College football’s coach carousel has been active this season, as four FBS programs have already announced their intentions to have a new coach in place for 2015.
And that list is expected to grow over the next few weeks, as a handful of coaches will be under pressure to win in November.
Florida coach Will Muschamp is on shaky ground after an awful showing against Missouri, while Michigan’s Brady Hoke needs a strong finish to the year to have any chance to return in 2015.
The pressure isn’t just limited to Michigan and Florida, as Illinois’ Tim Beckman and Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship are squarely on the hot seat.
College Football’s Top 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 8
1. Will Muschamp, Florida
2014 Record: 3-3
Career Record at Florida: 25-19 (4 years)
It seems almost certain Muschamp won’t be back at Florida next year. Athletic director Jeremy Foley’s statement after the Gators’ loss to Missouri did nothing to cool Muschamp’s seat. Florida is just 3-3 after six games and faces an uphill battle to bowl eligibility. The Gators should beat Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky, leaving Muschamp’s team one win short of the postseason. However, knocking off Florida State, Georgia or South Carolina does not appear likely this year. The biggest problem for Muschamp remains on offense. Florida is averaging just 4.3 yards per play and 21.4 points per game in SEC play. Muschamp’s defense – supposed to be a strength – allowed 30 points to Kentucky, 42 to Alabama and 30 to LSU.
2. Brady Hoke, Michigan
2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at Michigan: 29-17 (4 years)
Much like Will Muschamp at Florida, the clock on Brady Hoke’s tenure at Michigan is ready to strike midnight. The Wolverines have regressed since an 11-2 mark in 2011, with the win total trending in the wrong direction (eight in 2012 and seven in 2013). Hoke changed offensive coordinators in the offseason, hoping to find a spark for a unit averaging 5.2 yards per play (eighth in Big Ten last year). Michigan also averaged only 3.3 yards per rush in 2013, but the changes haven’t worked so far. New coordinator Doug Nussmeier is dealing with many of the same problems as Al Borges (offensive line, rushing attack and quarterback play), and the Wolverines have not scored more than 20 points in four out of their five games against Power 5 opponents. Games against Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland should allow Michigan to make a run at the postseason. But in Ann Arbor, getting to 6-6 isn’t good enough. Of course, the ongoing debate regarding athletic director Dave Brandon’s status may cloud Hoke’s future – at least temporarily – at the conclusion of the Ohio State game on Nov. 29.
3. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa
2014 Record: 1-6
Career Record at Tulsa: 23-23 (4 years)
Blankenship began his tenure at Tulsa with a 19-8 overall mark and a solid 14-2 record in conference play. But since 2013, the Golden Hurricane is 4-15 and won just two games in Conference USA last season. Blankenship’s initial success were largely due to a solid core of players returning from the Todd Graham era, but Tulsa has slipped over the last two years and cannot afford to fall too far behind in its new conference home (American Athletic). Blankenship’s job prospects certainly weren’t helped in Week 8, as the Golden Hurricane blew a 27-7 halftime lead against USF to lose 38-30.
4. Tim Beckman, Illinois
2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at Illinois: 9-22 (3 years)
After a 3-1 start, Illinois has lost its last three games and won’t have starting quarterback Wes Lunt for a couple of weeks due to a leg injury. Needless to say, that’s bad news for Beckman. The Fighting Illini has to play Minnesota and Ohio State over the next two weeks – a combined 11-2 this season – followed by games against Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern. It’s unlikely Illinois will be favored in any of its remaining games, especially with a defense allowing 7.6 yards per play in Big Ten contests. Getting to 6-6 likely saves Beckman’s job, but the Fighting Illini are likely to fall short of that mark.
