The hot seat is heating up and it is scorching hot for some high profile coaches! With the firing of Will Muschamp in South Carolina I’ll dive into some other coaches that are feeling the heat and some coaches that will be hot names in the coaching carousel.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Coach Jim Harbaugh was a dream hire for Michigan and Michigan fans in 2015 and now we are talking about him being on the hot seat, and for good reason. Let me start by saying, Harbaugh has done a good job at Michigan. He’s coached three 10 win seasons and has a record of 48-21 in Ann Arbor. The problems come against top 25 teams and rivals. Harbaugh is 0-5 against Ohio State, 3-3 against Michigan State, 1-4 in bowl games and 1-8 against top 10 teams. If Harbaugh is going to keep his job he needs a win against Ohio State and he needs it this year or the Wolverines could be looking at new coaches.
Dino Babers, Syracuse
When the 2018 season ended Dino Babers was a hot name after leading Syracuse to a 10-3 record. But Babers has not been able to replicate that magical season and has led Syracuse to losing seasons every year but 2018 for a 24-33 record. With Syracuse off to another rough start it might be time for the Orange to move on. The biggest question might be who can you replace Babers with?
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
Being the coach after Frank Beamer was going to be tough for anyone. Beamer was, and still is, loved in Blacksburg and rebuilt the Virginia Tech program. Fuente came to Tech from Memphis where he had built a great offense around Paxton Lynch and was supposed to do the same at Tech with Bud Foster running the defense. It seemed like a great idea. But now Foster is gone and the offense is struggling through the air. With just one 10 win season, in his first year, and Tech off to a 4-4 start it could be time for a change at Virginia Tech.
James Franklin, Penn State
James Franklin has bought himself time at Penn State and I do not think he will be, or should be, fired this offseason. But, an 0-4 start with losses to Indiana, Ohio State, Maryland and Nebraska will definitely turn the seat warmers on in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions desperately need sophomore quarterback Will Levis to make plays and give this team life for the rest of this season and next.
David Shaw, Stanford
Stanford promoted Shaw to head coach when Jim Harbaugh left town to take over the 49ers in 2011. Shaw has led the Cardinal to five 10 win seasons and has been one of the top coaches in the nation for years. But Stanford is going to struggle again in 2020 after a four win season in 2019. If Shaw can’t turn things around this season there are going to be questions in Palo Alto. Do I think Shaw can turn things around? Yep. But going 3-9 in the Pac 12 over this season and last will create some unhappy alumni.
Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
In 2011 Fickell was named interim head coach at Ohio State after Jim Tressel “resigned” due to a pants for tattoos scandal. Fickell led Ohio State to a 6-7 schedule but then named Urban Meyer head coach after the season. Not a bad move. Fickell moved on to Cinicannti after Tommy Tuberville ran the Bearcats program into the ground and has built a great program in the American Conference. After a 4-8 season in his first year, Fickell has had two 11 win seasons and is currently 7-0 with possibly his best team yet at Cincinnati. Any team, maybe other than Michigan, looking for a new head coach should start with Fickell – who has done more than enough to prove he can coach and build a program, and do it quickly.
Hugh Freeze, Liberty
Hugh Freeze is one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel and I honestly don’t get it. I know that Liberty is 8-0 after going 8-5 last season, but scandal has followed Freeze at every stop and his coaching record isn’t that great. Freeze has taken over small programs and found success but struggled and cheated his way through the SEC with a 12-25 record at Ole Miss. I think Freeze gets another chance at a top program but I hope it’s not my team. I might have to find a new team if Freeze ever lands in Austin, TX.
Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina is gaining more and more notoriety as the season goes on, and with a 7-0 start in a very underrated Sun Belt conference, they should be. The Chanticleers are out performing their preseason expectations and coach Chadwell is going to reap the benefits this offseason when mid-level programs are looking to hire. Chadwell might not end up at a top program for 2021 but should be able to find a great job at a program like, but not specifically, Cincinnati after Fickell leaves for a top job.
Billy Napier, Louisiana
Billy Napier has led the Ragin’ Cajuns to 25 wins in less than three seasons and has his team off to a 7-1 start. Napier was a popular name last offseason and should be a top candidate this season after proving 2019 was not a flash in the pan year. Napier has spent time coaching under both Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban and at just 41 years old, Napier could jump to a top program in just a few months when teams start to hire and fire.