rules, TV Networks and Jim Harbaugh
Coaches on the Hot Seat: 2016 Spring Practice Edition
Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State
Record at Fresno State: 29-23 (4 years)
Fresno State got off to a fast start under DeRuyter. The Bulldogs went 20-6 through DeRuyter’s first two seasons and won the 2013 Mountain West title. But after Derek Carr expired his eligibility, DeRuyter has struggled to keep the program at the top of the conference. The Bulldogs are just 9-17 over the last two years and finished 3-9 in 2015. Last season’s three wins were the fewest by the program since 1978 (3-8). Will staff changes help DeRuyter get Fresno State back on track in 2016?
Paul Haynes, Kent State
Record at Kent State: 9-26 (3 years)
Haynes has ties to the Kent State program as a former player and spent time as an assistant at Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State and Arkansas before taking the top spot with the Golden Flashes. In three years at Kent State, Haynes is just 9-26 and has lost at least eight games in each season. The offense has been especially problematic for Haynes, as the Golden Flashes averaged only 13.1 points a game in 2015.
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 6-30 (3 years)
Purdue is one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, and Hazell inherited a roster in need of repair. However, progress has been tough to find over the last three years. Under Hazell’s watch, the Boilermakers are just 6-30 and have only two wins in Big Ten play. In an effort to spark improvement, Hazell made significant changes to his staff, including new play-callers on both sides of the ball. Progress will be tough to find in 2016, but Purdue has two promising players to build around on offense in quarterback David Blough and running back Markell Jones. In two years at Kent State, Hazell went 16-10 and had the Golden Flashes on the cusp of a MAC title in 2012.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 36-28 (5 years)
Holgorsen enters 2016 in an odd position. Despite West Virginia earning its best record (8-5) since joining the Big 12, Holgorsen was not able to land an extension and only has two years left on his contract. Could a slow start by the Mountaineers have an effect on Holgorsen’s outlook with the program? After a 10-3 debut and a Big East title in 2011, West Virginia has not finished higher than 8-5 and has only one winning mark in conference play in the last four years.
Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 10-27 (3 years)
MacIntyre inherited a big-time mess from former coach Jon Embree. The Buffaloes went 4-21 under Embree’s watch, and the roster wasn’t exactly stocked with talent. There have been noticeable signs of progress under MacIntyre’s watch, as Colorado has two four-win seasons over the last three years. However, the Buffaloes have only two victories in Pac-12 action in the last three seasons. Is Colorado poised for a breakthrough in 2016? After losing five games by one score in 2015, the Buffaloes are close to pushing for a bowl game next fall.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 27-13 (3 years)
Auburn is just two years removed from an appearance in the national championship game, but the overall trend for this program has not been favorable since 2013. Despite an 8-5 record in 2014, the Tigers entered 2015 with high expectations. However, Auburn slipped to 7-6 overall and won just two games in SEC play. After winning 12 games in 2013, Malzahn’s record has slipped in each of the last two seasons. Another problem for Malzahn is his specialty – offense. The Tigers managed only 22.1 points a game and averaged 5.1 yards per play in SEC contests last year.
Les Miles, LSU
Record at LSU: 112-32 (11 years)
Prior to LSU’s season finale against Texas A&M, all signs seemed to point to a coaching change in Baton Rouge. However, the Tigers defeated the Aggies, and athletic director Joe Alleva announced Miles would return as the program’s head coach in 2016. The ending to the season was certainly bizarre, but is that the last of this story? Miles has won 112 games in 11 years and continues to assemble an impressive roster of talent. However, despite recruiting at a high level, LSU has not finished higher than No. 13 in the final Associated Press poll over the last four years. Additionally, the Tigers are only 9-7 in SEC play over the last two seasons. Improving the offense – specifically the passing attack – is a top priority for Miles and the coaching staff this offseason.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 12-24 (3 years)
Kentucky has made small strides under Stoops’ watch, but the program is still looking for a bowl bid and is only 4-20 over the last three years in SEC play. After a 2-10 record in 2013, the Wildcats took a step forward over the last two seasons. Kentucky has recorded back-to-back 5-7 marks and just missed a bowl in 2015 after losing three games by one score. The talent level is on the rise in Lexington, but this team enters 2016 with question marks on both sides of the ball. Can Stoops deliver a breakthrough year?
Charlie Strong, Texas
Record at Texas: 11-14 (2 years)
Strong didn’t inherit a roster overflowing with talent, but the expectations are high in Austin. Simply, finishing with a .500 record in back-to-back years with the Big 12’s top roster (according to recruiting rankings) isn’t sitting well. The Longhorns are just 11-14 in Strong’s two seasons and finished 4-5 in Big 12 play last year. Texas was up-and-down in conference action in 2015, pulling off surprise wins over Oklahoma and Baylor (when the Bears were hit with injuries at quarterback) and suffered a blowout loss (24-0) at the hands of Iowa State. Strong has promising young talent in place on defense, but the offense is probably a year away under new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record at Texas A&M: 36-16 (4 years)
Texas A&M made quite a splash in Sumlin’s first year. Behind quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies finished 11-2 in 2012 and claimed a No. 5 finish in the Associated Press poll. However, the Aggies have been unable to capitalize off that momentum. Sumlin has guided Texas A&M to a 25-14 record over the last three seasons but does not have a winning mark in conference play in that span. Additionally, the Aggies have not recorded a top 25 finish in each of the last two years. Sumlin has recruited well, and the addition of John Chavis helped the defense take a significant step forward in 2015. Will the addition of Noel Mazzone as the play-caller help Texas A&M’s offense take a step forward in 2016?