5. Norm Chow, Hawaii
2014 Record: 2-5
Career Record at Hawaii: 6-25 (3 years)
Chow was a popular hire in Honolulu in 2012, but success has been hard to come by for the 68-year-old coach. Hawaii went 3-9 in Chow’s debut and won just one game in 2013. The Warriors are off to a 2-5 start and have already equaled their conference win total (one) from 2012-13. The upcoming schedule isn’t very forgiving, as Hawaii still has to play Nevada, Utah State, Colorado State and Fresno State this year. Chow is trying to transform the Warriors’ offense into more of a pro-style attack from a spread approach. However, while transitioning schemes takes time, Hawaii is only averaging 21 points this year and ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West in scoring offense from 2012-13.
6. Kevin Wilson, Indiana
2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at Indiana: 13-30 (4 years)
Indiana is one of the toughest jobs in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have only one winning season since 1995 and have lost seven games in six consecutive seasons. Wilson has the program on the right track, as Indiana increased its win total from one (2011) to four (2012) and five (2013). But the progress will be limited in 2014, as starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld is out for the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury. But even with Sudfeld out, the Hoosiers are still searching for answers for a suspect defense, and with a tough Big Ten East Division, this program cannot afford to fall behind Maryland and Rutgers in the overall landscape. Considering the injuries and youth on the team, Wilson should not be in any danger of being fired. However, 2015 could be a make-or-break year for his tenure in Bloomington.
7. Ron Turner, FIU
2014 Record: 3-5
Career Record at FIU: 4-16 (2 years)
Turner was a surprising hire at FIU after spending 2005-12 out of the college ranks. Additionally, Turner had no coaching experience in college in the state of Florida and went 35-57 from 1997-2004 at Illinois. In two seasons, this hire has panned out as expected. Turner is 4-16 and has two losses to FCS opponent Bethune-Cookman. The Panthers won only one game last year but have recorded three through eight weeks, largely due to an unsustainable +9 in turnover margin in games against FAU and UAB. FIU has some promising young players (quarterback Alex McGough, running back Alex Gardner and tight end Jonnu Smith) to build around for the future. How long will Turner have to develop that talent?
8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
2014 Record: 2-5
Career Record at UNLV: 15-43 (5 years)
Hauck is one season removed from a breakthrough year, as the Rebels went 7-6 and played in their first bowl game since 2000. However, will that momentum be a short-lived boost? UNLV is 2-5 through seven games and are expected to be underdogs in upcoming games against Utah State, Air Force, BYU and Nevada. Prior to last year’s 7-6 record, the Rebels were 6-32 under Hauck’s watch. Was 2013 an aberration? Or does Hauck need more time to upgrade the talent and build the depth in the program?
9. Paul Haynes, Kent State
2014 Record: 1-6
Career Record at Kent State: 5-14 (2 years)
Haynes is a Kent State alum, so he’s familiar with the challenges of the job. The Golden Flashes won their last two games in 2013 but lost their first six in 2014. Kent State defeated Army 39-17 last Saturday to break into the win column and face a challenging slate the rest of the year. The Golden Flashes play at Miami (Ohio) this Saturday, followed by games against Toledo, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Akron. Haynes will get more than just two years (especially at his alma mater), but it’s important for this team to show progress, especially since Akron and Miami (Ohio) have shown improvement in 2014. The Golden Flashes simply can’t fall too far behind its East Division foes.
10. Larry Fedora, North Carolina
2014 Record: 3-4
Career Record at North Carolina: 18-14 (3 years)
It’s tough to list Fedora here, but there aren’t many glaring candidates on the hot seat. And let’s make this clear: Fedora is in no danger of getting fired this season. But it’s important for Fedora and his staff to show this team is trending in the right direction over the next five games. North Carolina finished 8-4 in Fedora’s first year and needed five wins over its final six games last season to make a bowl. The Tar Heels are off to a slow start once again, sporting a 3-4 record after seven contests. Making a bowl will be a challenge for North Carolina, as road trips to Virginia, Miami and Duke remain. Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Fedora’s teams, but the defense ranks last in the ACC by allowing 43.3 points per game in 2014. The Tar Heels are a young team, so there’s promise for 2015 in what could be a make-or-break year for Fedora in Chapel Hill.