2021 Coaching Hot Seat


We have yet to begin spring practice, but there are few coaches who may feel their seats warming up already. Last season, there was speculation some coaches may not be fired because schools would not have the money to pay buyouts. We still saw a fair amount of coaching turnover with schools such as Texas, South Carolina, Illinois, and Arizona fire their coaches and pay buyouts (Tennessee fired Jeremy Pruitt with cause so they do not have to pay his buyout). Who are some coaches could be on the chopping block next year? Let’s take a look!

Syracuse: After the 2018 season, many thought Dino Babers would take a bigger job. He was a hot candidate because he went 10-3 and helped Syracuse finished ranked for the first time since 2001. Ultimately, the 2018 season has proved to be an anomaly. In Babers’ four other seasons, he is a combined 14-33 including 1-10 last season. Syracuse will be expecting Babers to turn it around in a big way if he wants to keep his job after the 2021 season. Heat Check: 9

Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente has been the coach at Virginia Tech for five seasons and the Hokies appear to get worse each year under him. In Fuente’s five seasons, two have finished with losing records, including the most recent season. Virginia Tech is getting worse each year and they are running out of patience with Fuente. Under Frank Beamer, the Hokies were consistent contenders in the Big East and ACC but now they are struggling to be relevant. Heat Check: 8

USC: Yes, we are going to continue doing this every year with Clay Helton. He did go 5-1 last year but skeptics view his tenure as underwhelming. Helton has a strong team returning in 2021 and should be viewed as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12. One area that has kept Helton from reaching an elite level is his recruiting. He signed the 8th best class according to 247sports in 2021 but the two previous classes has been quite poor. The 2020 class finished 64th in the nation, behind programs such as Kansas, Cincinnati, and Rutgers. If Helton can start off strong in 2021, his seat should cool down. Heat Check: 3.5

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 23: Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans speaks to the media after defeating the UCLA Bruins 52-35 in a game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Purdue: Jeff Brohm makes $4.8 million per year and his career record at Purdue is 19-25. In his four seasons as the head coach, he has finished with winning record in just one, his first season. Brohm was rewarded with a contract extension and a raise after the 2018 season where he upset Ohio State. Brohm has recruited better over the past few years to help bring an influx in talent to the program, but that has not translated into wins. For a coach that is making the salary he is, a losing record will not keep him around long. Heat Check: 5

Kansas: In Les Miles’ first season at Kansas he went 3-9. It appeared that Kansas was making improvements. In 2019, Kansas scored more than 30 points a total of four times. In 2020, Kansas went winless and failed to score more than 23 points in any game. David Beatty had six wins in four seasons, and I expect Les Miles to get a longer leash than Beatty. Kansas will need to show improvements from last season to ensure that Miles is able to keep his job. Winning 2 or 3 games should be enough to help him return. Heat Check: 2

Texas Tech: There was speculation that Matt Wells could be on the chopping block after the 2020 season. He enters 2021 after winning a total of eight games in two seasons. Two of his wins are against FCS opponents. Wells is struggling to get the Red Raiders off the ground, and there is not a lot of promise heading in 2021. QB Alan Bowman is transferring after struggling late in the season. Wells will need to have a winning record to have a chance to keep his job. I am not confident he will reach a bowl game. Texas Tech could very well be in the market for a new coach after the 2021 season. Heat Check: 8

Michigan: This is the name everyone came here to read about. Yes, once again Jim Harbaugh is on the hot seat. The pressure is real. Harbaugh has not reached the overall level of expectations since taking the Michigan job. He won 10 games in three of his six seasons. The key win missing from his tenure at Michigan is the lack of a win over Ohio State. Not only is he failing to beat Ohio State, he is getting blown out by the Buckeyes. Wolverine fans are ready for Harbaugh to take the next step and beat Ohio State followed by a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. Michigan needs a strong season in 2021 while also developing the quarterback of their future. Heat Check: 6.5

Penn State: This may be a hot take putting James Franklin on this list, but at the same time I feel as though this is a rational decision. Overall, Franklin has been widely successful at Penn State. Prior to the 2020 season, he finished with 11 wins three times in four seasons. Should Penn State bounce back in 2021, last season will be viewed as an anomaly and Franklin’s seat never warms up. If Penn State finishes with a losing record next year, there is a good chance he will still keep his job. There is growing pressure from the fans to reach the Big Ten Championship again. Heat Check: 1.5

Creator: Scott Taetsch | Credit: Getty Images

LSU: Before we get too deep, we need to acknowledge there may be potential issues off the football field with LSU. Ed Orgeron is one year removed from a National Title. As bad as LSU was in 2020, he made changes to his staff and had his younger players get more experience. LSU should bounce back in 2021 to make a bowl game and be competitive. If more details emerge about booster John Paul Funes stealing money from a hospital to give it to the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander over a five-year period. There have been rumors more could come out, which would be the ultimate demise of Ed Orgeron. Heat Check: 3

NC State: Dave Doeren possibly saved his job with NC State this past season by going 8-4. The Wolfpack consistently make it to bowl games under Doeren and only missed bowl games twice in his eight year career. The Wolfpack fans want more. Doeren has only finished the season in the top 25 once in his tenure and they were ranked 23rd. NC State is currently watching their rivals North Carolina rise to the top of the ACC and are ready to see their team rise as well. 8-4 may keep Doeren around for another season, but the fans are ready to see double digit wins. Heat Check: 5

Nebraska: Scott Frost was viewed as the savior of Nebraska football when he arrived in Lincoln. He went undefeated in his last season at UCF and was destined to bring the Nebraska program back to the promised land. Unfortunatly for Frost, it has been a rough three seasons. He is a combined 12-20 and has yet to make a bowl game. Many Nebraska fans knew this would be a long rebuild. The fans are beginning to get impatient because they have not seen much improvement on the field. If Frost misses his fourth straight bowl game, would they bring him back? My gut tells me no. Frost needs at least six wins to keep his job after 2021, but can he win that many games? Heat Check: 6.5

Pitt: Pat Narduzzi has been incredibly consistent as the head coach of the Pitt Panthers. The problem with him being consistent is he is consistently average. Narduzzi has never had a record better than 8-5. Eventually he has to break through and win more games and be a contender in the ACC if he wants to keep his job. Narduzzi most likely will keep his job following the 2021 season if he has a winning record. Should Narduzzi finish with a losing record, it would not be surprising for Pitt to move on from Narduzzi. Heat Check: 4

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