College football’s 2018 season features 21 new coaches, so the hot seat talk and carousel could be less active this fall. However, as usual, plenty of coaches are feeling pressure for the 2018 season. Kansas’ David Beaty has just three wins in his three seasons and heads into the fall as the No. 1 coach on the hot seat. New Mexico’s Bob Davie and Charlotte’s Brad Lambert headline the next group of coaches, while Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury rounds out the top six. North Carolina’s Larry Fedora, Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and LSU’s Ed Orgeron aren’t likely to be dismissed after 2018, but each coach might find the temperature on their seat start to increase in the fall.
Who are the coaches sitting on the hot seat as the 2018 season approaches? Athlon ranks the coaches sitting on the hottest seat for the upcoming year, along with a few in the getting warm category, and two other names to watch in 2018.
College Football's Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2018
1. David Beaty, Kansas
Beaty inherited a Kansas program in need of major repair, but it’s hard to find progress entering his fourth year in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are just 3-33 under Beaty’s direction and have only one victory in Big 12 play since 2015. With a new athletic director in place (Jeff Long), Beaty will be under pressure to show marked improvement in 2018 to return next fall.
2. Bob Davie, New Mexico
It’s been a busy offseason for New Mexico but not in a good way for Davie and the Lobos. Davie was suspended for 30 days in the spring after an investigation into the program. That news was a setback for Davie and for a program reeling off a 3-9 finish in 2017. New Mexico was headed in the right direction under Davie prior to last year’s three-win campaign. The Lobos went to back-to-back bowl games from 2015-16 and finished 9-4 in ’16. Davie is 30-45 overall since taking over in Albuquerque in 2012.
3. Brad Lambert, Charlotte
Lambert is the first coach for Charlotte’s football program and guided the 49ers from the FCS ranks to the FBS level. However, he’s just 7-29 since Charlotte joined the FBS ranks in 2015 and has yet to produce a winning mark in five years at the helm. With a new athletic director in place for 2018 (Mike Hill), this fall seems like a make-or-break campaign for Lambert.
4. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
Montgomery was a highly-regarded assistant from his work with the Steelers and at Duke under David Cutcliffe when he replaced Ruffin McNeil at East Carolina. But it’s been tough sledding for Montgomery over the last two years. The Pirates are just 6-18 and 3-13 in conference play under Montgomery’s direction. Additionally, East Carolina’s defense has struggled mightily over the last two seasons. The Pirates surrendered 36.1 points a game in 2016 and that number climbed to 45 points a contest in ’17.
5. Mike Jinks, Bowling Green
Bowling Green is one of the MAC’s better jobs, so there’s building pressure on Jinks after a 6-18 start to his tenure. The Texas native had a successful run as a high school coach at Burbank (2005) and Cibolo Steele (2006-12) before landing on Texas Tech’s staff from 2013-15 under Kliff Kingsbury. Jinks was also regarded for his background on offense and recruiting ability prior to taking over at Bowling Green. With a couple of rising stars on offense (quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Andrew Clair), a step forward is a reasonable expectation for Jinks in 2018.
6. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
A win over Texas on Thanksgiving last season may have saved Kingsbury’s job for 2018. The victory over the Longhorns gave Texas Tech six wins, allowing the program to return to the postseason after a one-year absence. Kingsbury has produced two winning seasons since taking over at his alma mater but is 30-33 overall since 2013. The Red Raiders also do not have a winning mark in conference play under Kingsbury and have lost at least six games in each of the last four years. Assembling high-powered offenses isn’t a problem for Kingsbury. However, continued improvement on defense is a must in 2018, especially if Texas Tech is to exceed last year’s six wins.
7. Everett Withers, Texas State
Withers arrived in San Marcos after a successful 18-7 two-year run at James Madison. While Withers has recruited well, Texas State is just 4-20 in his two seasons. The Bobcats are also 1-15 in Sun Belt play and have ranked near the bottom of the league in scoring offense and defense in back-to-back years.
8. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt appeared to be on the right track after the 2016 season. The Commodores won four out of their last six games and reached a bowl for the first time since 2013. However, the program couldn’t build off that momentum, finishing 5-7 last fall. Mason’s overall mark in Nashville is 18-31, and the defense (Mason’s specialty) gave up 43.3 points in SEC play last fall.
9. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
North Carolina claimed the ACC’s Coastal Division title in 2015 but have watched its win total decline to eight in ’16 and just three last fall. The Tar Heels also have just one finish in the top 25 under Fedora. North Carolina should show improvement in 2018, but another three or four-win season would cause the temperature to increase on Fedora.
10. Matt Wells, Utah State
The 2018 season is an important one for Wells. After going 19-9 in his first two years at the helm, Utah State has not had a winning mark for three consecutive seasons. The Aggies are also 10-14 in Mountain West play during that span but did rebound from 3-9 (2016) to 6-7 last fall.
Not on the Hot Seat (For Now)…But Pressure Will Build in 2018
Ed Orgeron, LSU
Orgeron finished 9-4 in his first full season at the helm in Baton Rouge but doubts will remain about his ability be the long-term answer. LSU’s 2018 offense is littered with question marks, and a tough schedule won’t make Orgeron’s job any easier. A 6-6 or 7-5 season would only add to the pressure on Orgeron going into 2019.
Lovie Smith, Illinois
Considering Smith inherited a program in need of major repair and went with a youth movement last season, he’s in no real danger for 2018. The former Bears head coach is 5-19 through his first two years in Champaign. Even though Smith has time to rebuild, another two-win season would start to increase the hot seat talk going into 2019.